Shepherd’s Pie

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As I’m sitting here typing this…I’m feeling the chill of the morning…..and although it’s supposed to get into the upper 70’s today, I’m still thinking about what can I make tonight for dinner that’s going to be warm and comforting….

…and I know what you’re thinking…
“Ugh…she’s going to talk about comfort food again…”

Yep. I am.

I’m sorry. We’re getting into that time of the year (my favorite time of the year) when we all start to crave those warm, stick to your ribs, comfort meals that we all love.

Someone posted a question on Facebook the other day; that totally stressed me out…

The question was… “What is your favorite fall meal?”

I sat there for a few minutes, trying to come up with an answer…but I couldn’t.

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At first, without a doubt, I thought… mac and cheese.
But then I thought…maybe I don’t want to be tied down to just mac and cheese…
So maybe I should say “anything pasta”. There. That’s it. Pasta.
Nope…because then I started thinking about casseroles. Any kind. I love them.
And then I thought about roasted chicken dinner, turkey dinner, and pot roast. I love roasts.
Chicken pot pie. I love chicken pot pie.

I mean, seriously. How does one answer that question, when one loves it all?
It’s stressing me out man….
Don’t tie me down to one particular food….I will stray for sure….

So, to answer the question of my favorite fall meal…I’m going to say: “All of the Above”.

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And while we are on the topic of comfort food…one of my many favorite comfort foods is shepherd’s pie. There is something about that saucy mix of meat and vegetables, topped with a cheddary mashed potato mixture.

Shepherd’s pie is one of those meals that I cannot make often, as I tend to over-indulge. Even after the meal is finished and I’m stuffed… I still grab spoonfuls of it as I’m cleaning the kitchen. By the end of the day, I’m totally uncomfortable…completely guilt ridden….and ready for a long nap. I think that’s why it’s perfect for a chilly fall day… it makes you want to go into hibernation!

…And you know me. I need lots of big bold flavors…and this is one dish that if not done right, it can be very boring. So you really need to start layering the flavors from the start. Lots of garlic and onions…tomato paste… Worcestershire sauce.. and cheese. Lots of cheese. The beauty of this dish, is that it’s quick and easy to prepare… and hour in the oven, and you’ll have a delicious meal on the table in no time….one that your family will love.

Unless Michael lives with you.
Then he won’t even look at it, let alone taste it.
I should own stock in Bagel Bites…
Seriously.

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There is nothing better than sharing your favorite comfort food with family and wonderful friends…so I’m taking this lovely dish to Angie’s Fiesta Friday #35 over at The Novice Gardener…where I’ll be hanging out for the weekend… as Angie has asked me to co-host with the lovely Naina from Spice in the City!

It’s so great to be back in the swing of things, I’m thrilled to be co-hosting Naina… I just love her, and the recipes and stories that she shares are always delightful!
A special thank you to Angie for hosting Fiesta Friday; and I cannot believe that we are at week number 35 already!! Number 35…that’s just crazy! How time flies when we’re having fun, and Angie certainly knows how to put on a fabulously fun party! I hope that you’ll stop by and see all of the delicious recipes that everyone has brought to the table this week!

….AND….If you are a blogger and haven’t had the chance to link up, now is the time! If you are new to this party, or even new to blogging…we welcome you to join us! It is a wonderful way to meet other blogger friends, and gain exposure and views! Please feel free to contact me, Naina, or Angie if you have any questions! We are here to help, and look forward to meeting you!!
Please be sure to link your posts to Angie’s blog, as well as my blog so that we know that you have arrived! It’s as simple as clicking on the “Click to Join” button right here…

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Life is good.  It’s a “Embrace the Fall weather all you Summer lovers… it’s here…it’s HERE!!” …kind of good…

5.0 from 2 reviews
Shepherd's Pie
Author: 
Recipe type: Comfort Food, Dinner
 
Pure Comfort Food Deliciousness.
Ingredients
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1½ pounds ground beef
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp. steak seasoning (Such as Montreal Steak)
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 1½ cups corn (fresh, frozen, or canned)
  • 1½ cups peas (fresh, frozen, or canned)
  • 1 cup lima beans (frozen or canned)
  • ½ cup Romano cheese, grated
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 lbs potatoes, peeled, cooked and mashed
  • 1 - 8oz pkg cream cheese
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Paprika for Garnish
Instructions
  1. Boil the potatoes in water until tender, drain, and mash the potatoes in a mixing bowl with either a hand mixer, or stand mixer. Add the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, and about ½ tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper, and blend with mixer until creamy. Add more salt and pepper if you think it needs more seasoning. Set aside until ready to pipe onto casserole.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan, and add the onions, garlic, and carrots. Saute on low heat until a knife slices through the carrots easily.
  3. Add the ground beef to the onion and carrot mixture, and cook until no longer pink.
  4. Add the beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, and steak seasoning to the beef mixture and simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes.
  5. Add the corn, peas, and lima beans to the pan, and simmer until heated through.
  6. Pour the beef and vegetable mixture into a greased skillet, casserole dish, or baking dish.
  7. Sprinkle with ½ cup Romano cheese.
  8. Top with the two cups of cheddar cheese.
  9. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  10. Spoon the mashed potatoes into an extra large piping bag that is equipped with a large star tip (I use Wilton #1M), and begin to pipe swirls of potatoes all over the top of the casserole, until it is completely covered.
  11. Sprinkle with paprika.
  12. Bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour, or until the potatoes are golden brown.

Enjoy!

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Creme Filled Donuts: Iced Angels

After I turned 50 a couple of years ago, some really bad things started to happen… 
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First… AARP started sending me this junk mail. Yes…it’s junk mail… I toss it before opening it. I’m not interested. Yeah, I understand that it’s filled with discounts and yadda yadda… but I’m not interested.

I’m only in my 50’s for goodness sake, Herbert. (Herbert is my friend Cindy’s husband…and he loves his AARP).
He’s old.
I’m not.

Ok, that’s not entirely true. He is younger than me…but he’s embracing it. I’m holding it at bay.

iced angel 4Then, a couple of weeks after my 50th birthday, I was shopping at a party supply store in Niagara Falls. The store has this one section that has some really pretty little knick-knacks. There were a couple of vases that caught my eye, kind of like a blue willow pattern, that I absolutely love…and I pictured daisies (my favorite flower) in the one vase… so I decided to splurge. I remember that they’d be about $25 for the two of them.

When I got through the line, the bill came to less than $25…
“Are they on sale?” I asked the boy at the counter.
“No” he replied.
So I figured that I read the price signs wrong. I got out to my car and looked at my receipt. And there, in big bold letters:

Senior Citizens Discount.
What the heck??
How could he possibly think that I was a senior citizen?
He was certainly mistaken…
I mean, I had just colored my hair, so there weren’t even any greys showing!
I can’t even look at those vases now without feeling my wrinkles multiply.

And then last summer… Mike and I would always stop at a donut shop for a breakfast sandwich for him after he had his weekly blood work done. Since we did it every week, I always knew exactly how much the bill was going to be. Except for one week, the girl gave me the total, and it was about 60cents less than what the bill normally was. I paid the bill…and had Mike look at the receipt when we pulled away:

Senior Citizens Discount.
Seriously?
She was certainly mistaken..
Surely the discount was meant for the car behind me.

How can I possibly look the senior citizen part? I mean, is that what happens after you turn 50? You automatically look senior citizen-ish?

They still card me when I buy beer, so why are they giving me discounts at the donut shop?
Something is seriously wrong here…and I don’t like it. I don’t like it one bit.

So…I’ve decided to boycott all of these places who assume I deserve “the discount”.

That particular donut shop is one of them.

The only problem with that…is that they sell Iced Angels. Iced Angels are the white cream filled donuts with chocolate frosting. Most of the time they have sprinkles.

iced angels 3I love sprinkles.  They’re a necessity.

Would a senior citizen require sprinkles on her Iced Angel?
I think not.

I knew that I was definitely biting off my nose to spite my face, by boycotting this donut shop…. But decided that it was more important for me to take a stance against the harmful assumption of senior citizenshipedness.

I decided that I would make my own Iced Angels.
…And make them even better than the donut shops version.
…And I did.

So….thank you… boy at the party store counter and donut shop….

…For making me notice those little wrinkles under my eyes that I might not have noticed for another five years…
I now have eye cream to combat those wrinkles….
I still have daisies in that vase…which means that I’m not pushing them up yet….
…and I can make my own iced angels….

Iced Angels 1In. Your. Face…boy at the counter and donut shop.

I seriously should have started making Iced Angels years ago. I think they’re better than the donut shops version. It is the freshness of it that really pulls me in. They’re so soft when you bite into them…and the donut itself is really light…and it’s not overly sweet, so it holds up to the sweetness of the cream and chocolate.

The cream…oh…that cream… so fluffy and sweet with those beautiful specks of vanilla…you’ll find yourself using it for more than just donuts. It’s great to fill cupcakes and cakes, profiteroles, whoopie pies…

Keep a bowl of it in the fridge and a spoon in your pocket.
It’s that good.
The list goes on and on…

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The ganache has a touch of espresso to give it that edge to balance the sweetness of the cream.

The sprinkles are really optional…but for me a necessity. They’re festive. They’re fun. They put the “young” into a donut that has a grown up flair with the specks of vanilla and rich taste of espresso.

These donuts are hip, with a little added splash of youth.
Like me.

Life is good. It’s an “Aging is an option, and I choose not to…” kind of good…

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Creme Filled Donuts: Iced Angels
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Breads, Sweets
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1½ dozen donuts
 
Ingredients
The Donut
  • 1 package regular or quick-acting yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water, about 105 degrees F
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup shortening
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Crème Filling (Recipe to follow)
  • Chocolate Espresso Ganache (Recipe to follow)
  • Rainbow Sprinkles for Garnish
The Crème Filling
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup vegetable shortening
  • ½ cup softened butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Seeds of one vanilla bean (save the bean to throw in some dark rum to make your own extract)
  • 4 cups powdered sugar (a little more or a little less)
The Ganache:
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup butter
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 16 ounces dark chocolate, cut up
  • 2 tablespoon instant espresso granules
Instructions
The Donut:
  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water and honey in mixing bowl. Add buttermilk, sugar, salt, egg, and shortening. Using the dough hook on your mixer, add the flour, and mix until the flour is completely incorporated, and continue until the dough is smooth. (It will be a little sticky)
  2. Cover and let rise until double (about 1 hour). Turn the dough onto a floured surface, and roll out to about ¾" thick. Using a 3" round cookie cutter, cut the donuts from the dough, placing each one onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover, and let rise until double (About 1 hour).
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a deep fryer, or a heavy saucepan to 350 degrees F. Carefully place two to three donuts into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown on the one side (about one minute), and carefully flip each donut in the oil to cook the other side, about one minute, or until golden brown.
  4. Carefully remove the donuts with tongs, and place on a cooling rack (with a baking sheet underneath). Cool completely.
  5. When cooled, carefully slice about a two inch line into the side of the donut, and carefully slice into the donut to add the creme (recipe below). Using a large pastry bag and tip, generously fill the donut with the creme.
  6. Generously frost the donuts with chocolate ganache (recipe below), and garnish with sprinkles.
The Crème Filling:
  1. Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a small saucepan, and simmer over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, and bring to room temperature.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the simple syrup with the vegetable oil, shortening, vanilla and vanilla beans and mix until fluffy.
  3. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, stopping after the mixture becomes thick enough to make peaks.
  4. Will keep for two weeks, refrigerated, in an airtight container.
The Ganache
  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the heavy cream and butter to a boil. Remove from heat, and add the chocolate and espresso granules, stirring until the chocolate has melted, and is smooth. Using a hand mixer, beat the powdered sugar into the melted chocolate mixture until smooth. The ganache will thicken as it cools. Keep at room temperature until ready to use.

I should add that the next week when Mike and I went through the donut shops drive-thru…I paid full price.  He looked at the receipt, and then at me… and said:  “Well, mom… you just paid full price for the order. That sucks.”

“No boy…it doesn’t suck.  Someday you’ll understand why I was so happy to pay full price…”

Life is good.

Enjoy!!

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The Blackberry Fence Hopper

blackberry cocktail 5Here is yet another little tidbit about me….

I am highly claustrophobic.

But I’m in good company, because it runs in my family, Can I say that I inherited it? I’m not so sure, because my parents aren’t claustrophobic. But I have a couple of aunts and some cousins who are. And honestly, I’m not sure that it is something that can be inherited.

It’s not a fun thing, and I never know when something is going to set me off. I mean, my co-workers aren’t surprised to see my jewelry lying on my desk, because there are times when my brain decides that I can’t breathe because I’m wearing a necklace. Now how silly is that? I know it’s silly. But my brain doesn’t. In itself, it’s thinking it can’t get my lungs to breathe.

My whole wardrobe is styled around this claustrophobia…it has to be something that I know I can take off quickly, if panic happens to set in.

blackberry cocktail 6My poor friends have been on the receiving end of it too. Take, for instance, this little scenario a couple of years ago….

The setting is in the backseat of a car after running with my friends: Cindy, Rob, and Karen. I had my knee wrapped from a muscle strain… and had taped it so that the bandage wouldn’t move while I was running. We had just gotten in the car, and Cindy was in the back seat with me… I looked down and noticed that the tape had twisted a bit, and I couldn’t see the end of it to start to pull it off… and…. my brain decided at that moment I couldn’t breathe because I couldn’t find the end of the tape..

“Cindy, I can’t breathe… can you help me get this tape off?” I ask a touch panicked.
“Okay, let me help you get that off” She replies, calmly, but maybe with a little laughter…knowing that I am claustrophobic.
“You need to get it off now..” I tell her, a little more panicked.
“I’m trying!” She says, a little less calm, but with a little more laughter added.
“Does anybody have scissors?” I cry out in complete panic mode.

Karen starts rummaging through her bag, because she’s quite certain she has scissors in there. Cindy is fumbling with the tape… and they’re all laughing, and I mean, laughing hard. A girl couldn’t ask for more empathetic friends… Karen finds the scissors, and Cindy cuts the tape from my knee, freeing my lungs of their imaginary burden…

Crisis averted.
And we all laughed.

blackberry cocktail 2And then there was the time many years ago, when I was working as the secretary at the local newspaper in Lockport. I should begin by saying that the editor at the time was a very grumpy man. Most of us did everything we could to avoid him. Well, at least I did everything to avoid him.

So, once in a while, my mom would stop with some piece of clothing or jewelry for me that she had just picked up while shopping… and this particular day, it was the cutest little dress. She dropped it off, and said to try it on during lunch, and then I could return it after work for a different size or different dress if I didn’t like it. It was a pullover, which was good, because there were no buttons or zipper to worry about.

I went into the ladies room to try the dress on. After I put it on, I realized that it was a little snug, but decided that I really loved the dress, and would stop after work to get the next size up. I went to pull the dress off over my head…

And it got stuck.
Of course it did.

It was stuck just at the shoulders, my arms high above my head, the dress covering my face. I did everything I could to get that dress over my head, but it was stuck tight.

I stood there for what felt like 15 minutes, in my bra and panties…and a dress covering my head, my arms stuck…waiting for someone to come walking into the ladies room to help me get the dress off… but I’m certain it was more like a milli-second…because panic had set in (there is no concept of time in panic mode).

At that point, there was only one thing that made sense to me (panic mode isn’t always sensible)… and that was to LEAVE the ladies room and get the first person to help me get the dress off of me. At that point, my brain imagined that I couldn’t breathe.

Yep.
I did.
I left the ladies room with the dress up around my shoulders and face, and my arms flailing over my head.

I mean…could there be anything worse that might happen?
Of course there could.

I ran smack dab into the editor.

Of course I did.
I hit him head-on…that grumpy editor.

At that point, I didn’t care who it was…and in my panic, I asked him to help me get the dress off, that it was stuck and I couldn’t breathe.

Of course he did.
He helped me remove the dress, freeing my lungs of their imaginary burden.
And I was mortified for the rest of that day.
And he wasn’t grumpy for the rest of that day.

But… it was another crisis averted.
I avoided him all I could after that incident.
He smiled whenever he saw me after that incident.

blackberry cocktail 4Now don’t misunderstand…I’m not always in panic mode, and that was the only time it was clothing influenced. Okay, that’s not entirely true…there was the time that involved a dress, a zipper, a seatbelt, and a funeral home…but that’s a story for another day…. Usually it’s necklaces, bracelets, and rings that give me trouble, and they’re very easy to remove. It’s rare that I go into a panic attack…but needless to say, that there are times like that when I like to wind down with a little drinkie-poo. I’m not a heavy drinker…a lightweight, they call me….

I tend to like sweet cocktails…and usually something fruity…
This beautiful and delicious Blackberry Fence Hopper is exactly the kind of cocktail that I like..
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A couple of weeks ago, Katie and Ryan were at the cabin, and he was telling me about this great book that Katie brought home for him from Boston, called: “Shake (A new perspective on cocktails)” by Eric Prum and Josh Williams…and he talked me into buying it.  Well… he offered to let me borrow his copy for a little while… but I was too excited to wait so I bought it online right then and there….I’m glad he thought to tell me about it…. What a great book. Seriously.

ShakeAt first I bought the Kindle version on Amazon.  I had it sent to my phone… you know…for something to read while I was at the cabin. I didn’t put it down until I had read the whole book. It’s such a great read, that I had to order the hard copy for myself… It’s filled with some really great cocktail recipes, and they outline the essentials of a well stocked bar….and now I’m slowly stocking up on everything.

Starting with vodka…

This cocktail is right up my alley. The fresh blackberries and honey work together to create the perfect amount of that blackberry sweetness, while the lemon adds just the right amount of tart. It’s truly a delicious drink…one that I know I’ll continue to enjoy for a long time to come.

…And…. they believe that “cocktails can and should be fun, for all occasions”. Even a dress removing. Well, okay…. they didn’t come out and say a dress removing in the book…but I’m sure that they’d agree that it’s funny….and totally deserving of a cocktail!

Life is good. It’s a “You just can’t make this stuff up” kind of good…

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The Blackberry Fence Hopper
From the cocktail book “Shake” by Eric Prum and Josh Williams
Check out their website: The Mason Shaker

Makes 2 Drinks

2 shots vodka
1 shot fresh lemon juice
1 shot wildflower honey
8 fresh blackberries (plus 4 for garnish)
2 slices of lemon (for garnish)
Seltzer

i. Add the lemon juice, honey, and blackberries to the shaker.

ii. Muddle the ingredients in the bottom of the shaker until thoroughly crushed.

iii. Add the vodka and ice to above the level of the liquid and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.

iv. Strain the mixture into tumblers containing large cubes of ice, top with seltzer, and garnish with remaining blackberries and lemon slices.

Enjoy!
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Caramelized Peach Tart

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This has happened to me a couple of times now…when I’ve made a recipe that I really want to share with you.. but then I just cannot come up with a story to go with, or something fun to talk about. This delightful peach tart just happens to be one of those times. I think the last recipe that I could’t come up with anything was my peas and carrots recipe, in which Michael informed me that we don’t do anything fun… and that we suck.

So, I foolishly reached out to him last night once again.. asking him if we’ve done anything in our lives that might pertain to peaches. You know, anything fun, or funny. He informed me that we still suck, and nothing is funny. At the time, he was watching a football game, and I’m assuming it wasn’t going the way that he had hoped.

Immediately shrugging off Mike and his crankiness…I texted Katie, asking her if there was anything fun that has happened in our life that might go with that peach tart.  She texted me right back, and suggested I talk about our yellow lab that we had years ago, named Sadie.

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Yeah… Sadie. My little peachy.

I’m a nicknamer…and any living being on this earth is fair game to me. You never know when it might strike…and most likely, it’s going to stick because the names tend to catch on, and before you know it, a person or sweet little four legged creature has a new nickname.

Sadie was our very first dog. She was a yellow lab, but more on the whiter side…and she was about the size of a polar bear. Honestly..she was a big girl, but she had the sweetest nature..a gentle giant, if you will.

And…Sadie was loved by everyone who knew her..
She was a peach..

The Peach
Peachy
Peachy Pie
Peaches

And she knew it. She knew her name was Sadie…but she also answered to all of those names above.

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You know…dogs have such great, yet different personalities. I can’t say that the Peach was funny…because she never acted goofy, but she had a great sense of humor. She was always willing to go with the flow.

We had a black lab / chow named Mollie (Choonie, Choon, Choon-a-loon) at the same time as the Peach, a few years younger…and her personality was just the opposite. I always said that Choonie really wanted to be a lab, but the chow wouldn’t let her! When people would come to the house… Peachy would be there to welcome them with open arms…and was genuinely happy to see them! Choonie, on the other hand… I’d have to tell the people “Don’t look at her, don’t talk to her, and don’t put your hand out to her… just let her sniff you until she’s comfortable with you”… And the person would stand there stiff as a board, scared to death!!

Peachy would let a burglar in, and show him around the house… and offer him a cup of coffee while he robbed us. Choonie, on the other hand…would bite his arm off, and hold him down by the neck until reinforcements came…

They were a pair… the odd couple.

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And as cranky as she was…Choonie was funny, quite comical…and I swear, Peachy was always laughing at her… There were so many times that you might find Peach following Mollie around the yard in her slow Eeyore kind of way…almost shaking her head in laughter knowing that Choonie was going to be up to something funny… which always meant that Choonie was up to no good…and the Peach would think that was hilarious! And then they’d both get into trouble….

They loved each other….those two girls.

Sadly, we lost the Peach at age 13…and while most people will say that she lived a long and happy life for a dog… and she did… there is still a little hole in our lives without her. About a year later, we lost Mollie at age 7.. we are convinced that she could never get over the depression from losing her Peachy.  We were devastated.

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And now we have Sophie… Funny Face, Funny, Feenie, and Sofaletta…and she has brought us more joy in these last two years that we desperately needed.

But this one… this is about the Peach. This sweet caramelized peach tart is the perfect dessert to dedicate to my Peachy.  It’s sweetness is the epitome of her…  And I’m quite certain…a tart that she would offer to the burglar as he robbed us blind…

I decided to use a puff pastry for the crust, because I wanted it to be strong enough to hold the cream cheese filling, the juicy peaches, and the caramel that would be poured over it in the end.  I wanted to be able to remove it from the pan, and serve slices that would hold up on their own.   The puff pastry was the perfect choice.

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This is a tart that I will make again…and again. The ingredients are simple…and it doesn’t take long to throw together… and it’s one that really calls for a strong cup of coffee or tea… Perfect for a cool day…an end of summer dessert,  in celebration of those glorious peaches that come and go so quickly…that tell us that summer is almost over… and that we will be heading into the crisp air of fall very, very soon.

So how about you? Do you have a little four legged love in your life? I’d love to hear about him/her…

Life is good.  It’s a “Peachy kind of sweetness for a sweet kind of Peachness” kind of good…

Caramelized Peach Tart
Serves 8

1 puff pastry, thawed

3 large peaches, sliced wedges
3 tbsp butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tbsp dark rum

1 8oz cream cheese
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Chopped pecans for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Press the thawed puff pastry into your favorite tart pan, and bake according to the package directions, and it is golden brown, and fully baked. Set aside to cool.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan over low heat, and add the peach slices. Sauté for about five minutes on each side, remove from heat and add the brown sugar, salt, and rum to the pan. Stir gently to combine. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the brown sugar has caramelized onto the peaches. Just make sure that you simmer them on low heat… and don’t over cook the peaches so that they become too mushy! Otherwise you’ll be spreading them on toast, which isn’t a bad thing at all, just not what you want to accomplish for this particular tart!

While the peaches are simmering, using a hand mixer, blend the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until creamy.

Spread the cream cheese mixture over the cooled puff pastry. Add the peaches on top of the cream cheese, and pour the remaining caramel sauce from the pan over the peaches.

Sprinkle with pecans.

Serve warm or cold (It is delicious cold, but I tend to like it warm)

Enjoy!
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Panzanella …. My Way

IMG_3520You know, I think that I’ve made it quite clear that I’m a sucker for a loaf of bread fresh out of the oven…and it doesn’t matter if it’s my oven, or someone else’s oven. There is a little bakery (Okay, I say little, but it’s quite the production) called DiCamillo’s in Niagara Falls that bakes a pretty mean loaf of Italian bread. When I’m there, the first thing I look for is a piece of cake (their frosting is to die for), and a couple slices of pizza for Mike. And their molasses cookies. I can’t get past them. They’re soft and chewy with a sprinkling of big granules of sugar…and so, SO delish.

But…it’s the bread…the thing that brings me there each and every time..and I can’t help but buy the large loaf, knowing full well that it will go stale before we can eat the whole thing. It’s seriously that big, but it’s so darn delicious.

I’m totally okay with the bread going stale, because it never goes to waste. It will either end up in meatballs, I’ll make breadcrumbs with it, french toast, or this beautiful panzanella salad.
IMG_3504A traditional panzanella or panmolle is made up of day old bread, tomatoes, basil…sometimes cucumbers and onions…drizzled with olive oil and vinegar. The bread soaks up the deliciousness of the tomatoes, olive oil, and vinegar.

It is seriously delicious just like that.

Of course…I think you know me by now….I usually don’t go for making the traditional…I’m going to make it my way…with, most likely a few extra calories…. the way that I like it…and the way that I think you would like it if you were coming over for dinner.

Which, I hope, is very soon.
It’s always an open invite.

IMG_3521I start out traditional with the tomatoes…slicing them thin and placing them around the platter. Make sure you eat a couple slices or more while you’re doing this… because it won’t be long before we’re eating store bought instead of farm fresh…a huge difference…

Next comes the bread… Normally you’d break it into pieces and toss it into the bowl, and I do, but then I toss it into a frying pan with melted butter and garlic, and fry it until it’s browned and crisp on the outside, but with that soft chewy center. The garlic is a necessity for me in this salad, it just gives it such a great background flavor.

And then I tend to go for creamy and briny. Burrata cheese is perfect for this, because it breaks open, and that lovely combination of cream and mozzarella spills over the tomatoes and bread. I love to chop Kalamata and Sicilian olives on top of the mozzarella, as well as a heavy sprinkling of capers. A handful of toasted pine nuts finishes it off wonderfully.

IMG_3500I know I’ve said it before, but I love a million flavors going on at once…and the creaminess from the cheese, saltiness from the olives and capers, sweetness from the tomatoes, the nuttiness from the pine nuts, the smokiness from the sautéed garlic, the fresh taste of basil, and the acidity from the vinegar…for my tastebuds…work together to make the most perfect panzanella salad.

I’m not sure…can I say that I’ve achieved umami?
Possibly..
But I’ll just call it a perfect blend of delicious flavors..

A panzanella that totally tickles the tastebuds, yet is so pretty…that I would happily set on the table just for you…my most honored guest.

Life is good…it’s a “I don’t know who thought of throwing stale bread and tomatoes together, but I’m really glad they did…” kind of good..

IMG_3513Panzanella…My Way
Serves Four (Or Two, if I’m involved)

Just a quick note about this salad…. I really don’t have measurements for the ingredients, and all I can say is to be heavy handed with everything. By heavy handed, I mean generous…and make it the way you think it would taste good… If you think you would want more basil, then by all means, tear up some more over this salad. If you want to throw some fresh parsley over it, then I say “oh yeah, do it!!” Go crazy, and have fun with it! There is no right or wrong.

2 large heirloom tomatoes, (your favorite color) sliced thin
1 or 2 smaller heirloom tomatoes in different colors, chopped
Stale bread, broken into pieces (about three cups)
1/2 stick butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
A good handful of basil, torn into pieces
Capers, about a tablespoonful or more
A mixture of Kalamata and Sicilian olives, chopped (about 1/3 cup)
Pinenuts, toasted (about two tablespoons)
Olive Oil, your favorite brand (start with a tablespoon)
Balsamic Vinegar (you get what you pay for when it comes to balsamic) (start with a tablespoon)
A peppermill

Place the tomato slices around the outer edge of a platter, overlapping them.

Melt the butter in a medium sized frying pan, and add the bread pieces. Saute the bread until golden brown, and a couple of minutes before removing the bread from the pan, add the garlic and saute until the garlic is golden brown, and has mixed throughout the bread. Spoon the bread to the inside of the tomatoes around the platter.

Break the burrata open, and place in the middle of the platter.

Sprinkle with the chopped colorful tomatoes, chopped olives, capers, pinenuts, and basil. Generously drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Top with fresh ground pepper.

Serve immediately while the bread is still warm.

Enjoy!

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Chicken Nachos

IMG_2656So here’s one for you…this was actually quite a few years ago….Seriously, I bet it was at least 10 or more years…

I was working in my yard on a Saturday… and I knew that I had just a couple of hours left before I had to get ready to go to a party. I promised to bring an appetizer, so I figured that I’d bring chicken nachos, because they’re really easy to throw together, they taste good whether they’re hot or cold…and…everybody loves them. I really wanted to get two sides of my house weeded before I left for the party. You know…those blasted weeds that I complain about all the time. I just cannot seem to keep up with them! But I knew that if I could get the two sides finished, then I’d be halfway there for the next day.

I figured that I had an hour or so to finish the weeding, and then I’d go in and start cooking the nachos, and get cleaned up and changed.

This is why I love these nachos. They take minimal prep, minimal cook time, and minimal ingredients. I knew that I’d have plenty of time to throw them together at home, and then toss them in the oven at my cousin’s house to heat them, and melt the cheese.

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Well, I worked in the yard up until the last possible moment. I ran into the house, cut the chicken, tossed it into the pan with the taco sauce, and ran upstairs to shower quick and put on fresh clothes. I had a new pair of shorts, that I couldn’t wait to wear, because they actually fit and looked decent. So I was feeling pretty confident about going to this party. I had my weeding done, the nachos were just about ready to be thrown together, and I looked cute. Life was good.

IMG_2649I arrived at the party, and settled in to relax for the evening. I was sitting in the chair, enjoying a little drinky-poo of some sort…and sat back in the chair, crossed my legs and looked down…

There was a blade of grass on my knee.
I took a closer look.
Oh Lord.
My knees were dirty.

They were black with a big old blade of grass on the one. Ok, so when I showered, I did the quick version.. I did the important parts, and the knees didn’t even cross my mind.

I uncrossed my legs, set my drink down, flicked the blade of grass off, and slowly leaned forward placing my hands over my knees. Too late. My cousin caught sight of them…

“Pru, is that dirt? Are your knees dirty??!” she asked, a bit too loudly for my comfort.
“Yes…I was working in the yard…” I kind of whispered…hoping that she’d get the hint that I didn’t want this brought to everyone’s attention.

Well, she starts laughing, and not just a chuckle…but a deep belly laugh. Of course, everyone notices…. Yep. Prudy’s knees are dirty. It was a matter of seconds before everyone was laughing at my knees. It’s not bad enough that they’re chubby knees, but it turns out that I had dirty chubby knees! …And….everyone was laughing at them!

What else could I do, but join in the laughter? Luckily I surround myself with the people I love, and those who love me… so there was no judgement… just humor, love and laughter…and dirty knees…

It’s something that I will never forget, and always think about when I’m making chicken nachos!

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I love making these nachos….they never get old. They have been the most requested snack by my kids and their friends for years now (Except Mike. He hates them. I know…surprise, surprise… ). They’re just that easy to make, and they’re that delicious! They’re a great appetizer, and they’re a quick and easy meal!  Pile them on a serving tray and serve them with your favorite salsa and sour cream.

Life is good…it’s a “moral of this story? Never weed until the last possible moment… and the knees should never be overlooked in the shower…and they never have ever since… “ kind of good…

IMG_2659Chicken Nachos

4 boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
1 – 16oz bottle Ortega taco sauce (or your favorite taco sauce)
1 lb shredded cheddar
1 large bag tortilla scoops or chips
Salsa
Sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large frying pan, add the chicken and taco sauce. Cook over medium heat until the sauce cooks down, and the chicken is fully cooked.

Spread the tortilla scoops or chips in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Discard Eat the broken pieces. Spoon a couple pieces of cooked chicken onto each tortilla scoop or chip. Top with shredded cheddar.

Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

Pile on a serving tray, with bowls of salsa and sour cream on the side.

Enjoy!

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Preserved Zucchini and Summer Squash

IMG_3129Zucchini.
It’s a simple thing, really.
Until the end of August when the mere mention of it can make even the strongest person shudder with apprehension!

It’s one of those vegetables that we all look forward to in the beginning of summer, but by mid-August, there is such an over-abundance, you just can’t give it away. People see you walking toward them with a zucchini as big as a toddler’s whiffle ball bat, and they either pretend that they don’t know you, or they make a sharp left, and head in another direction to avoid you!

You can only freeze so much of it for breads and muffins. You can only make so many zucchini boats stuffed with saucy meat, or sautéed with summer squash and onions, or sliced into thin strips as fake spaghetti. Yep. I jumped on that wagon too.

Don’t get me wrong. I love zucchini. But I have had so much of it, I’m running out of ideas! So the last time I went to pick up my CSA box, Sally, the “pick up point person” was telling me that she’s been making bread and butter pickles from them. I thought that was an awesome idea… and as I was searching for a bread and butter pickle recipe… a thought popped into my head. Instead of pickles, which I really wouldn’t use much…what if I preserved them in olive oil?
IMG_3127This idea actually came from a friend of mine who shared some hot peppers preserved in olive oil with me a year or so ago. They were so delicious! I went through that jar in no time…putting them on sandwiches, grilled cheese, cottage cheese, and even cooked them in eggs, or threw a spoonful or two in sauce! So going on the premise of those hot peppers, I decided to do a little research and see if zucchini would do well in olive oil too. I’m thrilled to say that it does!

IMG_3098I found a recipe from Mario Batalli, in which he boiled the zucchini for a few minutes in a mixture of salt water and vinegar, and then placed it into a jar with anchovies and garlic. Mario also mentioned that as long as you keep the zucchini covered in olive oil, it would keep for up to six weeks in the refrigerator.

Perfect.

As hard as I try, I’m just not a fan of anchovies.
Yet.
So as of now they weren’t even a consideration for this recipe.
That may change sometime in the future when I do like them.

IMG_3139And with those hot peppers still in my head, I started slicing zucchini and summer squash really thin on my mandolin slicer. I chose some hot peppers, such as cherry peppers and jalapenos… as well as sweet peppers to add to the jar. A few cloves of garlic roughly chopped and some chopped fresh basil finished it off perfectly.

Ok, I’m not going to lie to you here… I’ll come home from work, grab a fork and eat this right out of the jar. It’s just that delicious. You can seriously serve these as thin pickles. Throw them on a hunk of crusty bread alone…or throw them on a sandwich, like I did here with a thick slice of fresh mozzarella, a thick slice of tomato right out of the garden, a few leaves of basil, all topped off with the preserved zucchini and summer squash…served on fresh Italian bread… delicious.

IMG_3247The thing that I loved about this recipe the most, was that I took a taste of them immediately after I put them in the jar, and the flavors had just melded together so perfectly. Just a few minutes…and they were ready to eat. The next day, they were even better!

My first jar is almost used up, and I plan to get another jar made up this week. I’m thinking that if I slice the zucchini and summer squash and freeze it, I can do this all winter long!

All of a sudden, I find myself asking for zucchini!
Crazy, but true.

Life is good. It’s a “Zucchini is coming out of our ears….but it’s all good…and preserving it? Well, that just makes it even better…” kind of good…

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Preserved Zucchini and Summer Squash
Makes 1 Quart

 Adapted from Mario Batalli’s Zucchine Sott’Olio

2 lbs zucchini and summer squash combined, sliced thin
4 cups water
1/3 cup sea salt
2 cups cider vinegar
3 cherry peppers, sliced thin
3 jalapenos, sliced thin
6 mini sweet peppers (red, orange, and yellow) sliced thin
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
10 basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 cups olive oil (or more, enough to cover the zucchini in the jar)
½ cup white wine vinegar

In a large saucepan, bring the water, sea salt and vinegar to a boil. Reduce heat. Add the slices of zucchini and summer squash, and simmer for five minutes. Drain, discarding the water/vinegar mixture.

Place the zucchini and summer squash mixture into a large bowl, and add the cherry peppers, jalapenos, sweet peppers, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, and basil leaves. Mix thoroughly.

Using a wide mouth funnel, add the zucchini mixture to a quart canning jar. Mix the olive oil and white wine vinegar together, and pour over the zucchini mixture until it is completely submerged in oil.

Cover and refrigerate. This will keep up to six weeks in the refrigerator as long as the zucchini remains submerged in oil.

Enjoy!

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Fontina and Mushroom Polenta Panini

 

panini 6A couple of months ago, my friend Cheryl and I went for a cheese making class.  Cheryl is my quirky friend… you know, the girl who I talked about in my post about my tomato tartlets, when she took me to a quaint little cooking school in the midst of a peach orchard! And then one time went to see Bobby Flay, and we stood outside his exit like a couple of little foodie groupies, hoping to get an autograph from him! Another time she hosted an Iron Chef competition at her house… We have taken quite a few cooking classes together.  I just never know what she has up her sleeve, but it’s pure craziness and I’m always game!

grilled polenta 3This really isn’t about the cheese making class at all, but about the drive to the farm for the class. It was about an hour drive, and she gave me a silly little hat to wear in her convertible…. And she pulls out iced coffees for us to enjoy during the ride… and says: “Oh, and I grabbed a few cookbooks for you to read on the way…”

Seriously… Does that girl know me, or what?

So, while I was flipping through the cookbooks, I was making mental notes of the books that I wanted to order when I got home. There was one in particular that I really liked…. It is called “The Great Big Butter Cookbook” by Diana C. Von Glahn.. First of all, this book doesn’t really even pertain to butter at all…but is filled with some really appealing “comfort” recipes. Ok, recipes that look really good, but I know that I would definitely add my own “comfort” touch.

grilled fontina on polentaI did find that cookbook in used section on Amazon for $3. Yes. Three dollars. Three bucks. Three smackaroos. But I’m not kidding when I tell you that the book arrived within a couple of days… it was brand new! The book was in absolutely perfect condition, but alas, no notes or markings from the previous owner! Bummer.

And now, it sits on my coffee table, with bookmarked pages of all of the recipes that I will be trying in the near future. Like these Polenta Fontina “Paninis” with Mushroom Sauce.

As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew that it was the first one that I would try. But you know, I can’t leave things well enough alone… The original recipe called for sun dried tomatoes…which….I should say would have been delicious….but I thought that it needed something more substantial…something with “oomph”… so I made a caramelized onion and tomato jam that is simply out of this world, and that took the place of the sundried tomatoes. I  sautéed mushrooms instead of a sauce, and I made my own polenta, rather than purchasing a tube.

grilled polenta 2Oh yeah, I made the right choice. The sweet, yet savory jam brought so much “happy” to the dish… it was like an instantaneous friendship with the mild, yet tangy fontina… the earthy mushrooms, and the crisp buttery polenta. They just belonged together.

The paninis are perfect for a brunch… serious…poach an egg and throw it on top. Delicious. They’re perfect for lunch…they’re perfect for appetizers…or would make a lovely light dinner!

And….you can be sure that I’ll be making notes in this book for the next owner….whomever that may be…

Oh yeah, and I’ll be sharing a couple of the things I learned from cheese making very soon!

Life is good. It’s a “One man’s old cookbook, is another man’s treasure” kind of good…

grilled polenta 4

 Fontina and Mushroom Polenta Panini 
Serves 4
Adapted from the Recipe: “Polenta Fontina “Paninis” with Mushroom Sauce from the cookbook: The Great Big Butter Cookbook by Diana von Glahn

16 Polenta Rounds (Recipe below)
Caramelized tomato and onion jam (Recipe below)
5 oz fontina cheese (1 oz grated, 4 oz sliced into 8 slices)
2 tbsp butter for polenta rounds plus 1 extra tbsp butter for sautéing mushrooms
8 oz whole baby bella mushrooms
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 ground black pepper
A few sprigs fresh thyme for garnish

Melt 2 tbsp butter in a large frying pan. Add 8 polenta rounds to the frying pan. Fry until golden browned, and flip. Fry on the other side until browned. Remove from pan, and set aside on a cooling rack. Add the remaining 8 polenta rounds, and repeat the frying until both sides are browned.

Leaving the second batch of polenta rounds in the pan, reduce the heat on the stove, and add about a tablespoon or so of the caramelized tomato and onion jam to the tops of each of the 8 polenta rounds that are still in the frying pan. Place a slice of fontina cheese on top of each of the jam topped rounds. Place the reserved rounds on top, as a sandwich. Sprinkle each sandwich with the grated fontina. Top the pan with a lid, and let sit until the cheese has melted.

In the meantime, in a separate frying pan, melt the 1 tbsp butter. Add the bella mushrooms, salt, pepper, and chopped thyme. Saute for about five minutes, or until the mushrooms are golden brown.

Top each panini with the mushrooms, and garnish with the fresh thyme.

Serve hot.

Quick Polenta Rounds

Makes 16 rounds, 8 panini sandwiches
1 cup quick polenta
3 cups water
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the polenta, simmer for about three minutes, or until the polenta pulls away from the side of the pan. Remove from heat, and stir in the Romano cheese.

Pour into a buttered 9″x11″ pan, and let sit until cooled. Once the polenta has set, cut into 2-1/2″ – 3″ circles. Set aside.

Caramelized Onion and Tomato Jam
Makes One Cup

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1 large onion, sliced thin
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp water
1 pound assorted cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Melt the butter in a heavy skillet. Add the onions, and sauté until a dark golden brown. Add the water, cherry tomatoes, brown sugar, salt, crushed red pepper, vinegar, and lemon juice. Cover and simmer until the tomatoes have burst, and using your wooden spoon, gently press down on the tomatoes to break them up. The skins will start to separate from the tomatoes. Remove them if you want, but it’s really not necessary! (the skins on cherry tomatoes are so thin, they will break up when ground in the food processor). So honestly? Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to remove them!

Simmer until all of the juices have caramelized, and the sauce has thickened.  Let cool. Add the cooled tomato and onion mixture to the food processor, and process until smooth. This can be refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Enjoy!

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Icebox Cake Makeover

IMG_2852I am a closet icebox cake eater.
I love them.

Do you remember them from years and years ago? You know, the ones that were made from chocolate wafer cookies stacked on their side, and then those stacks would be placed side by side to create a log…all with whipped cream in between them to act as a binder? Then the whole log of wafer cookies would be frosted in whipped cream, and then when sliced, you had stripes of chocolate and whipped cream. The chocolate cookie wafers would soften, so it was just like eating a rich fudge cake. Delicious.

Back in the day, it was a gorgeous dessert….and I still love it today. But because it’s not “pretty” or up to today’s culinary “snobbishness”, I’ve been a closet icebox cake eater, first of all, because I love it, and second, I personally don’t care what it looks like….

But today, with the standards of desserts set so high… it would be considered a train wreck at any fancy dinner party.

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Ok, maybe I exaggerate, maybe not a train wreck….but I’m keeping it real here…that old time dessert isn’t something that I’d bring to a fancy dinner party. I’m sorry, I just wouldn’t. Instead, I’d spend all of my time stressing over what to bring, stressing that it had to be the fanciest, and the prettiest dessert, because I’d want to please the hostess of the party. I’d want her to be proud to put it out on her table for all of her guests. Most likely, I would order something from a bakery.  Nope…not “most likely”… I would definitely would order from a bakery.

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But no more. I’ve decided to give that old fashioned icebox cake a makeover. One that I’d be proud to bring to a dinner party, and confident that the hostess would be pleased to serve to her guests.

And this one is so simple to throw together…it’s one of those desserts that you can throw together about two hours before the party…minimal time…minimal effort. Perfect for a hot summer’s day when you don’t feel like firing up the oven, or spending a fortune at a bakery!

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And…it’s delicious. The raspberries, whipped cream, and chocolate were just made for each other. Not fond of raspberries? Use any fruit that tickles your fancy! It is truly that versatile. Just make sure that the fruit that you choose can be sliced through easily!

I’ve shared this with my lovely friends at The Novice Gardener’s, Angie’s Fiesta Friday…. and with my lovely friends at Love in the Kitchen’s Tuesday’s Table. …. And I’m proud to say that it was my very first feature on Food gawker!

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Life is good, it’s a “Throwing together a dessert in less that an hour, but it looks like you slaved all day” kind of good!

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Icebox Cake
Serves  10 to 12 People

Just a quick note:  Keep in mind that this does need to be refrigerated for at least two to three hours (or more) before you serve it, so that the wafers have time to soften into a cake like texture.  I let this particular cake refrigerate for three hours before I couldn’t stand it any longer, and had to slice into it!

And honestly, use whatever type of fruit you’d like.  Just make sure that it’s a fruit soft enough to slice through, otherwise, you won’t get perfect slices.

Choosing the right plate is important. I’ll pick a couple of plates, and then place the cookies around the outer edge in a circle to see if they’ll all fit around the plate perfectly. If they do, then that’s the plate you want to use!

If you’re not familiar with the chocolate wafers, here is a photo of the box:

chocolate wafers2 boxes Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers
1 quart heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/3 cup of sugar (or more, depending on your desired sweetness)
3 pints fresh raspberries (or your favorite fruit)

Begin by whipping the heavy cream in a stand mixer (or in a large bowl with a hand mixer). Let it whip until it hits that point just before it starts to turn to butter. You don’t want it too soft, because you want it to be able to hold up the cookies and raspberries. Add the sugar and vanilla, and whip for another minute or so, until they’re fully combined. Don’t worry if the sugar isn’t dissolved at this point. It will continue to dissolve as the cream sits.

On your favorite plate or cake plate, spread a small amount of whipped cream over the plate. This will act as the glue to keep the base cookies in place. This is kind of important because the cake will fly off the plate the minute you try to carry it, and if you’re trying to make a grand entrance with it… let’s just say.. it will be grand alright, all over your floor!

Place the  cookies around the plate in a circle. You don’t want them to overlap. Fill in the middle section with about three or four cookies. It doesn’t matter if the cookies in the middle overlap. Place a second row of cookies on top of the first row.
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Using a pastry bag, and Ateco tip #824, begin making rosettes all around the top of the cookies. Gently place one pint of raspberries on top of the whipped cream. Make whipped cream rosettes on top of the raspberries. You want to be very gentle with this, so that each layer doesn’t get mashed down. You should be able to see each layer as separate layers.
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Repeat with another layer of cookies, whipped cream, raspberries, and whipped cream. And then finally repeat a third time, ending with the raspberries on top of the cake.
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Refrigerate for at least two to three hours, or overnight.
This is best when served cold. Keep any leftovers refrigerated. It will keep for a day or two in the fridge.

Enjoy!

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Orange Sherbet

workding bb favorite sherbet with spoonPicture this…

It was a Saturday morning. The skies were blue. The sun was shining, and there was zero humidity in the air. There were no sounds except for a light breeze through the trees, and little bird singing the prettiest song, because even she felt the beauty in the day.

It was a flawless summer day.
A glorious day.

I had nowhere to go…
I had nothing to do…
Well…I had lots to do, but decided that it was too beautiful to spend my time worrying about things that needed to be done. There was plenty of time for that on a day not so beautiful.

Laundry could wait.
The house could wait.

I was happy.
I was content.

Gilbert Markham, a character in Anne Bronte’s (1820-1849, British Novelist and Poet) novel, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall spoke these words (although he wasn’t feeling very happy, nor was he content at the moment..):

“A light wind swept over the corn; and all nature laughed in the sunshine. The lark was rejoicing among the silvery floating clouds.”

And it does… I truly believe that sunshine brings laughter, and that nature laughs in its own way…like that little bird in my yard…singing her heart out.

I took a walk around the yard, trying to find that little bird. She was content to stay where she was, out of sight, safe…and from the sound of her song, I believe that she was happy too. My guess is that she thought the same thing… her nest could wait, she had to be out enjoying, and rejoicing in that most perfect day.
wording bbb close up of sherbet
At that point in time, I didn’t think that there was anything that could make that day more perfect. Until a thought popped into my head…

Fresh orange sherbet.
The quintessence of sunshine.
The perfect way to celebrate the day.

And it was.
wording bbb cute sherbet
This sherbet is so refreshing, and so pretty, you wouldn’t think that the prep time is only minutes…and so very easy to make. The fresh orange flavor will make you wonder why you’ve been buying your sherbet from the freezer section all your life, when you could have been enjoying the real deal all along..

It didn’t take me long to realize that there are a lot of orange sherbet recipes out there…and I had to laugh that day, because as I was reading all of the recipes, I realized that they’re basically the same, except this person added a ¼ cup more heavy cream, while that person added ½ cup less sugar…and then they called the recipe their own. And as much as I’d like to, I can’t tell you who came up with the original of this most perfect recipe. But I can tell you that the recipe I used came from  The Brown Eyed Baker, who found her recipe from The New Best Recipe Cookbook  which I just ordered a copy for myself!

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Let me get off track here for one second… I ordered The New Best Recipe cookbook from Amazon.. It is about $20 brand new…. But underneath the price, there is a used book option starting at $4.99. I clicked on that… and there were quite a few of these books offered at a much lower price. Yes, they’re used…and unless you’re really bent on having brand new…then by all means…order new!  But the one that I ordered said that it has notes and sections highlighted in it. For me? That’s perfect! Why not take the knowledge of someone who has already tried a recipe in that book? I look forward to seeing what the person had to say… her/his thoughts and suggestions. You never know… they could be priceless! My cookbooks never stay pretty anyway… you will recognize a favorite cookbook in my kitchen, from the written on, worn, stained, and sometimes torn, pages!

Ok, back to the sherbet…

wording bbb spoon ful of sherbet

In the true fashion of everyone else, I changed the recipe up a bit. While Michelle (The Brown Eyed Baker) called for a tablespoon of orange zest, I added three tablespoons, minced fine. She strained her sherbet mixture, and I decided that the bits of orange zest would be an added “oomph” to the sherbet. They did. I only used ½ cup of sugar, whereas she used 1 cup. She used two cups of fresh squeezed orange juice, I used about three cups. Hers called for Triple Sec, and all I had was Chambord on hand, so I used that instead. And of course, Prudence had to make it even fatter… I added ¾ cup of heavy cream instead of her 2/3 cup!

It’s delicious. It’s more than delicious. It’s pretty, a pale orange color, it’s creamy, it’s refreshingly delicious! Deliciously delicious! And…it’s one that I plan to make over and over again. I can’t wait to try different flavors now! Maybe even a rainbow sherbet!! Stay tuned…

Life is good, it’s an “even now when I look back on that day, a calmness comes over me.. a happy remembrance of the perfect day…” kind of good.

wording bbb shertbet with three spoons

Orange Sherbet
Makes About 4 Cups

This recipe was adapted from The Brown Eyed Baker
3 cups fresh squeezed orange juice (about 4-5 pounds oranges)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tbsp. finely minced orange zest
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
2 tbsp. Chambord
Pinch sea salt
3/4 cup heavy cream

Place the orange juice, sugar, orange zest, lemon juice, vanilla, Chamord, and salt in a blender. Blend until sugar is dissolved. Add the heavy cream, and blend until smooth.

Place the sherbet mixture into a glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the freezer for at least two hours, but don’t let it freeze.

Don’t worry if the orange juice and heavy cream have started to separate. It’s fine! Just give it a good whisk, and pour the chilled mixture into the bowl of your ice cream maker, and churn according to the manufacturer’s directions. I use the KitchenAid ice cream bowl for my mixer, and it took about 1/2 hour to churn into a soft serve sherbet.

Place the soft serve sherbet into a freezer container, or ice cream container…and freeze for about 3 hours, or until it can be scooped out with an ice cream scoop.

Enjoy!
workding bb favorite sherbet with spoon