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Friday, December 25, 2009

Video: Making the Christmas Lasagna

My wife is of Sicilian descent, so every year instead of turkey, ham or goose, we make our traditional Christmas Lasagna. Over the years we have taken a fairly plain recipe and dressed it up more and more, while still keeping it fairly traditional.

While my wife, Rosanne, puts the lasagna together, I contribute in 2 large ways. First, I make a big batch of my red sauce, which we use in everything from spaghetti to pizza and I also make homemade pasta sheets. I learned how to make pasta at home several years ago and this has become yet another Christmas Eve tradition for us.

In this video (15 mins) you'll see us making the pasta and assembling the lasagna itself. Enjoy!

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Monday, December 15, 2008

Recipe: Pistachio Pudding Cake

My friend Helen asked for the recipe for the Pistachio Pudding Cake I made for the cookie party so I figured it was a good excuse to post it for everyone.

Here is the link to the web page, which also has a variety of variations on the cake. I chose the one with the least oil in it.




1 3-ounce package instant pistachio pudding mix
1 package white cake mix
5 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups water


1 3-ounce package instant pistachio pudding mix
1 1/2 cups milk
2 envelopes instant dessert topping

* Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan.
* In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, 1 package pudding, water, eggs, and oil. Pour into a greased and floured Bundt pan. 3 Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until done. Allow to cool.
* To Make Frosting: In a mixing bowl, combine 1 package instant pudding, milk, and instant whipped topping mix. Beat until thick, and spread on the cooled cake.
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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cookie Baking Begins!

Update: Also made Good Eats Peanut Butter Fudge tonight. Yum!

Today I got started on the 80+ doz cookies I typically make for my annual Christmas open house. We have been doing this for almost 15 years now, so I have it down to something like an art form.

I mix and bake each day, typically completing 2-3 cookies batches each day. This year I am trying something a little different with a few of these early batches. I was listening to an episode of The Splendid Table with Lynn Rossetto Kasper and Jacques Torres about the perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie. They suggested allowing the mixed cookie dough to rest for between 24 and 36 hours before baking. Supposedly, this allows the flour to hydrate completely and results in a much better cookie. I usually mix and bake almost immediately, but I was interested to see how this changes the cookies this year. We shall see.

Today I mixed up 3 different batches of cookies. First was a a traditional Toll House Chocolate Chip using the recipe on the back of the Nestle's bag. I made one addition to this recipe of Cocoas Nibs. A friend gave me a bag of these a while ago and the last batch I made with them came out wonderfully. They give a rich chocolate flavor as well as a nutty crunch.

Next were 2 batches of oatmeal cookies (recipe) using the recipe from the Joy of Cooking cookbook. In this recipe I do make a fairly significant change. It is never wise to fool with the proportions of a cookie recipe, so I don't add extra flour or anything. Rather, I change the way the cookie tastes by adding an additional 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1/8 tsp of ground cloves. I tried this many years ago and love the way it makes the cookies taste. If I remember correctly, there was a spice cookie recipe next to the original oatmeal cookie recipe and I decided to see what would happen if I added the spices from one recipe to the other.

One batch of these cookies recevied white chocolate chips. This makes them easier to identify from the more typical Oatmeal Raisin cookies. The next batch added raisins but also 2 other dried fruits -- cranberries and blueberies. Rosanne had these in the cupboards for other purposes but they seemed an excellent addition to these oatmeal cookies.

Tomorrow Joe and I will bake these batches and see if they improve significantly over past years. Then we will mix up a few more. I still need to go get more butter, sugar, flour and nuts to keep me going, but it always a good feeling to have the first batch done.

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