Sunday, October 30, 2011

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

The Haunted Chambers (photo taken with my trusty Canon Power Shot SX130 camera, in this pitch dark)
For the last three years, we have enjoyed a fabulous Halloween celebration, usually the last weekend, before the actual Halloween evening. It is held downtown West Palm Beach at the Flagler Montessori pre-school, that has such wonderful staff, and the little children just love going there. My little 5 yr. old granddaughter just graduated from their pre-kindergarten this summer, and still loves going back there for fun events.
Another scary scene from the "Haunted Chambers"
Also, it's so much safer to attend a party such as this, and will cost you less money! So, for tomorrow on Halloween, the kids will be going "trick-or-treating" in the vicinity of their neighborhood escorted by adults, of course, and making sure to have all their candy examined when they bring it home!
This particular cake was a donation from my daughter's dear friend, Ilaria, who just recently started her baking treats, such as this beautiful Italian Ricotta Cake, decorated with cute little fondant ghosts! Her little daughter, Giorgia attends the pre-school, and she named her business after her: GIORGIA'S TREATS. You can reach her by e-mail, GIORGIA'STREATS@GMAIL.COM if you are in the Palm Beach County area. She is a talented true Italian baker, who has been making the United States her permanent home, for the last 10 years, or so!
More treats, from a local bakery!
They have what they call a "cake walk"...which is held outside, but unfortunately we got rained out by this ongoing remnant of Hurricane Rina, which is not unusual to get in the last week of October! All we got from the hurricane is several days of heavy rain and wind, strong, and lots of it! I feel for you folks up north who are having early snow surprising you at this time of the year. No fun, while your lawns are still green, and your lovely trees with the fall color leaves, to all of a sudden go into "winter wonderland" when you are still enjoying the beauty of fall! Mother Nature sure is temperamental at certain times of the year!




I got permission to take this picture of "Dr. Frankenstein" ...so creative, and funny!




More cakes in a special room, featured. At the end of the event, we were getting raffle tickets, and if your ticket was called, then you can pick any cake of your choice to take home.









Another beautiful cake, from a local bakery!










Halloween Greetings bats graphic word art

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Savory Butternut Squash Tart, the best...Ever!

Am I the only person that doesn't realize that we are in the fall season?...is it because I live in South Florida?
Well, neither are true. Living in a tropical climate doesn't mean that our temperature does not dip to a comfortable cool in the evening, and early morning. This is the best time of the year. I love fall, and I do miss the changing of the leaves to a gorgeous orange, yellow, and amber colors. I love the pumpkin patches, and the pumpkins sold in all the supermarkets, all the hearty soups, stews, and mostly pumpkin desserts, and savory squash dishes, and tarts...as this one for example!

I'm linking my Savory Butternut Squash Tart to: Full Plate Thursday , 10-27-11
@ Miz Helen's Country Cottage


I didn't want to be the last food blogger to present you with a sweet, or in this case, a savory delectable Butternut Squash Tart...but first, and most important, is the dough, which is used in pies, and for this free-form tart. Very simple, and easy to make; mix the tart ingredients in your food processor...the main thing is, as soon as the dough incorporates, you are ready to wrap it in plastic wrap, pat it down, and chill for at least 1 hour.
Without any further delay, I will let you in on a secret that is not such a secret... "best pie/tart recipe, from my daughter Lora @ Cake Duchess!  >>>> Perfect Pie Crust Recipe


Savory Butternut Squash Tart
My own recipe

1 medium onion, cut in half, and thinly sliced
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled, and
thinly sliced







1 large, or 2 small leaves of fresh oregano,
chopped fine
1 sprig fresh rosemary, peeled off sprig, and chopped fine

(you can use different herbs, such as parsley, thyme,
cilantro, basil, dill...choice is yours, just use 2 kinds to combine.)
4 ounces grated (course grated) aged, or any kind of sharp cheddar=1 cup grated
1 double pie/tart recipe
salt, and pepper
1 large egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. water
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, add onions, and the thinly sliced butternut squash.
In a large skillet, saute the onions and the squash, over medium-high heat. Add the salt, and pepper,
the chopped herbs. Saute for about 10 minutes, just to let the onions, and the squash soften a little.
Take it off the heat, and sprinkle, half the grated cheese, stirring carefully.

Roll the single dough into a 14 inch circle, or 2-7 inch rough circles. (picture not shown)










Slide the paper, and tart unto a baking sheet, and spoon the filling,
Spoon the squash mixture unto the crust, leaving a 2 inch border. Sprinkle the rest of the grated cheese, on top. Fold the border of the crust, over the crust mixture in an overlapping pattern, shown on the picture.

Brush the crust with the egg wash. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust gets golden brown, the cheese totally melted, and vegetable are tender.
Serve with a salad, if desired. 4 servings.



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Monday, October 24, 2011

Halloween Birthday Cake...and Fun Celebration!

It's showtime! "Theater of Horrors"...or is it "Tales from the Crypt?" In my last post, I mentioned that I was planning to make a birthday cake for my granddaughter Sophia's birthday...a very special 10th birthday. The second of 4 precious grandchildren that I was bless with. I held off till the last day...the day before the birthday party. Just could not decide how it's going to be, since I am not a cake decorator...but yes, I can bake, just not my "forte."...I would rather put ten gourmet meals together, before I would venture into a "cake decorating disaster!"
Did I mention that the little plastic decorations were from the dollar store?...a whole fun bag for $1.
Sophia requested for me to bake special birthday cake, 2 weeks before her birthday...she requested that it should be a Halloween cake, since her birthday is 1 week before Halloween, and decided to have a special birthday party at home for her friends, and parents included. This is her first b-party celebration, since she was born. Every year she had her party out in different fun places, including at an ice-skating rink last year.

I'm linking my Halloween Birthday Cake to: Full Plate Thursday, 10-27-11
@ Miz Helen's Country Cottage
For the Buttercream Frosting, I will give you a great tip for this blog that I found!
 Savory Sweet Life
Any blogger that gets 377 comments for a buttercream frosting recipe, and as you can see the superb decoration with the frosting....just gotta go with that recipe, and I did! Perfect, creamy, yummy! You must follow exactly the method, suggested.
Seriously, when you leave butter out to get soft at room temperature, you sift the confectioners (powdered sugar)...you can whip it up to perfection. I used the 3 cups method, with 2 Tbs. of whole milk, with the 2 sticks of butter at room temperature.

Before you place your cooled cake on your serving platter (I used bottom up)...place 4 pieces of about 4 inch aluminum foil, or wax paper around the platter, for easier frosting, and less messy cleanup. note: this is the actual color, a pretty soft pastel peach.

This flat thin stainless steel spatula, is a "lifesaver" of mine. (another thrift find for 29 cents) I have one from years ago, and this is another. I use this to flip my crepe, as well!
You can easily slide out the foil, when you are done frosting on the top, and sides. I actually did learn this method years ago, when I started to bake cakes, and have never forgotten...it really works!

Are you ready for another surprise? This was my second layer. Pumpkin Cheesecake
Don't make the same mistake that I did...you DO need the crust, for easier removal, of the cheesecake, and also for density. I could not remove the cheesecake from the pan...although I did place a circle of waxed paper under the pan, so I wouldn't ruin the cake. At serving time, it's better to remove the top layer from the bottom. It should be removed from the fridge at least 1 hour before serving, to let the buttercream come to room temperature!

As for the chocolate cake, this is the cake mix I used, purchased at Whole Foods Market...my most favorite market in the world...next to my local Publix supermarket!


All dressed up for pre-Halloween,. Sophia 3rd. from left and her dearest friends!
Sophia, and proud Nonna Lizzie!
Even the dining room table got a cute decoration by Sophia!
I am so glad the this is over, it's been fun to get such helpful sources, ideas, from the Internet and blogs...but at the end, I would have no one but myself to blame if the cake didn't turn out, so I'm really thankful that it did, and it was really very good, as well. I did not get a chance to photograph a piece of either cakes...was too busy cutting  pieces...so all, in all it was a successful event for a happy young lady, and her special 10th birthday. Today is officially Sophia's birthday...HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SOPHIA! Much love to you, and to all my dear friends! Thank you for coming along on this little journey...once again!


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Friday, October 21, 2011

Apple-Date Cobbler...and Homemade Biscuit Mix


I have been searching around in my little trusted file box from Better Homes and Gardens to pull out some "magic"...as in pulling a rabbit out of a magic hat?...well, it certainly came down to that, because I am just fresh out of ideas, for finding something out of my favorite cookbooks, ie: How To Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman, or my Southern Living collection, my Food and Wine Collections, or my Cooking Light collection of series, from the year 2000 all the way through 2010...all of which are "thrift finds," but my collections of newspaper clippings, which I have totally narrowed down, and have stopped collecting, and index cards that I have pasted or written recipes on, are now, a "thing of the past."...done, and gone!


Nowadays, you can find so many recipes on the Internet, and you don't have to go further than, your foodie buddies' blogs, to get inspired by all the amazing recipes they create, and post. I get inspired just by visiting, and commenting on all the my favorite blogs...most of, who are my friends that I like to keep in touch with! So why don't I just stay comfy-cozy, and keep getting ideas from their blog?...it's because I need to accomplish what I set out to do, is to go through my collection of recipes...or just toss them out...which most I have already done so!

Homemade Biscuit Mix
from Sun Sentinel, West Palm Beach, 1994

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking
powder, sugar, and salt. cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Store in an airtight container, and refrigerate. It will keep fresh for up to one month, or you can freeze it and keep up to 6 months. Just let it come to room temperature before using it, either way.
Makes up to 2 1//2 cups.







Apple Date Cobbler
my own recipe

1/2 cup Homemade Biscuit Mix
2 Tbsp. whole-wheat flour
2 Tbsp. light brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cane sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. milk
4 apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 cup pitted dates

In a medium mixing bowl, combine biscuit mix, flour, and 1 Tbsp. of cane sugar. Stir in the lightly beaten eggs, and the 2 Tbsp. milk, just until they are combined, and smooth. In another medium bowl, combine the sliced apples, the 2 Tbsp. brown sugar the one teaspoon cinnamon powder, juice of the one lemon. In a medium skillet, melt butter, add the apple mixture, and saute until al-dente (not quite soft)...add the 1 cup of the pitted dates, stir for a few minutes to let the dates heat up, and soften a little.

Transfer the mixture to a 1 quart oven proof casserole that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Immediately spoon biscuit mixture atop of the hot fruit mixture, into 4, or six mound (I added 6) Bake in a 400 -degree F. oven for about 15-20 minutes. Spoon out, 1 biscuit, and surround with fruit. You can sprinkle with powdered sugar, or additional cinnamon, mixed with sugar.
Serves 6.
Note: If you are using frozen fruits for the cobbler, you can mix 1 Tbsp. cornstarch into 3 Tbsp. water, to add to the fruit mix to heat up.

Enjoy!
I made this in the middle of the afternoon, and my 10 yr.old  granddaughter Gabby and I enjoyed a serving of this...just check out the biscuit, how light, and fluffy, the apples still in beautiful pieces, and the dates, slightly softened...Mmmm...let me tell you, this is a TREAT!...a great middle of the afternoon snack, with a nice cup of hot tea (which I don't drink unless it gets cool outside)...or a cup of cold glass of milk!




As you can see, these are my "best loved recipes."
Tucked away, in the little red box, ready to downsize, and toss some of them out since I have not made those recipes, and probably will not make them. I have another box, full of more recipes, which I will get to next time, to sort out.






These are not in order, any more...can't believe I actually glued them onto index cards...before I even owned a computer, in the early nineties. This is something that kids in grade school do these days...my little 5yr. old grandson Luca knows how to make copies in the printer/scanner/copier, he cuts out his little "fishies," "cars," and what have you and glues them on to his index cards, and sheets of papers, using up his momie's computer paper, and color ink in the copier...LOL

...and here's the Homemade Biscuit Mix recipe, and the Fruit-filled Cobbler, which actually called for frozen unsweetened cherries, that I didn't have, but did have the apples, and decided to use up my leftover pitted dates.
I also have a bag of frozen cranberries, which I will use next time, in place of the frozen cherries, and will follow the actual recipe!






This recipe, for the Lemon Meringue Bars, is a keeper. It has the recipe attached with a paper clip, for the Basic Butter Cookie Dough, which is very versatile. I can't wait to make this soon!
From Woman's Day magazine, 2004







I can tell you exactly, where I copied this recipe from: Border's Bookstore, the year, 1999. Bookstore has gone out of business in my former area, where I lived. It was walking distance from my home, and I would just walk over in my spare time, always ready with scratch pad...which actually was a "scratch pad"...copying recipes that interested me, so I wouldn't have to buy the entire book. Frugal, and "thrift"...get it?...that's me!
As for the source, just did not jot that down:(
Another keeper, really a very good recipe for pastry cream used for tarts, covered with fresh berries!


...and yes, I have made this a long time ago, will attempt to make it again, soon!
This is a photo copy from a library book, which I made at Office Depot, for about 5 cents a copy, cut out with scissors, and glued on an index card with Elmer's glue...again, don't know the source, at any rate, in retrospect...did I have a life back in the mid nineties?...I'm sure I did, working 2 cooking jobs, about 60-70 hrs,,,hmmm. Kids were away in college, abroad...was this my only entertainment on my one day off? collecting, clipping, copying, pasting recipes?...all before I owned a coputer? I had my first Windows 95 computer, in 1997...had no clue how to use it...self taught...crashed it a couple times! Got hacked a couple times...ahh, but Windows 98 was much better, and I became sophisticated...again. self teaching with those "Windows" 98 for Dummies!...well, this "dummie" learned a lot since then, and all is Good!

Have a wonderful weekend, my dear friends, (and readers)...(and followers)...who I never hear from, but I know you are out there, in silence, but that's good. I missed Wednesday's posting...jurst pondering, and planning things for Halloween...and today, I have to make a cake for my granddaughter Sophia's 10th Birthday, for tomorrow! Good luck Lizzie (that's me)...not a "cake baker"...not too many chef's are!...just no time, and mostly "no patience."...and/or imagination...creativity maybe, but that's not enough. You have to be a "born" cake baker...I could start a list, of fabulous bakers... but I'm running out of time!
Hugs, to all!



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Venison Stew with Potato Balls

After a long absence from my blog, I decided to return or just leave thing the way they are...which is the wrong choice. Eight years have...