Six friends went to Italy and we came back excited to eat and drink the happiness we felt there. We had a reunion 1 year later at my house and we made Cannoli, Linquini, and Oso Bucco.
Wonderful friends. This was our first time making Cannoli and we will definitely do it again.

This recipe is from Alex Guarnaschelli and makes approximately 24 cannoli.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp plus 2 tsp unsalted butter cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup of dry white wine

2 cups of ricotta cheese, preferable whole milk. (Buy the creamiest you can. Look at Italian Deli’s)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup small semisweet chocolate chips
1 lemon
1 quart of canola oil, for frying shells
Flour for rolling shells
1 egg, lightly beaten, for egg wash
Powdered sugar for dusting
Cannoli Baking forms

For the shell dough, in a medium bowl, sift together flour sugar and salt. Work the butter pieces into the flour with your fingers until the mixture becomes a smooth dough. If it is too dry, add more wine.
Wrap in plastic wrap and press the dough down to be 3/4 of a inch thick. It will be easier to roll later. Let is rest in the fridge for 30 minutes while you make the filling.

For the filling, in a medium bowl, whisk ricotta, powdered sugar, cinnamon and allspice.
In a separate electric mixer bowl, whip the heavy cream until fairly stiff. Using a rubber spatula gently fold the cream into the ricotta mixture. Still in the chocolate chips. Lightly zest the exterior of the lemon and stir into the ricorra. Refrigerate for a half hour to an hour.

To roll and fry the shells, heat the canola oil to 360-365 degrees F. Using your Kitchenaid pasta roller, roll out the dough starting at 0 and working your way step by step to a 6.
Place the thin dough on your work surface and cut with a pasty cutter 4 to 5 inch rounds. Use flour to keep from sticking on your work surface.

Oil the cannoli mold, and wrap each round usig the egg wash on the edge of each to seal it shut so it doesn’t slide off the mold.

Fry the shell for 2-3 minutes each. I found I could fry 2 at a time in my small fryer.
Set aside and allow to cool, and then reoil mold, wrap another two and fry them off.

Just before serving, fill a pastry bag or ziplock plastic bag with pastry cream. Cut off the corner, or you can use a tip holder. (Choose a large tip so the chocolate chips don’t get stuck in it.)
Do not fill the shells until you are ready to eat as they will become soggy. Store the extra shells in a ziplock bag and seal. They will stay crispy for several days.
Everyone love these Italian delights!

Posted in Brunch, Dessert - Eat dessert first, Life is uncertain, Italian Restaurant, My Bakery | Leave a comment

Meatball Bourguignon aka Meatball Burgundy

This is a Alyce Shultz’s recipe and her boys love it. It is their all time favorite and most requested dinner for a birthday or celebration!
Thank you Alyce for sharing this recipe with me.

1 pound of ground beef (buy sirloin or grind your own chuck roast if you dare)
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup grated onion
1 1/2 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
1/4 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper

1/4 cup salad oil

3 Tbsp Flour
2 beef bouillon cubes or Veal Demi glace
2 cups beef stock
1 cup Burgundy wine (or Pinot Noir)
1/2 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
1/4 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Pepper

Combine ground beef, bread crumbs, milk, onion, salt and pepper. Shape into small meatballs.
Brown meatballs in hot oil and set aside.
Blend flour in the hot oil until browned being careful not to burn stirring constantly. When it reaches a nice brown, pour in wine and beef stock and demi glace.
Return meatballs to the pan and simmer 30 minutes until thickened and smooth and the raw taste of alcohol is gone. Stir occasionally.
Salt and Pepper to taste.
Serve over buttered egg noodles or mashed potatoes. Yummy! So delicious!

I like to serve with sauteed mushrooms and carrots on the side, so picky eaters are happy too!
4-6 servings

I have made as much as 5 pounds of meatballs at a time. Great for leftovers or a big gathering.

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Chicken Walnut Grape Salad

My kids and friends love this. I always have two cans of chicken chilling in my refrigerator just in case someone stops by and it’s lunch time.

Easy to pull together.

1 12.5 ounce can of white chicken meat
1/2 cup Mayonnaise (you can also use half sour cream)- I love Best Foods.
1/4 cup red or white onions finely diced
1/4 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup sliced red grapes
1/4 cup toasted walnuts (7 minutes at 350 degrees, let cool, then finely chop)
salt and pepper to taste.
Optional: chopped green onions garnish

Serve with croissant, or toasted wheat or rye bread, or Ritz crackers, or in a wrap. All good!

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Corn Casserole

Had this corn casserole at an office pot luck and it is so very good and easy to make. I know that Paula Dean has a version and there are many versions made with Jiffy corn mix.

1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained

1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn

1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix

1 cup sour cream

1/2 stick butter, melted

1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar

1/4 cup of Chopped Chives sprinkled on top before you serve or
1/4 cup Crispy Bacon Bits!

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with Cheddar. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.

Posted in Eat your vegetables, Thanksgiving | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Puff Pastry filled with Sweet Potato


Simple, but great tasting recipes.

Puff Pastry – thaw for an hour before using
1 baked sweet potato
1 cup Crushed Ameretti Cookies

While the sweet potato is still warm mix in the crushed cookies.
That is the filling.
Cut the puff pastry into 3 inch squares
Using your finger, put a little water along all the edges.
Add a tsp of filling to center of pastry, close it so it looks like a triangle.
With a fork, seal the edges.
Place on a sheet of parchment paper on your baking sheet.
Make as many as you need for you dinner, I suggest 2 per person.
Brush the pastries with egg wash and
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes until golden brown.

Posted in Brunch, My Bakery, Thanksgiving | Leave a comment

Pickled Shrimp and Peppers, Onions, Green Beans, Asparagus, Carrots!


Original recipe makes 8 – 1 quart jars
4 Tablespoons old bay seasoning
2 pounds Shrimp Large (26-30 count per pound with tails on)
8 cucumbers, thinly sliced
2 onions, thinly sliced
48 green beans
32 small asparagus spears
16 small peeled carrots trim to jar size.
2 green bell peppers, diced
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bunch of seedless green grapes
1/2 cup salt
3 cups cider vinegar
3 cups white sugar
3 tablespoons mustard seed
1 1/2 teaspoons celery seed
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
If you want them spicy….
1 tsp chili pepper flakes or you can use sliced jalapeno peppers

If you have fresh shrimp, peel and clean leaving the tail on. Boil for 2 minutes with Old Bay Seasoning. Place in ice water to chill.
While you are heating the brine, pack your jars with shrimp, onions, peppers, garlic, stand the green beans, asparagus, carrots upright, top each with a few grapes.

Pour hot brine over your packed jars to 1/4 inch of top.
Place lids on and allow to cool on your counter.

Keep refridgerated. Eat early at 2 days 3 weeks.
Enjoy on toast or over a Caesar Salad. Awesomebites!

Posted in Appetizers, Ocean's Best Seafood, Salads, Sandwiches | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Crocheted Eggs & Broccoli Bacon Fry

You are probably tired of hearing about my childhood, but my parents would always send us off to school with a hot breakfast. We lived on a small farm and kept animals for food, not for pets – although we had a few pets also. Collecting the eggs was one of my older sister’s jobs and my father would raise pigs and make his own bacon.


For each person
2 large to extra large egg
Vegetable oil to fry the egg in
1/2 – 3/4 cup of broccoli
2 strips of bacon
Salt and pepper


My mom would fry an egg in oil with the heat a bit hotter and the outside of the egg white would crochet a beautiful lace doily. I loved this crunchy bit with my egg yolk all soft in the inside.

While my mom would serve this with potatoes, I have yielded to a version with less carbs.
Fry bacon and cut into 3/4 inch pieces, remove most of the bacon fat from the pan and fry the broccoli in the bacon fat. Add the bacon back in with the broccoli right before serving. Season with salt and pepper. This tastes awesome served with your crocheted eggs!

Serve with a Bloody Mary or Mimosa.

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Egg in Toast



IMG_6016Egg in toast

I thought my mother was brilliant as she would deliver this wonderfulness to our table.
Cooking one egg at a time for each of my brothers and sisters.

Yesterday, I made this for my hubby, Dennis. He lapped it up!

Rye Bread
1 large egg
1 ounce favorite cheese – I used Jack which is what I had in the fridge.

Coat the frying pan slightly with olive oil or butter.
Medium heat, not too hot or you will burn your bread!
Cut a hole in your bread with a small glass.
Place the bread in the frying pan along with the circle you removed so it gets toasty also.
Crack your egg into the hole.
Salt, pepper.

When it starts to set, flip it over.
Add cheese.
Remove from pan when it white is set.

Serve with tomato salad
Slice small tomatoes into halves
Drizzle with olive oil and balsalmic vinegar and a little salt and pepper.

Makes a world class breakfast with little effort!
Enjoy this awesomebite!

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Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie.  All my childhood memories of Pumpkin Pie are from Thanksgiving. My Mom loved to bake.  Today, that is easy to say, I mean I have the help of my Kitchenaid mixer, my Breadmaker which I use mostly to mix the doughs.  Back to my Mom, she made bread and baked and it was an all day affair.  First off, she only had one oven.  It was a big oven and two pies would fit on one rack.  Our table consisted of a sheet of 3/4 inch plywood.  For you non-construction types, that would be 4 feet by 8 feet.  All eleven of us would sit down daily to dinner.  One that same table, a few days before a holiday my Mom would start baking bread and pies and such.     I remember my eyes were just above table height and looking over all the goodies.  It felt like they would go out past my horizon!   Mom made things by two’s; she must have liked the story of the ark.  We had two apple, two cherry, two lemon meringue.  And yes, back to Pumpkin.  That is what you want to know about.  Mom was a better than average baker, and she could  combine the right amount of flavors to make the tastes pop.  I always hoped I would inherit her taste buds.

But, if you know me, I like to adjust things to my liking and keep them easy as well.

While you can look at the back of a can of pumpkin and make the pie, I do believe you can do better.  Within the last couple of years I have been playing with Indian spices and one of my favorite spices is Garam Masala.  Many pies are over loaded with cloves and nutmeg – stop already.  Pumpkin pie has to have balance.  This pie has a perfect blend of spice, just right!

1 1/2 c white sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp garam masala

4 large eggs

1 can (29 oz) Libby’s Pure Pumpkin

2 cans (12 oz) Carnation Evaporated Milk

2 unbaked 9 inch pie shells.  I used two tart dishes and filled them to their rims with pumpkin. But you can also use deep dish pie pans.  I also took the left over pie crust and made leaves to decorate the top -this is my Mother in me.  Make it taste good, and make it pretty.  Use egg wash and brush the leaves before baking in the oven for about 15 minutes.  You can also sprinkle with white sugar to make them sparkle. Like adding a diamond to a ring!

Mix all together and pour into the unbaked pie shells.

Preheat oven at 425, then reduce heat to 350 , bake for 40-50 minutes until knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Cool on rack and serve. 

Posted in Helen's Kitchen, Pies, Thanksgiving | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Pumpkin, Butternut Squash, Carrot Soup


It is nearing Halloween and with all the great pumpkins and squash and carrots, it has to be the beginning of soup!

I love soup and give me bread and I am happy. I blame it all on my mother and at the same time thank my mother for being a wonderfully awesome soup chef! When she worked as a Chef/Cook for the San Joaquin County Hospital, all the doctors and nurses would seek her out to find out what kind of soup was going to be available that day.

It tickled her to have her very own fan club and an equivalent of a facebook thumbs up would be their return in the line the next day!

While I am making this soup for my office to feed 25-30 people, my mother would make soup for 300 people!

Olive oil 1/4 cup
Carrot 1 Quart
Pumpkin 1 Quart
Butternut squash 1Quart
1 head of Roasted Garlic
Cayenne 1 tsp
Ginger 2 tsp
Coriander 2 tsp
Ham bone with ham bits
Salt and pepper to taste
Chicken stock 3 Quarts
add water as needed

Roast garlic(wrap in foil), pumpkin, carrots and squash for 40 minutes at 400 degrees. Chop onions into a rough dice and saute in the bottom of a large soup pot with a little oil. Add Roasted vegetables, and 3 Quarts of Chicken Stock and ham bone to pot. Bring to boil and add spices. Let simmer slowly for 1 hour.

Shut off and allow to cool so you can remove the ham bone. Shred the meat and set aside. Using a handblender to the soup until you get a creamy consistency, add water as needed to maintain consistency you like. Add salt and pepper to taste and adjust your spices to your liking. Careful with the Cayenne Pepper. Add the ham back into the creamy mixture.

Serve with a drizzle of Pure Maple Syrup, or a spoon of sour cream, or cinnamon croutons for some fun!
Serve with freshly made bread!

Another awesome bite.

Posted in Ham, Soup Kitchen, Thanksgiving | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment