Friday, April 7, 2017

Karen’s Incredible Triple Chocolate Cake

(Everyone loves this, but especially Jesse and Matthew!)

(a repost!)

            1 package Pillsbury Plus Devil’s Food Cake Mix
            1 c dairy sour cream                         ¾ c water
            1/3 c oil                                              3 eggs
            4 oz (+) bar good milk chocolate, chopped in food processor

Frosting (I usually double this part for frosting-loving crowds)
            8 oz (+) good white chocolate, cut into pieces*
            ¾ c Land O Lakes butter, softened (yes it does make a difference!)
            ½ c powdered sugar

Garnish (make before frosting the cake)
            Apx. 2 lbs. white chocolate

            Heat the oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9” round cake pans.** In large bowl, combine cake mix, sour cream, water, oil and eggs at low speed until moistened: beat 2 minutes at high speed. Gently fold in milk chocolate. Pour batter evenly into greased and floured pans. Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pans. Cool completely.

            Mix white chocolate in double boiler, stirring constantly. Alternately, you could microwave it at a very low temperature, but watch it carefully and stir often because if it burns you have to toss it! Remove from heat; cool. (If you don’t cool it thoroughly, it will harden when mixed in with room temperature ingredients and look lousy.) In small bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar until fluffy. Gradually beat in cooled chocolate until smooth and fluffy. To assemble cake, place one layer bottom side up on serving plate. Spread generous amount of frosting between layers. Place remaining layer bottom side down on frosted layer. Frost sides and top of cake with remaining frosting.

            For garnish: Melt white chocolate and spread thin layer over back of cookie sheet or ideally on slab of marble. When it loses the shine, but BEFORE totally cool, take a putty knife or wide spatula, and make big chocolate curls or fans to put all over the top and sides of the cake. Put over sides and bottom while frosting is not yet “set.” If you are flunking out with the chocolate curls, cool the good white chocolate in a small bowl lined with saran wrap then take it out and just use a potato peeler to make small curls!

*Use GOOD white chocolate! I use Callebaut online or get imported chocolate from candy making store.
**I grease the bottoms, trace and cut pieces of parchment paper, then grease the parchment paper. Don't need to grease the sides.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cauliflower Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

I used a recipe I found on line (see below for link).

1 head cauliflower stem removed and cut into smaller pieces
1 large egg
1/2 c shredded Parmesan
1 t Italian seasoning (or use combo of salt, pepper, basil, oregano & parsley)
(I added few shakes of cayenne pepper too)
a few thick(er) slices of your cheese of choice (white cheddar, white American, swiss, provolone, or in our case jalapeño)

1.  Preheat oven to 450. Pulse cauliflower in food processor til small pieces about half the size of a grain of rice.
2.  Microwave for 2 minutes. Stir. Microwave another 3 minutes. Stir. Microwave 5 minutes. Stir. Microwave another 5 minutes. It should be a LITTLE moist but pretty dry and clumpy. Make sure it is not too moist or you will have issues.
3.  Let it cool a few minutes. Add egg, Parmesan and seasoning.
4.  Divide into 4 equal parts and make into squares on parchment paper, about 1/2" thick. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool a few minutes.
5. Carefully slide cauliflower "bread" off parchment. Add cheese in between each "pair" of slices. Place either in toaster oven or back into oven on parchment until cheese melts.

Original post is from:

Friday, December 23, 2016

Cut Out Snowflake Sugar Cookies

Soft Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies with Perfect Frosting

Makes 2-3 dozen sugar cookies
Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes (includes chill time)
Cook time: 10 minutes


1 c unsalted butter room temperature
1 c granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
2 oz. cream cheese, room temperature (do not use fat free)
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 t almond extract
1 t lemon zest
3 c all purpose flour (I use King Arthur:
1-1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t kosher salt

3 c powdered sugar
3-4 T milk
2 T light corn syrup
3/4 t almond extract
food coloring, as desired
sprinkles etc. for decorating
(I used the snowflake cookie cutters from King Arthur:


1. In large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add the egg and beat until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the cream cheese and beat for a minute, scrape down the bowl once more and beat in the vanilla, almond extract, and lemon zest until incorporated, about 30 seconds.

2. In separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer running on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, mixing just until fully incorporated and a soft dough is formed.

3. Divide the dough into quarters. if using the dough within 24 hours, roll each quarter to a 1/4" thickness between two sheets of parchment paper (I use these sheets: you can store the dough in a ball or disk and roll out when ready to cut and bake). Be careful not to roll the dough to thin, or the cookies will be too crisp. Keeping the dough flat, transfer it to the refrigerator and chill for at least an hour or overnight. (You can stack the dough "flats" on top of each other to save space.) You can also freeze the dough in tiptop bag for up to a month, let thaw in the refrigerator overnight, then proceed with the recipe.

4. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 and line baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat (I use the silicone mats: Remove one dough flat from refrigerator and cut with cookie cutters. Repeat with remaining dough.

5. Bake 9-11 minutes until barely lightly golden brown and edges are dry. Cookies will look slightly under baked. Let cool completely.

6. Make the frosting by stirring together the powdered sugar and 3 T of milk (it will be pretty solid at this point). Beat in the corn syrup and almond extract until the frosting is smooth and glossy. If it is too thick add milk 1 t at a time, until desired consistency. Add few drops of food coloring. Frost and decorate.

(This recipe is from

Struffoli (Italian Popcorn)

My Grandma made this every year and called it pinalada (but I don't think that's the real name for it!). It is also nicknamed "Italian Popcorn." It is a family favorite.

4 c flour
2 gal + vegetable oil
cinnamon (I use Vietnamese cinnamon from
Chopped up large Hershey chocolate bars
8-9 eggs
2 jars of 3 lb. honey
1 lb. roasted almonds

Mix flour and eggs. Set aside and cover. Roll into strips on sheet dusted with flour. Let set for a few minutes. Use special deep fryer with new cold oil every other time. Cut rolls into pieces diagonally. Deep fry; strain. Put in grocery paper bags and change the bags for 2 days to absorb extra oil.


Heat honey in saucepan, warming up with 1 T sugar. Add balls, a LOT of cinnamon and roasted almonds. Mold into cone-shaped "tree." (Dip hands in ice water if having problems molding.) Top with chopped chocolate and roasted almonds after mounding.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake

Oreo Crust:

            1-1/2 c ground oreo cookies
            5 T butter
            3 T confectionary sugar

Spray springform pan and wrap in several layers of tin foil around the bottom. Pack crust – put 3 layers of foil around it and cook 10-14 minutes at 350.


4 8-oz cream cheese, softened
5 eggs, room temperature
1-1/2 c firmly packed brown sugar
1 c smooth (Jif!) peanut butter (not natural style; it won’t work)
½ c whipping cream
1 T vanilla
6 2-packs of Reese’s peanut butter cups

Beat cream cheese with brown sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, peanut butter, then whipping cream and vanilla.

Pour half into crust. Top gently with whole peanut butter cups then add remaining filling. Put springform pan (wrapped in several layers of tin foil) into larger pan with water 1” or 1-1/2” up the side and bake for 1-1/2 hours or until done.

Remove from oven and water bath and let cool completely.

Refrigerate until chilled. If you want to remove it from the springform pan, do so not, being careful to separate crust from bottom when transferring to cake plate.


You may make your own hot fudge for the top or drizzle top with Sanders hot fudge or dark chocolate ice cream topping. Decorate with Reese’s peanut butter cups cut in half.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Raspberry Pie

I got this recipe from my BFF Julie Russo, and it has become a family favorite!

Cooked pie shell
Large container Cool Whip, defrosted
2 T white Karo syrup
3 T raspberry Jello powder
6-10 small containers of raspberries, washed and dried well
1 c sugar mixed with 3T cornstarch
1 c water

Mix sugar/cornstarch and water over low heat. When sugar starts to dissolve, add 2T white Karo syrup. Boil and keep stirring until it starts thickening. Add 3T raspberry jello powder. Set aside 10 minutes. 

Fold raspberries into gel mixture (add as many raspberries as you want as long as there is enough gel to hold them together -- I stack mine high in the pie!). Pour into cooled pie shell. Top with Cool Whip.

Fresh ricotta ravioli with butter and sage

For the fresh pasta:
200 g all-purpose unbleached flour (7.055 oz.; 1.60 c), 100 g semolina flour (3.527 oz.; .57 c), 3 eggs, a pinch of salt.
For the filling: 400 g fresh sheep ricotta (.88 lb.; 3.25 c), 600 g spinach or chard (2-1/2 c), 3-4 TBSP grated Parmesan, a pinch of salt, ground nutmeg and black pepper to taste, zest of one lemon or 1-2 TBSP marjoram leaves.
120 g butter (apx. ½ c), 1 large handful of fresh sage leaves, grated Parmesan.

Prepare the filling: start by blanching the greens in just a little water (you don’t want them floating, if using spinach you might even just cook them barely with the water left on from washing them) for a few minutes. Drain them well and let them cool; when cool enough to handle, squeeze them well from any extra water (a sushi mat works very well for this purpose) and chop them very very finely. Drain ricotta very well, then pass it through a sieve or work it with a wooden spoon to make it smooth; mix it with greens, Parmesan, lemon zest or marjoram  leaves if using, and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Make a homogeneous and rather consistent mixture (it shouldn’t be wet).
Sift flour on your working surface into a mound and make a well in the center. Break in the eggs, add a pinch of salt, and beat them lightly with a fork; gently draw in the flout without allowing eggs to escape. Once eggs are rather mixed with flour and no more running out, start to knead the dough, until it gets soft and elastic, and doesn’t stick to your fingers anymore. Work with clean hands (brush off any dry bits of flour) and eventually dust them with more semolina to avoid sticking. After about ten minutes, once you have a smooth silky ball of dough, wrap it in cling film or in a cloth and let it rest for 20 minutes. After this time, you can roll the dough with a rolling pin or with the pasta machine. Divide the ball in 2-3 pieces; keep covered the pieces you are not working on. If you are using a rolling pin, roll the dough out on a floured board at 1-2 mm thickness working from the center out, until you have an even surface. Either you are using a rolling pin or the machine, it is important to work the dough well, rolling and stretching. We used the machine, so we had the piece of dough passing through the machine cylinders, at first through the thickest setting, for 2-3 times, folding the dough over itself; then we kept moving on to next settings, rolling the dough through each of them until the second thinnest setting, in order to have thin sheets of dough. It’s possible to make long stripes, about 10 cm large, then lay them on floured board and place small mounds of filling evenly spaced apart (about 3 cm) all along the stripe; then cover with another pasta stripe and press with your fingers all around the filling, to let air out and seal the pasta. Generally it must be done quickly, otherwise fresh pasta dries and it’s hard to close ravioli (eventually you can brush the sides of the stripe with a little water of egg whites). Cut ravioli out with a roller cutter, leaving about 1-2 cm of past around the filling. Alternatively, you can make larger stripes, place the filling on the longer side closer to you and fold the dough over onto the filling. Then proceed as above to shape and cut ravioli.
Or you can use a round cookie cutter (8-9 cm) to cut pasta circles, then spoon a heaping teaspoon of the filling onto the bottom part of each circle of dough (slightly off the center) and fold each circle over in half; then pinch the edges together with a fork to seal ravioli. Arrange ravioli on a tray as you do them, sprinkled with some semolina, without overlapping them, until you have used all of your dough.

Melt the butter to a golden color into a pan with the shredded sage leaves, until they get crisp (or you can bring the butter to noisette* for a deeper flavor). Cook ravioli in a large pot of boiling salted water, for about 6 minutes. Remove them gently with a slotted spoon and immediately add them to the pan to coat them well with the scented butter. Serve with grated Parmesan on top.

* Unsalted butter is melted over low heat and allowed to separate into butterfat and solids from milk. The milk solids naturally sink to the bottom of the pan and, if left over gentle heat, will begin to brown. As the milk solids reach a toasty hazelnut color, the pan is removed from the heat. Beurre noisette may be used in its liquid state, or cooled to a solid form. It has a nutty flavor.