Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great holiday with your families. Our holiday was great…and unexpectedly long. The kids got four extra days off school due to snow and ice. YAHOO! Luckily, with all the extra time, I was able to experiment in the kitchen a lot… so here we go! The first recipe I tried was for chocolate pudding. I have made chocolate pudding multiple times in the past, but I’ve only made healthy versions. I have two different recipes in which the base of the pudding is made from avocados and dates. This time, however, I wanted to make a traditional chocolate pudding, so I needed a new recipe. Additionally, I had a TON of egg yolks left over from Christmas baking as a few of my recipes only required egg whites. I searched online, and happened upon Martha Stewart’s recipe for chocolate or vanilla pudding, so I decided to give it a shot. WOW! I am sooo glad that I did because it is the best chocolate pudding I have ever eaten. My family LOVED it too. It was very simple to make, and it was amazing warm or cold. The only drawback is that this pudding recipe isn’t as healthy as my other pudding recipes. Oh well…every now and then, it would be a nice treat. I would definitely make this pudding again. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://www.marthastewart.com/314077/vanilla-or-chocolate-pudding
The next two recipes I tried were for homemade ravioli, and homemade arancini. I love love love arancini, and I’ve always wanted to make ravioli from scratch, so I decided to make them both the same evening and enjoy an Italian food fest! If you are unfamiliar with arancini, they are Italian rice balls, usually served as an appetizer. I fell in love with arancini, back in the mid 90’s. Dan and I were newly married, and living in our apartment in Sterling Heights. There was a restaurant not too far from where we lived called “Tony Pepperoni’s,” and one night we went there for dinner. I’d never eaten arancini before so we decided to try it out. YUM! We were hooked from the first bite! “Tony Pepperoni’s” eventually became “Benedetto’s,” and we’d occasionally go to Benedetto’s for dinner, just to get the arancini. After we moved out to the sticks, we stopped going to Benedetto’s as it is about an hour away from our house. The distance that separated us from those yummy rice balls, prompted me to research the recipe so I could make them at home. I’ve made them over the years and we enjoy them, but it’s a very time consuming process. Traditionally, arancini starts as risotto. Now, I do love me some risotto, but I don’t always love how long it takes to make. Risotto is a simple dish, but it requires a minimum of 20 minutes to make it appropriately. Most of that 20 minutes is spent stirring the risotto as you gradually add broth to the rice. I don’t usually mind that task, but since I was also making ravioli from scratch, I wanted to quicken the pace a bit. I found a recipe on Pinterest in which you utilize regular left over rice in place of the risotto, so I decided to give it a try. The result??
I am totally smitten with these rice balls, and plan to make them all the time. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://www.justataste.com/2012/02/arancini-rice-balls-with-marinara-sauce/ For the record, I didn’t try the sauce as I already had my own homemade sauce ready to go. Also, I substituted asiago instead of fresh mozzarella…YUM!
Next, I made ravioli. As I mentioned above, I’ve always wanted to try and make ravioli from scratch, but it is a time consuming process. Since I had nothing but time, I decided to roll up my sleeves and go for it. The result was a mixed bag. Let me explain. Although I did enjoy the process of making the dough, I don’t have a pasta maker. Well, let me rephrase, I do have an electric pasta maker, but it doesn’t make sheets of pasta. I can make all different sorts of noodles, but not sheets of pasta like for making lasagna or ravioli. Since I don’t own that sort of pasta maker, I had to roll the dough by hand. The problem was that I couldn’t get the dough thin enough to make good ravioli. I have been assured by my good friend and avid ravioli maker, Dean Overholt, that if I get the right attachment for my Kitchenaid mixer, I will be able to make perfect ravioli. Well I’ve added the attachment to my “kitchen wish list” so we will see. Anyway, I got frustrated with the dough, so Dan stepped in and finished the ravioli. In the end, the ravioli tasted really good, but the dough was way too thick in my opinion. Until I get that pasta maker attachment, I’ll have to stick with store bought ravioli. Even though the result was somewhat disappointing, it was fun to spend time in the kitchen with my handsome husband. Here is the link to the recipe that we used:http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/homemade-ravioli
The next recipe I tried was for “butter beer.” If you have read the books, or seen the “Harry Potter” movies, you will be familiar with this reference. If you haven’t, suffice to say it’s a beverage that the characters like to drink. Victoria and Ryan are total “Potterheads,” so as a treat I decided to make this for them. I personally thought the butter beer was WAY too sweet, but the kids really liked it. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/06/0a/01/060a01c67eb13e32e7ff2cc7f5f75387.jpg Fun fact. This drink is on the Starbuck’s “secret menu,” so next time you are there, pick one up.☺
The next recipe I tried was for broccoli cheese soup. I love love love broccoli soup, and I love to make soup when it’s cold outside. I found the recipe on Pinterest, and decided to try it out. I am super glad that I did, because it was really good. Dan and I loved it! Victoria doesn’t like broccoli, and Ryan doesn’t like any sort of soup so they didn’t try it. Fortunately this recipe doesn’t yield a ton of soup, so it was just right for Dan and I for dinner. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://www.peasandcrayons.com/2012/12/sketch-free-broccoli-and-cheese-soup.html
The next recipe was for seven layer Italian rainbow cookies. They are called seven layer cookies as there are three layers of cookie (green, white, and pink), two layers of chocolate (top and bottom), and two layers of apricot preserves (between the cookie layers)…heaven! I LOVE LOVE LOVE these cookies, and have for as long as I can remember. I buy a little package of them every time I am at Nino Salvaggio’s, or an Italian bakery. Fun fact: if you have ever seen the movie “She-Devil” (a movie that I love, but that Dan hates) these cookies are in the box of bakery delights that “Ruth Patchett” aka “Vesta Rose” (played by Roseanne Barr) offers to her co-worker “Hooper” (played by Linda Hunt.) Anyway, I have wanted to make these cookies FOREVER, but they take two days to complete. Since I had extra time whilst the kids were off school, I decided to give it a shot. HOLY COW! These cookies are totally amazing, AND totally worth the effort!!! They got rave reviews from everyone…everyone except Ryan. Yep you guessed it, he didn’t care for them. SIGH…oh well, more for me! I will absolutely make these cookies again. Here’s the link to the recipe that I used: http://teenagecakeland.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/seven-layer-italian-rainbow-cookies/ Next time I am going to experiment a bit though. For instance I am going to add a bit more almond extract as I felt the cookies weren’t “almondy” enough. Also, I want to try different flavors of fruit preserves…I am thinking raspberry or cherry…YUM.
My next recipe was for dark chocolate, almond, and orange lace cookies. Apparently, it’s a copycat recipe for cookies sold at Trader Joe’s. I’ve never actually seen them at the store, but when I’m at TJ’s, I’m not shopping for cookies. ☺ I have seen cookies that look similar to these cookies at a bakery, and there were called “florentines.” Anyway, I found this recipe on Pinterest, and was immediately intrigued. These cookies look totally different than the cookies I usually make, so I decided to test the recipe. As a side note, I have been baking cookies like nobody’s business lately. In the last three weeks, I have made four different varieties of cookies. I am not certain why I have baked so many cookies lately, but hey I am not getting any complaints. I am seriously thinking of making more cookies this weekend…stay tuned! ☺ Anyway, I decided to give this recipe a shot, and I am glad that I did. This cookie received great reviews, and I got requests for more. It’s not a cookie I’d make all the time, but I’d make it again for sure. I actually have another “lace cookie” recipe that I want to try, so I’ll probably try that one before making this one again. Here’s a shocker…are you ready??? Ryan didn’t like these cookies either. He did try them though, and told me that they tasted like “Fruit Loops.” I liked these cookies as they were both crispy and chewy. I enjoyed the flavor, and I love the way they look. Here is the link to the recipe that I used: http://myjerusalemkitchen.wordpress.com/2011/05/22/dark-chocolate-almond-orange-lace-cookies-florentines/
The next recipe was for whole wheat fettuccine with roasted tomatoes, peas and fresh mozzarella. I saw this recipe on an episode of “Giada at Home,” and knew immediately that I’d have to try it. I didn’t use whole wheat fettucine as my family doesn’t like thick noodles that are whole wheat or multi grain. That said, in my opinion, this dish requires a heartier noodle. I mean angel hair or spaghetti simply would not do, so I chose regular fettucine noodles. I am so happy that I tried this recipe because it was totally delicious. It was hearty, healthy, and just perfect for a cold winter’s night. I will absolutely, positively, make this fettucine again. Ryan wouldn’t try it of course, but Dan, Victoria, and I loved it. Here is the link to Giada’s recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/whole-wheat-fettuccine-with-roasted-tomatoes-peas-and-fresh-mozzarella-recipe/index.html
The last recipe was a request from Ryan. He said he was “in the mood” for cinnamon sugar doughnuts, and politely requested that I make him some. Well of course I couldn’t refuse his sweet face, so I decided to make some doughnuts for my boy. I’d recently gotten a mini doughnut pan that I hadn’t used yet, so Ryan’s request came at a perfect time. I could try out my new mini doughnut pan, and a new recipe at the same time. I found the recipe on Pinterest, and I found the pan at Meijer. I’ve made doughnuts multiple times in the past, and I always bake them as I don’t own a deep fryer. I love my doughnut pans, and even though I don’t use them a lot, I am glad that they are in the cupboard waiting for a request like Ryan’s. I am happy to report that the mini doughnuts came out great. I did half the batch cinnamon sugar, and the other half plain with chocolate frosting. Ryan liked them, but he didn’t love them. Unfortunately he still prefers “Tim Horton’s.” Victoria and I liked both of the doughnuts, but Dan LOVED them. He jokingly cursed me, because he couldn’t stop eating them. I will definitely make these doughnuts again, but next time I want to try chocolate doughnuts with chocolate frosting. YUM! Here is the link to the recipe that I used:http://bakerbettie.com/baked-cinnamon-sugar-mini-donuts/?crlt.pid=camp.BeiJP07q6UTQ Also, if you haven’t ever made frosting at home before, try this recipe. I promise after making and eating this frosting, you will never buy a tub of store bought frosting ever again!!! http://www.southernplate.com/2009/04/creamy-chocolate-frosting.html
I loved being able to try all the new recipes…most of them were keepers. I hope you all have a great January full of wintry fun, lots of family time, and of course really great food! Thanks for reading. Enjoy! ♥♥♥