Monday, May 27, 2013

Baked Ricotta Dip

We had a cookout the other night in celebration of the first weekend of the summer season and I wanted to try a new appetizer recipe.  Something that was quick and easy to make.  This one fit the bill.  As long as you have a container of ricotta in the refrigerator, some lemons, garlic and fresh herbs growing in your garden, you can whip this one up in seconds.  

We served this with Pita Chips for something lighter than baguettes.  Once it sat for awhile, I threw it back in the microwave to reheat it for late party guest (or our son who came upstairs from playing in the basement while appetizers were being served).

Baked Ricotta with Lemon, Garlic, & Chives

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer
15 ounces (about 2 cups) whole milk ricotta
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 ounce fresh chives, minced (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
Small crackers or slices of baguette, to serve
Heat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 1/2- to 1-quart gratin dish or baking pan. 
Mix the ricotta, lemon juice and zest, garlic, chives, and salt, and a generous quantity of fresh black pepper. Spread in the baking dish and drizzle with olive oil. (At this point you can cover and refrigerate the ricotta overnight, if desired.) 
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until hot. Drizzle again with olive oil. Serve immediately with crackers for dipping. 

Little burst of joy

Each year on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend we have a chicken cookout with some of our friends.  This started years ago when we were outside  on that day planting and getting our yard ready for summer.  Our neighbors across the street we doing the same so we decided that we would get together for dinner that night.  I was preparing chicken and some sides, they brought the dessert.  That weekend years ago was just like this one - a bit cold and a little bit of rain.  But we made the most of it.  We had a great chicken dinner and started to drink some Mumm Napa Champagne.  We ended up calling our foodie friends to come over for dessert and more champagne.  I think you know where this is going......  At the end of that evening Giada from across the street said the now famous line " We just came for the chicken dinner........"

"Giada" and Hubby
Foodie Friends

Our Back Yard Peeps!
Our chicken this year was the thin cut boneless breast lightly marinated in basil vinaigrette, then grilled.  We then offered chicken toppings!  Pesto, bruschetta, lemon artichoke pesto and a Portobello mushroom bruschetta.  
Grilled Chicken and Toppings!

But the best thing that night was hubby's Rum Raisin Tiramisu!  This was a triumphant return of the Tiramisu because he made this about 2 years ago for Easter dinner but at that time he put a little too much rum in the mix.  I bet you are saying that there can't ever be too much rum, but there was.  Our foodie friend described the Tiramisu's raisins as "Little Burst of Joy", so that is what I am calling this post.  

To another successful Chicken Dinner, at least the food, drinks and our guest are concerned.  The weather - not so much! 
So not the best picture.... But look how good this looks!

Ina Garten's Rum Raisin Tiramisu


3/4 cup raisins
1 cup Mount Gay dark rum, divided, plus 2 tablespoons
6 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
16 to 18 ounces Italian mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, divided (2 oranges)
1 1/2 teaspoons good vanilla extract
Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
24 to 30 Italian ladyfingers, or savoiardi
Semisweet chocolate, shaved


Place the raisins and 2 tablespoons of rum in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the microwave on high for 1 minute. Uncover and set aside to cool.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed for 5 minutes, until very thick and light yellow. Lower the speed to low and mix in the mascarpone until smooth. With the mixer still on low, add 1/2 cup of rum, 1/4 cup of orange juice, the vanilla extract, and the seeds from the vanilla bean. Stir until combined.

Pour the remaining 1/2 cup of rum and remaining 1/2 cup of orange juice in a shallow bowl. Dip one side of each ladyfinger quickly in the rum mixture and place them in one layer in a 9 by 11 by 2-inch rectangular or oval dish. Break the ladyfingers in smaller pieces and dip them in the rum mixture to fill the spaces. Sprinkle half the rum-soaked raisins evenly on top. Pour half the mascarpone mixture over and spread evenly. Repeat the layers of dipped ladyfingers, rum-soaked raisins, and mascarpone mixture. Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, but preferably overnight.

Before serving, sprinkle the top with the shaved chocolate and serve cold.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Easy side dish

Talk about an Easy side dish!  This one takes the cake.  I was looking through my Pinterest pins to find something to go along with our Mozzarella Chicken.  Martha Stewart  had posted a rice pilaf with thyme rice that looked really easy.  Looking over the recipe I knew we had all the ingredients on hand.  

Check out my Pinterest board, Tried it, Loved it to see the recipe on this one!  Browse the other boards for appetizer ideas, recipes I love, looks yummy or let them eat cake.  I have also started a board for Dining with a Dinergirl.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mozzarella Chicken

Sunday night dinner time, what do we make?  Well there is chicken breast in the refrigerator that we can grill, but what do we do with it?  How about Mozzarella Chicken?  Your asking yourself whose recipe is that?  Ina? Paula? Giada? No....Joanne's.  

Ok, it is something I just decided to throw together and it came out great.  


3 large chicken breast, pounded thin
Garlic salt
Sliced mozzarella chicken
1 1/2onions caramelized 


Sliced onions and place in a sauté pan with account 2 teaspoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter.  Slowly cook over low to medium heat.  After onions have cooked about 10 minutes, sprinkle with kosher salt.  Continue cooking until onions are soft and golden brown.

Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken breast with garlic salt and grill over medium to high heat until done.  Once the chicken is cooked, place a slice of mozzarella on each breast to begin melting.  Remove from grill and transfer to plate.  Cover with caramelized onions and serve. 

Any type of cheese will do.  The next time I try this I would love to use Yancey's Steakhouse Onion.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Thank You Mom!

Thank you Mom!  You have been a great role model to me.  As a mother, you have always been there when we need you.    You are a no nonsense, down to earth and fun loving mom and grandma to all.  Even growing up I remember how my friends would love to come over and play cards or games with you.  

You taught me to be independent and caring individual.  You taught me what a family is and how to cherish our times together.  I hope you enjoyed your day and your gift.

You are a beautiful grandma, mother.  You were a beautiful young woman and an adorable little girl!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Birthday Cake #2 - Happy Birthday Big Guy!

Now we have two teenagers in the house.Thursday  our little man turned 13!    Boy, has time flown by. Since it was a Thursday evening full of activities, we have to postpone the big birthday dinner out.  But don't worry, he got one of his favorite meals, pasta.  He did get his birthday cake of choice, once again made by Dad, Ina Garten's Beatty's Chocolate Cake, but with Peanut Butter Frosting!  Out of this world!
Hanging with My Daddy - 2000

Sending sissy off to school

Happy Birthday 'Little Man"


Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Peanut Butter Icing, recipe follows (recipe is for cupcakes, so we made 1 1/2 times the amount for the cake)


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Kathleen's Peanut Butter Icing:

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Birthday Cake #1

We just finished celebrating our daughters 17th  birthday and in just a few days our son turns 13.  Each one gets to choose a place for dinner and what kind of cake they would like.  For our "princess" she wanted her Dad to make her his Red Velvet Cake,(really it is Sunny Anderson's Red Velvet Cake), and he quickly obliged.  Off to the grocery store he went to get the two bottles of food coloring and other ingredients. Then made the cake base on Thursday Night following a practice of some sorts and then the frosting on Friday after work and before our dinner reservations. 

It was delicious!  Hubby is too critical of it, the nuts were toasted too much or he used a smaller pan than the last time, but the end results were delicious!   







Red Velvet Cake (Sunny Anderson - Food Network)


For the cake batter:

2 sticks butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 ounces red food coloring
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
Pinch salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Butter, for pan

For the Frosting:

5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
2 sticks butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Special Equipment: 12 by 17-inch jelly roll pan, parchment paper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar, until light and fluffy. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, make a paste out of the red food coloring, cocoa and salt. Remove bowl from stand mixer and mix in paste by hand to the creamed butter. In a measuring cup, stir eggs with buttermilk and add to batter. Mix in vinegar and vanilla, and then add flour and baking soda. Mix until combined but do not over mix.

Butter a sheet pan. Lay parchment on top. Butter the parchment. Pour batter into pan and smooth the top to even the batter out, using an offset spatula. Bake cake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in pan.

Meanwhile, make the frosting: Heat all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Whisk until sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before using.

Invert cake onto a cutting board and slice into quarters from the longer side. To assemble cake, spread 1 of the quarters with some of the frosting to cover. Sprinkle with a quarter of the pecans. Add another layer of cake and repeat. Continue until last layer is added. Frost the top of that and sprinkle with remaining pecans.
So Happy Birthday to our Daughter!  and what delight will our son request?  Yum!

Oh So Easy Parmesan Risotto

I love to make Risotto, but the time it takes to make it on the stove is a bit much.  Heating up the stock to gradually add it to the rice and then the constant stirring that takes away from the rest of the dinner preparation.  So my cooking idol Ina Garten has a recipe that is sooo easy!  We had this the other night minus the frozen peas.  Not because we don't like them, just because we didn't have any.  Another option to add to this recipe might be julienned sun dried tomatoes. 


1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
5 cups simmering chicken stock, preferably homemade, divided
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup frozen peas


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the rice and 4 cups of the chicken stock in a Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset. Cover and bake for 45 minutes, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente.

Remove from the oven, add the remaining cup of chicken stock, the Parmesan, wine, butter, salt, and pepper, and stir vigorously for 2 to 3 minutes, until the rice is thick and creamy.

Add the peas and stir until heated through. Serve hot. From stovetop to table in about 1 hour. 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Easy Rosemary Potatoes

Need a quick and easy side dish?  This one is a family staple in my house.  I found this years ago in Cooking Light.  I made a copy, cut it out and put in on a index card for my recipe box.  You remember what those are, right?  You can see the card in the top left corner of the picture.  Other than the tablespoon of butter and the plastic wrap to cover them , all of the ingredients are right here.

Now, I said before in an earlier post my pork tenderloin with sage wrapped in pancetta was my little man's favorite meal,  well now meet his favorite potatoes. 




Easy Rosemary Potatoes

1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, quartered (about 4 cups)




Place butter and garlic in an 8-inch square baking dish.

Microwave at MEDIUM-HIGH (70% power) 45 seconds or until butter melts.

Add rosemary, salt, pepper, and potatoes; toss well.

     Cover and microwave at HIGH for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  We served these with chicken breast cutlets that were barbequed and then topped with fresh Bruscetta topping from the olive bar at our Wegmans.