White Meringue Squirrels

White Meringue Squirrels

I haven’t always been a fan of squirrels. In fact, they have always scared me! You see, when you go to a college where squirrels feel like it’s their birthright to sneak attack you and steal your food, you might be too! After years of restless nights, the tides have changed and believe it or not, those little fur babies have grown on me. Now, I find myself living in a town that celebrates their white squirrel population. And I am about to part take in my first White Squirrel Festival. Yep, a whole three days to bask in the glow of their squirrely goodness. So, in anticipation I’ve made meringue white squirrels. It’s time to join in on the fun and make your own!

Ingredients:

3 Eggs Whites
Pinch of Salt
3/4 c. Confectioners Sugar
1 tsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp. Almond Extract
Chocolate for decorations

Preheat the oven 250 degrees.
First step in making these meringue squirrels is to separate the eggs. Make sure not to get any yokes in the whites. Place the egg whites in a stand mixer with a whisk attachment. Whisk the eggs at medium speed until the eggs begin to bubble. Add the salt and continue to whisk. Next, pour in the lemon juice and mix.
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Increase the speed and slowly add the sugar. Once all the sugar is incorporated add the extract. Allow the eggs to whisk on high until they begin to form stiff, glossy peaks.

Using a piping bag, pipe the meringue out onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Pipe one small circle, then another larger one under the first but slightly to the side. Finish by adding the “S” shaped tail.
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Bake for about thirty minutes or until the sides begin to get color. Once the meringue starts to tan turn the oven off. Leave the baking sheet in the oven until the meringue’s are hardened. When all the squirrels are cooled add a chocolate nose and eye.
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Kringle

Kringle

Words like Krumkake, and Tynne Pannekake might look like a jumble of letters to most, but those two words are so much more. Those two words infuse happiness in the hearts of every Norwegian child and conjures up fond memories in every Norwegian adult. Krumkake, and Tynne Pannekake are only a few of the greatest desserts Norway has to offer, but there is one that surpasses them all. One that is so sought after that there should be statues constructed in its honor. That dessert is called Kringle. It is a flaky pastry filled with sweetened almonds, topped with sugar icing. Yes, you have died and gone to heaven!

Ingredients:

Dough:
2 c. Flour
1 c. Water
2 Sticks unsalted butter
*extra flour for the surface

Almond Paste:

1 c. Sliced Almonds
2 c. Confectioners Sugar
water

Icing:
Confectioners Sugar
Water

Begin by making the dough. In a bowl combine one cup of flour and one cup of water. Mix together until the dough forms. On a floured surface roll out the dough in an oblong shape. In a separate bowl mix together one cup of flour and two sticks of softened butter. Once the butter paste is formed spread it onto the rolled out dough. Fold the dough in thirds. Roll the dough out again in an oblong shape and fold again in thirds. Repeat this step one more time, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for eight hours or freeze for four hours.

Meanwhile, create the almond paste. In a food processor finely chop one cup of almonds. Place the almonds in a bowl and add two cups of confectioners sugar and mix. Slowly add water to the mix until it forms a thick paste. Refrigerate while the dough chills.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once the dough has been refrigerated cut it in half and roll half of the dough out, length wise, on a floured surface. Make sure the dough is thicker in the center and thinner on the edges. Lay the dough on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Place half of the chilled almond paste in the center of the dough. Next, fold one side of the dough over the almond paste, fold in the ends, then fold over the other side of the dough. Bake for 20- 30 minutes.

Once the pastry is baked, allow it to cool completely before pouring icing on top. Mix together Confectioners sugar and water together so that it forms a thick icing.

Cut and serve. Trust me you and your guests will not regret it.
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Apple Coffee Cake

Apple Crumb Cake

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times, coffee and coffee cake were made for one another. I imagine that their original story is stuff that rom coms are made of. After crossing each other’s paths for years, they finally became friends. “How could coffee and coffee cake just be friends?!” everyone asked. Then one fateful day, coffee realized that coffee cake was his cake mate. Of course, coffee was her soul beverage, and the rest is history. Or something like that… and like any good rom com I will gladly binge on that pair until someone drags me away.

Apples:
3 Apples
3 tbl. Brown Sugar
2 tbl. Flour
2 tbl. Butter
1 1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

Crumbles:
1 1/2 c. Softened Butter
1 1/2 c. Flour
1 c. Brown Sugar

Cake:
2 c. Cake Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 c. White Sugar
1 Stick Butter
2 Eggs
1 c. Buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. Vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

The best thing to do for this recipe is to first get the apples and crumbles ready and on standby.  Dice and peel three apples.  In a frying pan melt the butter, add apples, brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Sauté till the apples become soft, then remove from the heat and set aside.
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In a medium bowl place the butter for the crumbles, as well as flour and brown sugar.  Mix the dry ingredients into the butter until they start forming little balls.  Once the crumble mixture is finished set it aside.

Put all the dry ingredients, for the cake, into a large bowl and use a whisk to thoroughly mix the ingredients.  In a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar, then add the eggs.  Once the butter mixture is finished, stir it into the dry ingredients.  When the two mixtures are blended pour a cup of buttermilk in and add vanilla.

In a lined muffin tin, begin by filling the cups a third of the way up with apples, pushing it slightly down.
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Next, pour a layer of cake batter, about half of a spoonful (just so the batter covers the apples).  Final step, add the crumbles to the top (be generous with the crumbles, more the merrier!).
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Bake for about eighteen minutes, until the coffee cakes start to brown.  Make sure to allow the cakes to cool before eating.
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Naan Pockets

Being from an Italian family, it’s probably pretty obvious that we ate a lot of Italian food. Then one day I discovered Indian food and my mind was blown! New spices and aromas out the ying yang! It has since become one of my favorite foods. I love the curry, I love the Naan, and I love the spice! I wanted my two delicious worlds to collide. So voila, Indian Calzones! Maybe its more of a Hot Pocket… either way, they are amazing and spicy! I’m about to go eat another.

Ingredients:

1 Sweet Potato
1 Can Chickpeas
1/2 Onion
2 c. Kale
1 c. Water
2 Garlic Cloves
2 tbs. Flour
1/2 tsp. Pepper
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp. Curry Powder
Pinch of Salt

Below is a naan recipe I’ve been using for years. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, am I right? Double this naan recipe to have enough dough for all the filling.

http://thekitchenpaper.com/quick-naan-without-yeast/

Begin by chopping the onions and garlic and sautéing them untill they are golden brown. Just before they are about to be done, add the diced sweet potatoes and slightly brown them. Once the potatoes begin to brown, throw in the two cups of kale and one cup of water. Add the seasoning (garlic powder, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper) and cover the pan. Allow it to simmer for fifteen minutes.
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After everything has cooked down, add the can of chickpeas and two tablespoons of flour. Continue to stir until the mixture begins to thicken (Add more water or flour depending on what is needed).
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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare the dough. Once the mixture forms a ball, roll out on a floured surface and cut the dough into rectangles. Place a spoon full of potato mixture on one side of the rectangle. Fold the other side over and pinch close. Make sure not to over fill. Place the pockets on a parchment paper covered baking sheet and bake for twenty
minutes.

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Brussels Sprout Skewers

Stuck in a vegetable rut? Not sure what to feed those picky vegetable eaters? I have the cure! BACON!!!!! Yes, bacon nature’s cure to the mundane. Brussels sprouts were as foreign to me as the Chinese language, or Wham!, but on one fateful night, those beautiful mini cabbages rolled into my life. I’ve been obsessed ever since. Believe it or not, there are people out there who aren’t too excited about the idea of brussels sprouts. After these skewers they’ll be begging for more.

Ingredients:
1 16 oz Bag of Fresh Brussels Sprouts
8 Skewers
8 Strips of Turkey Bacon (or pork bacon, if you’re into that sort of thing)
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
Garlic
Cayenne Pepper (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. The first step in making Brussels Sprout Skewers is to prep the brussels sprouts. Begin by cutting the hard bottoms off the vegetable and then quartering them (if the brussels sprouts are small you can simply half them).

Place the quartered brussels spouts in a medium size bowl and dress them with olive oil, pepper, salt, and garlic, season them to taste. Toss the brussels sprouts until every quarter has been coated.
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Now, it’s time to make the skewers! Pierce the bacon, at the end the strip, with a skewer. Next, push one of the pieces of brussels sprouts onto the skewer, to meet the bacon. Loop the bacon strip around the veggie and thread it back on the skewer. Continue three more times until there are four brussels sprouts on the skewer and the bacon is at the end. When the sequence is finished, push the items to the top of the skewer and begin the next bacon and brussels sequence at the bottom.
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Put the skewers on a pan and into the oven for about fifteen minutes or until the bacon is crispy and the brussels sprouts are tender. Once the skewers have slightly cooled, cut the skewer in half, so that you have two mini vegetable skewers.
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These are great as appetizers or for a side. Honestly, these skewers have turned brussels sprout haters into lovers… The bacon sure doesn’t hurt ;-).

Icebox Oatmeal Cookie Sandwiches

Ah yes, the winds have changed. Spring is here and Summer is on the horizon! My friends, it is time to rise up and usher our food into the appropriate season! Ice Box Oatmeal Sandwiches anyone? They are the red headed (or should I say the strawberry blonde) step child of an ice cream sandwich. Strawberries have finally made an appearance and I am taking notice! Strawberry babies come on in, make your self comfortable. I won’t bite…. Ok I probably will….

Ingredients:

Cookies:
1/3 c. Brown Sugar
1/2 c. White Sugar
1 Stick Butter
1 Egg
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 c. All Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 c. Rolled Oats

Cream:
1 c. Chopped Strawberries
1 tbl. White Sugar
1/4 c. Water
1 c. Heavy Whipping Cream

Preheat the oven to 375. Begin by creaming together the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar. Add the egg, vanilla and mix with a hand mixer.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Once the flour mixture is thoroughly mixed, stir in the butter mixture. Next step is to add the rolled oats. When cookie batter is ready, make evenly sized balls and place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet (make sure to space the cookies about 2 inches apart). Using the bottom of a cup, flatten the balls (wet the bottom of the glass with water or oil so it doesn’t stick to the batter). Bake the cookies for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
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Once the cookies are finished baking, remove them from the sheet and place on a wire rack to cool. This recipe should make about 14 medium sized cookies.

As the cookies cool it’s time to make the cream. Place the chopped strawberries in a small saucepan. Add water and sugar to the pan and let the mixture simmer. After about 5 minutes the strawberries will begin to break down. Once the strawberries have softened and the mixture is smooth, it’s ready to remove the saucepan from the heat and cool. Allow the strawberry sauce to cool completely before making the cream.

Now that the strawberries are cooled, it’s time to make strawberry cream! In a large bowl place the heavy whipping cream and strawberries. Using a hand mixer, whip the cream until it resembles whipped cream.

Fill a piping bag (a plastic bag with the tip cut off will work just as well) with the strawberry whipped cream. Pipe the cream on to the bottom of one cookie. Find a cookie that matches in size and top the cream with another cookie, making a sandwich. Once all the sandwiches are made, place them in the freezer for about an hour or until the cream has hardened.
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Once the cream has hardened, melt some chocolate. I used semi sweet, but any chocolate will be delicious. Dip one side of the cookie into melted chocolate and place each one back in the freezer for another hour.

After the cream and chocolate have set, the sandwiches are ready to eat! Make sure to hide one or two of these yummies for yourself because everyone will want seconds.

Lasagna Done Right

I have always felt a strong connection to Garfield. Yes, the orange striped cat. I’m not sure if it’s that we both have big eyes or hate Monday’s, or possibly, it’s our undying love for lasagna. Yep, thats it! I mean, that cat knew how to eat! Pasta is good, who doesn’t like pasta? But lasagna, lasagna is a whole other entity. It’s ranks among the greatest inventions ever to come out of Italy. And this recipe ranks above all recipes. Trust me when I say, “Garfield would marry this lasagna and have its babies.”  And the truth is, I don’t blame him.

*warning: not suitable for vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, gluten free people, and the lactose intolerant. Sorry :-(.

Ingredients:

1 lb. Ground beef
1 lb. Italian sausage
1 package of Lasagna noodles
2 c. Mozzarella cheese
3 cans (28 oz) Crushed tomato sauce
4 Slices stale bread
6 Hard boiled eggs
1 Egg
grated Parmesan cheese
Salt
Pepper
Garlic

Begin by adding a small amount of olive oil to a large pot. When the oil is ready add the sausages and fry until they are brown. Once the sausages are browned, add the tomato sauce. Keep the tomato sauce on low heat.
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While the sauce simmers, submerge 4 pieces of stale bread in water. Once the bread is soaked, squeeze out all the excess water and place them in a large mixing bowl. Add the 1 pound of ground beef, 1 egg and thoroughly mix. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Form medium sized balls with the ground beef mixture. In a frying pan, coated with vegetable oil, fry the meat balls until they are browned on both sides. When they are finished cooking, place all the meatballs into the sauce. Allow the sauce to simmer for 1 to 2 hours.
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As the sauce simmers, hard boil 6 eggs. After the eggs are cooked, allow the eggs to cool. Roughly chop the eggs and set aside to use later.

After 2 hours your sauce is ready and the meatballs and sausage are ready to be removed. Remove the meatballs and sausage from the sauce. Roughly chop the meat. Then, boil water to cook the lasagna noodles. Once the water is boiling, add the noodles and cook for about 10 minutes. Once the noodles are cooked, remove the pot from the stove and add cool water to it so that the noodles will be cool enough to handle.
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Use a large baking pan to assemble the lasagna (Depending on how large the pan, will determine how many layers your lasagna will have). Begin by ladling a small amount of sauce on to the bottom of the pan. Follow the sauce with a layer of noodles. Next, layer the chopped meats, hard boiled eggs, mozzarella, and parmesan cheese. Once the first layer is down, ladle more sauce on top and begin the next layer. Continue until you are out of noodles or reach the top of your pan.
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Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Bake the Lasagna for about 35 minutes and enjoy.
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Irish Soda Bread with a Twist

Ah yes, St. Patrick’s day! A day of corned beef and cabbage, irish soda bread and the very special elixir that cures all aliments, green beer. Now, I think we can all agree that there isn’t any need to improve corned beef or cabbage, or even that beautiful green beer. But, Irish soda bread….. Irish soda bread just needs a 21st century update. You might call it Irish soda bread with a twist…. maybe a chocolate twist. You’re welcome! I’m not Irish, you might not be Irish but, on St. Patrick’s day, we are all Irish! So, lets eat, drink, and be merry!

Ingredients:

3 c. All Purpose Flour
1/3 c. Sugar
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 Stick Butter
1 1/2 c. Greek Yogurt
1 Egg
1/2 c. Currants or Raisins
1/2 Bar of Semi-Sweet Chocolate

*Extra 1 tb. of butter for middle spread and flour for kneading

Begin by preheating the oven to 375 degrees. Measure half of a cup of currants (raisins) and finely chop the chocolate bar. Reserve both for later.
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Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Next, add half of a stick of softened butter and mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl combine the Greek yogurt and egg. Then add the egg and yogurt to the flour mixture until it becomes dough.
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When the dough is formed, dump it onto a floured surface and knead in the half of a cup of currants. Once the currants are evenly dispersed, roll the dough out about a 1/2 of an inch thick. Melt a tablespoon of butter and brush onto the rolled out dough. Sprinkle the chopped chocolate evenly over the dough and roll it up into a loaf.
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Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and place the dough in the pan. Bake for about 45 minutes or until it is golden brown.
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Pumpkin Apple Dog Cookies

We are finally escaping the DOG DAYS OF WINTER! So, let’s treat our dogs in celebration! These dog cookies are great for Pups-giving, a Dog-mitzvah , or just a treat at the end of a long day of digging and fetching. My dog, Orbit, says, “Never have pumpkin and apple ever tasted so good!.” He gives them two paws up!

Ingredients:

2 c. Whole wheat flour
2 Eggs
1/2 c. Pure pumpkin
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 Diced apple

Makes 20 3in x 1 1/2in cookies

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Combine the eggs and pumpkin together. Next, add the flour and salt and mix until the dough begins to form (the dough might be slightly dry, the apples will fix that). Last but not least, add the diced apples.
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Turn out the dough on to a floured surface and knead a few times. Before rolling out the dough, dust the surface one more time. Roll out the dough to a 1/4 of an inch. Using cookie cutters, cut out the cookies and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
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Bake cookies for 20 minutes. Flip over and bake another 20 minutes. Let the cookies completely cool before letting your furry friends enjoy them.
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Biscuit Bread Pudding

Like Bert and Ernie, Harold and Maude, Marge and Homer, Bread and Pudding were meant for each other. I love bread! If it was nutritionally and socially acceptable to just eat bread, I would! So, when I was a kid and learned that one could eat various forms of bread for breakfast, lunch, dinner and now dessert, I was in! You can’t go wrong with bread pudding, especially when it’s made with Southern biscuits. So, get your fork ready and grab a napkin because I know you’re already drooling.

Ingredients:

3 Southern Biscuits
1/2 tsp. Almond extract
1/2 c. Heavy whipping cream
1/2 c. Brown sugar
1/3 c. Maple syrup
2 tbl. Butter
1 Egg

Biscuits:

2 c. Flour
1 tbl. Baking powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 c. Butter
3/4 c. Buttermilk

Enough for 4

Begin by making the biscuits. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients together and cut in the butter until it resembles crumbles. Add the buttermilk and mix until the dough begins to form. Dust the surface with flour and roll out the dough so that it is 1/2 in. thick. Using a circle cutter (a drinking glass will work too) cut out biscuits and place them on a baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the biscuits begin to brown.
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After the biscuits have been cooled, tear apart 3 biscuits into a baking dish and set aside until you are ready to use them.
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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar. Next, add the almond extract, cream, maple syrup and egg. Once the cream mixture is smooth, pour over the biscuits chunks and place them in the oven. Bake for about 35 minutes
(If the mixture seems runny, bake a little longer).
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While the bread pudding bakes, it’s time to prepare the whipped cream. Using the leftover heavy whipping cream, use a hand blender and whip. After taking the bread pudding out of the oven, let it cool for five minutes and top with whipped cream.
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*This recipe can be made with leftover frozen biscuits.