Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Apple Dumplings

Apple Dumplings

I have so much respect and admiration for Trisha Yearwood. Love her voice, love her music and also love her cookbooks and her recipes.

Apple Dumplings

To say that her TV show is one of my favorites, is an understatement. She is the kind of home cook that I admire, down to earth, simple, sharing family favorites and making us laugh.

Apple Dumplings

This recipe is one of our favorites, I often turn to it when I want a simple dessert that tastes fantastic.

Apple Dumplings
Apple Dumplings

2 Granny Smith apples
1 lemon
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 canned buttermilk biscuits
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Peel, core and slice the apples vertically into 8 slices each. Squeeze the lemon into a bowl of water and add the apple slices to keep from turning brown.

In a medium saucepan, mix 1 cup water, 3/4 cup of the sugar, the butter and vanilla. Bring the sugar mixture to a boil over medium heat.

Separate each biscuit into 2 layers. Wrap a biscuit layer around a slice of apple, stretching the biscuit slightly to overlap, and seal on the bottom. Place the wrapped slices, sealed-side down, in a 9- by 12- by 2-inch casserole dish.

Apple Dumplings

Pour the hot sugar mixture over the apple slices. Mix the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle the mixture over the tops of the wrapped apples. Bake until golden brown, 35 minutes.

Apple Dumplings

They are amazing on their own, but if you want to kick it up a little, try adding a scoop of ice cream or some homemade whipped cream. Heavenly!

Apple Dumplings

Olive Garden's Chicken and Gnocchi Soup

Personally, I prefer the Zuppa Toscana, but my 13 year old loves this soup and it's what she'll usually order if we go to Olive Garden.

As per her request, I made it last night and she was so thrilled that it tasted just like it, she has requested it for her birthday next month.

So, if you are a fan of Olive Garden and their soups, here's another to add to your list.  Pair it up with some Homemade Olive Garden Bread Sticks, and you have a dinner perfect for a cold winter day.

Olive Garden's Chicken and Gnocchi Soup
Source:  Copykat Recipes

1 tablespoon extra virgin oil
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 quart half and half
1/2 cup celery, finely diced
1 cup onion, finely diced
2 minced garlic cloves
2 14 ounce cans of chicken broth if you enjoy thick soup, use one can
1 cup carrots, finely shredded
1 cup chicken breasts, cooked and diced (you can use a rotisserie chicken)
1 package gnocchi, cooked (you can find these in gourmet/pasta section of the grocery store - you may want to cut the gnocchi in half if it is large, or purchase the mini size if available)
1 cup of fresh spinach coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)

Saute the onion, celery, and garlic in the butter and olive oil over medium heat until the onion becomes translucent. Add the flour and make a roux. Let the butter and flour mixture cook for about a minute before adding 1 quart of half and half. Cook gnocchi according to package directions. Into the roux, add in the carrots and chicken. Once the mixture becomes thick, add the chicken broth. Once the mixture thickens again, add the cooked gnocchi, spinach, and seasoning; simmer until soup is heated through. Before serving season to taste by adding additional salt.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bolo do Convento - Convent Cake

I have been really good lately and have stayed away from sweets, cakes and all junk food. So has my husband, but he had his PT test today and passed, so to celebrate, I decided to make a dessert for after dinner.

I don't do this very often, actually, when I do make any kind of desserts it is during the weekend.


But, I am in the mood for cake, and not a boxed cake or just any kind of cake. I was in the mood for a good old Portuguese cake with a nice egg cream in the center. Creme de Ovos (egg cream/custard) is one of my favorite things on earth, but I never make it, it's been many years.

Today seemed like the perfect time, so here it is....a nice simple cake with a layer of egg custard in the middle and poured over the top, sprinkled with some powdered sugar and you have a divine dessert that your family will love.


Bolo do Convento - Convent Cake

For the cake:

2 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 cups of sugar
2/3 cups of butter
5 eggs
Little bit more than 3/4 cups of milk
1 teaspoon of baking powder

For the egg cream

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar
5 egg yolks
Little less than half a cup of water

First make the egg cream. Add the water and sugar to a saucepan and boil for 3 minutes over medium heat. Add the egg yolks to a bowl and stir well. Pour the sugar water mixture into the bowl, a little at a time and mixing constantly. Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until thickened. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cake pan. In a medium bowl, beat the sugar with the butter, next add in the eggs one at a time beating well after each. Add in the milk, alternating with the flour, lastly, add the baking powder and mix everything well. Pour into the cake pan and bake for 40 minutes.

Use a toothpick to see if the cake is done. Remove from the oven and invert the cake onto a plate. Let cool completely.

Cut the cake in half, spread about 1/4 of the egg cream on one of the halves, top with the other half, then smear the rest of the egg cream over the top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon, if you wish.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lighter Eggplant Parmesan

I really like Eggplant, it's such a delicious vegetable.

Lighter Eggplant Parmesan

Luckily for me, my children and husband like it too, and one of our favorite meals is Eggplant Parmesan, but since I'm counting calories and trying to lose weight, I went in search of a lighter, healthier version, and that is where Skinny Taste came in.

I have mentioned her website before, it's one of my favorites and go to places when I need healthy, low calorie, low fat recipes that still taste as good as their counterparts.

This lighter version got a big thumbs up from the family.

Lighter Eggplant Parmesan
Lighter Eggplant Parmesan
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 8 servings • Time: 60 minutes • Old Points: 6 pts • Points+: 8 pts
Calories: 265.3 • Fat: 12.4 g • Protein: 14.1 g • Carb: 35.4 g • Fiber: 4.4 g

1 large eggplant (2 lbs)
1 tbsp olive oil
12 oz fat free ricotta
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 medium egg
2 cups reduced fat mozzarella (I used Sargento)
3 cups homemade tomato sauce

Start by making the sauce if you don't have any already made. While the sauce simmers, slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch thick slices. Lightly salt the slices and put in a colander to release excess moisture for about 1/2 hour. Lay on paper towels to soak up any extra moisture.

Preheat oven to 450°. Brush eggplant lightly with olive oil on both sides and place on cookie sheets. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning half way through until eggplant is golden brown.

In a medium bowl combine ricotta, egg, parsley and 1/4 cup of grated cheese.

In a 9x12 baking dish, put a little sauce on the bottom of the dish and put a layer of eggplant to cover the bottom of the dish. Top with 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture, mozzarella cheese and sauce. Add another layer of eggplant and repeat the ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese and sauce until everything is used up. Top with sauce and the mozzarella cheese and the remaining grated cheese.

Cover with foil and bake until cheese is melted and everything is bubbling, about 30 minutes at 400°. Remove foil and bake an additional 8-10 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it sit about 10 minutes before cutting. Enjoy!

Lighter Eggplant Parmesan

Source: Skinny Taste

Lucky Leaf Valentine's Winner

Thank you all for entering.

I used to draw a number, and the lucky winner is,

#2 - Mary

Congratulations, will be contacting you shortly!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Kentucky Hot Brown Tart

I think if I could eat pastry with everything, I would.  I just love a good pie, whether savory or sweet, and especially when it's flaky and buttery and delicious.

Kentucky Hot Brown Tart

This meal was enjoyed by everyone here at home, and my 9 year old thought it was the best thing on earth.

The only tweaking I did was that I only put the tomato slices on half of the tart, because my boy does NOT eat tomatoes.

Kentucky Hot Brown Tart
Kentucky Hot Brown Tart

1 (14.1-oz.) package refrigerated piecrusts
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked turkey
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded white Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh chives
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 cups half-and-half

4 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425°. Unroll piecrusts; stack on a lightly greased surface. Roll stacked piecrusts into a 12-inch circle. Fit piecrust into a 10-inch deep-dish tart pan with removable bottom; press into fluted edges. Trim off excess piecrust along edges. Line piecrust with aluminum foil or parchment paper, and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Place pan on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes. Remove weights and foil from piecrust, and bake 8 more minutes. Cool completely on baking sheet on a wire rack (about 15 minutes). Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

2. Layer turkey and next 3 ingredients in tart shell on baking sheet.

3. Whisk together half-and-half and next 3 ingredients; pour over turkey.

4. Bake at 350° for 30 to 40 minutes or until set.

5. Place tomatoes in a single layer on paper towels; press tomatoes lightly with paper towels. Arrange over top of tart, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Cool on baking sheet on wire rack 15 minutes.

Kentucky Hot Brown Tart

Friday, February 08, 2013

Lucky Leaf Valentine's Day Giveaway


There's nothing better on Valentine's Day, than to gift your loved one with some homemade goodies, especially of the baking kind.

From cakes to pies, to delicious cupcakes, whatever you make will be from the heart, and will mean much more than any other gift you could give.

With that in mind, Lucky Leaf has sent me a few Pie Fillings, a beautiful Rachel Ray muffin pan, some recipes and even cute gift bags and tags to use.

My children jumped right on it and asked for the Strawberries and Cream Chocolate Muffins.

LOVE these liners, how beautiful are they?


Strawberries and Cream Chocolate Muffins

nonstick cooking spray
118.25-ounce package devil's food cake mix
121-ounce can LUCKY LEAF® Premium Strawberry Pie Filling
3eggs, lightly beaten
1 ⅓cups dairy sour cream
1egg, lightly beaten (separate mixture)
¼cup sugar
2Tablespoons all purpose flour
1teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 °F.

Lightly coat 24 to 30, 2 1/2-inch muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the cake mix, pie filling and 3 eggs until moistened.

Remove 1 cup of the batter and set aside. Divide remaining batter among prepared muffin cups filling each about half full.

In a medium bowl, whisk together sour cream, 1 egg, sugar, flour and vanilla until smooth. Spoon small mounds of reserved batter over sour cream mixture in each cup (batter will not cover sour cream layer).


Bake for 25 minutes or until tops spring back when lightly touched.

Remove and cool in pans on wire racks for 15 minutes. Loosen edges and remove from pans. Cool completely. Chill within 2 hours.


I chose to make mine in the cupcake liners, and I will tell you that they do fall apart, but it's because once you remove that liner you get that moist chocolate cake with the strawberry filling and the sour cream mixture. It is SO good.


Perfect for Valentine's Day. Chocolate AND Strawberries.

Lucky Leaf has put together an assortment of printables to make your day even more special.

It's the perfect way to get the kids involved too, just a few ingredients, some adult supervision, and a delicious home baked goodie for their friends or mom or dad.



One lucky reader will win a Lucky Leaf baking prize pack that includes: a can of Lucky Leaf pie filling, a recipe card, fun and festive muffin cups and a bakery bag so you can bake it forward to someone you cherish.


-- Open to all US residents only. Please make sure that you leave an email on the comment, so that I can contact you if you are drawn as the winner.
-- You will have 48 hours to claim your prize once you receive my email, if I do not hear back from you within that time period, a new winner will be drawn.
-- Let me know if you plan on baking for Valentine's Day and what you are making :)
-- Winner will be drawn through, on Wednesday 13th, 2013.

Good Luck!!

Lucky Leaf provided me with a baking kit for this review. All opinions are expressly mine.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Minced Beef Roll

Or, meatloaf for us folks here in the USA.

This recipe comes from my South African cookbook, it's a typical meatloaf recipe, just topped with mozzarella cheese slices, filled with shredded cheese, onion and tomato.


We love meatloaf, and I'm always trying different variations so we don't get sick of the same thing, thankfully meatloaf is one of those dishes that can be changed up according to tastes, you can fill it with whatever you like, or not fill it. Top it, or don't top it, it's up to you, but the end result is always a serving of comfort food.


Minced Beef Roll

1 and half pounds of beef mince (ground beef)
2 teaspoons of salt
1 onion, coarsely grated
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 tablespoons parsley
diced tomato and onion
mozzarella cheese

Mix all ingredients well, except tomato and onion and mozzarella. Press beef mixture out on a sheet of greaseproof paper into a rectangle measuring 30 x 20 cm (about 12 by 6 inches).

Spread with some diced tomato and onion and sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese. With the help of the paper, roll up from the long edge, like a swiss roll. Place, seam side down, on an oiled swiss roll tin a little larger than the meat roll.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and spread some more diced tomato and onion over the top, and then arrange thin slices of mozzarella, side by side, to cover the top completely. Return to oven and bake for 30 minutes more.

Serve in thick slices.

Serves 6.


Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Honey Nut Granola

Honey Nut Granola

Love homemade granola, it's delicious and cheaper than store bought, you can make a huge batch AND the combinations of ingredients is endless.

This one comes from Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cover Cookbook.

I changed it up according to our tastes, so used maple syrup, chocolate chips instead of nuts, and added some tropical fruit at the end.

Honey Nut Granola
Honey Nut Granola

6 cups old-fashioned or quick oats
2 cup chopped nuts, any kind
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup honey or maple syrup
2 cups dried cranberies, raisins or chopped dates

Preheat oven to 325 F.  In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, coconut, cinnamon and salt.  In a small cup, heat honey or maple syrup in microwave just until warm.  Fold honey or maple syrup in oat mixture, stirring to coat well.

Honey Nut Granola

Evenly spread granola on two large, rimmed baking sheets.  Place in oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes, carefully stirring granola often so it doesn't burn.  Rotate pans after stirring.  Granola is done when it seems lightly browned, mostly dry and no longer sticky.

Honey Nut Granola

Let granola cool 15 minutes on baking sheets;  pour into large bowl.  Stir in dried fruit.  Press mixture into bowl with back of a spoon;  this will form some clumps.  Let cool completely before sealing into an airtight container.

Honey Nut Granola

Lemon Pok Chops with Mustard Sauce

I've pulled out all my old cookbooks and I'm determined to use them for my menu planning.

Much as I love having the internet at my disposal and knowing that I can just do a quick search, I feel that we're losing ourselves along the way, and the wonderful old cookbooks we love are just sitting on a shelf, collecting dust.

Lemon Pork Chops

So, I'm done with that business.  I've already disconnected from Facebook, and now the next step is to use mostly cookbooks for our meals, with one or two online recipes once in a while.

The first cookbook I grabbed from my pile was my much loved Best of Cooking in South Africa.  Reminds me of home and is filled with gorgeous pictures and delicious recipes.

Not to mention, it's making me go back to cooking with grams and millilitres, which is how I learned to begin with.

Right, now onto the first recipe I'm making.....


Lemon Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce

1 pound pork chops
1 teaspoon of dried sage
1 and half cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk or yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 and a half tablespoons lemon juice

Mustard Sauce
1 cup of milk
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons dry mustard
4 teaspoons flour
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
pinch of salt
small knob of butter (pat of butter)

Remove rind and most of the fat from the chops.  Crush sage between fingers after measuring and mix with crumbs and salt.  Mix yogurt, mayonnaise and lemon juice.   Dip chops into yogurt mixture, then into crumbs and chill for 2 to 3 hours.

To bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Lightly oil base of large baking dish, heat for a few minutes, then arrange chops in single layer, turning once.  Cover and bake for 1 hour, then uncover and bake for 30 minutes more.


For the sauce, put all ingredients, except butter, into the top of a double boiler, whisk well and then stir over simmering water until thick and smooth.  Finally, stir in butter.
Serves about 6.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Musselman's Apple Butter Winner

Thank you all for entering.  :)

For those that didn't win, I do have a Lucky Leaf Valentine's Day giveaway coming up this weekend, so there's another chance for you to win something cute :)

I used and the winning number was

#16 - Heidi

Congratulations Heidi, I'll be contacting you shortly!