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Ghosts in the Graveyard, Just in Time for Halloween
Oct 30th, 2013 by

My brother, Pete, used a vampire from Burger King, owned by 3G Capital, to decorate this dessert.

My brother, Pete, used a vampire from Burger King, owned by 3G Capital, to decorate this dessert.

It’s scary, I know: a recipe from a gigantic food conglomerate.

The man wants to sell more Cool Whip so he relies on creative to come up with a recipe millions will be forced to make, at least once each year. My brother is one of those millions who makes this dessert each year. However, he’s no tool. His is much better than the original recipe served up by Kraft, Inc.

Instead of “CAMEO creme sandwich cookies” as recommended by the man. He gets radical and used Milano Cookies from Pepperidge Farm, which is owned by the Campbell Soup Company.

Yes, “To Serve Man” is a cookbook.

Get the recipe here.

The 12 Treats of Christmas
Dec 17th, 2012 by

A few of these recipes are misfits, but still very good.

A few of these recipes are misfits, but still very good.

There are some foods I make every year around Christmastime. They are tried and true classics that continue to make taste buds happy year after year. And each year, I also try some new recipes. Some stick and become a classic, others fade away either because they didn’t deliver on their promise or simply because of neglect: like a broken doll on the Island of Misfit Toys in the “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” TV special.

Here are a list of winning recipes. Most I make every year. But there are a few neglected misfits too that are worthy of a new chance in a New Year. We’ll start with the desserts because this time of year is so sweet:

DESSERTS:

This is more of a snack than a dessert but anytime you eat it, it's delicious.

Chocolate Bread is more of a snack than a dessert but anytime you eat it, it's delicious.

1.) Pane alla Cioccolata (Chocolate Bread)This lightly sweetened bread is great with a cup of coffee or a glass of red wine. You can spread cream cheese over it, but Mascarpone cheese is better.

2.) Chocolate Bark (Christmas Gift): The only thing that would be easier than making this sweet treat would be going out and buying it.

3.) Cenci (Florentine Rags): Cenci are a deep-fried Florentine winter treat, made from Epiphany to Mardi Gras.

4.) Christmas Befana Cookies: My grandmother, Bruna, made these Befana cookies every Christmas.

5.) Chocolate Kahlua Rum Balls: Another quick and easy treat to make. Makes a good gift too.

APPETIZERS:

Ribollita is a hearty soup for a cold December day.

Ribollita is a hearty soup for a cold December day.

6.) Ribollita Soup: One of the most loved recipes in the RootsLiving collection. Who knew, Tuscan Bean Soup, would be such a crowd pleaser?

7.) Asian Shrimp Salad: Trish found this recipe in an old cookbook a previous tenant left in her apartment about 30 years ago. It has become a traditional Christmas Day appetizer.

SIDE DISH:

8.) Nan’s Mashed Potatoes (with Cream Cheese and Sour Cream): No Christmas Roast Beast would be complete without a side dish of this. It puts the “comfort” in comfort food.

ENTREES:

Shrimp Saute can be served as an appetizer or as the main dish.

Shrimp Saute can be served as an appetizer or as the main dish.

9.) Shrimp Saute (For the New Year): I made this for the first time last year, but it’s a keeper. From Joshua’s Restaurant in Wells, Maine.

10.) Best Lobster Stew Recipe, Ever!: The recipe is from Morrison’s of Portland, Maine. It’s even easier to make if you have your lobsters steamed when you buy them.

11.) Pizza: Cheese and Fig & Proscuitto (from Figs Restaurant): My grandmother made pizza every Christmas Eve. This recipe is a combination of her pizza, Julia Child’s pizza, and Todd English’s pizza.

12.) Breakfast for Dinner: Gingerbread Pancakes: In these last, short, dark days of December sometimes it’s nice to stay in your pajamas all day and have breakfast for dinner. Here’s a suggestion in keeping with the holiday spirit.

Yogurt Sundaes
Jul 27th, 2011 by

Nothing is as quick and easy and sweet.

Nothing is as quick and easy and sweet.

Here’s a nice, light dessert for a summer’s night whether you’re on a diet or not. I sometimes prefer this to ice cream.

Ingredients:

  • Greek Yogurt, non-fat. 8 oz.
  • Strawberries, sliced. 3 or 4, preferably locally grown.
  • Blueberries, a handful, preferably locally grown.
  • Walnuts, about 1/8 of a cup, crumbled into small pieces.
  • Honey. About 1/2 tsp.

What I did:

Mix strawberries and blueberries with yogurt.

Sprinkle walnuts on top.

Drizzle honey over it.

Chocolate Kahlua Rum Balls
Dec 23rd, 2010 by

You don't cook these so the alcohol doesn't evaporate.

You don't cook these so the alcohol doesn't evaporate.

This is a quick and easy treat to make. And they make a great gift around the holidays too.

I got the recipe from the December, 1997 edition of Bon Appetit magazine but it was my idea to add the Kahlua. You can also make the original recipe, omitting the Kahlua and adding additional rum. But be forewarned: these little devils pack a potent punch!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (about 12 ounces)
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 6 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup of dark rum
  • 1/4 cup of Kahlua
  • 5 cups of finely crushed vanilla wafer cookies (about 20 ounces)
  • 2 cups of finely chopped walnuts

Looking for something quick and simple to make to bring to a Christmas Eve dinner? Try these.

Looking for something quick and simple to make to bring to a Christmas Eve dinner? Try these.

What I did:

Stir chocolate in top of a double boiler set over simmering water until melted. Remove from on top of water.

Whisk in 1 cup of sugar and the corn syrup, then the rum and Kahlua.

Mix the vanilla wafers and the walnuts in a bowl and blend.

Add the chocolate mixture and stir to blend well.

Place remaining 1 cup of sugar in a shallow bowl. For each ball, roll a teaspoon of the chocolate mixture into a 1-inch ball.

Roll the balls in sugar to coat evenly.

Cover and refrigerate at least overnight and up to five days.

Makes about 80 balls.

Find more recipes in the Food section.

I’m Dreaming of a Black Forest Cake
Apr 9th, 2010 by

If you like cherry cordials, you'll love this.

Cherries and chocolate and whipped cream. Oh my!

Here’s the last recipe I’m giving out from our Easter feast. “What no recipe for the ham?” you ask. Sorry, but ham needs no recipe. You simply stick it in the oven.

“Someone defined eternity as a ham and two people.” That’s my favorite quote from the “The Joy of Cooking,” cookbook. And it’s true. We’re still eating ham leftovers.

But the Black Forest cake is long gone: just a distant chocolate, cherry and whipped cream dream.

Here’s how to make your own dreams come true:

Ingredients/Shopping List:

For the Cake:

  • All-purpose flour. (2 cups, plus 2 tbsp.) (I use King Arthur. It’s not bleached, and for me, local. It’s made in Vermont.)
  • Baking powder (1 1/2 tsp.)
  • Baking soda (3/4 tsp.)
  • Salt (3/4 tsp.)
  • Sugar (2 cups)
  • Cocoa (3/4 cup)
  • Eggs (3) (Always use “large” eggs for recipes.)
  • Milk (1 cup)
  • Vegetable oil (1/2 cup)
  • Vanilla (1 tbsp.)

For the Cherry Topping:

  • Tart pitted cherries (2 20 oz. cans, drained. Reserve 1/2 cup of the juice.)
  • Sugar (1 cup)
  • Cornstarch (1/4 cup)
  • Vanilla (1 tsp.)

For the Frosting:

  • Whipping cream (3 cups)
  • Powdered sugar (1/3 cup)

What I did:

To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans. Cover bottoms with waxed paper.

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Beat until well blended.

Pour evenly into prepared pans. Bake 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean.

Cool layers in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. Loosen edges and remove to racks to cool completely.

While cake is baking prepare cherry topping (see below) and cool.

Split cooled cakes horizontally in half to make 4 layers. Tear 1 layer into crumbs and set aside.

Make frosting (see below) and reserve 1 1/2 cups of it for decorating the cake and set aside.

To assemble, place 1 layer on cake plate. Spread with 1 cup of frosting. Top with 3/4 cup of cherry topping. Top with second cake layer. Repeat layers of frosting and cherry topping. Top with third cake layer.

Frost sides of cake with remaining frosting. Pat reserved crumbs into frosting on sides of the cake.

Pipe reserved 1 1/2 cups of frosting around the top and bottom edges of the cake. Spoon remaining cherry topping onto top of cake. Refrigerate.

To make the cherry topping:

Combine the reserved juice, cherries, sugar and cornstarch in a 2-quart saucepan. Cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Stir in vanilla. Cool and set aside.

To make the frosting:

Beat together the whipping cream and powdered sugar in a chilled bowl at high speed with electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

(This recipe is from “The Treasury of Creative Cooking,” which features award-winning recipes from around the country, all illustrated with full-page color photos. It was given to me as a gift about 18 years ago.)

Find more recipes from the Easter dinner menu.

Find more recipes in the Food section.

(Note: If you’d like to print this recipe, click here or on the headline on this post and then use the print button at the bottom of the post. In other words, print from the “permalink” not from the homepage.)

Rum, Yum: How a Midnight Snack Was Born
Feb 24th, 2010 by

What were you expecting: a photo of us in bed eating this delightful treat? Keep dreaming!

What were you expecting: a photo of us in bed eating this delightful treat? Keep dreaming!

Tricia had a craving for oatmeal with blueberries one night. She had been reading about this dish in a magazine or saw an ad there and mentioned it sounded good. So I said, we have frozen blueberries. I’ll add them to some oatmeal and we’ll have a snack.

I got out of bed, walked into the RootsLiving kitchen, poured about 3/4 of a cup of blueberries into a bowl and defrosted them in the microwave. I then went to the cereal cabinet, only to discover our two boys had eaten all of the oatmeal.

Hmm. What to do? I quickly surveyed the ingredients in our refrigerator and found some part-skim ricotta that was leftover from my “Vegetable Lasagna Masterpiece.” I then flashed back to my father making impromtu desserts using ricotta, rum and sugar.

That’ll work, but this dish needs something else. I walked into the RootsLiving butler’s pantry and saw an open package of “lemon snap” cookies. They’re like ginger snaps, only with a lemon flavor. I had bought them because as far as cookies go, they are a low-fat, low-calorie treat. And I knew that the flavors of lemon and blueberry work well together.

I crumbled about two cookies each in the bottom of two cereal bowls and then soaked them in dark rum (I’m lucky because I have Nardini rum, which can only be bought in a small mountain region near Lucca, Italy. In fact, you can’t even get this in Florence, which is only an hour or so away. Although this rum was perfect for this dish — and is also known for blending perfectly in a cup of espresso — you can use any good dark rum, such as Myer’s or Mount Gay.).

When the cookies were soft (about a minute later) I added a few heaping tablespoons of the ricotta in each bowl and about a teaspoon of sugar. I then stirred this concoction up and drizzled the warm blueberries with their juice over it.

The flavor was not too sweet, not too fruity, and had just the right kick to lull us off to sleep.

———————————-

OK. You heard the story, and now here’s the quick-scan recipe:

Ingredients/Shopping List

  • Lemon Snap Cookies (About four or five)
  • Dark rum (To taste, about 3/4 of a shot for each serving)
  • Part-skim ricotta cheese (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • Sugar (To taste, about one teaspoon per serving)
  • Blueberries, frozen. (About 3/4 of a cup, defrosted and warmed in a microwave oven.)

What I did:

I got out of bed.

Crumble the cookies in two cereal or dessert bowls. Add rum and let sit until cookies are soft (about one minute).

Add about 3/4 cup of ricotta cheese to each bowl. Sprinkle each bowl with a teaspoon of sugar. And mix well.

Drizzle the blueberries and their juice evenly into the two bowls.

Eat in bed. Sweet dreams.

Find more recipes in the Food section.

(Note: If you’d like to print this recipe, click here or on the headline on this post and then use the print button at the bottom of the post. In other words, print from the “permalink” not from the homepage.)

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