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Friday, May 5, 2017

Free Food Friday! Crumb Cake for the Office

Today is Friday!  Friday holds a special day in the hearts of people who work Monday through Friday.  The week is coming to a close, the coveted days of Saturday and Sunday are coming.  You are either looking at your long to do list for the house, or planning the vents you are attending.  Even when your weekend is going to be just as hectic as your work week, the weekends are always better. 

Although Friday is a special day, you still have to actually get through Friday!  You need to go to work, trudge through the day, and keep your eye on that Saturday prize!  How can we make getting through Friday a little easier?  CRUMB CAKE! 

It's true!  Food at work that is made by you or someone else is a special treat.  I love to bake for the people I work with.  Sometimes we even have a conversation about the yummy treat that may or may not make it into the office.  This happened this week.  I spoke with a fellow co-worker Thursday at the end of the day saying, "What yummy treat should I make for Friday?"  I was given the green light to make anything.  
Truth be told, I had another treat in mind, but this morning I discovered I did not have all the ingredients.  Since going to the store was simply impossible, I resorted to Plan B.  Plan B was to grab a beloved Gooseberry Patch Cookbook and find a crumb cake.  There are countless crumb cakes in the numerous books I own.  I grabbed "Grandma's Kitchen" assuming that a book devoted to the treats our grandmother's ha made could not and would not fail me.  I was right! 
2 1/4 Cup Flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Cup Brown Sugar
3/4 Cup Shortening (not oil)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. Oriental Spices (combo of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger)
1 Cup Buttermilk
2 Eggs
Garnish: Walnuts (or Pecans)
  • Preheat Oven to 375 degrees.
  • Cut the Shortening into the flour, salt, and brown sugar.  Cut until combined and crumbly. (**I used a pastry cutter and that made is extremely easy!)
**TIP**  You can measure shortening easily when you fit a measuring cup with water up to about 1-2 cups.  drop shortening into the water.  When the measurement is 3/4 cup more, you just measured 3/4 cup of shortening.  Pour out the water and dump the shortening into the bowl!

  • Set aside 3/4 - 1 Cup. 
  • Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.  There will be lumps if you are mixing by hand and that is perfectly fine.  (Crumb cakes are very forgiving)
  • Pour into a 9x13 inch pan.  Sprinkle the walnuts (or any other nut.  You can even use chocolate chips if you want or any other chips... peanut butter... etc).  Sprinkle 3/4-1 Cup crumble over the entire pan. 
  • Bake for 25-35 minutes... or until a toothpick comes out clean. (It took me about 45-55 minutes.. keep this in mind if you are making it last minute) 

Unfortunately for me... I did not take a completed photo before leaving the crumb cake on the break room table.  By the time a remembered this I was far to late to capture an cut cake.  But, truthfully... I like this picture much better!


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Quick and Easy Coconut Custard Pie

My Father LOVES coconut.  His particular favorite is Coconut Custard Pie.  He is also a fan of eggs, so this makes a lot of sense. 

His birthday was in April.  My job was to make the coveted coconut pie.  I pulled out my trusty and SIMPLE recipe.  
You have 3 options for the pie crust: 
  1. Make your own homemade crust (several recipes exist. All claim to be the best.  Most are absolutely perfect to use). 
  2. Buy a pre-made Crust in a pan (unbaked).  The truth is, pie crust dough is so simple, the store bought will perfectly acceptable. 
  3. Roll out pre-made dough to put on a pie pan of your own.  (I did this one... it made making this pie all the easier).
3 Eggs
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 2/3 Cup Milk (I used light cream)
2 tsp. vanilla 
Pinch of salt
1 cup coconut (I was LIBERAL with this and used a heck of a lot more - a 7 oz. bag)
Cinnamon or Nutmeg to Sprinkle on top of pie.

- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined. 
- Pour filling in the unbaked pie crust. 
- If you made your own crust or rolled the pre-made crust into the pan, crimp the edges.  I use a spoon to shape even edges. (You didn't hear it from me, but you can even take the pre-made crust in the pan... and mush the edges to then form with your spoon to make it look like you made the crust yourself...).    ;-)
- Sprinkle either cinnamon, nutmeg, or a combo of both on the pie for visual appeal. 
- Cover the crust with folded foil (I do not like the silicone crust savers)
- Bake in a 400 degree oven for 45-55 minutes.  (Or until the center no longer jiggles).
Finally, sit back and enjoy this simple and yummy pie!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Leftover Goodness - Chicken Soup from Osso Buco Broth

Yesterday I posted the amazing Osso Buco recipe (Check it out here!)

I mentioned that the broth left in the stock pot is packed with flavor and would be GOLD to use later. 

I decided to used that gold to make Chicken and Polish Noodle Soup!

- Magic Broth (if not magic broth... use chicken broth)
- Carrots (about 5 large)
- 1 Large Onion
- 4-5 Celery
- Green Onions
- 1 pound Chicken
- Additional Chicken Broth (1 or more cans) 
- One Whole Garlic peeled and minced
- Polish noodles (or any other thick noodle) 
- Salt, Pepper, and seasonings of your choosing

 Dice the vegetables and onion.  Mix with Magic Broth in a large stock pot. 
Cook on medium heat to sweat out the vegetables. 


- While the vegetables are sweating, peel and mince your garlic.  Place garlic in stock pot with the vegetables to cook. 

- Dice Chicken and place in with vegetables and broth.


Boil your Noodles until it is slightly firm and drain. 

- Add noodles to the broth and vegetables.  If more broth is needed, as chicken broth to the soup.  Shut off heat.  The noodles with take in flavor and soften more. 

- Season soup to your liking with salt, pepper, etc. 

** I enjoyed eating this soup with my Martha Stewart magazine.  

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Husband Cooks Part 2: Osso Buco and Saffron Risotto

As promised, I finally have the opportunity to share with you the infamous "Osso Buco" recipe with Saffron Risotto!  Truth be told, i did not make this amazing dish in any way.  My husband Rob had the day off and made this absolutely delectable dish. 

According to Rob, he used the following recipe from Food Network: Osso Buco and Saffron Risotto
I am including the recipe below with photos, and little tidbits of additional information as you go. 


Grated rind of 1 lemon
Grated rind of 1 orange
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1/2 cup flour
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 pieces veal shank with bone, cut 3 inches thick
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 cup dry Marsala
2 cups veal or chicken stock
2 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
Saffron Risotto, recipe follows

8 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Arborio rice
3 pinches saffron threads
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and pepper, to taste



In a large shallow platter, season flour with salt and pepper. Pat the veal shanks in the mixture and tap off any excess.  

  • You are basically covering the veal shanks in this mixture.  You will not be using ALL the flour mixture.

In a large heavy skillet or Dutch oven, over medium flame, heat the oil and butter. Sear the shanks on all sides, turn bones on sides to hold in marrow. Add more oil and butter if needed. Remove the browned veal shanks and set aside.  
  • DO NOT pat off the oil!  You are simply setting these bad boys aside for later.  All the flavor is in the oil and whatnot. 

Add onion, celery, carrots, garlic, bay leaves and parsley to the pan and cook until softened. Season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high, add the wine and deglaze the pan.  
  • This basically means you will add some red wine to unstick the yummy tidbits in the pan.  This deglazing will turn into our amazing broth/sauce.
Return the shanks to the pan, add the stock and tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is tender. Baste the meat a few times during cooking. 
  • DO NOT skip the basting step.  Basting will keep the meat tender and full of those tasty juices.  You want to make sure you keep spreading that flavor over the meat.  
Remove the cover, continue to simmer for 10 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit (Thicken the sauce).

For gremolata: combine all ingredients together in a small bowl. Strew the gremolata over the osso buco before serving. Serve osso buco with Saffron Risotto.

In a saucepan, bring chicken broth to a simmer. Keep warm over low heat.

In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add oil and rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to coat each grain. When rice begins to make a crackling sound, add saffron threads. 

Add 1 cup of the warm chicken broth and cook, stirring, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Add the remaining broth, 1 cup at a time.  

  • A little splash of white wine with the broth never hurt anyone! 

Continue to stir, allowing the rice to absorb each addition of broth before adding more. Test the rice for doneness, it should be al dente but creamy (a little firm).
Remove risotto from heat, add grated cheese, salt and pepper. Serve at once with Osso Buco Milanese.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Husband Cooks - Garlic Caramelized Broccoli Side Kicker Recipe

I am lucky to have a husband who also cooks in the house.  In fact, we both love food and working in the kitchen so much, we end up debating who can out cook the other.  He works with food all day, so he has a little bit of an unfair advantage, but I still think I am a worthy sparing partner.

Several weeks ago, I went to Philadelphia for a conference.  I stopped at the Reading Terminal Market and picked up some lovely cuts of meat at a butcher stand.  One special cut of meat was Osso Bucco! I wanted to make something special with this Ox tail, but did not have the time.  Rob decided to make a special meal with it a couple days ago.  I will be posting the Osso Bucco recipe in a day or two.  Today, we will focus on the side dish...

Garlic Caramelized Broccoli!

Doesn't that just sound amazing and not terribly difficult? How can you go wrong with garlic and caramelized anything?

Here's what you'll need:


3 tablespoons olive oil
2 heads of broccoli (cut the heads and half lengthwise)
1/2 cup water
3 garlic cloves, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil (keep 1 tablesppoon aside for later). 
  • Add the broccoli, cut side down, cover and cook over moderate heat until richly browned on the bottom, about 8 minutes. 
  • Add the water, cover and cook until the broccoli is just tender and the water has evaporated, about 7 minutes. 
  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil along with the garlic and cook uncovered until the garlic is golden brown, about 3 minutes. 
  • Season the broccoli with salt and black pepper, drizzle with the lemon juice.

Check back soon for the Osso Bucco recipe and cheese risotto!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sweet and Easy Recipe for Easter Paska Bread

My sister Carol is a lover of tradition and history.  As a result, Easter is a favorite time for her.  She LOVES cooking and baking traditional foods from Europe.  She also is engrossed in the little traditions that make this religious holiday special.

One such tradition our family has partially engaged in is the Easter Paska bread.  I say partially because we never made the bread, we simply bought it.  

This year, Carol said she wanted to make the bread but didn't have time.  I decided to try my hand at it alone at home before announcing it to the family.  I didn't want to bring a hockey puck to dinner.  Armed with a recipe, I started baking.  I had a BLAST!!! It was so much fun baking this bread.  Especially doing the braids on top. 

Even though Easter is over, try this bread recipe and have some fun making the prettiest bread on the block! 


1/2 cup warm water
1 tablespoon quick rise instant or dry active yeast
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
1 cup scalded milk
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
4 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
1 small egg
1 tablespoon water

Turn your oven on to 350 (or so) and let the oven begin to heat up for 5 minutes then turn the oven off. Now you have a great place for warming the bread.  You do not need to do this step if you have a warm place or if you are baking other items and the top of the stove is nice and warm.

In a small pot over medium-high heat, scald the milk. Add 1/4 cup sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add water, 1 tablespoon of sugar, and yeast. Stir gently until yeast is combined and then let mixture sit for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, your yeast mixture should have grown and become frothy. If not, either your water was too hot or the yeast is old.  I used yeast from over a year ago and it still worked.  

** Frothy Water and Yeast looks like this.

In a small bowl, lightly whisk 2 large eggs. Add oil and melted butter and mix until combined. Add the egg mixture to the milk mixture.

To the yeast mixture add 4 cups of flour and the salt. Use the dough hook attachment.  Turn mixer on low unless you want to shower the kitchen with flour. Increase speed to medium/low and mix until dough is well combined. 

Continue mixing for several minutes. Your dough should begin to pull away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky and does not pull away from the sides, add an additional 1/4 cup of flour at a time until it begins to pull away.  Be careful here.  The more flour you add, the heavier the bread will be.  You do not want the dough very sticky so you cannot handle it, but you don't want it heavy.  Add additional flour in small increments.

Transfer the dough to a large bowl, lightly coated with oil. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and place in the preheated oven. Do not turn the oven back on. Insert a wooden spoon or similar object in the oven door to prevent it from closing all the way. This will allow a small amount of the heat to escape. You don’t want to cook the dough yet, just warm it enough for it to rise. Let the dough rise for 45 minutes or until it has doubled in size. Once it has risen, punch it down, and cover it with a tea towel and place it back in the oven to repeat the process.

**I have this awesome pastry board that I use for anything that requires rolling.  Once done, I simply clean the pastry board and there is very little cleanup on the counters!**

Once the dough has risen a second time, punch the dough back down. Cut off four golf ball sized pieces and use those to make the braids. Using lightly floured hands, roll each ball into a strip about 10 inches in length. Cross two strips over each other and pinch at the top and bottom to form a braid. Repeat with the other two strips.

Transfer the ball of dough to a well-greased dutch oven or oven safe pot. Place one of the braids over the dough ball, tucking the ends under the ball, pinching if necessary. Place the second braid in a cross pattern over the first, tucking and pinching if necessary. Cover the dough with a tea towel and let it rise and rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

While dough is resting, whisk together 1 small egg and 1 tablespoon of water to make an egg wash. Once dough has rested, use a pastry brush to brush the top of the dough with the egg wash. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the bread is golden brown and your kitchen smells like Heaven. Remove from the oven and let cool before removing it from the pan.

Once removed, bring to Easter dinner and enjoy!!!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Chocolate Chip Walnut Coffee Cake

It's no secret that I love cookbooks.  I think I recently mentioned that quite extensively.  My sister informed me that I should post photos of my actual cookbook stash.  Well I could not fit them all in one photo, but here is my one bookcase of books.  I have a few more shelves dedicated to Christmas and cookies only.  I Also took a picture of my coveted Gooseberry Patch Books. 

Over the Easter weekend I baked and cooked A LOT of new things. I'll be posting them throughout the week.  

For Monday, the first day after a 3 day weekend, I though I would post coffee cake... Chocolate Chip Walnut Coffee Cake to be precise.  It can be hard to get moving after a longer weekend, especially when that long weekend was packed with running around, cooking, cleaning, and family get togethers.  In other words, the Monday when you are anything but rested but you had every intention of taking the holiday "slow" or "easy" this year.  Yup, we all have been there and failed.  
My suggestion, add one more thing to your crazy weekend. 
Seriously, add baking this coffee cake to your Sunday night and Monday morning will feel... a little less soul crushing. 

This recipe comes from my stash of Gooseberry Patch books I keep in my living room for easy access.  I like to read them as novels on a slow night.  

"Country Baking" is a personal favorite and the home to today's recipe. 

The recipe itself is super easy.  Follow the above and enjoy! 

A few tips: 
- I used mini Bundt pans for individual portions.  If you want to do the same, you will need to reduce the baking time.  Mine needed about 20-25 minutes.  You can also do muffin pans.  If you do, you will need about 25-30 minutes.  The key is to choose less time and check it often.

- Have berries handy.  My sister Carol took the finished product photo below.  Shew as smart to include some berries.  The tart and sweet berries compliment the cake very well. 

Okay, now that you baked this lovely item the night before, you now have a special treat to enjoy Monday morning with your coffee. 

Enjoy everyone!  I hope your Monday back to work after the Easter weekend is now a little bit sweeter!