20 April 2009

Italian Love Cake

Hubs made fun of the name, but he still ate the heck out of this cake. So there. It has a rather heavy texture (the ricotta bakes into the cake portion, which is the reason for this) but that light top layer of cream and pudding evens things out nicely. It tastes a bit like tiramisu, if you're into that sort of thing. Pretty good stuff, and a heck of a lot easier than dipping all those ladyfingers in espresso and laying them out...

Italian Love Cake
(from the lovely Leslie)

1 box marble cake mix
1 large container (~2 lb.) ricotta cheese
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 pkg. instant chocolate pudding
1 c. milk
1 container Cool Whip

Prepare marble cake mix according to directions, and pour into a (greased and floured) 9X13 pan.

Mix eggs, cheese, sugar, vanilla and pour over cake mix. Bake 1 hour at 350 F. Cool cake-completely!

Mix pudding mix with 1 cup milk. Beat 3 minutes. Add Cool Whip and spread over cake. Refrigerate cake.

Leslie's note: "I normally make this the day before so its completely set up and cold. "

18 April 2009

Tinnie Cheesecake

I made my last trip (for awhile, anyway) down to see family this past weekend - and they were kind enough to make me a lovely lunch and shower the baby Robot with gifts :) I am spoiled and so is this child, I've decided. I'm spoiled mostly because my sister Miss Tinnie brought out the big guns, and made her awesome cheesecake.

This is The Best Cheesecake Ever. It is actually her version of one of those "kopy kat" recipes, a take on the Copeland's famous cheesecake recipe. I personally have never had the Copeland's version, but according to Miss Tinnie it is The Bomb. If it really does taste like this cheesecake, then I am a believer.

This version is dense and creamy but light, definitely not a baked cheesecake. It's a mile high and sits on a thick, awesomely nutty crust. It's the crust that gets ya. I begged for the recipe and Tinnie was gracious enough to share her version with me. And I'm sharing it with you. Err, it's probably safe to say she won't be sharing anymore recipes with me any time soon...

Tinnie Cheesecake

1/2 c. Bisquick biscuit mix
3/4 c. flour
1 c. pecans, chopped
3/4 c. dark brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
5 pkgs. (40 oz.) cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 c. sugar (make sure it's a "heaping" cup)
2 Tbsp. vanilla extract
16 oz. whipped topping

For crust:
Preheat oven 350 F.

Combine all dry ingredients, breaking up any large pieces of brown sugar. Add pecan pieces and melted butter and mix thoroughly. Press mixture evenly into a 10-inch springform pan. Place pan on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 13 minutes. Allow to cool at room temperature.

For filling:
Cream together softened cream cheese and sugar and vanilla until smooth. Approximately 5 minutes on high speed, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Fold in whipped topping gently until mixture is smooth. Using rubber spatula scoop into pre-baked crust and smooth the top. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and freeze overnight or at least 8 hours.

At least 30 minutes before serving remove from freezer and place at room temperature. Cut and serve with your favorite topping or plain.

17 April 2009


We are too busy enjoying Orangina to blog these days. Will be back this weekend, my pets.
Miss Tinnie, Nemmie, and Mahni

12 April 2009

(Not Really Key) Lime Pie

Spring in Kansas – it’s true that you just never know what you’re going to get. Every once in awhile - in between that barometric see-saw of cold snaps, then hot and dreadfully humid thunderstorms, then gloomy chilly days- you get that gorgeous day. Sunny, not a cloud in the sky, temps in the low 70s. Just beautiful.

We had one of those days recently, and believe me they are cherished when they show up. I rushed home from work and threw open all the windows. When Hubs got off work, we did our usual warm-weather ritual and went up to campus for a long walk up and down The Hill. Well, okay I should be honest it’s our second-most-common ritual - the first being walking Mass St. and having a beer on the patio at Free State, but I wasn’t quite up for that one this year…

Anyhoo, nice weather just makes a person hungry for certain things, so we both agreed on salads for dinner. But I was also craving something sweet and tart, one of those cravings for dessert you get on a beautiful day. And I knew the perfect dessert. So when we stopped at the grocery store on the way home to grab salad goodies, I also picked up a can of sweetened condensed milk and a bunch of limes. Nothing celebrates the warm weather like a lime pie.

Notice I didn’t say “key lime”, that’s because I rarely use key limes when making this pie. No worries. It is still delicious, I assure you. This recipe rocks because it is not only easy (I pretty much have it memorized), but it is incredibly quick. Hubs took a shower when we got home from our walk, and by the time he walked back into the kitchen to help with salads I was pulling the finished pie out of the oven to cool.

It really is your classic lime pie – sweet and yet tart tart tart, creamy and cool with a nice crunchy crust. Perfect. You can, you know, ruin it by adding a meringue topping or whipped cream if you’d like, but I think it’s just right on its own.

(Not Really Key) Lime Pie
(from Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook, 2005)

For crust:
1 1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs, fine ground
1 Tbsp. sugar
5 Tbsp. salted butter, melted

For filling:
4 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp. lime zest (I probably used more like 2 Tbsp. We love the tart)
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. fresh lime juice (about 4 limes’ worth)

Prepare the crust: In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Stir in melted butter (I add this with my hands, but a wooden spoon will do fine). Press evenly into the bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan. Bake off the crust for 10 minutes at 325 F. Cool completely.

Prepare the filling: In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the yolks and lime zest until smooth. Beat in the milk, then slowly beat in the lime juice. Beat mixture continuously until smooth.

Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Bake at 350 F for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then place in the fridge to cool until set (about 2 hours).

09 April 2009

Snickerdoodle Muffins

Shamelessly stolen from Pea's blog (these were all the rage in the food blogging community a few years ago, so I patiently waited to post my version).

These are something I could make all the time, and for good reason - they are EXACTLY like the cookie, only in a nice muffin form. The rolling of the batter in cinnamon sugar yields a muffin that has a sugary crackled crust, exactly like the cookie. The muffin interior is so moist and soft and yummy - oh my goodness, heaven. I'm not a gigantic fan of snickerdoodle cookies (they are just *okay*), but man. I could eat these muffins every day of my life.

Just a note for first timers making these: coat your palms in the cinnamon sugar and just plop a scoop of batter on one hand, and bounce the batter quickly between the bowl of sugar and your hands before plopping in your muffin tin. You'll be a MESS, yes, but it also works like a charm.

Snickerdoodle Muffins
(from Peabody)

2 sticks unsalted butter
1 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
¾ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. baking powder
¾ tsp. cream of tarter
¾ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 ¼ c. sour cream
2 ¼ c. all purpose flour
1 c. sugar + 2 Tbsp. cinnamon, mixed together for rolling

Cream the butter and sugar until soft about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the vanilla. Add in the eggs one at a time and mix until each is incorporated.

In a separate, mix together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and cream of tarter.
Add the flour mixture and the sour cream alternately to the egg-butter mixture in the additions. Start with the flour and end with the flour. Scrape the bowl occasionally.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out muffin batter one at a time and drop into a shallow bowl filled with the cinnamon sugar mixture. Roll the muffin around in the mixture until it is covered completely in cinnamon sugar. Place muffin into a greased muffin tin.

Depending on the size of your tins, you should get about 12 to 14 muffins. Bake them for approx. 20-22 minutes in a 350F oven or until they are golden brown.

07 April 2009

Smoked Salmon Spread

Hubs loves this stuff, and I mean loooooves this stuff. And I can't blame him - it's the best salmon spread I've ever had (and I have tried my fair share in my lifetime). So easy to make, too!

We tend to add extra horseradish (gotta love that bite). Just few things to note: First, go easy on the salt. I season it up at the end, because depending on the type of salmon used, it may not need any salt at all. Second, be sure to make this well ahead of time. This is definitely a spread that takes a few hours for the flavors to really come together.

Smoked Salmon Spread

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 c. sour cream
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp. minced fresh dill
1 tsp. prepared horseradish, drained
1/4 tsp. kosher salt (Easy on the salt!)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 lb.(4 oz.) smoked salmon, diced

Cream the cheese in an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until just smooth.

Add the sour cream, lemon juice, dill, and horseradish, and mix. Add the smoked salmon and mix well, then season with salt and pepper. Chill and serve with crudites or crackers.

04 April 2009

Blueberry Lime Angel Food Cake

I was cleaning out the freezer the other day, and realized I had 18 egg whites sitting around waiting to be used. Which means one thing in my household - we're making angel food cake.

Angel food cake is one of my favorites. History dates the origin of this cake back to the 1800s, well before rotary beaters even existed. Can you imagine the amount of arm strength it took to beat up a dozen egg whites for a measely cake?? Well, if nothing else that bit of information should the uninitiated that the making of angel food cake even by hand is, indeed, worth the effort.

I, of course, did not make mine by hand (thank goodness for that KitchenAid mixer, which makes whipping up this cake mind-numbingly easy). Now usually I love this cake plain - to me, regular-old angel food cake with maybe some fruit topping is just sublime. Angel food cake is like a baked version of cotton candy - sticky and sweet and light as can be. It doesn't need a lot of decoration to be fantastic. However, I had not only a great berry sauce to use up, but also some limes and blueberries that were getting near their end.

So I did dress up the cake a wee bit with the blueberries and lime, and then figured 'what the heck' and buried all of that in berry sauce. It was all very good! The blueberries didn't really weigh down the cake as I was worried they might do, and the limes gave things and extra zing that you don't get from any other flavoring (much more assertive than lemon). All in all very good! Take advantage of that lovely spring weather folks, and make this cake....

Blueberry Lime Angel Food Cake
(Adapted from CDKitchen)

1 1/2 c. sugar, divided
1 c. sifted cake flour
12 large egg whites
1 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries
2 Tbsp. sifted cake flour
1 Tbsp. lime zest

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Sift together 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup flour. In a large bowl, beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Add cream of tartar and salt; beat until soft peaks form.

Add 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Sift flour mixture over egg white mixture, 1/4 cup at a time; fold in. Fold in vanilla and blueberries. Combine 2 tablespoons flour and lime rind; toss to coat. Sprinkle over egg white mixture; fold in.

Spoon the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, spreading evenly. Break air pockets by cutting through batter with a knife.

Bake at 375 F for 40 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Invert pan; cool completely. Loosen the cake from sides of pan using a narrow metal spatula. Invert cake onto plate.

01 April 2009


We got a late winter (well technically early spring) storm this past weekend, sleet and ice and some snow - lotsa sleet and ice, little snow. Kinda annoying, when we've had a few blissful days in the sunny 70s, but hey. I think I can celebrate nature's last homage to winter weather for awhile. Plus it means one last pot of ribollita.

This is one of my favorite soups to make when it's cold out. In fact, check out those pictures - that is not bad lighting, that is steam whitening out my shots. I love love love ribollita in the wintertime - an Italian dish with a charming history, ribollita originated as a soup where all the leftovers went, including the cheese rind and stale bread. It's a great way to use leftover veggies, and at the rate Hubs and I make pasta dishes there are always extra Parmesan rinds saved up in the freezer. And stale bread? Yes, that is usually not a problem to find at our house as well (I do my best to make bread crumbs out of leftover bread when I can, but that doesn't always happen).

It's hot and comforting, and nice and thick thanks to the toasted bready bottom of your bowl. So rich, it's hard to believe you didn't spend all day in the kitchen whipping this up. That is indeed one of the best things about this dish! Takes 45 minutes to an hour, and most of that is simmer time.


1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling on bread
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
4 oz. pancetta or bacon, chopped
2 cloves garlic: 1 minced and 1 whole
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 (15-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 lb. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 (15-oz.) can cannelloni beans, drained
1 Tbsp. herbs de Provence
3 c. chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 or 2 (3-in.) pieces Parmesan rind
4 to 6 ciabatta rolls, halved lengthwise or 1 loaf, sliced
Grated Parmesan, for serving

Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, pancetta, minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Cook until the onion is golden brown and the pancetta is crisp, about 7 minutes. Add tomato paste and stir until dissolved. Add tomatoes and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the brown bits. Add the spinach, beans, herbs, stock, bay leaf, and Parmesan rinds. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F.

Drizzle the ciabatta halves with olive oil. Toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and rub the top of the toasts with the whole garlic clove. Place the toasts in the serving bowls and ladle the soup over the toasts. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve immediately.