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Good Morning all my followers.  I have an announcement to make. My first food blog is full and I can no longer add anymore posts.  I have started a second food blog  https://carmelasloveoffood2.wordpress.com  So please keep following me and my food.  This has been a wonderful journey and I love sharing my love of food with all of you.  Thank you all for joining me and continuing to join me.

A year in review

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Moist Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Those dreadful brown bananas that sit on your counter that no one will eat.  What is the first think you think of.  Not it’s time to make the doughnuts!!!! No, you think  it’s  time to make a banana bread.  Well I have a new recipe for you that’s ridiculously moist and delicious every single time, this banana cake is the best. This is good for any occasion.  So next time those brown bananas are on your counter make this recipe.  I promise you, you won’t be disappointed.

 

Ingredients:

For the Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups rip bananas, mashed
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 1/8 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

For the Frosting

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 275°. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan.
  2. In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice; set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, cream 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp vanilla.
  5. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Stir in banana mixture.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Remove from oven and place directly into the freezer for 45 minutes. This will make the cake very moist.
  8. For the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
  9. Add icing sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth.
  10. Spread on cooled cake.

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Chocolate Shoofly Pie Bars

Yesterday (Monday) my husband told me that on Tuesday it was his Christmas treat day at work.  Now he could very easily go to the store and pick something up  but of course I could not have that.  I also did not want to slave away in the kitchen all night so I had to find something that was pretty easy to make and not too time consuming.  So I came up with these beauties.  Easy to make and so yummy to eat.  You have to add these to your holiday collection.  I’m sure they will be a hit.

 

 

Ingredients
  • 2 Sheets Puff Pastry (thawed)
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup light corn syrup
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (I used 1 cup dark chocolate chips and 1 cup milk chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a 9×13 baking dish with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Unroll the puff pastry sheets and fold a lip on each side (so it makes a thick border)Be sure to pinch together the seams.
  4. Bake for 7 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, in a bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients. Pour and spread over puff pastry crust.
  6. Bake an additional 20-30 minutes.
  7. Remove from oven, turn oven off and sprinkle the chocolate chips on top.  Place tray back into oven for about 5 minutes remove from oven .Using spatula smooth the chocolate and sprinkle a teaspoon of salt over top.
  8. Cool about 1 hour before cutting and serving.

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Pressure Cooker Beef Stew

I’m just going to say it – I love my pressure cooker. So there. I know there are lots of people who are scared of them. They have visions of them exploding all over the kitchen. I guess I understand that. I will be honest it took me 3 years to get my pressure cooker out and start cooking with it.  A pressure cooker is an ideal way to prepare beef stew, not just because it’s speedy, but because it retains all the natural moisture of the meat and vegetables so well.   This took 20 minutes to cook and it was so delicious.

 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs. beef  (sliced)
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 3 tbsp. oil
  • 2 large potatoes
  • 1 cup of baby carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 3 beef bouillon cubes
  • 8 cups water
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 4 tbsp. flour
  • 1/2 cup cold water

Instructions

  1. Slice the beef bite size pieces. Place in a bowl sprinkle with the flour and coat evenly.
  2. Heat the pressure cooker over medium high heat. Add the oil and stew meat.  Remove the meat and add the onions sauté.
  3. Once onions are translucent add your water and bouillon cubes scrapping all the yummy brown bits on the bottom of the pot.
  4. Add the potatoes, carrots, garlic, and celery
  5. Place the lid and weight on the pressure cooker according to your manufacturer’s instruction. Heat on medium high setting until pressure is achieved (weight begins to rock gently and steadily). Continue cooking for 15 minutes
  6. At the end of the 15 minutes cooking time, remove from heat let pressure drop.  This takes about another 10 minutes.
  7. Combine the flour and cold water in a small bowl. Bring the stew back up to the boil, add the flour and water and stir until thickened.  Season to taste.
  8. You may also add some cooked peas if you like.

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Nut free Chocolate Biscotti

Who doesn’t like a nice espresso with a chocolate biscotti?  I personally think they are the perfect pair.  Even a nice tea or a glass of milk goes well with biscotti.  I find store bought biscotti too hard to bite, you could chip a tooth with those things.  This biscotti recipe is still hard but not hit someone of the head hard 🙂   Everyone will like these even the children.  This would be a perfect  addition to your Christmas cookie collection.

Ingredients

  • 1-3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
  • 1/4 cup + plus 2 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder, such as Hershey’s Cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl and mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and chocolate chips and stir on low speed until just combined.
  4. Dust a work surface with flour. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the sticky dough out onto the work surface and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Using your hands, shape the dough into a rough ball (if it’s still too sticky, dust with a bit more flour) and cut in half. Form the dough pieces into two short logs by rolling back and forth. Place the logs onto the prepared baking sheet and shape into longer logs about 3/4-inch high and 2 inches wide. Allow enough space for the logs to spread a few inches while they bake. Bake for about 35 minutes, until firm to the touch. Let the biscotti logs cool on the pan for about 5 minutes, or until just cool enough to touch (if you wait any longer, the biscotti will be difficult to cut); then, using a sharp knife, slice the logs on the diagonal into 3/4-inch slices (I do this right on the baking sheet). They will crumble just a bit; don’t worry about it. Turn the biscotti on their sides (so that the cut sides are down) and place back in the oven for 10 minutes to dry and crisp up. Let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

 

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Golabki – Polish Cabbage Rolls

Polish cabbage rolls (filled with a mixture of rice, pork, and beef) stewed in tomatoes. The dish is hearty and delicious–and known by other names throughout Eastern Europe.   It may look very time intensive, but it’s a meal unto itself and can be frozen or reheated easily. It also helps to split it into two main phases: 1) making the meat filling 2) assembling the golabki. For Polish food, it’s surprisingly easy especially when you have your mother in law helping you out 🙂   Enjoy!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 head cabbage
  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 garlic
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon thyme (or sage)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 6 cups of tomato sauce (in a pan sauté some galic, onion with 3 tbsps. olive oil than  and add 2 24 ounce cans of San Marzano type tomatoes, basil, salt  and let simmer for about 30 minutes)

Directions

  1. Chop onion.
  2. Mince garlic.
  3. Saute garlic and onion in 2 T olive oil over medium heat until onions are caramelized. Remove from heat and let cool to near room temperature.
  4. Beat 2 eggs thoroughly with 2 T marjoram, 1 T thyme/sage, salt, and pepper.
  5. In bowl, add ground beef, pork (or veal), rice, onion, garlic, and eggs.
  6. Mix thoroughly with your hands.
  7. Cover and let rest in the fridge. (You can let it sit overnight, it will just let the flavors permeate more.).
  8. Core cabbage.
  9. Blanche cabbage leaves in boiling water, peeling them off as they become limp. (Alternatively, after coring the cabbage, you can put it in the freezer and after it’s frozen, let it thaw and the leaves will be limp–you can just pull them off.
  10. Once you’ve separated all the leaves, take a paring knife and cut off any thick stems preventing the limp leaf from bending/rolling.
  11. Put about 2 T of meat filling in the center of each leaf. Fold the sides of the leaf in and roll it up into a little package. Put each golabki seam-down into a casserole dish. (At this point, if you like, you can freeze them and thaw them later. Once thawed, continue with the recipe steps below.).
  12. Once you’ve used up all the cabbage leaves or meat filling, take your  tomato sauce and pour over the golabki.
  13. Sprinkle the remaining teaspoons of marjoram into the tomato sauce before pouring it over the golabki and tomatoes.
  14. Bake covered at 350 for 2 hours.

 

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Blackberry Custard Pie

If you like egg custard and blackberries, you will love this pie.  Instead of blackberries you could use, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and apples.  If you are looking for an easy pie this is it.  I had some blackberries in my fridge that were getting super ripe so I had to use them.  I  whipped this pie up in literally 10 minutes and cooked it in the oven.  Make sure you cool it before eating because it  taste much better when cooled.

 

Ingredients

1 (9 inch) deep dish pie shells, unbaked

  • 12 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 13 cup flour
  • 14 cup butter
  • 3 cups blackberries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 12 cup flour
  • 12 cup sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place berries into the pie shell.
  3. Beat the 2 eggs together, then add the sour cream, 1 cup of sugar, 1/3 cup of flour. Pour over the berries.
  4. Combine the butter, 1/2 cup of sugar, and the 1/2 cup of flour to make a crumble topping. Sprinkle crumble onto the top of the pie.
  5. Bake for 50-55 minutes.

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Chocolate Banana Muffins

We all love muffins and sometimes healthy muffins just taste like cardboard. This recipe is the exception.  My kids just loved these and I didn’t feel bad when I gave them each one for breakfast.  These are Gluten free as well.  You won’t even notice there is no flour in these muffins.  They are moist, full of flavor and good for you.

 

Ingredients
  • 4 very ripe bananas
  • 8 eggs
  • 1 c. plain yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 cups oats, ground into flour in a blender (use certified gluten-free oats if you’re sensitive to gluten)
  • ¾ c. cocoa powder
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 tsp.  salt
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Grease 24 muffin tins (I use coconut oil) and line with paper liners.
  3. Peel and mash bananas in the bottom of a large bowl.
  4. Add eggs, yogurt, and vanilla and mix well.
  5. Pour oat flour on top of the egg mixture, and measure the rest of the dry ingredients on top of that.
  6. Mix the dry ingredients together a bit, then fold them into the wet stuff in the bottom of the bowl.
  7. Divide batter into muffin tins. If you have extra, you can pour it into a bread pan and make a loaf for snacking later.
  8. Bake at 350 for aprox. 20 minutes until muffins have risen and the top bounces back when you poke it. (Bake bread loaf for 35-40 min. until knife inserted in center comes out clean.)

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Sweet and Sticky Ribs

Bring out extra napkins, you’ll need them for these finger-licking good Sticky-Sweet Ribs.

A perfectly cooked rib is a thing of beauty.  They should be juicy and tender, yet chewy and meaty at the same time.  This chilly Sunday my husband and I decided to grill some ribs nice and slow of course.  So I start off with a simple rub, brown sugar, paprika, salt, garlic powder and some cocoa powder.  You want a nice coating of rub, as this will crisp up and form a flavorful crust.  You can do this the night before and than cover and refrigerate the ribs overnight so the spices can really penetrate and flavor the meat.

Now this recipe is not for the grilled ribs it is for the leftover ribs we could not fit on the grill.  We needed to cook them but did not want the ribs to be tough.  So my husband thought why don’t we pan fry them.  I was a little weary of cooking them this way because I thought for sure they would be tough.  He also suggested some sort of sauce to dip them in when they were done.  So I put 2 and 2 together I cut the ribs and added a little bit of oil to the pan and cooked them on high to form a nice crust.  Then I turned the heat to low and made a super easy bbq sauce.  When the internal temperature of the ribs reached 170 I added the sauce and let them simmer for another 20 minutes.  There you have it Sweet and oh so Sticky Ribs.

Ingredient (ribs)

  • 2 full slabs of side ribs (remove the membrane from the backside of the ribs)
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 3 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder

Take the ribs out of the fridge and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.  Remove the membrane.  In a bowl mix the brown sugar, paprika, garlic powder and cocoa.  Rub generously on the front and back of the ribs.  Let rest overnight or for a few hours.

Get a pan nice and hot add some oil and cook the ribs until a nice crust forms turn the heat down and let cook until the internal temperature reaches 170F.

Ingredients (Sweet and Sticky sauce)

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup of ketchup

Mix all together and pour onto ribs.  Let the ribs simmer for another 20 minutes.

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Tuna Casserole (from scratch)

The other day my husband and I were talking about easy dinners, he said that the kids would love Tuna Casserole.  Coming form an Italian family I made a face (not a nice face either) because my mom would not have made tuna casserole.   I never even heard of it when I was growing up.  So being the cook that I am, and I will try just about anything I decided to look it up. Most of the recipes I found had condensed soup which I don’t care to cook with.  I did however come across this recipe that was completely made from scratch, I will admit I  loved it, so delicious.    Creamy, hearty and full of flavor.  I will definitely make it again and I suggest you try it.  Now it does say to bake for 30-35 mins @ 350F  but I did not have that much time so I cranked the stove up to 450F, watched It carefully and took it out after 12 minutes.  The family loved it.

Tuna Casserole

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces medium shell pasta, cooked al dente according to package directions
  •  4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 medium stalk celery, thinly sliced or diced
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced or diced
  • olive oil, as needed
  • 4 tbs flour
  • 1 14.5 ounce can chicken broth (just under 2 cups), warmed
  • 1 cup milk, warmed
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅛ teaspoon dill
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice, more if desired (I desire)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2-5 oz can tuna, packed in water, more if desired

Topping: 1/4 cup Ritz cracker crumbs mixed with about 1/2 tablespoon melted butter or 1/4-1/2 cup broken up potato chips (I recommend kettle style)

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet.  Add celery and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add onion and cook 2-3 minutes longer, stirring often.  Add mushrooms and cook 3-5 more minutes, until mushrooms are golden and tender. If needed for moisture, add a drizzle of olive oil to the pan after the mushrooms are added; more if needed during remaining cooking time.  Remove vegetables from pan and set aside.

Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in pan and add flour.  Stir constantly for 30 seconds.  Slowly add broth and milk, a little at a time while constantly whisking until mixture is smooth.  Bring to a low simmer.  Add salt, pepper, and dill.  Stir constantly until thickened and bubbly, 2-3 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and add lemon juice, parsley, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese.  Whisk until smooth and taste.  Season with additional salt and pepper to taste, and extra lemon juice if desired.  Remove from heat and add pasta, vegetables, and tuna.  Stir to combine and place in a 3 quart baking dish.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese (feel free to add more if you want)  and sprinkle cracker crumbs or chips on top.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until top is golden and pasta is hot and bubbly.  Let rest 10-15 minutes before serving to allow sauce to thicken.

Serves about 6

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