Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fruit Salads

Last October (wow, almost a year ago! Time flies!), we had posted a blog of salads with fruit. This time we're dedicating a post to salads that are completely made of fruit.

The first salad is one that I found about three years ago. I was asked to bring a fruit salad to a get together with my husband's family. I wanted to do something a little different. I found a lovely recipe that had very few ingredients. It also called for marmalade jam which closed the deal for me. I had some marmalade in my fridge that I wanted to use up. I like (but don't love) marmalade jam on toast and it probably would have taken me over a year to eat that jam on toast. The jam is perfect in this salad. It sweetens things perfectly and complements the flavors perfectly.

The second salad is a salad that my friend, Krissy, came up with herself. If I remember correctly, she received news that they would be having unexpected guests for dinner, so she put together a salad with the ingredients she had on hand. To coat the fruit, she used a mixture of whipped cream and key lime juice. Don't use regular lime juice on this one. Key lime juice is a must--it adds just the right flavor. The other great thing about using lime juice is the citric acid keeps the pears and apples from turning brown.

I already shared one of my favorite fruit salads earlier this year: Mixed Berry Salad with Mint.

So, with summer quickly waning, make a fruit salad--before it becomes too expensive to do so!

Strawberry-Orange Marmalade Salad


4 navel oranges
2 pints strawberries
1/3 cup orange marmalade
2 tablespoons lemon juice


Using a sharp, serrated knife, cut off and discard ends from oranges. Following the curve of the fruit, cut off peel and outer membrane. Slice oranges crosswise into 1/8 inch thick rounds (see note below).

Hull and slice strawberries; add to oranges.

In a small bowl, stir together marmalade and lemon juice. Add to fruit and mix gently to coat.

8 servings.

Nutrition information: 89 calories, 0.4 g fat, 3.8 g fiber.

Source: I found this recipe on

Notes: Rather than going for a round shape for the fruit, I opted to keep the shape of the orange segments. You must follow the peeling method noted in the recipe. This recipe works so much better when it has less pith attached to the oranges.

So, cut off both ends of the oranges (so that it could stand without rolling on its top or bottom). Then, using your knife, cut the peel off of the oranges to remove the pith and expose the fruit. Once the orange is peeled, use your knife to cut the orange into segments. Once the orange is cut into segments, there will still be some pith and a little fruit remaining. Squeeze the remaining pith/fruit so that the juice will be added to the salad.

Then, hull the strawberries and cut them into quarters. Stir oranges, strawberries, marmalade, and lemon juice all together.

And as usual, I had quite a crowd to feed, so I actually tripled this recipe.

Krissy's Lime Spiked Fruit Salad with Real Whipped Cream


3 ripe pears, chopped
3 small apples (such as Empire), chopped
2 mangoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1/4 cup Key lime juice
2 1/2 tbsp. sugar, divided
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract


Put small metal bowl and beaters in freezer.

Combine fruit in a large bowl.

In a separate small bowl, combine lime juice and 2 tbsp. sugar. Mix together until sugar dissolves. Toss the fruit and lime juice together.

Take metal bowl from freezer. Add whipping cream, 1/2 tbsp. sugar, and vanilla. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Add to salad, and mix.

Source: Again, this came from my lovely friend, Krissy. And it was awesome!

Notes: I didn't have whipping cream on hand...but I did have canned/spray-able whipped cream, so I used that. As a result, I omitted the sugar (since it was sweetened whipped cream). I would suggest gently folding the whipped cream into the fruit so that it doesn't deflate the whipped cream (as mine did! I mixed a little too vigorously! But it was still delicious!). I think my whipped cream didn't really stay whipped because I used canned whipped cream which tends to revert to its liquid state a lot more quickly than homemade whipped cream. But oh well! I didn't have whipped cream on hand, so what can you do? It still tasted great!

If you wanted to have a fluffy fruit salad, but save some calories, you could substitute lite Cool Whip for the whipped cream.

Also, Krissy mentioned that any of your favorite fruits would work well with this salad. Blueberries, pineapple, strawberries, grapes, etc. You name it! Get creative and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Guess the Ingredient

From time to time, my Mom and I like to choose recipes that call for surprise ingredients and then see if anyone can guess what the mystery ingredient is.

We already have a few such recipes on our blog. Though, when you are serving these, you might not want to tell anyone what the recipes are called, because in most cases, the title gives away the secret ingredient. I'm also surprised that we don't have more "guess the ingredient" recipes on our blog. I will have to remedy that situation in the future!

Here are the existing "guess the ingredient" recipes (again, don't divulge the title too soon! Make them guess the ingredient first! Or at least try to guess it!), to refresh your memory:
I'll have to dig up some more of these recipes. For instance, mashed potatoes are a surprisingly versatile food and they can successfully sneak into a lot of foods. My Mom made a wonderful peppermint patty-ish recipe once that used mashed potatoes that was fantastic. Mashed potatoes are also used to make an Italian pasta called "gnocchi." My sister included a gnocchi recipe on our blog this year. However, I didn't include it in the "guess the ingredient" category because to anyone who is familiar with Italian food, they will know that potatoes are the main ingredient in gnocchi.

My Mom also made a very yummy fudge that was made with black beans a few years ago. If my memory serves me, she also made another candy (a type of candy bark) with saltine crackers. We'll have to try and hunt down those recipes and post them later.

However, today I'm going to share a beef stew recipe that uses grape jelly! Who knew? It adds an amazing flavor to the stew. It is a very easy and basic stew, but the grape jelly takes it to another level so the taste has more depth. Unless you tell, no one will ever guess that this stew has grape jelly in it!

Above: Jammin Beef Stew in my slow cooker--with clean up made a lot easier thanks to the plastic slow cooker liner. I can't live without those! Oh, and I apologize for the presentation of the stew in the picture at the top of this post. I didn't think to take a picture until after we had eaten. So, what you see is the portions I served up in plastic containers for my husband to take to work with him for lunch the next two days.

Jammin Beef Stew


No-stick cooking spray
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, plus additional, to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus additional, to taste
1 cup chopped yellow onions
3 carrots, cleaned and sliced on a diagonal
2 bay leaves (optional)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup Concord Grape Jam/Jelly
1 (14.5 oz) can beef broth or water
6 new potatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (which I forgot to add, as usual)


Stove Top Method:

spray a 4 1/2 quart Dutch oven with no-stick spray.

Place meat in pot. Combine flour, salt, and pepper. Toss with meat to coat evenly. Add onions, carrots, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, grape jam, broth or water. Mix to combine ingredients.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add potatoes, simmering 30 minutes more or until meat and potatoes are fork-tender. Remove bay leaves. Add chopped parsley, stirring to combine gravy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Slow Cooker Method:

Spray slow cooker with no-stick spray or use slow cooker liner.

Place meat in cooker. Combine flour, salt, and pepper. Toss with meat to coat evenly. Add onions, carrots, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, grape jam, broth or water, and potatoes. Mix to combine ingredients.

Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours (or on high for 5-6 hours) or until meat is fork-tender. Remove bay leaves. Add chopped parsley, stirring to combine gravy. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Source: I found this recipe on the Allrecipes website. It was submitted by Smucker's (as in the folks who make jams and jellies).

Notes: I increased the beef stew meat to 3 pounds. I also used more potatoes. I used baby carrots rather than peeling and slicing whole carrots. Since I had increased the other ingredients, I also used 1 cup grape jelly and two cans of beef broth. My slow cooker was packed full to the brim. I checked it at about 3 p.m. and the potatoes and beef weren't very tender, so I increased the heat to high heat for the last two and a half hours of cooking. It did the trick and the potatoes and beef were fork tender. Seasoning with salt and pepper to your taste is very important. Don't skip that step at the end.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Recipes From the Past: Italian Recipes from the Old Country, circa 1950's

My mom had some cookbooks that she was going to throw out when we moved out of the house we all grew up in (nearly ten years ago). She gave away a lot of the books, but before she did, I sifted through them and kept some for myself.

One of the books I kept is so old that it is missing the cover. I kept three that were pretty similar, so after comparing the books and a little online research, I am pretty sure that these recipes came out of The Culinary Arts Institute's "The Italian Cookbook" published in 1955.

My Dad served his mission in Italy in the 70's. According to him, the tomato meat sauce that I am sharing here tastes the closest to what he ate while he was in Italy on his mission. As a result, this sauce was always one of his favorites. From this same cookbook, you will find a fantastic recipe for chicken cacciatore that became one of my Mom's favorites.

I can't wait to explore this cookbook more. I don't know why I haven't tried sooner. The recipes really are fantastic and very authentic. They take a little more time (oh wait, that's why I haven't delved into this book more), but believe me, these recipes are worth a little more time and effort.

Oh, and don't leave too soon because I included some bonus recipes below the two recipes pictured in this post. Buon Italia!

Dad's Favorite Spaghetti Sauce aka Tomato Meat Sauce (Salsa di Carne al Pomodoro)


1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup (about 1 medium-size) chopped onion
1/2 lb. beef chuck
1/2 lb. pork shoulder
7 cups canned tomatoes, sieved (basically, two 28 oz cans of whole peeled tomatoes mixed in a blender until smooth)
1 Tbsp. salt
1 bay leaf
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 (6 oz.) can Italian seasoned tomato paste
1/2 cup water, if necessary


In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until softened and lightly browned. Add the beef chuck and pork shoulder to the skillet and cook, turning occasionally until browned. Add the canned tomatoes, salt, and bay leaf. Cover the saucepan and simmer over very low heat for about 2 1/2 hours. After the mixture has simmered for 2 1/2 hours, add the two cans of tomato paste. Simmer uncovered over very low heat, stirring occasionally, about two hours or until thickened. If sauce becomes too thick, add 1/2 cup of water. Remove the meat and bay leaf from the sauce. Serve over cooked spaghetti.

Makes about 4 cups of sauce.

Source: As mentioned above, I believe this came from the Culinary Arts Institute's "The Italian Cookbook" published in 1955.

Notes: The pork and beef that you will be removing from the sauce adds a wonderful flavor. But, it is actually delicious on its own too. My Dad loved to eat it on the side of his pasta. You could even cut up or shred the meat and keep it in the sauce if you like.

My burner doesn't have the capacity to "simmer over very low heat" as the recipe mentions. My burner burns hotter than the surface of the sun even when it's on low heat. There's a very low heat option that does this annoying flick on and flick off of the burner flame that is quite noisy. But for some reason, it wasn't working the night I made this and when I tried to put it on the lowest heat setting, the burner just turned off completely. As a result, my "simmering" was pretty much a low a lot of the liquid in my sauce evaporated. I added an additional 28 oz can of tomatoes to the sauce to make up for it.

Sauce variations listed in the cookbook:

Tomato Sauce with Ground Meat (Salsa di pomodoro e Carne Macinata)

Follow the base recipe. Brown 1/2 lb. ground beef in 3 tablespoons olive oil, breaking beef into small pieces with fork or spoon. After removing meat from sauce, add ground meat and simmer 10 minutes longer.

Tomato Sauce with Mushrooms (Salsa di Pomodoro e Funghi)

Follow the base recipe. Clean and slice 1/2 lb. mushrooms. Cook slowly in 3 tablespoons melted butter until lightly browned. After removing meat from sauce, add mushrooms and cook 10 minutes longer.

Tomato Sauce with Sausage (Salsa di Pomodoro e Salsiccia)

Follow the base recipe. Brown about 1/2 lb. Italian sausage (cut into 2 inch pieces, or crumbled, if you prefer) in 1 tablespoon olive oil. After removing meat from sauce, add sausage and simmer 10 minutes longer.

Mom's Favorite Chicken Cacciatore (Pollo alla Cacciatora)


1/2 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 frying chicken, 2-3 lbs.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs, well beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3 1/2 cups tomatoes, sieved (or one 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes mixed in a blender until smooth)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 small onion, optional
1/2 lb. mushrooms (whole or sliced), optional
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine, optional
1 green bell pepper, sliced, optional


Prepare and coat chicken as follows:

Disjoint and cut chicken into serving-size pieces. Rinse and pat dry with paper towel (called "absorbent paper" in the recipe! I guess they hadn't coined the phrase "paper towel" yet.). To coat chicken evenly, shake 2 or 3 pieces at a time in a plastic bag containing a mixture of the flour, salt, and black pepper. Combine the beaten eggs, milk, and chopped parsley.

Heat olive oil and garlic in a heavy skillet until garlic is lightly browned.

When oil is ready, dip each piece of coated chicken into the egg mixture. Then, roll the chicken pieces in the grated Parmesan cheese.

Starting with meaty pieces of chicken, place them skin-side down in the skillet containing oil and garlic. Add less meaty pieces of chicken as others brown. To brown all sides, turn as necessary with tongs or two spoons.

While chicken is browning, combine tomatoes, salt, oregano, and pepper. Slowly add tomato mixture to browned chicken with the chopped parsley.

Clean and thinly slice 1 small onion, 1/2 lb. mushrooms, and green pepper, if using. (Note: if you are using the green pepper, you can omit the onion, if you like) Cook in 3 tablespoons butter or margarine in a skillet until onion and mushrooms are lightly browned. Add to browned chicken with tomato mixture.

Cook slowly 25-30 minutes, or until thickest pieces of chicken are tender when pierced with a fork. If mixture tends to become too thick, add a small amount of water.

Source: Again, as mentioned, I'm pretty positive that this is from The Culinary Arts Institute's "The Italian Cookbook" published in 1955.

Notes: Serve the sauce over your favorite pasta (that would be spaghetti for me!). I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts rather than cutting up a fryer chicken. I think it would have been crispier chicken if it still had the skin on it, but I saved a few calories this way and it was a lot faster and easier too. I also included a little more chopped parsley in the flour mixture I used for coating because the parsley in the egg mixture wasn't really staying on the chicken.

Also, my garlic cloves were small, so I decided to use four cloves instead of two. It was soooo yummy, but I'll be honest with you, I had garlic dragon breath for the rest of the night (despite brushing my teeth and using mouthwash). But it was so delicious, it was worth it. So, increase the garlic at your own risk!

For Chicken Cacciatore, Naples Style (the most basic version of cacciatore), you omit the mushrooms, onions, and green peppers. My Mom used to add the mushrooms, but not the green peppers, so it wasn't until years later that I realized that most chicken cacciatore recipes called for green peppers. So, I don't really associate green peppers with cacciatore and as a result, I did not make mine with green peppers this time around either.

Oh, and as always, I doubled the flour mixture to coat my chicken.

Also, let me tell you about my oops moment. The recipes in this cookbook are set out a lot differently than how we write out our recipes today. They have directions, followed by a few ingredients, then more directions, and more ingredients, etc.. For the section about frying the chicken, it referred me to a completely separate recipe. So, I missed the part where you coat the chicken in flour and THEN dip it in the egg mixture, and I missed the dipping in Parmesan cheese section altogether. I instinctively followed the current traditional breading procedures in use today--namely, I dipped the chicken in the egg mixture and then coated it in the flour mixture before placing it in the oil to brown. I think the chicken would have been a little crispier had I followed the original instructions, but it still tasted great.

Now, drum roll please...

Bonus recipe!

Marinara Sauce

(Pictured above on top of our Meaty Calzones)


1/2 cup olive oil
2 medium-size cloves garlic, sliced
3 1/2 cups canned tomatoes, sieved (one 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes mixed in a blender until smooth)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon chopped parsley
1/8 teaspoon pepper


Heat olive oil in a large skillet and cook sliced garlic until browned. Mix tomatoes, salt, oregano, chopped parsley, and pepper. Add tomato mixture slowly, stirring constantly.

Cook rapidly uncovered for about 15 minutes or until thickened. Stir occasionally.

If sauce becomes too thick, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water. Serve hot over cooked spaghetti or linguine.

Source: Same as the others!

Notes: I decided to share this lovely recipe because it is just as yummy and authentic, but you'll notice that it's about ten times quicker and easier than the others! You could add sauteed mushrooms, browned beef or sausage, or your favorite meatballs to this sauce too, if you wanted!

You could easily reduce the olive oil to 1/4 cup to save yourself some calories without skimping on flavor.

Wait? There's more? Another drum roll please!...

Bonus dessert recipe!

Enjoy it for me! I love Spumoni, but sadly, due to my son's tree nut allergy, I won't be making recipes that call for tree nuts for a long, long time. I'll have to wait until he goes off to camp for boy scouts to indulge myself! Considering the fact that he's currently only 2 1/2 years old, I have a long time to wait. I'll just have to take care of my nut cravings when I'm out on dates with my husband (oh wait, with two little ones, we don't get out when am I going to have nuts? Boo hoo!).

This is a tried and true recipe, however. My grandma used to make it and according to my Mom, it is fantastic. However, the recipe states that it is "surprisingly easy" to make. After reading through this recipe, I would say this is anything but surprisingly easy to make. Not many people (if any) had access to ice cream makers back in the 50's, so making ice cream was much more labor intensive.

So, I'm going to share an updated version of the recipe that I created that works more for us today. Additionally, according to my grandma's notes, she always tripled the recipe, so for the original recipe, I will keep the original amounts and for the updated recipe, I will triple it.

Also, the historical note from the recipe is interesting...if not quite idyllic. It's sad to think of rich Romans sending their slaves up the mountain for snow so that they could have their frozen treats. I guess we can thank the service of countless unnamed individuals for the legacy they left us. Because of them, we can enjoy all of our frozen favorites that we snack on today. I hope they at least got to sneak some in the kitchen before serving it to their masters!


Frozen desserts date back to the days of ancient Rome when they were frozen with snow and ice brought down from the mountains by slaves. For centuries, Italians have been masters of the art of making frozen desserts--including ices, frozen custards, and fancy, molded ice creams, all said to have originated in Italy.

Multi-colored and multi-flavored Spumoni is one of the most popular Italian ice creams. Usually prepared commercially, here is a surprisingly easy Spumone to delight your family and entice your friends.


1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1/2 sq. (1/2 oz.) chocolate
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons rum extract
1/2 cup chilled whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/8 teaspoon pistachio extract
Green food coloring
1 maraschino cherry, drained and chilled
1/2 cup chilled whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
6 unblanched almonds, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon almond extract


Chill a bowl, beaters, and mold in the freezer.

On low heat (or in double boiler), scald milk and then stir in 1/2 cup sugar and salt.

Vigorously stir about 3 Tbsp. of hot mixture into the 3 slightly beaten egg yolks. Immediately blend into milk mixture. Cook over low heat (or over simmering water in double boiler), stirring constantly, about 5 minutes, or until mixture coats a silver spoon. Remove from heat and cool.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate and set aside.

Stir heavy whipping cream into egg mixture. Divide mixture equally into two bowls.

Chocolate Layer (first step):

Add melted chocolate to mixture in one bowl, mixing thoroughly. Place in the refrigerator (this will be used again towards the end).

Rum Layer:

Add rum extract to milk mixture in remaining bowl, mixing well. Freeze until just mushy.

Once the milk/rum mixture is mushy, pour it into the chilled bowl and beat with chilled beater until mixture is smooth and creamy. Spoon into chilled mold and freeze until firm.

Pistachio Layer:

Beat 1/2 cup chilled whipping cream in a chilled bowl with a chilled beater until cream stands in peaks when beater is slowly lifted upright. Fold or beat sugar and pistachio extract into whipped cream with final few strokes until well blended. To tint whipped cream desired color, fold in green food coloring, a drop at a time (about 2 drops total). Spoon whipped cream mixture over FIRM rum ice cream. Return mold to freezer. When pistachio cream becomes firm, place the maraschino cherry on top of the cream in the center. Return to the freezer.

Almond Layer:

Beat 1/2 cup chilled whipping cream in a chilled bowl with a chilled beater until cream stands in peaks when beater is slowly lifted upright. Fold or beat the sugar, finely chopped almonds, and almond extract into the whipped cream.

Spoon whipped cream mixture over FIRM pistachio cream. Return mold to freezer.

Chocolate Layer (second and final step):

When almond cream is firm, place the chocolate ice cream mixture into the freezer. Freeze until mushy. Turn into a chilled bowl and beat with a chilled beater until mixture is smooth and creamy. Spoon mixture over FIRM almond whipped cream. Cover mold with waxed paper.

Return to freezer and freeze for 6-8 hours, or until Spumone is very firm.

to remove the mold, quickly dip the mold into warm water.

Makes 6-8 wedge-shaped servings.

Source: Same as the others!

Notes: Holy cannoli! I can't believe my grandma used to go to the trouble to make this! And wouldn't it super stink at the end if the ice cream didn't come out of the mold right?

It's fun to read this recipe though because a lot of terms have changed (I edited it to make it easier to follow in today's world). The recipe talks about setting your refrigerator control for a colder operating temperature in order to chill your bowl and beaters. It also calls the freezer the "freezing compartment" among other things.

Can you imagine what a pain this recipe would have been to make in 1955? Let alone 55 A.D.? Why did anyone go to the trouble? And did anyone have time to make dinner after spending the whole day making spumoni ice cream?

Thank goodness for ice cream makers!

Also, what's up with the single maraschino cherry smack dab in the middle of the whole thing? According to the picture in the cookbook, if you slice it just right when you serve it, you will daintily cut into the maraschino cherry and each diner will get a lovely sliver of cherry in their ice cream. But more likely, one lucky chap got the whole cherry in his piece because what are the chances that you'll cut the ice cream mold just right so everyone gets a piece of cherry?

Above: I wonder how many spumoni molds they had to cut through to get this picture.

If you want the cherries in your ice cream, you can chop up some maraschino cherries and incorporate them into either the rum or the pistachio layers of ice cream.

Below, you will find my updated version of this recipe. Forget the mold and the chilled bowl and beaters. However, even with the updated version of the recipe, it's pretty time-consuming because you are basically making four different flavors of ice cream that you are going to put together in the end. So, unless you have four ice cream makers, you're going to have to make the ice cream in batches. But at least it's much less labor-intensive than the original recipe!

You could even combine the chocolate and rum flavors into one chocolate rum flavor and have three kinds of ice cream instead of four. That would work pretty well flavor-wise. Or, you could choose your favorites and only make three flavors of ice cream. So, if rum isn't your thing...skip it. Or, if you're not in the mood for almonds, don't make that layer. Many versions of spumoni use strawberries. You could use strawberries in place of the maraschino cherries or as a replacement for the rum or almond layers. It's up to you! Have fun with it and get creative.

Or, you could make it over the course of a few days. You could make one or two layers/flavors a day rather than doing it all in one day. But you can see more for yourself in the updated recipe below.

Spumoni Ice Cream--Updated Version


Base Ice Cream Recipe (used for the chocolate and rum layers/flavors):

3 cups milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
9 egg yolks, slightly beaten
3 cups heavy whipping cream

Chocolate Ice Cream:

1 1/2 oz. chocolate

Rum Ice Cream:

5 tsp. rum extract (or to taste--1 to 2 tsp. is probably plenty)
1/2 cup Maraschino cherries, drained and chopped, optional
Red food coloring, optional

Pistachio Ice Cream:

1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
3 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. pistachio extract
Green food coloring

Almond Ice Cream:

1 1/2 cups whipping cream
3 Tbsp. sugar
6 unblanched almonds, finely chopped
1/2 to 1 tsp. almond extract (1/2 tsp or 1 tsp. depending on your taste)


Scald milk over low heat or in a double boiler. Stir in 1 1/2 cups sugar and salt.

Vigorously stir about 1/2 cup of the hot mixture into the 9 slightly beaten egg yolks. Immediately blend the egg mixture into the milk mixture in the pan or double boiler. Cook over low heat (or simmering water, if using double boiler), stirring constantly, about 5 minutes, or until mixture coats a silver spoon. Remove from heat and cool.

Meanwhile, melt chocolate and set aside.

Once the milk/egg mixture is cooled, stir in 3 cups heavy whipping cream. Divide this mixture evenly between two bowls.

Chocolate Ice Cream:

Add the melted chocolate to the mixture in one of the bowls and mix thoroughly. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Once finished, place ice cream in a freezer safe container and put in the freezer to set up. Wash the ice cream maker's canister to get it ready for the next round!

Rum/Maraschino Ice Cream:

While the chocolate ice cream is in the ice cream maker, mix the rum extract into the milk/egg mixture in the other bowl. Place in the refrigerator until your chocolate ice cream is finished. Once the chocolate ice cream is setting up in the freezer, stir the maraschino cherries into the rum/milk mixture, if you are using them (Note: if you prefer, you can mix the maraschino cherries into the pistachio ice cream mixture instead of the rum mixture). Add the red food coloring at this time, if you are using it. It is completely optional.

Freeze in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Once finished, place ice cream in a freezer safe container and put in the freezer to set up. (Note: if you want to do your Spumoni in layers and the chocolate layer is already firm enough, you could spoon the rum layer directly over the chocolate layer and put it back in the freezer to set up.) Wash the ice cream maker's canister to get it ready for round three!

Pistachio Ice Cream:

While the Rum/Maraschino ice cream is in the ice cream maker, stir 1 1/2 cups whipping cream, 3 Tbsp. sugar, pistachio extract, and desired amount of green food coloring together in a bowl until well-blended. Place in the refrigerator until your rum/Maraschino ice cream is finished. Once the rum ice cream is setting up in the freezer, freeze the pistachio ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Once finished, place ice cream in a freezer safe container and put in the freezer to set up. (Note: Again, if you want to do your Spumoni in layers and the rum layer is already firm enough, you could spoon the pistachio layer directly over the rum layer and put it back in the freezer to set up.) Wash the ice cream maker's canister to get it ready for the fourth and final round!

Almond Ice Cream:

While the pistachio ice cream is in the ice cream maker, stir 1 1/2 cups whipping cream, 3 Tbsp. sugar, finely chopped almonds, and almond extract together in a bowl until well-blended. Place in the refrigerator until your pistachio ice cream is finished. Once the pistachio ice cream is setting up in the freezer, freeze the almond ice cream in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Once finished, place ice cream in a freezer safe container and put in the freezer to set up. (Note: Yet again, if you want to do your Spumoni in layers and the pistachio layer is already firm enough, you could spoon the almond layer directly over the pistachio layer and put it back in the freezer to set up.)

Get your husband to wash the ice cream maker's canister because you've already done it a ton of times!

Options for putting it together:

  1. Layered: As noted in the recipe, if the previously made layer of ice cream is already firm enough, you can spoon and freeze the next layer of ice cream directly on top of it. This would work great if you made each batch of ice cream over the course of a few days. For instance, you could make the chocolate layer on Tuesday. Then, you could make the rum layer on Wednesday. The chocolate layer would be frozen firm, so you could spoon the rum layer right on top of it and put it back in the freezer. Then, you could make the pistachio layer on Thursday and spoon it right on top of the rum layer and freeze it again. Finally, you could finish with the almond layer on Friday. you could spoon the almond layer right over the pistachio layer and pop it back in the freezer. Then you could enjoy your beautifully layered spumoni ice cream on Saturday or Sunday!
  2. Layered: If you are making this all in one day, once each flavor of ice cream is somewhat set up (but not frozen too hard because you will need to spoon it out of one container into another. To do so, it will need to be soft enough to be spreadable), you can alternately layer each flavor of ice cream in a freezer safe container and freeze until completely set and ready to serve. Then, when you scoop the ice cream out, you will have nice chocolate, rum, pistachio, and almond layers.
  3. Swirled: Once each flavor of ice cream is somewhat set up (but not frozen too hard as explained in the option above), you can gently swirl the different flavors of ice cream together with a spoon in a freezer safe container and freeze until completely set and ready to serve. The ice cream will be a swirl of brown, white, green, and pink (if you decide to use red food coloring). Then, when you scoop the ice cream out, each spoonful will be a surprise. You never know what flavors each spoonful will hold.
  4. Separated: Simply, you can keep all four flavors of ice cream frozen separately in separate containers. When you are ready to serve your spumoni, you can offer each person one small scoop of each kind of ice cream in their bowls.
Notes: So, yeah, maybe there's really no easy way to make this kind of ice cream! Go and buy yourself some or enjoy some after your meal at The Old Spaghetti Factory! Maybe someday when my son is off to college or if they ever come up with a cure for tree nut allergies, I'll make this decadent and delicious ice cream! Oh! I miss nuts!


Above: This picture of spumoni ice cream from The Old Spaghetti Factory was found on a blog that featured a review of the restaurant. You can read the full review here. But it looks like The Old Spaghetti Factory layers their spumoni ice cream so that when it is scooped, the different layers are visible.

Friday, September 9, 2011

I Looked Out the Window and What Did I See?...

Popcorn balls! Now that you all have that song stuck in your minds (if you don't know what song, I am referring to "Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree"), I thought I would share the easiest, tastiest, chewiest recipe for popcorn balls ever.

The really fun thing about these popcorn balls is that you can change up the candy you use to fit a theme. For instance, you can use red and green plain M&M's and give out the popcorn balls as Christmas gifts. Or, you can add jelly beans to them for your kids' Easter baskets. Or candy corn for a Halloween or Thanksgiving treat. Or gummy hearts or cinnamon bears for Valentine's Day. Perhaps some red, white, and blue candies for a patriotic holiday? Green candies for St. Patrick's Day. Colorful sprinkles for a birthday party favor. Get creative and have fun!

Mom's Popcorn Balls


Approximately 12 cups of popped popcorn (plain--no butter or salt added)
1 stick margarine or butter
2 pkgs. (10 1/2 oz) mini marshmallows
Candy, optional (some great choices are plain M&M's, Reese's Pieces, candy corn, gummy bears, jelly beans, etc.)


Melt together margarine/butter and marshmallows. Melt over low heat. Stir constantly. Pour over popcorn. Wet your hands (to avoid getting popcorn and marshmallow stuck to you) and mix the marshmallows and popcorn until it is all evenly coated. Add candy of choice and mix until the candy is evenly distributed. Form into 16 balls. Wrap in plastic wrap.

Source: This is a recipe my mom has been making for years. I'm not sure where she got it from.

Notes: I find it easiest to mix together the popcorn and marshmallows prior to adding the candy. This is especially important if you are using chocolate candy because the warm marshmallow can melt the candy if it is added too soon. So, if you are adding something like M&M's, mix the marshmallow and popcorn together and let it cool a little before adding the M&M's. Then you can mix those in and form your popcorn balls.

It's fun to get creative on the types of candy you use for these popcorn balls. But these popcorn balls are also fantastic without any candy added in. So, do what works for you! I personally like to use chewier candy--rather than using, say, peanut M&M's because chewy candy matches the texture of the popcorn balls. But maybe you like to mix up your textures and have a little crunch with your chewy popcorn. It's up to you!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mamma mia, here I go my, how can I resist you?

What can't I resist? Pasta. Yes, here I go again...with more pasta recipes. I just can't get enough of it!

The first recipe is an old favorite that I discovered probably about 4 years ago. Fast, easy, light, and refreshing.

The second recipe is a discovery that we made this year. Again, it is a very summery dish.

So, relax and enjoy a bowl of pasta for dinner tonight!

Pasta with Prosciutto and Peas


Cooking spray
3 ounces very thin slices prosciutto, chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
6 cups hot cooked fusilli (about 12 ounces uncooked short twisted spaghetti)
1 cup (4 ounces) shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (10 ounce) package frozen peas, cooked and drained


Heat a large nonstick skillet or medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add prosciutto; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from pan. Add oil and garlic to pan; cook 1 minute or until garlic begins to brown. Combine prosciutto, oil mixture, pasta, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; toss to coat.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

Nutrition information: 312 calories, 10.6 g fat, 14.9 g protein, 37.8 g carb, 1.2 g fiber, 16 mg chol, 2.7 mg iron, 554 mg sodium, 189 mg calc.

Notes: I love, love, LOVE this pasta. It is so good. First tip, I think it's easier to tear the prosciutto and place it directly in the pan because prosciutto tends to stick together and since there is only 3 oz of prosciutto in this recipe, it is best if it is separated so that it can be incorporated throughout all of the pasta...instead of just in clumps here and there. I had to brown my prosciutto in 3 batches to avoid it sticking together. But even so, this meal takes no longer to make than the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta--so about 15-20 minutes. You could also increase the prosciutto if you wanted to. It is very low in calories and it is very yummy.

I have used fresh and bottled garlic in this recipe before. Either way, it tastes great. I used bottled garlic this time because I made this while my son was harnessed to me in our Baby Bjorn! It's not easy to cut garlic with a 20 lb. baby strapped to your chest.

I used shredded Parmesan cheese to save time and money. It was still yummy.

Finally, this is one recipe where you CANNOT forget the parsley! It is one of the main ingredients! I don't usually love the flavor of parsley, but in this recipe, it really shines. It is definitely a stand out ingredient here. The combination of parsley, prosciutto, peas, and lemon juice works together so well.

Cajun Pasta Fresca


1 pound vermicelli pasta (spaghetti)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
13 Roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese


Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

While the pasta water is boiling, in a large skillet over medium heat, briefly saute garlic in oil. Stir in tomatoes and their juice and sprinkle with salt. When tomatoes are bubbly, mash slightly with a fork. Stir in parsley, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes more.

Toss hot pasta with tomato sauce, Cajun seasoning, mozzarella, and Parmesan.

Source:, submitted by Nicole.

Notes: I would suggest adding the Cajun seasoning to taste. Personally, I don't think 1 tablespoon of seasoning is enough. But taste as you go, because there's nothing worse than over-seasoned food--especially when it has too much Cajun seasoning! I once made a Cajun Tilapia of Death because I added to much seasoning and the result was irreparable.

Roll it, Tuck it, Wrap it, Fold it

Here are two chicken dishes that are encased in their own breaded blankets. Nicely tucked in. Very compact and oh so yummy. No need to serve rolls because the main course is served inside a roll!

Herbed Chicken in Pastry


1/2 of a 17.3 ounce package of Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
Ground black pepper (optional)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons butter
1 container (4 ounces) garlic and herb spreadable cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


Heat the oven to 400°F . Beat the egg and water in a small bowl with a fork or whisk.

Season the chicken with the black pepper, if desired. Heat the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until it's well browned on both sides. Remove the chicken to a plate. Cover the plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes or up to 24 hours.

Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry sheet into a 14 inch square. Cut into 4 (7 inch) squares.

Spread about 2 tablespoons cheese spread in the center of each pastry square. Top each with 1 tablespoon parsley and 1 chicken breast. Brush the edges of the pastry squares with the egg mixture. Fold the corners of the pastry squares to the center over the chicken and press to seal. Place the filled pastries seam-side down onto a baking sheet. Brush the pastries with the egg mixture.

Bake for 25 minutes or until the pastries are golden brown. Let the pastries cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.

Source: (obviously a Pepperidge Farm recipe).

Notes: As usual, I forgot the parsley. It doesn't make much of a difference. Parsley isn't a super strong tasting herb. So, it was just fine without it.

Chicken Crescents


1 1/4 cups diced chicken
Chives, to taste
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1/3 cup Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoning
Saved broth from the poached chicken (or 1 can canned chicken broth)
1 (3 oz) pkg. cream cheese
1/3 cup canned mushrooms (stems and pieces)
1/4 cup pecans, chopped (optional)
Pillsbury Crescent Rolls--1 tube
1 can cream of chicken soup


Chicken breasts or whole chicken can be used. If whole chicken is used, you will get 2 1/2 to 3 times the required amount of chicken.

Boil chicken in a saucepan filled with water until very tender--save broth.

Strip chicken from bones, and dice or pull into pieces. Mix chicken with cream cheese, chives, salt, pepper, and mushrooms.

Put 1 tablespoon of chicken mix on each roll, pinch corners. Dip in milk and butter, then roll in Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoning and then pecans.

Place on cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until crescents are nicely browned.

Make gravy from chicken broth and cream of chicken soup. Serve over crescents or on the side.

Source: This is one of Carol Todd's recipes from one of our old ward cookbooks.

Notes: I doubled this recipe. It made a ton of chicken filling--more than I could successfully fit into the Pillsbury Crescent Rolls. So, rather than using 1 crescent apiece, I kept 2 crescents together for each chicken packet (so that it formed a square rather than a triangle) and folded the dough over the chicken filling.

Even so, I still had a ton of filling left over. I decided to mix the remainder of the filling into the gravy so that I had chicken, mushrooms, and chives inside the crescents and out.

I also excluded the pecans since my son is allergic to tree nuts (Why oh why? I miss nuts soooo much!).

But even without the nuts, this was a fantastic recipe. That Carol Todd knows how to cook!

Oh, and as for the Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoning, I wasn't exactly sure what that meant. So, I used Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned Stuffing and I crushed it into a bread crumb texture and rolled the crescent packets in that.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Crock Pot Sticky Chicken: how has this never been blogged about?

Every family has their go-to recipes. You know, the kind that whenever you can't think of something to make or don't want to look for new recipes you know you can fall back on. The kind of recipe that doesn't require much work, preparation, or ingredients. The kind of recipe you can never get sick of. And most importantly: the kind of recipe that is a crowd pleaser! Well, enter Crock Pot Sticky Chicken. I feel like this is a staple in all the Foodie Family households. I could be mistaken, but I didn't notice it on our blog! I was shocked! How could we have let this happen?

Let me tell you a few more things I like about this recipe. First of all, it's super cheap! You can buy a whole bird for around a dollar a pound. And if you have a well stocked pantry, that is basically all you need. So, if you buy a 6 pound bird, you serve about 6 people for only a dollar per person! Beat that! If you have a lot of mouths to feed you won't find a better deal. And if there are only two of you, like in my household, even better! It makes for great leftovers! You can eat the chicken plain or use it in many, many other recipes similar to how you would use a rotisserie chicken. Only this has a little kick to it, so it's even tastier. My personal favorite is to make chicken noodle soup. All you do is add broth, veggies and noodles and it is so so tasty. Maybe I'll blog about that come soup season. ( I can't wait!!!)

Anyway... without further ado...

Crock Pot Sticky Chicken


4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 large roasting chicken


In a small bowl, thoroughly combine all the spices. Remove the giblets from the chicken and clean the cavity well. Pat dry with paper towels. Rub the spice mixture into the chicken, both inside and out, making sure it is evenly distributed and down deep into the skin.

Place the chicken into the slow cooker. Do not add any liquid. As the chicken cooks, it will produce its own juices. Cook on low 8-10 hours and it will be falling off the bone tender. You can brown the chicken in the oven, if desired. The drippings can be used to make gravy which can be served over mashed potatoes or rice.

Not sure of the source! Mom, do you know?