Monday, April 25, 2011

The Busy Holiday week is behind me......

Happy Easter to All!

It has been a busy week.

With Passover and Easter falling in the same week,

along with Spring Break,

I am extremely tired now......

These are just a few of the items I was

working on this week.

Aren't they the cutest!

The above cake was made from the small "boob" pan,

then dipped in white ganache.

The ears were made out of fondant.

The eggs were made from an old pan that I have,

which is probably 25plus years old.

I made chocolate cake and filled them with custard.

Then I dipped them in chocolate ganche.


These little cuties sold quickly.

Vanilla and chocolate cupcake,

topped with buttercream critters.

So how was your Holidays????

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lemon Cheesecake Bars........M-m-m-m-m-m

Tradition in my mother's family is something lemony on Easter. Which usually is a Lemon Meringue Pie made by one of my Aunts. Keeping with tradition I wanted to go with something lemony that would travel well. Because we will be traveling to Newport, RI for our annual picnic and kite flying, I thought these would be perfect! Also I had a special request to post this recipe from an former high school classmate. This recipe calls for a 8 x8 square pan. But you could easily make it in a pie pan. You could also skip the crust part then, and buy a pre-made graham cracker crust. Tip: I added a drop or two of yellow food coloring to the topping mixture. Give these a try....You will love them!



For the crust:

~8 graham crackers (full sheets)

~2 tablespoons sugar

~3 tablespoons butter, melted

For the filling:

~2 8oz cream cheese bricks

~1/3 cup Greek-style yogurt

~3/4 cup sugar

~2 large eggs

~1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

~1 tablespoon heavy cream

~5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

~Finely grated zest of 2 lemons

~Dash of salt

For the topping:

~1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

~2 large eggs, plus one large yolk

~1/2 cup sugar

~2 tablespoons cold butter, cut in cubes

~1 tablespoon heavy cream

~1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

~1/8 teaspoon salt

Food coloring optional


**Make the crust. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom and side of an 8″ square pan* with aluminum foil to make a sling. Crimp the overhanging foil to the edges of the pan.

**In a food processor, pulse graham crackers and sugar until fine (or if your angry and need to vent, roll the crackers sealed in a plastic bag with a rolling pin–take a few whacks if necessary). Add butter and mix until moistened. Transfer crumb mixture to the pan and press into the bottom. Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes or until just beginning to brown.

**While crust bakes, make the filling. Whip the cream cheese in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add sugar, eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, heavy cream, vanilla and salt stopping frequently to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Pour the mixture on top of the hot crust and spread it evenly to the sides. Shake the pan to smooth the top. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until top is no longer shiny and the filling jiggles only slightly when shaken.

**As the cheesecake bakes, make the topping. Heat the lemon juice in a medium saucepan, on medium heat until hot, but not boiling. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and slowly whisk in the sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour in half of the hot lemon juice into the egg mixture, then return the egg/lemon juice mixture to the saucepan and continue cooking and stirring until mixture reaches 170 degrees or it’s thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 3 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the heat, add the butter and stir until incorporated. Stir in the cream, vanilla, and salt , stirring until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.

**After the cheesecake comes out of the oven, pour the lemon topping on top and smooth out for even coverage. Cover with plastic wrap and let pan cool, about 20-30 minutes. Place cooled cheesecake in the refrigerator for at least 5 hours (but up to 2 days) to set.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day....

By now, I hope that everyday is Earth day for you!

Do something special to celebrate today,

Be creative, think of fun ways that you and your family can celebrate…..

Have an Earth Day dinner party using only local/organic ingredients

Make a point of only buying from local stores and restaurants

Walk to work, ride a bike, carpool or for peat sakes just stop driving so much

Use a reusable bag when shopping

Start a kitchen compost

Plant your very own organic garden

Enjoy nature…go for a hike….take a walk…stop and smell the flowers

Whatever you do, be sure to do something to celebrate EARTH.

Be good to your mother!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Easter Egg Bread

I have made this bread for the past few Easters, since discovering this recipe from King Arthur Flour. It is lovely and delicious! A stunning centerpiece for a festive Easter table. Pre-dyed, uncooked eggs are placed in the dough after shaping and baked along with the bread. What a great idea! The bread itself has a nice flavor and great texture. It is only slightly sweet with a light cinnamon taste. I loved it warmed, spread with butter. And of course it is a perfect pairing with the accompanying hard-boiled egg! Continue for recipe.

1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup warm milk
4 eggs, at room temperature
1 stick butter or margarine
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) cinnamon
7 to 9 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
12 dyed uncooked eggs
egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water and a pinch of salt to help liquefy the egg)

**Dissolve the yeast in the water. Stir in the sugar and add 1/2 cup flour. Let this sit for 10 minutes to give the yeast a chance to get going.
**Add the milk, eggs, butter, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in 4 cups of the flour. Add more flour, until the dough starts to form a shaggy mass.
**Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it, adding more flour as necessary, until the dough has formed a smooth and satiny ball. The dough will be a little tacky, but it shouldn't be sticky.Put the dough into a clean bowl and coat it with a little melted butter. This will help prevent the formation of a skin on the dough due to exposure to the air. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let the dough rise in a warm spot for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it's quite swollen and puffy-looking.
**Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead it gently to expel any air bubbles. You don't need to actively knead the dough at this point; that will excite the gluten in the dough and make it harder to braid the bread.

**Divide the dough into 2 pieces and set one aside. Divide the first piece into 3 even pieces. Roll each piece into a rope that is 1-inch in diameter.
**Braid the set of ropes and shape the braid into a large circle. Place the circle on a greased or parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
**Repeat with the second piece of dough.Cover the loaves with damp towels and let the wreaths rise for 30 minutes.Preheat the oven to 350°F.
**Place the eggs on the wreaths and gently press them into the dough. Brush the dough with the egg wash. Bake the loaves for 35 to 45 minutes, until nicely browned.

***Occasionally, an egg will split in the oven. Use a sharp knife to remove it from the wreath and substitute a dyed hard-boiled egg. Cool the wreaths on a rack and ice when fully cool. Makes 2 wreaths, each yielding 12 large slices.

Great Idea for Easter Brunch!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Strawberry Rhubarb Double Crisp

Sarah, of the lovely blog, Teapots and Cake Stands, chose this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe. I must say, some people detest rhubarb, but I love it. Growing up, my grandmother had a big patch of it growing in her back yard. We would grab some stalks and get a little bowl of sugar for dipping. Yummy! I now grow it in my own yard, but it hasn't made it's presents known yet this spring. So I was able to find it in the frozen section at Whole Foods. It works for me!

This recipe is super easy and super delish. A great way to ring in the new season-----SPRING. Especially with a dollop of French Vanilla. I love using these individual tart casseroles I picked up I my favorite place...Christmas Tree Shop, $1 a piece. mine bubbled over a bit, so make sure to bake it on a sheet pan. You do not want to spend hours cleaning the oven....

Thanks Sarah again for the pick, we loved it!

We give this 5 glasses of Milk,

for utter goodness!

Monday, April 11, 2011

National Volunteer Appreciation Week

It is Volunteer Appreciation Week, and as a HOSPICE volunteer, sometimes I feel my patients give more back to me then I give to them. Perhaps I am just there to hold their hand, play cards, read a poem, or give them chocolate......But for those hours each week that we spend together while they are still with us, I find great enjoyment, knowing I have made their day brighter. I found this lovely poem and thought I would share it with you. This is what actually happens to me during my visits. Alot of my friends say "Why do you do that, I never could, it would be so hard". My reply is ....It makes my life better knowing them, if only for a short time!

I leave my car and walk into the world with many fates,

The people live reality where few words dominate.

Nostalgia brings memories that make them question why,

Delusions create fantasies that often come alive.

Anticipation beckons the beginning of each day,

A visit, party, activity, what is on the way?

Mildred tells me stories of how life used to be,

Many things seem different, she's almost 103!

Mary smiles and sits with pride waiting for her son

"All my children visit me and each is number one!

"Helen yells I want some cake, bring it just for me!

She sees me every week and thinks I am an employee.

An empty bed reminds me that someone has just gone,

Next week I'll see a new friend, the cycle will go on.

I live in their special world today, with wisdom so rare,

Respecting every circumstance which brought each person there.

Our futures are unknown to us, like beaches with endless sand,

I drive away feeling good, for the better person that I am!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Just in time for Spring....a Pencil Holder!

Staying indoors because of all those April showers, means you have to come up with something crafty to make. Using what we had on hand and keeping with a Springy theme, we decided to go with Rabbits made out of those Crystal Light canisters. We have loads and loads of them around because we drink tons of lemonade and ice tea. No soda in this house! So you may see some more ideas with these coming your way in the future.

All you need for each one is:

1 canister

5 cotton balls

1 pipe cleaner

pink felt for nose and ears

white foam sheet for ears and feet pad circles

2 google eyes

pink marker

and a glue gun to glue everything on!

This project made 3 little ones very happy!