Thursday, September 29, 2011

Pineapple and Cherry Dump Cake



My husband wanted dessert along with our feast we made for dinner (The Breaded and Stuffed Pork Chops).  He wanted to make cake with frosting, I'm a little tired of it and wanted something a little more homey and comforting.  Then I remembered, what sounded great was Pineapple and Cherry Dump Cake.  Mmmm, yes....  Fruity, Sweet, Crumbly and Buttery and then possibly ala mode?  My husband thought it sounded great (he's had it before but didn't remember).  It's such an easy dessert and should be made more often!

The first time I had it was at my mother in law's.  She made it when my husband and I were just dating.  Wow that was a long time ago.  Then I made it for a few Sunday dinners at my parent's house when we would all get together when my dad was still alive.  I always made dessert.  I think my dad loved this dessert.  We had similar dessert tastes.

So it's been awhile.  Wish I had some pecans but then I thought having no pecans for the kids was better, because they don't yet have the acquired taste for nuts in the raw.  My son doesn't like the texture yet, he's only 2.

I made a 9x13 pan of it and right now as I write this more than half of it is gone.

*There were nibblers (my husband and daughter) taking turns dipping the spoons in and eating it.   Sneaks! 

Then my husband made a huge bowl of it later and ate it ala mode!  I ate some later, had a smaller piece, didn't want to have it sit on my stomach before bed.

This is your basic Dump cake, but with the pineapple I didn't use tidbits.  I used pineapple pieces.  Larger size cut tidbits.  I like to get a good piece of pineapple.  I love pineapple!  I thought I had Cherry Pie filling in my cupboards but didn't, so my husband ran up to the store and got some.  He didn't get the Comstock brand which I prefer, he got some other brand I never seen or heard of.  What do you expect from someone who doesn't know.  But it still worked well.  Still prefer Comstock.

I also have to point out that this is something great to make with the kids.  They can pretty much make it themselves.  All you have to do is put it in the oven and take it out of the oven.  My daughter did this one with me.  She honestly did most of the work.  I am trying to rub off the love of cooking and baking to her.  So someday she'll have memories of cooking with me like I do with my mom.

So here it is...my daughter creating her first mostly on her own dessert.


Use a 9x13 glass or metal baking dish, here you can see I used my glass one.  I like this dish for cobblers and desserts.  Sofia is pouring both the juice and pineapple pieces in to the baking dish.  (no need to grease the dish).

Then Sofia added the Cherry Pie filling.

Here she is mixing it around.

We both sprinkled the cake mix on top and evenly distributed it.
See the heart shaped Barbie plate with the butter pats (butter cut into tablespoons).  So cute!

Sofia laid the butter pats perfectly, she's so proud and so is Mamma!
She loves posing with a Peace Sign gesture!  My little Bohemian!

*Look at the beautiful layers through the glass...

Baked at 350'F for 45 minutes and you're done!  Again they got to it before I could take a picture of it still whole!  At least they loved it!

This couldn't be a simpler put together dessert.  Kids can do it.  Although it seems so simple it tastes delicious and it's one of my favorite desserts.  Great for that last minute dessert too.  This is great ala Mode and I would think maybe a light drizzle of caramel topping on top of the ice cream would also be good with this.  This is best served warm and is also great reheated in the microwave.

My husband wanted to add chocolate chips but I stood my ground and said no, not everything has to have chocolate in it....  OH MY GOSH, Did I really just type that?  Shame on me!  But seriously if it was just the cherry pie filling then maybe it would of worked.  Or perhaps using chocolate cake mix instead with the cherry pie filling and adding chocolate chips.

PS:  You can use any pie filling.  I love Peach Pie Filling.  Apple Pie Filling works great too and would make a great Fall dessert and mixed in some cinnamon in the cake mix.  If you are going to just use pie filling then I would double up on the cans of it.  Maybe even a third?  Be creative!

You can also make Pumpkin Dump Cake too, just make the Pumpkin Pie Filling that you would use to make pumpkin pie, add that to the baking dish first then add the cake mix, pecans and butter on top.  I am making that next.  Will post when I do.  Mmmm!

Here's the recipe:

Pineapple and Cherry Dump Cake:
1 box of Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Yellow Cake Mix
1 and a half sticks of butter cut into tablespoon pats
Comstock Cherry Pie Filling in a can.
Pineapple Pieces from a can

Preheat oven to 350'F.

Pour your Pineapple Pieces including juice into a 9x13 glass or metal baking dish.

Add Cherry Pie Filling

Mix just until fruit is well distributed.

Sprinkle all of cake mix on top of fruit.

Layer tablespoons pats of butter in oven.

Bake at 350'F for 45 minutes.

Serve warm.  Add Ice Cream and Caramel Topping as well as Whip Cream if desired.  Or just eat it out of the pan like my daughter and husband did...  LOL!

Enjoy & HAPPY FALL!  YAY, FALL IS HERE!!!!
Annamaria

   NightOwlCraftingA Glimpse Inside

Dinner 9/28: Breaded and Stuffed Pork Chops


Let's start off saying that I HAVE TO GET a new Camera.  My point and shoot Nikon digital camera just isn't cutting it for these blogs and food presentations.  So any suggestions on a good camera is well appreciated.  I fear that it's going to be an costly investment.  My mother in law has a good camera but I am sure she wouldn't want to come over to document my recipes....

I have been meaning to make stuffed pork chops.  This fascination with them at how great they always looked.  But I was scared because pork can get really dry really quick.  Also what if the middle didn't cook, what if the stuffing was not heated through.  So many things could go wrong and I didn't want my husband to be disappointed.  I would eventually get over the failure but he would from time to time remind me of it and probably not encourage me to try again....  LOL!

So I pondered it.  What can I do that would help not to dry it out?  So this is what I did.  I know they are normally not breaded but I thought that providing a protective coating would keep the moistness in.  Maybe it will help and maybe not.

I took a brownie pan, I was only making 3 breaded and stuffed pork chops.  They are also boneless, next time I will try bone in.  They were thick pork chops and I had my butcher butterfly them.  Never asked the butcher to do things before, I guess it's part of their job.  Thank goodness because there are no prepackaged butterflied pork chops.  He was also really nice!



I drizzled some Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a brownie size pan.  Instead of dipping the pork chops in egg then breading, I rubbed olive oil on them lightly and then patted them in Italian Seasoned Breadcrumbs.  Worked well.  I held them open and stuffed them.  Now I didn't make homemade stuffing(I know, GASP!) which would of tasted so much better.  But instead I used Stove Top (Yet another GASP!).  Then I laid them in the pan.  I cooked them about 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven on one side and then I added the rest of the left over stuffing in the pan and flipped the pork chops over to brown the other side then place a pat of butter on each pork chop.  The breading provided a nice color and crisp on the edge and I think it helped coating the pan with olive oil which also added extra flavor.

*Pats of butter placed on chops, yet again another blurry pic.

They came out pretty good and were perfectly done.  Since I was feeding the kids this meal I wanted to make sure there was no pink.  I fear my kids getting food poisoning.  I've had it twice from restaurants, let me tell you, it's not fun!

*Blurry Pic I know!  =(
Chops Resting in Pan

*Stuffed Pork Chops, Additional Stuffing and Jiffy Corn Muffins (I didn't like the Jiffy Corn Muffins, I usually use it to make my Corn Souffle.  I thought I'd try the muffins, they were too dry, I like a sweeter more moist corn bread)
My serving platters are either too big or too small....  I need to get one that is just right for us!

*A semi set table.  My daughter did this and for being 7 I think she did an awesome job!

*Believe it or not but the rice was Rice A Roni's Broccoli au Gratin Rice, I added Broccoli Spears to it.  My family loves the Broccoli au Gratin Rice from Rice A Roni.

So this is my recipe.  I hope it helps you, gives you pointers and make it yourself.  They were served up with a variety of dishes.  It was like Thanksgiving.  We had a carb filled feast.  We had gravy, stuffing, broccoli cheese rice and mashed potatoes and I also made some Jiffy Corn muffins.  We enjoyed a good dinner at the table.  I haven't made a meal this big in a while.  I do though think our eyes were bigger than our stomachs.  We have lots of leftovers but won't be wasted since it will make for a great lunch tomorrow with the kids.

My daughter thoroughly enjoyed her dinner and I would of taken a picture of my son but he was to busy eating.  He couldn't get enough!

*I ate and fed my son at the same time, hence the smaller plate.  I don't think he cared too much about using his sister's Hello Kitty fork to which she's out grown.

Did I mention I also made dessert?  It will be in the next blog....

Breaded & Stuffed Pork Chops
3 Butterflied thick boneless pork chops
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Stuffing (Dressing how some call it), homemade or instant
Italian Seasoned Bread Crumbs
3 Pats of Butter or Margarine

Preheat oven to 400'F.
Coat a brownie pan with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Drizzle and coat your boneless butterflied pork chops and coat in breadcrumbs
With the pork chops open, spoon in stuffing to top.
Place in pan and put in preheated over and cook on one side for 10 minutes and then flip stuffed pork chops and place a pat of butter on top of each stuffed pork chop and then place back in oven for another 10 minutes.
Take out of your oven and let chops rest before cutting into to maintain juices.
Serve with any additional sides you like.

Next time I do think I am going to sear the meat in a skillet and then place in the pan with some chicken broth.  That's probably the only thing I would do differently.

Have any questions, contact me!  =)

Happy Cooking and of course Happy Eating!
Annamaria

Friday, September 23, 2011

Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consommé”. Italian Wedding Soup served with Herb and Garlic Brioche

Italian Wedding Soup served with Herb and Garlic Brioche.
(please note that the pictures will be coming soon...can't find my file card...lol!)


*The Only PreMade Dried Pasta I buy!

Peta, of the blog Peta Eats, was our lovely hostess for the Daring Cook’s September 2011 challenge, “Stock to Soup to Consommé”. We were taught the meaning between the three dishes, how to make a crystal clear Consommé if we so chose to do so, and encouraged to share our own delicious soup recipes!

I grew up on brothy soups. My mom would always make her chicken soup, Italian style of course and she would laddle it on top of cooked rice. We would pile on the freshly grated Parmesan Cheese or Romano Cheese and have some Italian bread around and enjoy our soup. Some people wait to make soups when it's cold outside. My mom made it all year round. It was a magical quick dish for her and it would fill our bellies. I will later share that soup for you but that is not the soup I want to make for this challenge. I decided I am going to make Italian Wedding Soup. Yes this soup is served at weddings but my family also has it for Thanksgiving before the big Turkey Feast. It just seems natural because you can use Turkey to make Italian Wedding Soup if you don't want to make it with Chicken. However since Chickens are readily available and I have no use for a 13 pound Turkey, I am going to make the Chicken Italian Wedding Soup.

Let's make a side note for those precious little pasta that goes in the soup, the best to use is Acini di Pepe.  Basically meaning Peppercorn Balls.  You can use Ditalini, but I like Ditalini more in legume soups with lentils or cannelini beans.  But I love those little pearl pasta, Acini is my favorite and if you noticed the poster above, I choose to buy Barilla Dried Pastas the most.

This recipe will include the Italian Wedding Soup accompanied by Peta's own recipe for Herb and Garlic Brioche. It looked divine when she made it so I am going to challenge myself to make my own Brioche. This is going to make a lot, so looks like I'm inviting people over for dinner. The Herbs and Garlic in the Brioche is going to be perfect to pair up with the Italian Wedding Soup.

This is a side note: You can make your own Chicken Stock and you can certainly buy it already made. However you choose to do it the end result may vary in taste but certainly taste great no matter what. Also you can make your own mini meatballs or you can buy them. We have a great Italian import store that makes them perfect for this dish. You can use ground meat using pork, beef, chicken, turkey, lamb or even a combination. It's up to you.

I chose to make my own stock just like my mom. I am also going to make my own meatballs, they are easy to make. This is a straight up recipe from my mom, how we've eaten it always. This is Authentic Baby!

You can decide to make the Brioche before or after the soup. I choose to make it after since I want my soup's flavors to mingle for awhile but not reducing it too much. So let's start off with the recipe for the Brioche....

Peta's Herb and Garlic Brioche

2 cups all-purpose plain flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk, warm
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon chopped chives
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 teaspoon Italian mixed herbs
1 teaspoon freshly crushed garlic

Directions:

1. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.
2. Slowly mix the warm milk, butter, herbs, garlic and 2 of the eggs into the flour mixture.


3. Knead until the dough is smooth. The dough is ready to rise when it is completely smooth and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
4. Cover the bowl and allow the dough to rise until it is doubled in size.
5. Transfer the dough from the bowl onto a floured work surface and punch it down a few times.
6. Finely chop the fresh herbs and mix with the garlic.
7. Press the dough out into a rectangle then spread with the chopped herbs.


8. Roll up like a swiss roll and place on a lined baking tray.


9. Cover the pan and allow the dough to rise until it is doubled in size.
10. Preheat the oven to moderately hot 400°F.


11. Remove the dough covering, gently brush the loaf with the remaining beaten egg, bake for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderate 350°F and bake for an additional 25 minutes, until the brioche is golden brown. Allow it to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, and then transfer it to a wire cooling rack.


Italian Wedding Soup

Meatballs:
4 Slices White Bread
2/3 cup of Milk
1 Egg
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Pounds of Ground Beef or Turkey
1 Medium Onion, finely diced
3 Tablespoons Freshly Grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon dried or chopped fresh parsley

Soup:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 cups finely diced carrots
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 4 to 4 1/2 quarts (16 to 18 cups) chicken broth, homemade or purchased
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
  • 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach or fresh chopped kale or spiniach
  • 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 2/3 cups of Acini di Pepe Pasta (they look like little round pearls) or you can use Ditalini

Directions:


Meatball Prep:

Combine the bread, egg, milk, and salt, stirring till everything is well moistened. Allow to sit for about 10 minutes to soften.

Add the ground meat, onion, cheese, and herbs. Mix gently till thoroughly combined.
Shape 1 inch tiny meatballs. Using a level teaspoon scoop makes about the right size (you can use a cookie scooper if you want to). Place the meatballs on a parchment-lined or lightly greased cookie sheet, and refrigerate them while you prepare the soup.
Soup Prep:
Using a large pot, at least 6-quart capacity. Pour the olive oil into the bottom of the pot, and add the onions and carrots. Sauté, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for another couple of minutes.


Add the broth and herbs, bring to a simmer, and cook gently for 10 minutes.
Add the frozen chopped spinach or chopped fresh kale or spiniach, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, total; the soup will take awhile to come back to a simmer, due to the frozen spinach. Help it along by breaking it up with a fork as it cooks.

Gently drop the meatballs into the soup. Simmer the soup for 30 minutes or so, then stir in the pasta, cooking till it's al dente.

Add salt and pepper to taste,

Serve the soup garnished with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano Cheese.


Buon Appetito,
Annamaria

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Our Lady of Lourdes Broccoli Cheese Casserole


Every year I make a pilgrimage to a hidden grotto in Cleveland that is dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes, a place influenced by the Grotto where the Virgin Mary was seen at the location of Lourdes, France by Saint Bernadette. The nuns cook up some great food with the help of some volunteers. Many nuns there are retired from my church and there are also missionary nuns from Africa and other places in the world. My favorite nun there is Sister Phyllis Ann who was my confirmation teacher at my church until she transferred to Our Lady of Lourdes which holds the home of Our Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity. This is also the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. We get the best food and we go with other women in our church's solidarity and pray, do the rosary and talk. It's a day of prayer we dedicate to do every year.

Our Lady of Lourdes Grotto with Blessed Holy Water Stream

At lunch we get spoiled with a huge lunch or we can get breakfast if we get there earlier. At lunch they make this Broccoli Casserole. It is so good that I can't help but get a second side plate of it. So here I am sharing this recipe with you. It means a lot to me because not only is it from some of the best nuns/people I know but it's a day and a dish that I share with family and friends. Yesterday I went with other members of the church along with my son (who was the center of attention) my mom and my sister.

Saint Bernadette

My mom, sister and I spend this day together every year! My sister and I exchanged gifts that we bought from the gift shop. It was beautiful, sunny fall like day and it was peaceful, even my 2 year old son was so well mannered, it was angelic! It was truly a miracle and a mommy and son spending day!

My son doesn't mind what kind of paper you give him, he just loves to scribble!

Saint Anna with the Virgin Mary as a child.
(Both are my patron Saints and whom I was named after)

Earlier in the morning we held a memorial mass for my father's 2 year anniversary of his passing. Today is exactly 2 years since he lost his battle with cancer. Bladder Cancer specifically.

The Shrine's website: Sisters of the Most Holy Trinity

When the day was over, my sister dropped me off back at our church's parking lot so I could go and pick up my car.  We drove in my sister's car and I met them at the church for the memorial mass.  So with that I decided that I would pass by where I use to live when I lived in this neighborhood in Cleveland.  Back in the day it was primarily Italian immigrants, but since then most have left and it's not the greatest of neighborhoods.  It went really downhill.  Boarded up houses and houses falling apart.  It's sad really because we had such pride in our neighborhood.  We left the neighborhood for the Suburbs when I was 3, although I was young I remember much and I remember my friends in the neighborhood.  I wish I knew where my friend Vanessa ended up.  My parents owned the house which was a side by side, they rented the other side to Vanessa's family.  Also we had a house behind our house that was on our lot and my parents rented that out to our neighbor's daughter.

Our neighbor was also awesome.  Lucy and her husband.  Lucy was disabled because of diabetes and was in a wheelchair.  My parents were Italian immigrants and they welcomed my family with open arms.  My sister and brother went to school to our Church which was right down the street, our church was across the middle big door of our church.  Not far at all.  Lucy made me a blanket when I was a baby which I still have.  Her husband and Lucy have long been passed but I will never forget them.  She had a dog named Gigi that was a Bichon Frise.  They were older but none the less like grandparents to me since my grandparents lived in Italy.

So since I decided to drive by my old house, I couldn't believe how it was falling apart and the park next door was over run with grass.  Remembering my brother hanging out there with his friends playing basketball.  Vanessa and I playing in the backyard.  Good memories but so sad that our house and our neighbor's house is no longer being taken care of.  I know it's old but that is not an excuse.

My house is on the left and Lucy's is on the right.
(My parent's fixed the houses up when they owned them, I'm wondering if they are now trashed?)

The park was on the left side of our house.

Now back to the recipe, I hope you enjoy it.  It is so yummy!

NOTE: I do prefer using fresh broccoli for this dish, gives it a much more fresh taste on it's richness.

Broccoli Cheese Casserole

14 ozFrozen Broccoli or Chopped Cooked Broccoli Florets
1 cMilk
8 ozVelveeta Cheese
1 TbspButter or Margarine
1/4 tspPepper to taste
1Long sleeve of coarsely crushed Ritz Crackers

Casserole Topping

1-2 TbspMelted butter or margarine
15Ritz Crackers or more if you'd like

In a large saucepan, cook the broccoli according to package directions; drain. Stir in the milk, cheese, butter and pepper. Cook over medium-low heat until cheese is melted, stirring often. Add the sleeve of crumbled crackers and stir to blend. Pour mixture into an 11×7-inch baking dish.

In a small bowl, melt butter in microwave; stir in the crumbled crackers. Sprinkle over top of broccoli mixture. Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Enjoy!
Annamaria

http://verygoodrecipes.com/saint-patrick-challenge

Saint Patrick's Pistachio Bundt Cake


Although it's not Saint Patrick's Day, we made this cake yesterday. I didn't eat any because my husband frosted it with chocolate frosting. I would of tried it but it wasn't even Rich & Creamy Chocolate Frosting, it was Whipped. I don't like that style. It's a bland taste. I told him not to frost one side but I guess he didn't hear me. I think he later regretted it because the cake is mostly stay there.

I make this cake in a Bundt Pan, I think that is the best way to present it unless you are making some kind of special occassion cake, then buttercream frosting would be great or even cream cheese frosting. But in a Bundt Pan I top it with a glaze or just powdered sugar. Great for any thing really after dinner or to bring to someone's house.

My brother in law loves this cake and my sister always makes me try to make it. I don't know why she doesn't, it's so easy. She isn't adventurous in the kitchen but where she lacks in the kitchen she makes up being a CLEAN FREAK! I, well not so much. What artist is? I am unorganized, I have my things readily available. I'm clean but my art, cooking supplies, books and kid's stuff is readily available. I don't have a big kitchen but I have a big dining room that has become an extension of my kitchen. Eventually I plan on incorporating the two rooms. If I don't have my things readily available, I will lose them. Then forget it, when I have to do something I don't want to be aggravated on not finding what I need. I try to be more organized but I don't have the time to be up to my mother and sister's standards. I think it's impossible and no longer normal, I say it's mostly OCD.

As they say:


Back to the cake, it's an easy quick and simple cake, no hassle and using a cake mix base, you will make less of a mess in your kitchen. I love this cake ever since I was a little girl. I love most Pistachio things, In Italy the Pistachio Gelato is amazing! I just hate peeling the shells off the nuts, I have yet to see already peeled pistachios in the store. That would be a big help in some things that I make. They are already expensive so I could just imagine the price of them already peeled.

Ingredients:
1 Box Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Yellow Cake Mix
2 (3.4 ounce packages) of Jell-O Instant Pistachio Pudding
1 1/4 cups of Water
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
4 Eggs
2-3 drops of Green Food Coloring (optional)
1/2 Peeled and Semi Fine Chopped Pistachios (optional)


Glaze:
1 Cup Powdered Sugar
1 Tablespoon of Butter Softened
2-3 Tablespoons of Milk


Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mixes, water, eggs and oil; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Add pistachios if desired.


Pour into a greased and floured 10-in. bundt cake pan. Bake at 350° for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Place serving plate over Bundt Pan and Invert Pan and give a little shake. Bundt Pan should easily come off.

In small bowl, combine the glaze ingredients, adding enough milk to reach desired consistency. Drizzle over cake. Dust with Powdered Sugar instead of glaze.

*If using Glaze, sprinkle some finely chopped pistachios after drizzling glaze to complete the look.


Enjoy,
Annamaria



http://www.verygoodrecipes.com/saint-patrick-challenge

Saturday, September 17, 2011

NACH-O Cheese! Funny Cheez-It Commercial!

Call me a goober but when I saw this commercial I couldn't help but laugh so hard! This is probably one of the funniest commercials I ever heard or seen. More commercials should be comedic! Now the nerd in me tells this joke to everyone because I think it's so funny how the cheese wheel said it and it's sarcasm. Most of all I LOVE CHEESE! Now I love it even more with these commercials, if that's even possible. Please watch and let me know if you get a kick out of it as much as I do!

My son by the way loves Cheez-Its!

AHHHH, The Power of Cheese!



And YES, Real Cheese Matters!

Have a Cheesy Day!
Annamaria

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Small Fact: DID YOU KNOW about CHOCOLATE?


Did you know? While the United States produces the most chocolate and consumes the most pounds every year, the Swiss consume the most per capita, followed closely by the English.

Good To Know?

Who doesn't love chocolate? (THE THOUGHT MAKES ME GASP!)

Sweet Dreams,
Annamaria

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Crocker Park's Barnes & Noble Westlake, Ohio


I went to Crocker Park in Westlake, Ohio. I love going there. I bet it's nice to live there with everything at hand. I wonder about the noise levels though. Does it bother the residents? It's nice to stroll on a nice day through Crocker Park. It's so nicely decorated and so flowery. I love the intricate shops they have and most of all I love Barnes & Noble's Bookstore there. I could spend hours there looking at cookbooks or art and craft books. Usually though I have my daughter and son with me ad we end up in the kid's section of the store while my husband stays on the main floor going through magazine after magazine. He doesn't look through ordinary magazines but ones that cost $10 or more and that you would never buy because of the price. So okay, I deal with 2 kids in the kid's section and try to get some books that catch my eye on the way to the kid's section so I can get some of my interests in the visit to the book store. Normally I flip through the books with speed because I still have to make sure the kids are enjoying their time and take interest in reading. It really ends up being no big deal to me and I quite enjoy being in their forest hideout sitting at a kid's table looking through colorful children's books.

This was the perfect time too because the Halloween books were out. One of my favorite holidays in the year. The crisp cool air and the leaves changing and all the different scents of in Fall baking. The perfect time of year. I think I am at my most happiest during the Fall.

My daughter has to do this summer reading book reports. Of course we didn't get them done in the summer. I was sick and had to recuperate and my husband is not one to get involved in school work. wonderful enough her new teacher is allowing Sofia under the circumstances to extend the project for her. Thank goodness but we have a lot of reading ahead of us, 5 books to be exact. We picked 3 Fiction and 2 Non Fiction. I also couldn't help but get my son a book of his favorite character, SpongeBob SquarePants and yes it was a Halloween one. Perfect for a 2 year old to look through and to read to your child. I tend to act out the words to make it more enjoyable and funny for them.

So here is the list of books I got, you can click on the Titles to be taken to the Barnes and Noble Website for each book in case you are interested or want to learn about other series:

FICTION:




A Merlin Mission







NON FICTION:





Lastly as the Halloween Book of the year for us is:
(I just love the artwork in this book, very vintage folky)


So far we've started reading about the Halloween Fairy.  It's pretty good and my daughter seems to enjoy it very much.  My son loves SpongeBob so when I read to him he just laughs so much!  I seem to of made some good choices in books.  I love going to this Barnes and Noble.  It's huge!  They always have great deals and it's a great place to enjoy a good book.  Not to mention they have a Starbucks in the book store that also features smaller versions of Cheesecake Factory's desserts.  The smell of coffee was in the air.  One of my favorite scents to smell.  It's comforting.  Then I thought hmmmmm, where should we go to eat?  CHECK OUT THE NEXT BLOG FOR THAT ADVENTURE!  LOL!  The saga continues......

So I am sure most Barnes and Nobles are pretty great to visit no matter what location.  With Borders starting to close, Barnes and Noble is going to be the main dealer for books.  What I love about Barnes and Noble.  I can request a book online and pick it up at the store or buy it off their website.  The people are so nice and no about books as they should.  I had a great person helping us who just happened to be a retired teacher!  Great Experience Throughout!

Web Site:

Facebook Page:

My Favorite Location:
Barnes and Noble
Crocker Park
198 Crocker Park Boulevard
Westlake, OH 44145
440-250-9233

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"Use your imagination to take you to places unknown."
-Annamaria Settanni McDonald

Happy Reading,
Annamaria

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner: Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuits!


*Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuits for Dinner, YUM!

Did your family ever make breakfast for dinner?  It's like eating pizza for breakfast only opposite.  We always ate breakfast for dinner.  It's also economical.  Cheap eats and filling as well as oh so good.  I remember many memories of making breakfast for dinner growing up or my mom would do it.  I also remember having a big breakfast on Sundays.  It was the only day my dad didn't work.  Now thinking about it, my husband only gets Sundays off too being a mailman and all.  He is supposed to get rotating days off but they are busy and he's on the overtime list.  So my weekend starts and is only on Sundays.

I must admit and give credit.  I don't always cook.  Sometimes I don't feel like it and I'm tired and creative juices are not flowing.  So sometimes my husband steps up to the plate and cooks something.  I always laugh at him because he'll make grilled cheese, eggs, french toast (which is great) and some other simple foods,   when something comes out good he likes to make me think he's part of an elite group of men that cook for their family.  I told him men in the past and even now were the cooks.  Not in the home but in the business world.  Women weren't really the ones who paved a way in culinary schools and such.  Thanks to one cooking greatness Julia Child showed how women are just as creative in the kitchen as men and can be great chefs.  He also likes to remind me how he took cooking classes in high school which should also separate him from the rest of the boys. I remind him that "Home Economics" are offered in most schools in the USA if not all junior highs/high schools.  As with every reminder I thank him for making me something to eat.  I guess I should let him ride that pride for the day!  LOL!

Well that brings me to his one night of cooking he did for the both of us.  It was late, the kids were in bed and we finally decided to eat something for ourselves.  He decided he was going to fry up some bacon and eggs.  Top them off with cheese and place them on biscuits.  We had some Pillsbury biscuits in a can and he baked some.  I have to say as my husband agrees that bacon is just one of those great foods.  Although I am an animal lover, I can't help but feel a little guilty eating it.  It's just too good.  It makes me wonder how I spent many years as a vegetarian.

He made fried eggs.  He says I make them the best, he tends too pepper them to much.  I don't pepper my eggs.  I forgot to tell him not to.  In any case his creation was delicious.  I forgot what type of biscuits of Pillsbury they were.  I usually get Homestyle Butter Tastin from Pillsbury.  Very good biscuits on the fly!

So here is the masterpiece, I did arrange them to make them look great in the picture and they were as good as they look.  Kudos to my hubby.  Love You Scotty!

Feast with your Eyes!

So fry up some bacon, make some fried eggs, bake some biscuits and add some cheese and voila, you have yourself a Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuit!


Good Cooking Wishes,
Annamaria

Friday, September 2, 2011

Decadent Brownie Cheesecake

*Photo By Janna Corliss who made this recipe that I listed. ( Thank You <3 )

Who wouldn't love Brownies and Cheesecake together?  Well it's one of my favorite things to eat!  Cheesecake seems to be intimidating to some home bakers.  Everyone should own a Spring Form Pan, that is available at Target and Walmart at great prices.  It should be on everyone's registry!  I know people have told me that the pan itself is intimidating.  Really it isn't especially if you get a sturdy one.  I probably have 4 Spring form pans not including the mini ones I have.  When I made my first cheesecake and really realized it isn't that hard.  I know some people go for by making some that are in pre made graham cracker crusts that are the size of pie pans or make no bake cheesecakes.  Seriously though, nothing beats the real original way of making a cheesecake.  Even if they don't go in water baths or crack at the top, they still taste wonderful if you pay attention to the recipe directions.

I am in love with cheesecakes.  I've eaten some really great ones and some really horrible ones.  Of course I give huge regards to Cheesecake Factory!  Which I may say, inspire some of my very recipes and search of tasty cakes.  You know instantly when you have had one that is great and one that is gross.  Some you can tell that have been made and frozened and then distributed to different restaurants, that's when I can taste the lack of flavors and the freezer burn.  You know in my opinion everyone should at least make a cheesecake two or three times.  Maybe the first one that is a flop, the second is great practice and comes out good and by the time you make your third one, you got it down.  Though if you've had 3 strikes, give up and buy one whole at cheesecake factory!  Most importantly don't buy Sara Lee's Cheesecake, don't serve that to your guests.  I don't know how anyone can eat those, it's absolutely an imposter!  If you skip the Cheesecake Factory option, by all means, make a no bake one.  Which there are many recipes out there that are yummy.  I've made many in my time, they are great during the holidays to give as gifts or in the summer when you don't want to turn on the oven.

So let's begin this love of this recipe.  It's so great.  Each cheesecake with pretty simple ingredients can be a show piece.  This is one of them!  The Decadent Brownie Cheesecake is so good and one of my favs!  I will tell you that you must buy Better Crocker's Fudge Brownie Mix, I think it's the best one out there next to Ghiradelli's Fudge Brownie Mix, Ghiradelli's mix however is a little harder to find.  You find turtle or frosted one but rarely the Fudge one.  So trust me, you can't find Ghiradelli's, then buy Betty Crocker.  You can certainly make your own 9x13 Fudge Brownie Recipe, but Betty provides a great substitution.

As I said before, this recipe features 2 of my favorite desserts, brownies and cheesecake (drooling).  A great one to make for yourself, a family member, that special someone or a get together or dinner party.  My dear friend topped this off with whip cream and mini chocolate chips.  Great idea for presentation.  You can also make a ganache topping which is sometimes a great life saver when your cheesecakes crack.

So let's get down to the recipe!  This is what it will look like when done.  The steps are pretty simple and with this one I don't yet have the step by step photos.  I think you will do great without them but I will definitely get them up as soon as I can.  We're itching for some cheesecake here!

*Photo By Janna Corliss who made this recipe that I listed. ( Thank You <3 )
Doesn't it look great?  See..No Cracks and it was Janna's first time making this cheesecake!

Decadent Brownie Cheesecake

Brownie Layer
1 Box of Betty Crocker's Fudge Brownie Mix for a 9x13 pan

Cheesecake Layer
3 1/2 (8 ounce packages) of Cream Cheese (room temperature)
1 (14 ounce can) Sweetened Condensed Milk
3 Eggs
2 teaspoons of Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Mini Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Garnish
1 tub of Cool Whip
Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom only of 9-inch springform pan with no-stick cooking spray. Prepare brownie according to package directions for chewy brownies. Reserve 3/4 cup brownie batter for cheesecake.  Spread rest evenly in prepared pan.

Bake Brownie layer 25-30 minutes or until set.

Beat cream cheese until fluffy in large bowl. Gradually beat in sweetened condensed milk. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Stir in chocolate chips. Pour into prepared pan.  Add a lttle less than a 1/4 cup water to reserved brownie batter and mix well.  Drop spoonfuls of brownie batter randomly over cream cheese mixture.  Swirl with tip of knife to create marbled effect.

Reduce oven temperature to 300°F. Bake 50 minutes or until set. Cool. Chill thoroughly. Remove side of springform pan. Garnish as desired.

Sidenote: Chocolate chips may fall to the bottom of brownie layer during baking.

Enjoy!  Enjoy!  Enjoy!  Yum!

Sweet Dreams,
Annamaria