Merry Christmas!

I hope you all had a Merry Christmas. Ours was a whirlwind tour of western Pennsylvania and Ohio. We hung out with our immediate families in Pittsburgh and then went to Ohio to visit with Nick's extended family - all 80 of them! 
The Steel City

The Sibs
But we're glad to be home. And our itty bitty apartment is starting to feel a little like home even though we know it's not a forever place. We even got some more "home" things that make our home feel that much more special. Even though I'm an interior designer, I really hate buying things for our house. I don't mind buying bigger items and practical items, but photos and accessories I want to feel attached to - something linked to a vacation, gift, or other memorable event.

So, it was just perfect that Nick's aunt/godmother gave us these beautiful bowls. Using them with our dishes adds warmth to the table and a pop of color. It's just the thing I would have bought to accent our kitchen and dining area if I would have chosen something myself. But I love them that much more since they were a gift.

Each one has a different design and this on the bottom:

It translates to "Painted by Hand in Deruta." I love our wedding date on the bottom also. I am sure we will get plenty of use out of these - look for them in some upcoming posts!

We also got some bedroom items - perfect since we've neglected every room other than the kitchen. We're waiting for this to come in the mail. I think it's so cute, but not too girly, since now I share the covers with a man.
via Pottery Barn
via Pottery Barn
While we were in Pittsburgh, we couldn't help but do a little shopping for ourselves. And what did we get? I'm sure not what most people pick up on vacation. Semolina, "00" Type Flour, and Durum Wheat Flour. We've heard all make great pastas, so we're going to make small batches of each and hold a taste test to see which we like the best.

"00" Type, Semolina, Durum Wheat
We also got some beans and dried mushrooms, since they are ridiculously cheap in Pittsburgh.

And some fun loose teas.

Down in Florida, we stopped at Whole Foods to pick up a basket full of sheep and goat's milk cheeses and spotted a variety of Dogfish Head beers. We picked up four different types we can't wait to try. We're going to review them and try to pair them with some meal ideas since they are expensive - but sooo good!

What did Santa bring you for Christmas? Are you settled in from the holiday craziness yet?

Holiday Spice Layer Cake with Rum Flavored Whipped Cream

This past weekend we attended a Christmas party a friend of ours hosted. We were asked to bring a little sumthin sumthin and this layer cake that my mom would make around the holidays popped into my head. It's a bit too rich for Nick and I alone to finish on our own, so this party gave me a great opportunity to share this treat with friends (and have a slice or two myself!).

The great thing about this cake is the presentation and the flavor can fool everyone into thinking you slaved over this thing, when it's really pretty dang easy. Like I hate baking and can handle this easy.

6 eggs, whites and yolks separated
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp Vegetable oil
1 tbsp Rum flavoring
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (I usually run through blender or food processor)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 cup fine crumb graham crackers
1 square grated unsweetened chocolate
rum flavored whipped cream (shown below)

Preheat your oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Beat in 1/2 cup sugar, 1 tbsp at a time. Beat until stiff and glossy. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks, oil, and rum flavoring on low in your mixer.

Add 1/2 cup sugar, flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and cloves to the yolk mixture. Beat for 1 minute.

Fold the yolk mixture into the egg whites. Fold in the graham cracker crumbs, chocolate and nuts. Pour into two 8-9" pans. Or in our case, a 8" pan and a springform pan since we don't have two cake pans (holiday gift idea?).

Place in the oven and bake 30-35 minutes. Once they are baked (still a toothpick in there - clean = done), immediately invert the pans onto cooling racks and cool (Don't remove the pans just yet though).
Once cooled, remove the cake from the pans and split each cake in half to make 4 layers.

Starting with a cake layer as the base, top each layer with the whipped cream and continue cake, cream, cake, cream until you've all four layers are complete.

Top the entire cake with the remaining whipped cream and garnish with chocolate curls.

Now for the hard part: Chill (without sneaking) for 7 hours to allow the cream to set and flavors to mingle.

Before serving you can add strawberries, cherries or raspberries for some added color and holiday cheer.

Rum Flavored Whipped Cream

2 c. chilled whipped cream
1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 tsp. rum flavoring

Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and beat until stiff. Ta- Da!

The things we do for love...

Why, yes. That is an easy over egg inside a pancake. The husband loves eggs. During college, he gave blood regularly to the local Blood Bank. On one particular visit, they warned him that his cholesterol had spiked noticeably from his last visit. Turns out, it was because that week he had eaten only eggs for breakfast - everyday.

Now, I give him his (possibly only) daily serving of fruit for breakfast in the form of a fruit smoothie each morning - during the week. On the weekends, we usually have eggs and bacon with potatoes and toast. This particular weekend, however, we were out of toast and bacon (the horror!!), so I suggested pancakes. He still was craving his eggs, so we came up with this - egg in a pancake. It solved the no bread for toast problem and he seemed quite happy with it.

I still made mine with chocolate chips.

Candy Cane Almond Milk Ice Cream

The last ice cream we made (vanilla) was great. So, to get into the holiday season I figured I would tackle one of my old favorites - Candy Cane Ice Cream.

It's based on the same recipe as the original vanilla ice cream, but with a (red and white!) twist.

18 red and white candy canes
3 c. almond milk
1 c. heavy cream
8 egg yolks
9 oz. sugar*
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract

Start with a box of candy canes - mine held 18. I crushed them all up in a zip top bag. To prevent an explosion, I left a small corner unzipped so air could get out and GENTLY banged the whole thing with a meat mallet to get tiny crumbles of cany cane.

I heated the liquids over medium-low heat in a saucepan and added 1/3 c. candy cane crumbles. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Once it has come to a simmer, remove from the heat and set aside.

In a seperate mixing bowl (or bowl for your mixer), whisk the egg yolks until they lighten in color and then slowly add the sugar, still whisking. Once the mixture forms a ribbon, stir in a tablespoon or two of the warm cream/milk mixture. Continue to add small amounts of cream/milk to the eggs to temper them. Once the eggs have come up to temperature, add the rest of the cream/milk mix.

Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat until it reaches 170 F and coats the back of a spoon. Let it cool in another container on the counter for a half hour.

Stir in the vanilla and peppermint extracts after the 30 minutes and place in the refrigerator until the temperature of the mixture reaches 40 F.

Once chilled to 40 F, you can make the ice cream according to your particular ice cream maker's directions.

Once at the soft serve stage, add in the remaining candy cane crumbles and continue to process until they are well incorporated.

Transfer this mixture to storage containers and place in the freezer to harden. Once frozen, scoop and eat, preferably with hot cocoa. :)

*Note: Use white sugar! I used sugar in the raw, which changed the lovely pink color to something like orange sherbert. No negative effect on flavor, just a bit odd looking.

Thanksgiving ReMix - Turkey Cranberry and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

My fab hubs came up with this one night and it sounded so good we used up the last remains of our turkey to make this. It was delicious. Creamy, meaty, savory, sweet, spiced. Yum!


4 oz. roasted turkey breast, shredded or sliced very thin
1/2 c. cranberry sauce
1 1/2 c. Ricotta cheese (we used Ricotta Salata rehydrated to have the traditional Ricotta consistency)
18 Jumbo Shells
salt and pepper

Mix the turkey with the cranberry sauce and Ricotta cheese. Add a pinch of nutmeg, pepper and salt to taste.

Boil the pasta shells in a pot of salted water until al dente.

Fill the shells with the filling and place in a shallow oven-safe pan lined with gravy.

Top with the gravy (recipe below) and pecorio romano, bake in a 350 F oven until the cheese browns and bubbles - about 30 minutes.


2 tbsp butter
1 shallot or 1/8 sweet onion, diced fine
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 c. turkey stock
1 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp heavy cream
pinch nutmeg
salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until the onions are transparent. Stir in the all purpose flour and mix to combine with the butter. Gradually add in the stock. Whisk to combine the stock with the rue. Add in the parsley and cream, nutmeg and salt and pepper. Cook over low heat until desired consistency.

Thanksgiving ReMix - Turkey Cranberry Ravioli

I actually started this blog with a link to this recipe, but I feel like it's good enough to post twice, and my first blog post ever kinda sucked. This year I made a few changes to the original recipe, mainly adding more cranberry and making six times the quantity. To freeze of course, so we can enjoy the Thanksgiving day flavor these provide into the New Year.

Ingredients (makes 100 ravioli):

1 1/2 pound roasted turkey, shredded, preferably dark meat
16 tablespoons cranberry sauce
16 tablespoons grated Romano
6 tablespoon bread crumbs
6 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
4 egg
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 
1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 recipes pasta dough (as listed here)

Start by mixing the turkey, cranberry, cheese, bread crumbs, parsley, egg, salt and pepper together in a large bowl.

Next, make the pasta dough. Cut the larger dough ball into about 6 - 8 smaller balls so that it is easier to roll out sheets of pasta.

Fill each ravioli with 1 tbsp of the filling.

Pinch each ravioli shut, making sure to release any air bubbles, and cut.

You can make fresh by boiling in a salted pot of water, or freeze individually on a cookie sheet (and later place in a zip top bag) for an easy, tasty meal later.

Serve with this gravy or a traditional turkey gravy.