Tuesday, March 29, 2011


To really know oneself, I feel it's important to know where you came from. Being Italian is as much a part of my past heritage as it is a part of my current lifestyle. Many of the foods I make are Italian because that's the food I grew up learning to cook. I'm proud of my heritage and hope to pass on our family traditions and recipes, along with our love of food, family, and values. It's crucial for younger generations to carry on these traditions and appreciate for culture. So for this month's What's Baking challenge, I choose to Bake from Your Heritage.

There are certain foods that are very always made by my family, because they are recipes passed own through generations. This is one of them. These cookies, anginettes, were made by my Great Aunt Matt long before I was born. They're present at every family party and get-together I can remember. Some relatives in our family have a particular dish that is "their' thing". This was Aunt Matt's cookie. My grandmother has a particular cookie that is hers too, however it's not baked so we'll save that for some other time. Enjoy this favorite Italian cookie, from my home to yours!

Anginettes (Italian Cookies with Lemon Glaze)

2 1/2 pounds flour
1 tbsp baking soda
5 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 tsp
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
6 eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup crisco

1. In a large bow, mix together the dry ingredients; flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar, vanilla, eggs, and Crisco.

3. Alternately add dry ingredients and milk a little bit each time until batter is smooth and not sticky.

4. Roll dough into 1" balls and drop on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper about an inch apart.

5. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes. Place tray on bottom rack of oven then halfway through baking rotate to top rack and replace with a new filled cookie sheet.

6. Cookies are done when slightly golden brown. Set aside to cool while making lemon glaze.

*Yields about 7-8 dozen one inch round cookies*

Lemon Glaze

3 1/2 -4 lbs confectionery sugar
juice of 5-6 lemons
a few tbsp cold water

1. Mix together the sugar and lemon juice.

2. Add a few drops of cold water, little bits at a time, until the icing is thick an has no lumps.

3. Dip cookies upside down in glaze to coat the cookie tops and place on wax paper to dry.

4. Add sprinkles before the glaze hardens. Enjoy!!

Stay tuned for the full What's Baking Round-up in the next few days!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bailey's Irish Cream

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I wanted to make something Irish, especially since hubby is Irish and loves, well, all things edible. These two ideas collided and out came, Bailey's Irish Cream. Irish cream is great as a drink, but also a great addition to baking and cooking. Plus, it contains two of the best flavors, chocolate and coffee. Who doesn't love that? It almost tricks you into thinking it's a dessert in itself!

1 tsp instant espresso granules
1 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp powdered sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
3/4 cup milk
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp honey
1 1/2 cups Irish whiskey
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a small bowl, mix together the espresso, cocoa powder, cinnamon, powdered sugar, and 3 tbsp of heavy cream. Stir until dissolved and set aside.

2. Pour all the remaining ingredients into a large bowl including the cocoa espresso mixture.

3. Use an immersion blender to incorporate all ingredients together for 20-30 seconds until your mixture is smooth. If you do not have an immersion blender a traditional blender on pulse or puree will work as well.

4. Pour it into your favorite sealable containers. Let the drink sit overnight for all the flavors to blend together.

5. Be sure to give it a good shake before using and enjoy your homemade Irish cream for up to 2 months. Store in refrigerator.

Source: 6 Bittersweets

Also Featured: Tasty Tuesdays and Tempt my Tummy Tuesday

Monday, March 21, 2011

Make Your Own Edible Arrangements (Fruit and Veggie)

Welcome Spring! We missed you! This past Sunday, first day of spring has finally arrived after much anticipation! It's been a cold and snowy winter and the idea of warmer weather, flowers, being outdoors without a fuzzy coat, all sound very appealing. However, just a few days into spring and I wake up to see this....

So apparently winter is trying to give us one last hurrah before spring can come and take over! This time last week, there was beautiful 70 degree weather and today schools are closed. Either way, I'm getting ready for spring! It's coming soon, right?

Fruit Edible Arrangement

1 whole pineapple, cut into 1"inch thick slices
10 blueberries
1 container strawberries
1 cantaloupe
1 pound green grapes
1 pound red grapes

Also some necessary items for construction:
bowl or vase with wide mouth (approx 5-6 in diameter)
foam or loosely balled foil with a cover, such as lettuce leaves or melon rind

1. Prep your base first by placing the loosely balled foil into the bottom of your vase or bowl until its 3/4 full. Then place the covering over it. I used the rind from the cantaloupe and it looked so cute! Or if you happen to have florist foam you can just place it in the bottom with or without a cover. Just be sure it fits snug.

2. Now here is the beauty of making your own edible arrangements. You can choose exactly how many of each items, how tall they are,and how to arrange them; it's all up to you! So if you love strawberries, use more of those. If you are making this for friend who loves pineapple, go crazy. Also I found it easier, to choose one skewers to make all the holes in the base before you begin. I also choose to push the skewers in the base before adding the fruit. It seemed to work better.

3. Cut the cantaloupe into wedges after removing the rind. I tried to keep mine welly intact to use it as the cover. I also used a fancy vegetable slicer to add crinkled edge cuts on the cantaloupe. Set aside prepped cantaloupe.

4. The strawberries are very simple. Just remove the greenery on their tops with a knife and place on skewers. You certainly could dip them in chocolate. I wanted to dip the, but happened to be out of chocolate when I made these, which barely ever happens because I love chocolate!

5. The grapes were fun and easy. Slide the grapes on the skewers vertically and just keep filling your skewer until the grapes reach the top.

6. Now for the trickiest of all, the pineapple flower. I used a star-shaped cookie cutter for this flower. Cut out one flower in the middle of the slice. Then, using a paring knife, carefully cut through the middle horizontally to make two 1/2" thick stars. Use a small piece of toothpick to securely attach the two stars in the middle and put one blueberry on the end and skewer up the center of the flower. Viola!

7. Be sure to keep your arrangements covered in saran or cellophane and in the refrigerator. And try to make it near to the time you will be serving or delivering the arrangements, so the fruit is fresh as possible!

Veggie Edible Arrangement

10 radishes
10 asparagus stalks
1 small bunch of fresh dill stalks
1 container of cherry tomatoes
1 cup of dressing (Ranch, blue cheese, Caesars, etc)

Also some necessary items for construction:
bowl, vase, or Ball jars

1. Start by washing and preparing a large bowl of cold water to let the radishes soak in.

2. Using a small paring knife, cut off the tops of radishes and level the bottoms.

3. Begin to make small cuts on the sides of the radishes, but don't go all the way down. Leave the bottom connected as a flap for petals. Let soak in cold water for about an hour to open the "flowers".

4. Remove the tops of the asparagus and put half a toothpick into the bottom of the stalk.

5. Push one radish flower onto the toothpick and repeat with the rest of the asparagus and radishes.

6. You can either use a dressing in the bottom to appear as "water" in your vase or what I did which was fill the bottom inch of the vase with cherry tomatoes.

7. Stand up the "flowers" and dill, which acts as your greenery, in the vase and that's it! Also, keep this arrangement in the refrigerator and serve/deliver as soon as possible for fresh veggies!

Source: The Dapper Darling

Also featured on: Works for Me Wednesday

Irish Cream Fruit Dip

Strawberries were on sale this week, so, of course, a bunch ended up in my cart. While I was trying to think of something new to incorporate these strawberries, I rummaged around the fridge for inspiration. I noticed some mascarpone cheese, one of my favorites. And I saw the Irish cream I had recently made for St. Patrick's Day! So I thought Italian cheese + Irish cream would make a great homemade fruit dip for those strawberries and it turned out yummy. The dip was slightly sweet, nice and thick with the mild flavor of Irish cream.

6 oz cream cheese
8 oz mascarpone cheese
4 tbsp brown sugar
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup Irish cream

1. Beat mascarpone and cream cheese together in a large bowl.

2. Add all other ingredients into bowl.

3. Beat together until creamy and well blended.

4. Serve with various fruits, small cookies or maybe even include it in a parfait.

Also featured on: Real Food Wednesday and Works for Me Wednesday

Friday, March 11, 2011

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Before I tell you about this recipe, let me share a little but about my unhealthy obsession with the crock pot. It's been a constant battle for me, because I love the crock pot's abilities. Slow cooking offers moist meals, little work and prep, simple steps, and lots of flavor. But every time I thought about cooking something in the crock pot a little voice in my head said, "You are cheating!" I felt that real cooking takes more time, more effort, more work and using the crock pot gave me that guilty feeling like I am taking the cop-out; the easy route. It's the same feeling I have when I get a craving for Kraft Mac and Cheese. When I was younger, I was a super picky eater, the worst you could find, and I lived on Kraft Mac and Cheese. Nowadays, I'd gladly prefer my Grandma's Mac and Cheese or Italian Mac and Cheese, but there's still a place in my heart for that blue box. Well, I've decided that this year I am resolving my battle with the crock pot and putting it to good use more often, because this dinner was amazing! It's a new favorite for sure. Even with its minimal effort, this dish was so yummy and full of flavor! The slow roasted garlic gave it a more mild flavor, and the meat was fall-off-the-bone perfect! I will say peeling the 40 cloves of garlic was let's say a but time consuming. Next time, I may purchase pre-peeled garlic...

3 and 1/2 lbs of chicken pieces, I used leg quarters
3 tbsp olive oil
40 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp rosemary
1 tsp basil
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour

1. Rinse chicken pieces in water and pat dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper

2. Drizzle one tbsp olive oil in bottom of 5 quart crock pot. Place chicken in crock pot.

3. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and sprinkle rosemary, basil, and paprika. Then add the garlic cloves.

4. Let cook on low setting for 6 hours. Stir the garlic cloves and chicken around once halfway through cooking.

5. About half an hour before the chicken was finished cooking, remove about ten or twelve roasted garlic cloves and mash them with a fork, set aside.

6. Near the end of the cooking time, remove the juices from the bottom of the crock pot with a ladle and fill a small sauce pot. Add about half of the smashed garlic and one tbsp of butter and one tbsp of flour to make a yummy gravy. I also added the other half of the mushed garlic to the mashed potatoes to make garlic mashed potatoes.

Source: Adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking

Minestrone Soup

My mom and I were lucky to both have a day with nothing to do recently. This is quite a rarity for us since we are both always running around all day and never have spare time at the same time. We decided to some cooking because we had a busy week ahead and knew some nights could quickly turn to pizza or take out (not that I mind those nights on occasion). We made a double batch of this minestrone soup, so we would have plenty for the busy nights. This soup recipe is one of my family's favorites that has been passed down from my Mom's Mom. I hope that you and your family enjoy it as much as we do!

12 cups water
2 1/2 cups dried navy beans
1 1/2 cups of dried northern beans
6 strips low-sodium bacon, chopped
6 tbsp olive oil
2 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 stalks of celery, sliced
4 small carrots, peeled and sliced
2 medium potatoes, diced
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 quarts hot water
1/2 cup pre-cooked rice
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup tomato paste
Pecorino Romano, grated for topping
oyster crackers, for garnish

1. Bring 12 cups of water to boil in a large sauce pot. Add the beans gradually to keep the water boiling.
2. Simmer beans for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Set aside to soak an hour and a half.

3. Add bacon to the pot of beans and return to medium heat. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low whiling stirring occasionally.

4. While beans are simmering, heat olive oil in skillet and cook the onions and garlic just until browned, then set aside.

5. After beans have simmered one hour, add onions, garlic, celery, carrots, potatoes, parsley, salt and pepper. Slowly pour in two quarts of hot water and simmer about two hours until beans are tender.

6. Meanwhile, cook rice traditionally. When the soup is almost done cooking, add in rice and peas. Cook another 10 minutes or so until the peas are tender, then stir in tomato paste. Simmer another ten minutes and remove from heat. Sprinkle with cheese and crackers.

Approx. 10-12 servings

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls

It's still cold out and while I can't wait for the warmer weather to come around, I'm enjoying the comfort food that you can only get away with eating in the winter. So here is a great breakfast treat that's sweet and fun to make with the family. We recently made these during a snowed-in day with all my cousins. I've made these cinnamon rolls many times before and always loved them.

Cinnamon Rolls:
3 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 (1-pound) loaf frozen white bread dough, thawed

3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp mascarpone cheese
2 oz cream cheese
1 tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla

1. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, and cinnamon and set aside.

2. Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to a 12 x 9 inch rectangle.

3. Sprinkle sugar mix evenly on top of the entire stretched out dough, except the outer inch.

4. Brush melted butter on that outer inch of dough without sugar.

5. Beginning with one of the long sides, start rolling up the dough jelly roll style. Pinch edges to seal.

6. Cut in the dough into nine or ten equal pieces and place cut side down into a buttered baking dish. Or if you prefer, you can cut smaller pieces for more cinnamon rolls of a smaller size.

7. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let the cinnamon rolls sit in a warm area to rise for 45 minutes.

8. Bake for about 35 minutes uncovered on 325 degrees until golden brown.

9. While the cinnamon rolls are baking, make the icing. Whisk together the powdered sugar, mascarpone, cream cheese, buttermilk, and vanilla until well combined.

10. Brush melted butter lightly over tops of warm cinnamon rolls and then drizzle icing over the tops. Serve warm!

Source: Giada De Laurentis

Also Featured on Tasty Tuesdays