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Citrus Torte finished with Marsala Cream...Yum!!!!

Citrus Almond Torte

Yep as you can see I am cooking for pleasure again, well wait I think I need to rephrase that.  I am always cooking for pleasure.  Most days of the week I can’t believe I get paid to cook in the environment I do.  Getting into the food service profession as a career finally has been the best decision I have ever made in my life.  Back to what I mean by cooking for pleasure.  At Westmont I do my best to be as creative and stickler for quality as possible, but given the size of the portioning and ingredients given to work with, plus the time allotted I at times find myself producing a product I am less then proud of.  Still I do the best I can.  

  For a long time I had no one to cook for but myself leaving me severely unmotivated.  Given the clean up and effort I just could not bring myself to do it.  It is for that reason I started having weekly dinner parties here at the Lisanti Palace.  For starters it brings back the grandiose family sit down dinners I grew up accustomed to as a youngster and second it allows me to try out possible recipes for my my restaurant I hope to open someday.  Look for a blog on that really soon.  

These dinners have allowed me to try out all sorts of items, from entree’s to appetizers to sides to even dessert.  Some of the recipes are family secrets and I wont give them here.   Others I have taken from different sources and tweaked them to my liking.  Those are the ones I will post here on SurfingRuinedMyLife.net.  Please don’t feel disgruntled and instead respect the integrity of recipes passed down through my family from Naples, Italy for generations for as long as anyone in my family can remember. 

I know the last five recipes or so have been desserts, but that is an area that has always been weak for me and one I am slowly getting a handle on.  Also the dessert category of Recipe D’Jour was lacking and I wanted to beef it up before the eventual redesign I am working on for this entire blog (that too is another blog for another day).  This Citrus Almond Torte is one that is rather simple to create, wont break your bank and can be made in a reasonable amount of time.  Did I mention it is rather tasty as well. 

Serving Size: 8-10
Total Cost: $11.50
Prep Time: 35mins
Cook Time: 45mins
Cool Time: 1hr 30mins

Ingredient List:

  • Torte
    • Butter – 4oz (room temperature)
    • Sugar – 3/4 Cup
    • Large Egg – 1
    • Egg Yolk – 2
    • Almonds – 1 cup (toasted, ground)
    • All Purpose Flour – 1/2 Cup
    • Orange Juice – 2 Table Spoons
    • Lemon Juice – 2 Table Spoons
    • Orange Zest – 1 Table Spoon
    • Lemon Zest – 1 Table Spoon
    • Coriander – 1 Tea Spoon
    • Salt – Pinch
    • Egg Whites – 2
  • Marsala Cream
    • Chilled Whipping Cream – 1 Cup
    • Confectionery Sugar – 2 Table Spoons
    • Marsala Wine – 2 Table Spoons
  • Orange Sauce
    • Orange Juice – 1 Cup
    • Corn Starch – 1 1/2 Table Spoons
    • Sugar – 1/4 Cup
    • Orange Zest – 1 Table Spoon

Step 1: Get Your Ingredients for the Torte TogetherTake two eggs and separate the yolks from the whites, you will need both parts at different times so do not throw away either.  Zest both your lemon and orange.  Use actual fruit for your juices needed.   Whip egg whites till stiff but not dry, make sure if your using an electric mixer beater is clean.  Preheat oven to 375 F.  Butter and lightly dust with flour an 8inch springform pan.

Step 2: Mix Ingredients – Beat butter in a large bowl until fluffy.  Cut the butter into small manageable pieces to make process easier.  Gradually add sugar till blended. Add the whole egg, then the yolks one at a time beating well after each addition.  At low speed beat in almonds, flour, orange juice, lemon juice, lemon zest, orange zest, coriander and salt.  Be sure to scrape down bowl as many times as necessary in order to have a conform mixture.  Fold egg whites into batter in two equal parts.

The finished batter.

Step 3: Bake in Oven - Pour batter into your springform pan, place in oven preheated to 375F for 40 minutes or until you can put a tooth pick inside its center and it comes out clean.  Cool at room temperature for an hour and a half.

Torte after coming out of the oven.

Step 4: Make Marsala Cream – Beat whipping cream and confectionery sugar till soft peaks form.  Mix in Marsala. Refrigerate if holding

Step 5: Make Orange SauceWhisk orange juice and cornstarch in bowl till cornstarch is completely dissolved.  Melt butter in heavy sauce pan over medium flame.  Whisk in sugar, orange zest and orange juice cornstarch mixture.  Whisk until sauce boils and thickens, should take around five minutes.  Remove from flame and cool.  Refrigerate if holding more then a few hours.

Step 6: Serving Options – When serving this Citrus Torte you have several options.  First and the simplest way is to cover the top of the torte with powdered sugar and then if desired serve either the Marsala Cream or Orange Sauce or both on the side.  Second you can use the Orange Sauce as the topping of the Torte.  To do this just drizzle entire Torte in Sauce till you get the desired covering (pictured below).  Finally you can use the Marsala Cream to actually Ice the Torte as shown in the opening picture and then serve the orange sauce on the side or if you are plating it by the slice I like to drizzle the sauce over the middle of the slice after it has been placed on its side.

Torte Served with just the Orange Sauce.

 

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Cheese Cake slice with orange slice roses

Hows that for a fatty slice of goodness? Yum!

American Style Cheese Cake

This is sort of a family recipe although not in the same respect as my grandmother’s Italian recipes that have been passed down orally through my family for generations.  I believe my father,who actually makes some of the best cheese cakes despite an overall average at best culinary proficiency,  picked this recipe up from a cook book years and years ago and has perfected it.  We have an actual family recipe for an Italian cheese cake, but that will have to wait for another installment of Recipe D’Jour .

In an effort to allow me to cook fine meals (I love the work I do at Westmont, but considering the quality of ingredients purchased, amount of time and help allotted and immense size of portioning there is only so much I can do in terms of emanation) and try out potential menu items for my at the moment fictional restaurant I am playing around with the idea of opening  by the time I am 35.  Currently it is moving from the dream to the planning/feasibility stage, but that is another blog for certainly another day.  I began having dinner parties with a wide array of invitees.  These parties usually feature an entree and dessert.

Most times I have my guests bring the dessert.  This week I had this woman coming who’s parents have a winery in Paso Robles and promised to bring their best vintage of syrah.  She mentioned at a previous dinner event that she had a soft spot for cheese cake.  I think we all know how much I appreciate good wine and I have been looking to make this cheese cake for sometime.  Thus my motivation is your gain with a new recipe here on surfingruinedmylife.net.

Serving Size: 8-12
Total Cost: $17.50

Prep Time: 30mins
Cook Time: 1hr
Cool Time: 6hrs

Ingredient List:

    • Crust
      •  Graham Cracker Crumbs – 2 Cups
      • Butter – 8 Tablespoons
      • Cinnamon – 1 Teaspoon
    • Filling
      • Cream Cheese – 24 oz (Block)
      • Sour Cream- 16 oz
      • Heavy Cream 8 oz
      • Eggs – 4 (large)
      • Sugar – 1 1/2 Cups

Step 1: Combine all ingredients for the filling –  Using an electric mixer combine all ingredients for the filling making sure your end product is a uniform thick cream.

The filling ingredients before mixing.

The filling after being well blended.

Step 3: Make the crustCut butter up into small chunks and combine with the graham cracker crumbs till you have a uniform consistency through out.  Crust should feel greasy and not be crumby.  Take crust and flatten it into the bottom of a round 10″ springform pan.

The crust flattened into the springform pan.

Step 3: Pour filling into springform pan – Slowly pour cheese cake filling made in step 1 into the spring form pan on top of the crust.

Step 4: Bake cheese cake  - Preheat oven to 350 F and place springform pan into it.  Bake for around 55 minutes to an hour or until top is  golden brown in color.

Step 5: CoolCooling is an arduous task for this particular dessert.  If it is cooled too fast the cake will fall and crack.  After cake is fully cooked turn off oven and let the cake sit in the cooling oven for around an hour.  Remove cake from oven and allow to cool at room temperature for another hour.   Cover cake with plastic wrap.  Be sure to make a hole to allow for heat to escape and place into the refrigerator.  refrigerate for around four to six hours before serving.

Step 6: Serve and Enjoy! - Remove the side of the springform pan and enjoy.

Cheese Cake,

Yummy, yeah I cracked mine, cooled it a little too fast, but I needed it for a dinner party that was happening less then six hours from when I finished the cake. I would recommend cooking it the night before. Cracked or not it still tasted amazing.

 

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Chocolate Strawberry Tart

 mmm…Chocolate and even better Strawberries!!!  I know I have for years put my nose up to baking, but these days I find when I am really stressed out I bake. For whatever reason baking relaxes me.  I think it is because of how much focus it takes to get the recipe correct.  When you cook you can throw a little bit of this and that and save the dish, but when you bake it has to be exact to the umpteenth degree and if you mess up there is no saving it.  It is that level of focus that allows me to take my mind off of whatever problems I am having at that time.

I made this dessert back in mid July to impress a date.  Dinner ended up being so filling, Egg Plant Rollatini with Angel Hair Pasta in my families age old Marinara Sauce with Garlic Bread, that we never made it to dessert, instead moving right on to a nice bottle of Prosecco on the beach while basking in the beautiful lighting of a full moon.  It was quite the spread, although I would later find out from that unappreciative bitch that as she put it “my cooking was trash”.  Whatever (see yesterdays blog The State of Lisanti Land Address all about Whatever).

Anyway this Tart is bound to impress any female you decide to bake it for.  I mean it has a splendid strawberry walnut crust filled with a rich chocolate strawberry filling topped with fresh strawberries.  It’s a girls best friend.  Pair it with a bottle of Moscato D’Asti or a Champagne or Prosecco and you are bound to have a good night.  Maybe that is where I blew it, not taking the tart with me to the beach.  In hindsight I am glad I did not cause that chick was definitely not worth it.  Its rather tasty and somewhat simple to make although a bit time consuming.

Serving Size: 8
Total Cost: $13.75
Prep Time: 1 hr
Bake Time 25 mins
Rest Time: 2 hrs

Ingredient List:

  • Crust
    • All Purpose Flour – 1 cup
    • Sugar – 3 table spoons
    • Salt – ¼ tea spoon
    • Walnuts – 1 ½ oz
    • Unsalted Butter – ½ cup (chilled)
    • Egg Yolk – 2 yolks
    • Strawberry Jam – 1/3 cup
  • Filling
    • Whipping Cream – ¾ cup plus 2 table spoons
    • Semisweet Chocolate – 6 oz (chopped)
    • Strawberry Jam – 1/3 cup
    • Strawberries – 2x 1 pt basket (hulled and halfed)

 Step 1: Mix ingredients for your crust: In a food processor mince walnuts till they are a sand like composure.  In a large mixing bowl combine flour, sugar, salt and processed walnuts.  Add in butter.  Make sure to break the butter up into tiny pieces before addition to the mixture.  Mix by hand or with an electric mixer (I used an electric mixer) till it resembles a coarse meal.  Add Yolks and Strawberry Jam and mix until moist clumps form. Gather dough into a ball and flatten into a disk.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Your meal like conformity of dry ingredients and butter.

Your rough dough after adding jam and egg yolks

Your dough disk pre-cooling

Step 2: Form Crust: Preheat Oven to 375 degrees F.  Butter a 9” diameter pan with removable bottom if possible, you can use a fixed bottom pan if it is all you have, I did.  Roll out your chilled dough between two sheets of wax paper to around an 11” diameter.  Remove top sheet of wax paper. Turn you dough upside down so that the wax paper on the bottom is now on the top and firmly press it inside the pan till it fits snug.  Remove paper and trim the edges of your crust so that it just comes over the pan.  Fold edges  just over the top of pan.  Freeze crust for 15 minutes.  Bake 25 minutes or till golden brown.  Spread another 1/3 cup of Jam over the crust and bake another 4 minutes till jam sets. Remove from oven and allow to cool at room temperature.

Crust pre-baking

Step 3: Make Filling: Heat cream in heavy small saucepan on a medium flame until bubbles appear around edge of pot.  Remove from flame and add chocolate.  Stir till completely melted and blended with cream.  Cool until mixture is beginning to thicken, stirring occasionally.  It should still be pourable, probably around 40 to 50 minutes.  Pour Chocolate filling into crust. Refrigerate for at least two hours till filling solidifies.

Chocolate filling poured into my very sad looking crust. I suck at crusts still, but they are getting better.

Step 4: Arrange Strawberries: Cut the tops off of all berries and then half them.  This can be down while you wait for step three to finish.  Arrange on top of tart as shown in the picture or whatever way your little heart desires.  Enjoy.

Now Tell me that does not look to die for. Still think this wont get you laid?

Just in case you were wondering what the Lisanti Land kitchen where all of these master pieces get cooked up in looked like here it is. Pretty gnarly huh?

 

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mmm...wonderful Potato Knishes

Potato Knishes

Potato Knishes are one of my favorite side dishes.  Nothing pairs better with a big thick hot dog, kielbasa or corn beef sandwich.  I used go to this grimy but renowned deli in New York City called Katz Delicatessen (I believe there was a myspace blog on it at one point).  They made a killer corn beef sandwich and their round knishes were almost as big as my head.  The sandwiches are great too.  Enough about Katz though, find the blog on Myspace if your still jones’in for more on that.

 

Jewish Russian immigrants first brought the knish to the United States circa 1900.  Back in the New York/New Jersey area you can get knishes just about everywhere.  They are sold frozen and even sometimes fresh in the average supermarket.  Here in California I found them nearly impossible to come by, especially here in Santa Barbara.  After an exhausting search I gave up looking and decided to learn to make them myself.  I must say my knishes did not come out too shabby either.  Here is my now perfected potato knish recipe.

Total Cost – $6.87

Feeds about 6-8 People (yields about six medium sized Knishes)

Ingredient List:

  • Potatoes – 6 (I used russets, but the variety does not matter)
  • Vegetable Oil – ¼ cup
  • Salt – 1 ½ teaspoon
  • Baking Powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Flour – 3 cups
  • Pepper – ½ teaspoon
  • Butter – ½ cup
  • Onion – 1 diced
  • Cold Water – ½ cup
  • Egg – 1

 

Step 1: Cook Potatoes Peel potatoes and cut into even chunks.  Place chunks into a pot of boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes or until soft.  Strain in colander.

Step 2: Mash PotatoesAfter straining put potatoes back into boiling pot from step 1 and mash them up with a potato masher, fork, ricer.  Measure out 1 cup of the mashed potatoes for your dough.  Leave the rest in pot for the filling.

Step 3: Make DoughIn a bowl, add the baking powder to the flour. Whisk them together. Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the mashed potatoes put aside in step 2 and mix. In sections, add in all the flour.  Break the three cups into individual one cup portions to accomplish this successfully.  Next, make a small well in the center of the bowl. Pour the cold water right into well. Knead the dough with your hands till you have a nice firm ball. Finally place a wet cloth or towel on top of the dough, and let it sit for 30 minutes to proof.

Your finished dough prior to proofing.

Step 4: Make Potato FillingMeanwhile, cut and peel the onion. Dice it into small pieces. Then melt the butter in a pan on high flame. Add the onions and sauté until they are soft, but not yet brown. Pour the onions into a mixing bowl (separate from your now proofing dough). Add 1 ½ cups of mashed potatoes, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of pepper to bowl. Combine everything together. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Your Potato/Onion mix filling.

Step 5: Roll Out Dough and Form Knishes – Place flour on a flat surface and a rolling pin. Take a handful of dough and flatten it down on floured surface. With rolling pin roll out the dough, flipping it over occasionally, so it is one-quarter of an inch thick.

Rolling out the dough.

  • Round Knishes – Create a circular cut out from the dough rolled. A small bowl can be used as a template.  Place filling in the center and pull all sides into center over filling and pinch closed into a tepee like top.
  • Square Knishes – Create a square cut out from the dough rolled.  Place filling into the center of square and fold over short sides.  Next fold over long sides and mold with a little water to close up edges and corners.

A Round (Left) and Square (Right) knish.

Step 6: Bake KnishesPlace finished knishes onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper or treated with nonstick baking spray.  Beat one egg and brush it over the tops of each knish.  Bake at 425F for twenty to twenty five minutes.  Check for doneness when egg turns a golden brown color.

 

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MMM mmm Good!

Making Hash Browns from Scratch

Hash browns are probably one of my favorite things about breakfast and I love all things about breakfast. Well maybe not grits all that much, but that maybe be a result of me not being brought up in the South.  The beauty of hash browns is that they are simple, cheap and fast to make.  Follow these instructions and you will have a perfect breakfast side dish to go with anything.  Pair it up with my French Toast for the ultimate breakfast.

Total Cost: $2

Feeds two people

Ingredient List:

  • Potatoes – 2 (Shredded, 1 potato per person)
  • Butter – 1 ½ Tablespoon
  • Salt – to taste
  • Pepper – to taste
  • Vegetable Oil – 1 teaspoon
  • Onions (optional, I don’t use them, but have seen it done that way, diced)

 

Step 1: Prep PotatoesPeel potatoes making sure to pick any brown or black spots out of it.  Shred potato on the large grate of a cheese grater.  Pat dry finished shredded potatoes with a towel.  If you are going to use onions dice it and mix it in with shredded potatoes.

Shredded Potatoes post toweling

Step 2: Fry Shredded PotatoesMelt one tablespoon of butter in a teaspoon of vegetable oil in a large frying pan.  When butter is completely dissolved add shredded potatoes and flatten out so it is less then an 1/8 inch thick.  Let fry on a little more then medium flame for about 5-8 minutes or until bottom side begins to brown.  While that is happening cut a ½ tablespoon of butter and break it into small pieces.  Put pieces sporadically on top of shredded potatoes.  Add Salt and Pepper as well.  When the bottom is cooked to your liking (I Like mine a little darker than golden brown) Flip hash brown over.  Now if you are cooking a lot of potatoes you may want to chop your hash brown into equal portioned squares with a metal spatula and flip each square individually. If you are only making the two person portion here then it is more then possible to flip entire hash brown. Salt and pepper the now browned topside and let sit on burner for another 5-8 minutes till the bottom is a similar quality as the one you just did.

This is how the hash brown should look when it is flattened in the pot.

Step 3:  ServeCut hash brown in half with a spatula or remove the portions you made in step 2 onto a plate with a paper towel or napkin on it to absorb any excess grease.  Then enjoyJ

 

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Cornish Hen ready for the eating…mmmm citrus!

Creating a Tasty Citrus Brine

This weeks Recipe D’Jour I am going to enlighten you on how to create a very tasty citrus Brine Marinade that goes great with all poultry and pork.  First off a brine is a water based mixture that contains two parts sugar to one part salt.  By using a brine you will have a scrumptious marinade that will spice up any dinner.  There all types of brines but for today’s purposes we are going to focus on a citrus brine.

Total Cost/Feeds: Depends on what your going to brine

  • Turkey – $22, feeds 8-10 people with sides
  • Chicken – $14, feeds 4-6 people with sides
  • Pork Lion – $10, feeds 4-6 people with sides
  • Cornish Hen -  $8, feeds two people with sides

Ingredient List: (use the proportions on this recipe and increase as needed to the size of the meat you plan to brine.  Keep in mind that the meat should be completely submerged in the brine.  This recipe makes about a gallon of brine.)

  • Meat to Brine
  • Salt – 1 1/2 cups
  • Sugar – 1 cup
  • Water – 1 gallon
  • Pepper – 1 teaspoon
  • Oregano – 1 teaspoon
  • Basil – 1 teaspoon
  • Thyme – 4 oz (Fresh)
  • Sage – ½ teaspoon (Dry)
  • Orange – 2
  • Lemon – 3
  • Lime – 1
  • Lemon Herb Seasoning or Lemon Zest
  • Parsley – 3 oz (Minced)

Step 1: Create a brineIn a large container big enough to completely cover your meat combine 2 parts sugar to one part salt in water.  Stir well.  Should taste like a sugary salt water.  It will taste rather gross but should taste more sweet then salty.  I have four cups to two but you may want to adjust according to taste and size of meat you are going to marinade.  Obviously it has to be proportional to the water and you are going use more water with a turkey then a Cornish hen.

Step 2: Marinate MeatIn the container from step1 add Thyme, lemons, lime and oranges.  Be sure to cut fruit in half and squeeze juice into brine after which insert the left post-squeezed fruit as well.  Whisk till it is mixed.  Then add meat you wish to marinade and let sit in refrigerator for 8-12 hours.

A Pork Roast in the Marinade process.

Step 4: Dry Rub MeatRemove meat from marinade and place in a baking pan.  In a bowl add spices, Salt, Pepper, Oregano, Basil, Sage, Lemon zest (which you can get off the left over lemon ends from the brine) and parsley or you can buy a prefabricated lemon and herb seasoning.  Pour over meat in pan and rub around in it till completely covered in spices.  Put about a quarter of an inch of Brine in baking pan with meat to keep it moist and help to absorb more flavor.

Step 5: Bake – Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and bake for whatever the proper amount of time for what you are cooking.  Chicken, a little over an hour, pork loin about the same, hens just under an hour, turkey about two and half hours.

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Mango Salsa

Mmmmm...Mango Salsa shown over a baked pork chop with white rice.

Mango Salsa is such a gourmet type of spread.  Whenever I hear the phrase thrown out I always think of some fancy restaurant using it as a toping for some work of food art.  Well in all truth creating a delicious mango salsa is super easy, rather in expensive and is sure to bring a positive light and many complements to any meal.  Use this with pork, poultry, seafood, beef, rice, chips, just about anything you’re in the mood to spice up.

Total Cost: $6.35

Feeds 4 – 6 people

Ingredient List:

  • Cumin – 1 table spoon
  • Oregano – 1 teaspoon
  • Salt – 1 table spoon
  • Pepper – 1 teaspoon
  • Cilantro – 4 oz (minced)
  • Lemon Juice – 2 oz
  • Apple cider vinegar – 2 oz
  • Mangos – 8oz (chopped)
  • Red Onion – ¼ diced
  • Red pepper – ½ diced
  • Jalapeno Peppers – 2 diced
  • Garlic – 1 clove (minced)
  • Sugar – 1 teaspoon
  • Tomato – 2 (diced)
  • Chili Powder – 1 teaspoon

 

Step 1: Prep Fruit and VegetablesDice up red onion, red pepper, tomatoes and mangos.  As far as the mangos go you can buy fresh mangos, cut them off the pit and then dice it up or you can buy pre cubed frozen mango and dice that smaller to fit your salsa.  I prefer the frozen mango chunks for ease.  Of course nothing is going to beat the taste of a fresh mango, but it is a bit work husking it from the pit and then dicing it.  Next take the jalapenos (I use the mildest because Im a little girl when it comes to hot spices, but you can select yours accordingly), cut in half, chop the top off, then remove all the seeds and insides with a spoon.  Dice the remaining jalapeno shell.  Mince the cilantro and garlic.  Place all prepped ingredients in a medium size bowl.

 

Step 2: Mix Wet IngredientsIn a measuring cup measure out and mix the apple cider vinegar and lemon juice (can be used from fresh lemons, but not necessary.  I currently have a lemon tree in my back yard so I have the pleasure of fresh lemons whenever I so desire).  Add the Cumin, Oregano, Salt, Pepper, Sugar, and Chili Powder and stir.

 

Step 3: Put it all togetherPour your concoction from step 2 in with your diced fruits and vegetables from step one and thoroughly stir together with a spoon.  Serve over whatever you wish to enjoy it with. 

Your finished Mango Salsa.

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Ginger Bread – How to build your very own Ghetto Fabulous Ginger Bread Abode.

It can’t be Christmas with out the construction of a ginger bread house.  There is nothing I find more enjoyable about the holiday season then spending a few good hours in an attempt to build a beautiful confectionary structure that ends up coming out like a run down shanty.  But its my ginger bread shanty and that is all that matters.  No matter how ugly it looks it tastes delicious.  Ginger bread can also be used for cookies as well. Follow this recipe and all your ginger bread hopes and dreams will be realized.

Total Cost – $10.85
Feeds 4-6 people

Ingredient List:

  • Dark Brown Sugar – 1/3 Cup
  • Vegetable Oil – ½ Cup
  • Egg – 1
  • Molasses – 2/3 Cup
  • Ginger – 1 Teaspoon (Ground)
  • Salt – ½ Teaspoon
  • Baking Powder – 3 Teaspoons
  • Flour  – 3 ½ Cups
  • Assorted Candy
  • No stick baking spray
  • Frosting
    • Shortening – ½ Cup
    • Powdered Sugar – 20 oz
    • Salt – Pinch
    • Vanilla Extract – 1 Table Spoon
    • Milk – 1/3 Cup

 

Step 1: Mix Ginger Bread BatterIn a large mixing bowl combine Dark Brown Sugar, Vegetable Oil, Egg, Molasses, Ginger, Salt, Baking Powder, Flour till you have a dough like consistency.  When well blended it should be dark brown.

This is the color and consistency your finished dough should have.

Step 2: Spread Dough in to baking panPreheat oven to 350 Degrees F.  Spray non-stick baking spray in baking pan 9” x 13”.  Spread dough evenly through out.  For cookies you should flatten your dough to be around ½” for a house 1/3”.  This recipe will be enough ginger bread for a small house, double or triple depending on size of structure you wish to create.  If you are going to make your cookies from cutouts be sure to cut shapes prior to baking.  The same goes for intricate house projects. If you are building a standard house like I do then you can do your cut outs after baking although I still find doing it before is easier.

Step 3: Bake Ginger BreadPlace pan into the oven and bake for 10 minutes for cookies, 13-15 minutes for a house.  For cookies you should have a soft feel to your ginger break for house it should be rather hard.

Step 4: Make FrostingFrosting is not only for making faux snow decoration but is also the mortar that holds your house together.  It will be the decoration for your cookies as well.  In a large mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients (powdered sugar, salt) and mix with shortening.  Cube up shortening prior to adding to mixture.  Mix till you have formed little balls with both sugar and shortening.  Add Vanilla Extract and slowly add milk till you have an icing consistency.  Blend with electric mixer if possible or elbow power will do as well.

Your finished icing.

Step 5: Build and Decorate Your House/CookiesIf your just doing cookies then your pretty much done here.  Use the frosting and your pick of candy and decorate the heck out of them.  If your doing a house your work has just begun.  Take a piece of cardboard an adequate size to accommodate your house and cover it with aluminum foil.  This will be the property for your home.

 

Next get your pieces in order.  It is very important to use some type of pattern for both your roof and house pieces to make sure it comes out even otherwise you will end up with a crooked house.  You pieces depend on the house you intend to build.  For a basic house you will need two isosceles triangles for the roofline and two rectangles for the roof top.  Then another two rectangles for the sides of the house and two squares for the front and back.  Its best to figure out some type of scale before starting.  This is if you want perfection, but if your impetuous like myself you can just wing it and see what happens.  I find this makes some of the most comical houses.  Use the icing to hold your pieces together and glue your house to the cardboard.  The icing will also hold your candy to the house as well.

A small house circa 2004

A Ginger Bread Monstrosity circa 2005

Small house with a Tree shaped cookie

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Tilapia in a Lemon Dill Sauce
With Brown Rice Risotto In a Garlic Basil Sauce and a Baked Potato

Tilapia is the poor man’s fish and myself being a poor man on occasion will resort to this thrift of the sea.  At 2.99lb you cant go wrong.  By itself tilapia is a far from a tasty fish but accompanied with this Lemon Dill Sauce it is rather scrumptious.  You know a cut of tilapia to the untrained eye looks a bit like cat fish so one could fool unknowing guests and they will think pure elegance while eating smut.

Cost: 8.75 including sides
Feeds about four people

 

Ingredient List:

  • Tilapia – 4 4oz pieces
  • Lemon Juice – 1 cup
  • Dill Leaves – 2oz (Dry)
  • Olive Oil – 3 Table spoons
  • Garlic – 1 ½ Clove (minced)
  • Salt  – 2 Tea Spoons
  • Pepper – 2 Tea Spoons
  • Butter – 8 oz
  • Corn Starch – 4 oz

 

Step 1: Marinate Tilapia – In a small mixing bowl combine ¼ cup of Lemon Juice and/or squeezed lemons, ½ table spoon of Dill Leaves, 1 table spoon of Olive Oil, ½ clove of Garlic, Salt, Pepper and stir together.  Lay tilapia pieces in a baking pan large enough to accommodate and pour contents of mixing bowl over pieces making sure to cover both sides. Bake in oven at 350 for around ten to fifteen minutes.

 

Step 2: Make Lemon Dill Sauce – In a small saucepot melt butter (8oz).  When melted combine Lemon Juice (1/2 cup) , Dill Leaves (2 oz), Olive Oil (2 table spoons), Garlic (1 clove), Salt (1 teaspoon), Pepper (1 teaspoon) and bring to a boil.  Let boil for three minutes and stir constantly

 

Step 3: Create a Slurry To Thicken Sauce – Bring down the flame to low. Take 4 oz of cornstarch and put it in just enough cool water to dissolve it.  When corn starch is dissolved stir it into sauce.  Turn off heat and stir.  As sauce cools it will get thicker as a result of the slurry.

Step 4: Serve – Pour sauce over cooked Tilapia.

 

Sides:

Baked Potato: Take a russet potato and wash it.  Bake in preheated oven 375 F for around 45 minutes till soft.

Brown Rice Risotto in a Garlic Basil Sauce

Your finished fish.

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How to Make a Pumpkin Pie From a Real Pumpkin

Yummy!!!!!!!

I talked about it for years and mulled it over in my head every fall, but for whatever reason (most likely surfing) I did not ever get around to making a pumpkin pie from scratch.  This year I was motivated and thanks to a very entertaining trip to the local pumpkin patch and nearly getting lost forever in a corn maze I had a pumpkin.  Now there are certain kinds of pumpkins that are suggested for pie making and those pre-canned pumpkin mixes are actually made from a type of squash and not real pumpkin at all.  I decided to use the one that I picked, like I said I wanted this thing to be as authentic as possible down to physically going and picking the thing off the vine (although most of the pumpkins were already pre picked and I think the vines were just there for show and truthfully if I really wanted to go all the way from scratch I should have grown the damn thing from a seed).  For all this seasonal fun I got to pay $10 bucks for a pumpkin I could have waited till after they closed and stole the damn thing like I normally do this time of year.

 

I used your average everyday run of the mill pumpkin and it came out fabulous, definitely a slightly different taste but very good just the same.  Here is this week’s Recipe D’Jour in honor of Turkey Day.  I just made my second pumpkin pie ever, finishing it an hour ago for tomorrow.  My buddy Ryan invited me over for Thanksgiving with his family so I decided to provide the desert.  Although this recipe comes a bit too late for your holiday maybe you can use it next year.

 

Total Cost: $15.50 (yeah you can buy a whole pie for like $3, remember the pumpkin cost $10)
Feeds about eight people

Ingredient List:

  • Pumpkin – 2-4lbs
  • Vegetable Oil – Table spoon
  • Water – 1 cup
  • 9inch Pie Crust
    • Ice Water – 1 ½ cup
    • Flour -  1 ¼ cup
    • Salt – ¼ Teaspoon
    • Butter – 4 Tablespoons
    • Shortening – 2 Tablespoons
  • Pumpkin Puree – 1 ½ cup (you create from pumpkin)
  • Heavy Cream – 1 ½ cup
  • Brown Sugar – ½ cup
  • Flour – 1 tablespoon
  • Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon (ground)
  • Ginger – ½ teaspoon (ground)
  • Nutmeg – ¼ teaspoon (ground)
  • Light Corn Syrup – ½ cup
  • Egg – 3
  • Vanilla – 1 teaspoon

 

Step 1: Prep Pumpkin – Wipe pumpkin clean of all residue and dirt with a damp rag. Remove stem.  Cut pumpkin in half vertically.  Remove all pumpkin seeds and subsequent insides.  Save seeds for Roasted Pumpkin Seeds.  Coat the inside of pumpkin with Vegetable oil.

This is your pumpkin after step 1

Step 2: Cook Down Pumpkin – In a baking pan large enough to fit both halves place pumpkin halves open side down.  Add 1 cup of water to pan.  Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F and cook at this temperature for around 60-80 minutes until pumpkin is adequately soft.

This is what your pumpkin should look like after being cooked down.

Step 3: Get the Puree – Allow pumpkin to cool to a comfortable handling temperature.  Scoop out entire inside of shell with a spoon.  It should come off rather easily. Mash up insides by hand.  This can also be done with a blender, hand mixer or a food processor.  I used a potato masher and then finished it off with an electric mixer.

Scoop out inside of pumpkin.

Your collected puree.

Step 4: Drain the Puree of any excess fluids – Scoop mixed puree into a sieve, I made a make shift one out of a strainer lined with three coffee filters and suspend over a bowl with enough room to catch excess fluids but without touching the sieve.  Cover and place in the refrigerator for around 3-4 hours to properly drain the puree.   After drained put aside 1 ½ cup for your pie any other excess you can freeze, but do it in 1 ½ cup portions so that you only have to defrost one pie worth the next time you feel so inclined to make a pumpkin pie.  I got three portions out of my pumpkin.

The make shift sieve.

Step 5: Make the Crust – Sure you can go to the store and buy those Pillsbury pre-made crusts or similar product, but like I said we are doing this from scratch.  Mix Flour, Salt, Butter and Shortening in large mixing bowl till it becomes a conglomerate of little beads of flour.  Add Ice water as needed, just enough to allow the dough to be kneaded. It is very necessary that ice water is used or crust will not roll out well and will be all cracky when you try and fit it to the pan.  Knead dough into a ball.  On a flat surface flatten ball into circle and then roll about 1/8 inch thick and ten-inch circumference.  You don’t need to have a perfect circle just as long as it is circular and fits inside your pan with a small overlap.  Place inside round pan and fold over the excess dough to form outside of piecrust.

 

Step 6: Make Filling – In large mixing bowl mix together flour and brown sugar.  Then add drained pumpkin puree from step 4 and Heavy Cream, blend together either by hand or with a mixer.  Add Salt, Cinnamon, Ginger and Nutmeg and mix again. Add Corn syrup and blend some more.  Add beaten Eggs and Vanilla and blend once more.

Mix your filling.

Step 7: Pour Filling Into Shell – Pour filling form step 6 into shell from step 5.

Step 8: Bake Pie – Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F and bake pie for 55-60 minutes.  After thirty minutes check to make sure crust is not getting burned, if so cover with tin foil.  Be sure to remove tin foil for last ten minutes of baking or so to brown up pie.

 

Step 9: Cool Pie – Check pie for doneness by either sticking a knife in it and if knife comes out clean it is done or jiggle it, if pie is not too jiggly it is done.  Allow pie to fully cool before serving.

 

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