Ricotta Pecan Coffee Cake

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Ricotta Pecan Coffee Cake

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: Easy
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2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/ 2 cup butter, softened

3/ 4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 cup ricotta cheese

 

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

1 1/ 2 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

 

1/ 2 cup sweetened and salted whole pecans

Powdered sugar

 

  • Grease lightly the bottoms of 2 8-inch baking pans, then line with parchment paper.
  • Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and ricotta cheese. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and continue beating until well blended. Batter will be thick.
  • Pour 1/ 2 of the batter into lined baking pans equally and evenly.
  • Combine the brown sugar, chopped pecans, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle 1/ 2 of the topping over the top of the cake batter. Repeat another layer of batter and topping.
  • Lastly, press lightly the sweetened and salted whole pecans on top.
  • Refrigerator uncovered for 1 hour.
  • Oven to 350 degrees. Bake cakes for 40 to 50 minutes. Test center with a toothpick for doneness. Cool completely.
  • Optional – Before serving, sprinkle top with powdered sugar for decoration.  
  • ENJOY! – Best coffee cake with ricotta cheese ever!

This recipe came about because of two reasons. Reason number one, an unexpected guest was coming on Sunday for coffee at around 11:30 am and it was already 9:00 am. Reason number two, I found all of the ingredients handy in my refrigerator including just the right amount of ricotta needed. The topping of sweetened and salted whole pecans was a total last minute thought that turned out to be a great addition. Sometimes you have to be quick on your feet when it comes to entertaining at the last minute. I am always up to the challenge of whipping up something, even if it isn’t all homemade.

Years ago, my husband mentioned to me, last minute, that he invited some of his family over for dinner because they would happen to be in our neighborhood, in a few hours. I had no idea what I would serve; then like a drill sergeant, I started barking commands to the family. To my husband, “Get the dining room table pulled out and set up the room so I can serve buffet style.” To my son, who was driving at the time, “I need you to go to Price Club and buy two bags of frozen stuffed shells and one bag of frozen ready made meatballs.” There is always homemade spaghetti sauce in my freezer and I had everything to make a salad. The menu for dinner for about 15 people altogether was two trays of stuffed shells, a pot of meatballs in sauce, a tray of salad and Italian bread. When the family arrived for dinner, it was as if a tornado had touched down in my house and whipped up all the food into a cyclone and took it away. They came, they ate, they left. Nothing but a few meatballs at the bottom of a pot of sauce was left standing. When you use your own homemade sauce, everything you serve with it tastes ten times better. Don’t sweat the small stuff, so what if I didn’t make an elaborate dinner, I made dinner and in a short amount of time no less. That is what is important at the end of the day. Dinner was served.

Mangia, and the whole world Mangias with you!

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Cannoli Cake

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Cannoli Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: medium
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DSC04407

1 package butter recipe yellow cake mix

1 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/4 cup marcaspone cheese
mini chocolate chips

16 ounces heavy cream
powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
mini chocolate chips
powdered cocoa

1. Prepare cake mix according to package directions ahead of time. Use 2 8 or 9 inch greased and floured baking pans.
Cool after baking for 15 in pan and then remove to cool completely on wire racks. Set aside till later. (I bake the cake the day
before or 4 hours before preparing the rest of the recipe)
2. In a large bowl or mixer, add ricotta cheese, powdered sugar and marcaspone cheese. Beat until creamy but try not to over mix the filling.
Remove bowl from mixer and add mini chocolate chips 1/2 cup at a time stirring with a spoon, depending how much chocolate you want in your
cannoli cream filling.
3. In the meantime, slice the cakes in half to get four layers. Layer cake, cannoli, cake, cannoli until you have 3 layers of cannoli filling.
Whip the heavy cream with powdered sugar to taste adding the almond and vanilla extracts. Spread whipped cream over the entire top and sides
of cake. Put toasted almond sliced all around the sides of the cake. On top around the edges of the cake add mini chocolate chips to make
a boarder. Sprinkle powdered cocoa through a mini sifter over the top center of the cake. Store in the refrigerator till ready to serve.
4. ENJOY – Best cake ever! Let’s get this party started!

©  This recipe courtesy of Somebodys-Mom.com

 

My daughter and her husband, Marisa & Jeff, prepare a special cake for Christmas Day every year which is beautiful to the eye as well as delicious to the palate. This year was no exception; they prepared a new recipe, cannoli cake. The original recipe is on Taste of Home website and it is called Marvelous Cannoli Cake. Marisa and Jeff were inspired by it and proceeded to create their own version. They recently made it for their son’s christening party to be enjoyed by family and friends. As usual, it was made to perfection, with not only two layers of vanilla cake, but also two layers of chocolate cake.

The cake was so exceptional that I felt compelled to make it myself. My husband and I were invited to our good friends, Patti and Eddie’s home for a New Year’s Eve dinner. I offered to make the dessert. Not having all the ingredients in the house didn’t deter me one bit; I thought I could wing it. I prepared the cake early in the morning and let it cool. Running around all day, I suddenly realized I had to finish preparing the rest of the cake. Haste makes waste! While toasting the almond slices, I got distracted and burnt almost all of them. The little bit of mini chocolate chips that I scoured the house for went into the cannoli cream. Oops — the filling didn’t include the usual vanilla and almond extracts. Improvise is my motto, especially when it is too late to run to the store. I made due by placing a few toasted almond slices on top in the center of the cake and sifted powdered cocoa to create a border. Having run out of chocolate chips, I used chocolate sprinkles for the decorations all around the sides of the cake. When I was done, I sent the photo to Marisa and Jeff in a text to show how proud I was. Jeff immediately text replied, “Hope it tastes better than it looks!” Not the best way to win over the mother-in-law, if you know what I mean! No hurt feelings, I know Jeff was only kidding.

When I finally unveiled my version at Eddie & Patti’s, I received praises all around. After everyone enjoyed a slice, made very obvious by the sighing going on, even more praises came my way.

Moral of this story: Never judge a cake by it’s frosting!

OLIVE OIL AND ROSEMARY CAKE

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Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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DSC041443/4 cup sugar
4 eggs
2/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Oven 325 degrees.
2. Grease a 10-inch loaf pans, (or 6 mini loaf pans ).
3. In a medium bowl cream together eggs and sugar together until light and fluffy.
Add olive oil slowly and beat thoroughly blending well.
4. Gently stir in chopped rosemary into the batter.
5. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together. Add to wet ingredients.
Beat on a low speed until mixed well.
6. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 35-50 minutes or until cake is done.
( Test with a toothpick in center, until it comes out dry.)
7. Cool cake in pans 20 minutes. Remove from pan and place on racks until
completely cooled.
8. ENJOY – Savory and sweet, makes this cake complete!

©  This recipe courtesy of Somebodys-Mom.com

Summer is over and fall is here! On my deck and awaiting my attention is my herb garden, now overgrown and ready to be stored for winter use. A seemingly delicate and fragrant herb, my rosemary has proved to be the hardiest of all. For the last few years I felt a calling to use her creatively, and the result is this rosemary olive oil cake.

I surfed the Internet and browsed through my many cookbooks, and the one recipe for rosemary olive oil cake that I thought was the best was Chef Mario Batali’s version. I remained faithful to his recipe except for the amount of rosemary used. As soon as I read that he used 2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary, my gut told me that it might be too potent. Pungent and actually related to mint, I realized that a little rosemary will go a long way in any recipe. Whether preparing roasted potatoes, a pork tenderloin roast, or baking a cake, just a little bit of fresh rosemary added to any dish will do the trick in my opinion.

My version of rosemary olive oil cake uses only 1 tablespoon of rosemary, and I feel it is just the right amount. My family and friends, aka taste testers, all agree that the rosemary in the cake was powerful enough and twice the amount of rosemary would have been too much. However, if you’re really into rosemary, follow Mario Batali’s version.

Nutella Pound Cake

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Nutella Pound Cake

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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DSC040401 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks salted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
Half of one 13-ounce jar Nutella
1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Lightly grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. In a bowl, sift flour and baking powder.
2. In a separate large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer at medium-low speed, gradually beat in the eggs and vanilla until fully mixed. Add in the flour mixture gradually, beating at low speed between additions until mixed well. Continue to beat for 30 seconds longer.
3. Open the jar of Nutella and microwave for 30 seconds to get it spreadable/smooth. Stir with butter knife. If still too thick, microwave again for another 10 seconds. Set aside
4. Spread one-half of the batter in the prepared pan, then spread some of the Nutella, (about 3 to 4 ounces, or 1/ 4 of a jar) on top of batter. Repeat with the rest of the batter and then top with another 1/ 4 of a jar of Nutella and then gently swirl with a butter knife the Nutella into the batter. Do not overmix.
5. Bake the cake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, turn it right side up and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Cut the cake into slices and serve (coffee ice cream goes very well with it).
6. ENJOY – You tella, me tella, it’s wonderful Nutella!

 ©  This recipe courtesy of Somebodys-Mom.com 

PUMPKIN BROWNIES

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1 package family size 13 x 9 brownie mix
Eggs – add one extra egg to mix
Coffee – substitute coffee for water ingredient according to mix
Butter – use butter where as the shortening ingredient
1 / 2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips – add to the mix

3 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 egg
1/ 2 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/ 2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/ 4 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon flour

1 / 2 cup chopped or whole walnuts, optional

1. Oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
3. Prepare brownie mix according to directions but add 1 extra egg more than
required. Substitute the coffee for the water ingredient and use butter for the shortening ingredient. Add chocolate chips into the brownie mix . Use a wooden spoon to blend evenly. Pour the brownie mixture into the greased baking pan evenly.
4. In a separate bowl add sugar, softened cream cheese, butter, egg, pumpkin and spices with the tablespoon of four. Blend together with beater and set aside.
5. Spread the pumpkin mixture over the top of the brownie batter or plop a tablespoon of the pumpkin mixture over different sections of the brownie mixture and then with a butter knife gently run through the pumpkin on top and create swirls.
5. Optional = Sprinkle the walnuts over the top of the pumpkin brownie mixture evenly.
6. Bake 45 to 60 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness. Cool for 30 minutes or more before cutting into squares.
7. Optional also – Before serving, sprinkle top with confectioner’s sugar for
decoration.
8. ENJOY! – It’s a pumpkin pie, it’s a brownie, it’s both in one bite!

I wasn’t positive I was in love with this combo the first time I made these pumpkin brownies. But the second time around I definitely did. Personally, I choose to make the pumpkin brownies with nuts, because I love nuts. It is really a personal choice of flavor. There are two kinds of people, with or without nuts. My grandkids are without nuts. I adjust to making anything with nuts for them, by using the half with nuts and half without nuts baking recipe. This way Grandma is happy too! Remember a happy Grandma makes for happy everyone! Happy Halloween!

PISTACHIO LIME COOKIES

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4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teasoon baking soda
3 sticks salted butter, softened but still firm
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoon grated lime zest
2 1/2 cups sugar
8 egg yolks
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1/2 of a large lime squeezed
1 cup shelled, toasted, salted pistac hio nuts, chopped small
1 egg white, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons water

1. Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda in a bowl.
2. In a large bowl, with an electric beater, add the butter and lime zest. Beat until smooth and
creamy. Add sugar, egg yolks, lime juice and vanilla extract. Beat until all is blended well.
Scrap down the sides of the bowl frequently to mix well.
3. Lower the beater speed to the lowest level. Add 1/2 of the flour mixture. Beat till
mixed well. Add the other half of flour mixture and if necessary continue with a wooden spoon or by
hand, form the cookie dough.
4. Shape the dough into a large ball, divide the dough with a large knife into 8 pieces.
Roll each piece into a log. Try to keep the log 6 to 8 inches long and 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide
around.
5. After all the logs are made, at this point wrap the logs with plastic wrap, twisting the ends
tightly to secure them. Place in the freezer for about an hour or overnight.
6. When ready to bake, set oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter 3 or 4 cookie sheets, set aside.
7. Remove logs from feezer, let them sit on the counter for about 15 minutes to defrost a little bit.
Take two pyrex pie plates. In one add beaten egg white with water. In the other add 1/2 cup of
chopped pistachio nuts. Add the other 1/2 cup of chopped nuts as needed.
8. Brush each log with the egg white water mix and then roll immediately into the chopped pistachios.
Place log onto a cutting board. With a serrated knife, slice the cookie dough into 1/4 inch slices.
Place the slices 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
9. Bake 10 to 12 mintues, checking frequently until edges are lightly browned.
Remove from oven, leave on cookie sheet 3 minutes, then loosen with a spatula and place on a baking
racks to cool completely.
10. Store in airtight container, cookies can be frozen.
11. Enjoy – Sourly and sweetly, these cookies are bursting with both!

No matter the day, time, or place, I never fail to find a kindred spirit; you know, that certain someone who shares my passion for cooking and baking. We usually end up swapping recipes, and no matter where a recipe comes from, if my interest is piqued I just gotta try it.

My featured recipe came from my office mate, Tami, one of those aforementioned kindred spirits. She entertains as much as I do, which is often. Our conversations center around menus, recipes, and all things edible!

Tami bakes these pistachio lime cookies for the holidays. She brought in a few for me to check out, and I was hesitant due to the unusual combination of lime and pistachio. Happily, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I actually liked them. In time, I came to love them and eagerly awaited the next time I would be gifted with a few of Tami’s cookies. Finally, I just bit the bullet and asked her for the recipe and her personal additional footnotes. Most of us who love to cook usually have our own notes added onto our recipes. Tami strayed from the recipe in that the original recipe directs one to form the cookie dough logs and immediately roll them in the egg white water mixture, and then the nuts. But given the frequency with which Tami made these cookies, she felt it was easier to handle the dough logs by freezing them first. Cookie dough can be very sticky and hard to manage, so it made perfect sense to me. Freezing the dough first also makes it much easier to brush on the egg whites and then roll into the chopped nuts. Tami adds 2 tablespoons of lime zest, while I add 1 tablespoon. It’s all about personal preference. I also freeze the dough overnight and she freezes it for an hour. I also leave my butter out to soften, which Tami doesn’t suggest as an option – she likes a more solid consistency. I can be a bit of a rebel when it comes to cooking sometimes.

Anyway, it was my turn at baking these gems, and I brought in a few cookies for Tami to taste. I got the response I was looking for. You could almost see the little bubble over my head with the words “she likes it, Tami likes it!” Oh well, now that I can make these Pistachio Lime cookies myself, what can Tami bring in for me to taste? If you are reading this Tami, it’s time to talk about what new taste sensation you have up your sleeve. So, when are you entertaining again?

STRAWBERRIES IN RASPBERRY SAUCE

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2 quarts fresh Strawberries
1 pkg frozen raspberries, defrosted
3 tablespoons Kirsh Cherry Brandy or any other brand
1/3 cup of powdered sugar

heavy cream
powdered sugar

1. Wash strawberries and remove stem. Pat dry with a paper towel. Place in a glass or
clear bowl (if you have one).
2. Place the defrosted raspberries into a strainer and place over a separate bowl. With
the back of a tablespoon, pressing hard, squeeze the juice from the rasberries into the
bowl leaving the seeds in the strainer. This takes several turns of pressing the
tablespoon. Option- (I added some fresh raspberries to the frozen raspberries to
make more juice because I had them available.) When you feel you have squeezed
enough raspberries through the strainer, set aside the bowl of juice.
3. In a blender or food procesor, add the 1/3 cup of powdered sugar, Cherry Brandy and
raspberry juice. Blend until smooth.
4. Pour the Raspberry Sauce over the Strawberries and cover the bowl. Refrigerate for
3 hours or longer before serving.
5. When ready to serve the strawberries, prepare the whipped cream. In a separate
bowl, add heavy cream (about 8 ounces) and powdered sugar (about 1/4 cup). Beat
the cream and sugar until it becomes whipped cream. Serve immediately, with the
cream on the side in a separate bowl.
6. Enjoy – Strawberries and raspberries, a match made in heaven!

How many people serve fresh fruit when serving dessert? Many folks associate cake and ice cream with dessert, but there are also a lot of people who enjoy the natural sugars in ripe fruits and melons, especially in the summer. While I’m not a fan of fruit, it doesn’t mean that I won’t serve it to my family and friends.

Summer fruits such as blueberries, raspberries and strawberries are a huge hit with nearly everyone. My featured dessert is a simple dish to prepare and even adds that pop of color to dress up any table. But it’s the raspberry sauce that provides that something extra to the mix and gives you that winning dessert combo that everyone will ooh and ahh over. Who doesn’t love homemade fresh whipped cream anyway? A dollop of cream on top of strawberries in raspberry sauce is absolutely delectable!

This particular dish was served to my nieces and nephews at my Annual Niece and Nephew BBQ hosted by yours truly at the start of summer. I began this tradition a few years back because I wanted to re-create the fond memories my husband and I had of eating Sunday dinners with our aunts and uncles. This family tradition has gotten a bit lost over the years as family members moved further away from each other. Because our home is cozy (aka small) it’s more logical to host these get-togethers in the summer, so we can spread out on the deck, an area much bigger than my dining room. I look forward to spending this special time together with my nieces and nephews. Last year I wasn’t able to have the BBQ, and I thought with everyone’s busy lives no one would miss coming to our house. I was mistaken. My niece, Justine, made sure to let me know
that she indeed missed the Annual Niece and Nephew BBQ last year, and asked me very sweetly if I was going to do it this year. So, Justine, Eric, Brian, Jeanne Marie, Geoff, John, Caryn and Sean, I hope you enjoyed the Annual Niece and Nephew BBQ as much as Uncle Tom and I did. Get ready,
because I am already penciling you in on the calendar for next year!