Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Birthday

My little guy turns 7 years old today. I can't believe my baby is growing up. How did that happen? You are such a funny, kind-hearted and loving boy. You bring so much joy and energy to our family. Happy 7th Birthday little one!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Daring Bakers- French Yule Log

So, this is the only element that came out from December's Daring Bakers Challenge. This month's challenge is brought to us by the adventurous Hilda from Saffron and Blueberry and Marion from Il En Faut Peu Pour Etre Heureux. They have chosen a french yule log by Flore from Florilege Gourmand. I unfortunately don't have a pretty yule log to show all of you. My almond dacquoise biscuit turned out nicely, but my mousse element was a disaster. I should have known better than to wait till the last minute and bake when I am distracted, but that is what I did. The recipe seemed daunting with all of its steps, but as I read the recipe the individual steps didn't seem too bad. I may try it again when I am not so distracted because it does sound sooo delicious. Check out the other Daring Bakers and see what they have whipped up. You won't be disappointed.

Christmas Recap

This was a very fun Christmas for our family, especially for our boys. We were able to surprise our kids with a Wii. We usually don't do big gifts for our kids, but last year was such a lean year for us with hubby just starting up his new business. Even with all the problems with the economy, we were able to budget and get the kids what they have been wanting for a long time. It was as much fun watching them open up their gifts as it was for them to actually receive it.

We love the Wii!

Nana and Papa surprised the kids with a ping pong table.

Dad and my Father in Law and Mom.

Hubby loves the Wii as much as the kids do.

My aunt sent the kids farting dogs. You got to love boys!

My sweet God daughter on the right and her big sister open up some belated Christmas gifts from us.

I have to include one recipe from our meal. This was really delicious. It was a stuffed turkey breast with prosciutto, rosemary and garlic. The recipe is from Trattoria Cooking by Biba Caggiano. I have made it many times in the past and it always come out wonderful.

Roasted Stuffed Turkey Breast

One 3 1/2 to 4 pound boneless breast of turkey
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 pound sliced prosciutto
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 375 degree.

Ask your butcher to open the turkey breast and flatten it out. It should look like a large veal cutlet. Rub the garlic and rosemary on the inner side of the turkey and season with salt and pepper. Cover the meat with the slices of prosciutto. Roll up the turkey breast tightly and tie securely with string.

Heat the butter and oil in a large, heavy casserole over medium-high heat. When the butter foams, add the turkey and cook until it is golden on all sides, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until the wine is almost all reduced.

Place the casserole in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Baste the roast with its pan juices several times during cooking. Check the roast with its pan juices several times during cooking. Check the roast for doneness by piercing it with a thin knife. If the juices that come out are clear or barely pink, the roast is done. If the juices are visibly pink, cook it a bit longer.

Transfer the roast to a cutting board and let it settle a few minutes. Remove the string and slice the meat. Arrange the slices on serving dishes and serve at once.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


My baking this Christmas season is not going well. The first batch of cookies came out nicely for the kids teachers. The second round of cooking did not fair as well. The cookies above are the only ones that turned out. Each year I also make toffee to put in our goodie baskets to our family and friends. I made two different batches of toffee this year and each one did not turn out. After about 30 minutes of stirring, the toffee broke. The oil separated from the sugar mixture and turned into a clump of yuck. I couldn't believe it! So today I tried again and the same thing happened. I have made this recipe for years and it turns out wonderful each time. I am stumped! The cookies above are some old favorites. The cookies on the left are Russian Tea Cakes made with pecans. The ones on the right are Pine nut Cookies from Martha Stewart.

Russian Tea Cakes (from Stars Desserts by Emily Luchetti)

6 ounces pecans, toasted
6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
8 ounces (2 sticks) soft sweet butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cups powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

Put the pecans and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Finely grind the pecans and set them aside.

Put the butter and the remaining 4 tablespoons of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract. Combine the flour and salt and stir into the butter mixture. Add the reserved nuts.

Form the dough into 3/4 inch balls. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and put the cookies on the pan 2 inches apart.

Bake the tea cakes for about 20 minutes, until light brown. While they are still warm, sprinkle them with powdered sugar.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I am really still here! Normally by now, I would have the whole house filled with gifts that I had made already packaged and ready to go. This is all I have been able to muster together this Christmas. I spent all day yesterday baking for my kids teachers. This will be their Christmas gift from our kids. I have been struggling this season with all the stuff in our lives. Not to bore you with the details, but I will say that my dear sweet mother is in a battle for her life and it has just taking ever ounce I have to keep moving forward as normal for my kids sake. Cancer sucks! It was nice to just escape a bit and do something like bake all day. What I did make yesterday where some traditional goodies mixed with some new recipes I wanted to try. The first picture are pistachio finger cookies. They are divine and still need a coating of chocolate to complete them. The recipe was given to me by my BIL girlfriend and has become one of my holiday baking traditions.

These yummy little loaves are lemon pecan bread. They are soooo good. I make these every year as well. The recipe is from an old William Sonoma catalog. They are so moist and delicious.

This is a new recipe. It is from Martha Stewart and is a truffle brownie. The flavor is really good, but my ganache topping did not set like I would have liked it to.

This is another new recipe for me. It is Penuche. It turned out nicely and is almost like a praline. Delicious!

Finally, I once again attempted divinity. The story behind this one is every year for the past five years I have attempted divinity. Every year I end of tossing it. This years attempt is okay and tastes more like marshmallows than divinity. My grandmother made the absolute best divinity. I still remember the taste and texture of it. She never used marshmallow cream, but made it with the traditional egg whites and boiled sugar syrup. She of course never wrote down a recipe and when she died over twenty years ago, the recipe went with her. I will keep searching to try and find the right one, but this was the most promising result I have had so far. The recipe is from the December Country Living Magazine. There version was peppermint divinity, but I just made this one with vanilla flavoring.

Pistachio Finger Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 package pistachio pudding mix

1 (6 ounce) package of semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon shortening

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream butter, sugar, cream cheese, egg and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Mix together dry ingredients and add a little at a time to creamed mixture. Chill minimum 2 hours.

Shape into balls or finger shaped.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown- tops will not be brown.

After cookies cool- place onto a wax paper. Melt chocolate with shortening and drizzle over tops of cookies. Let set until chocolate has hardened.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Lemon Pasta

This has been my favorite dish as of late. It is Gluten Free Girl's lemon pasta. I love the way she writes the recipe. It is one knob of this or one dollop of that. The recipe is really delicious. I have tried it with various types of pastas. My first try was with traditional farfalle pasta, then I tried it with quinoa pasta and lastly with the rice pasta that Gluten Free Girl recommends. I had a hard time finding the rice pasta she likes. I finally found it at Corti Bros in Sacramento. It is really pricey, about $9.00 for one bag. Although it was good pasta, I did not feel it justified the price. I liked it just as well with the quinoa pasta for gluten free and the traditional farfalle(bow tie pasta). I have tried it with regular lemon and Meyer lemon. The Meyer lemon is a real hit. I have added briny olives, grilled shrimp and grilled sausage. They are all delicious with this recipe. The above picture is with the grilled chicken apple sausage. You can click on the link above to see Gluten Free Girls recipe. I have also added my version of the recipe below.

Lemon Pasta (adapted from Gluten Free Girl, Shauna Ahern )

The recipe serves two, just adjust for more

2 Tablespoons of butter
zest of 1 medium Meyer lemon
juice of 1/2 of that lemon
2 Tablespoons of creme fraiche or sour cream
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 cup of cooked pasta

Slowly heat up the butter until it has melted, but not boiling. Throw in the zest. Add the lemon juice and bring it to a simmer. Add the sour cream and stir. Toss in the pasta and serve.

*Note: the original recipe called for a thickener of either potato starch or cornstarch. I didn't feel it was necessary.

Add your favorite topping to the pasta, like briny olives, grilled chicken or shrimp or sausage.
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