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My mom came for a visit over the Easter holiday, and Oliver hasn’t seen my mom since Christmas, so he was a little shy when he first saw her Saturday morning.  He warmed up really fast, and was saying Meme, giving big hugs and kisses. We facetime a few times a week,  but seeing someone in person is the real deal.  It’s really sweet whenever we have a guests staying with us.  Oliver runs to the guestroom when he wakes up and pushes the door open.  Like I’m up let’s play, come on, hop to it.  It’s very sweet, but luckily our guests are up and he’s not waking them, at least I think so.

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We normally go with the flow when we have visitors, and maybe plan a thing or two.  It just seems to work out better that way.  One thing we did plan was a brunch at our house.  Dino and Kevin came, and Kevin brought his new puppy Willa, who Oliver is in love with.  Big dog lover we have here.  It’s so sweet to hear him constantly giggling at the dog, pretty heart exploding moments.

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My mom and I did a few other things on our visit that I will talk about in my next post.  I really want to share all the things I made for the brunch.  But for now I want to talk about the this amazing ricotta cheese cake.  This is my godmother Joy’s recipe, which comes from her mother-in-law.  It is oh so delicious, light, fluffy and full of yummy cheese.  And I’m so sad to say but all the great photos I took of the cake were mistakenly deleted:((  Trust me this makes me sad because it’s such a beautiful cake.

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I’ve known my godmother for all my life.  She is my mothers best friend from high school and still is.  She is very much like a second mother, and even a third grandmother to Oliver.  The same goes for everyone in our family, my sister and brother.  We’ve all grown up together.  But something is always missing when we see each other now.  Three and half years ago Fred passed away, Joy’s husband, and my godfather.  I have so many countless memories of him.  So many summer nights spent at their house, running around in the yard chasing fire flies, swimming in the pool, so many bbq’s,  hide and seek, every single fourth of July, Christmas eve, birthdays, and my wedding.  The thing about Fred was he was so much fun, his laugh was contagious.  He was such a great cook, and you could tell he loved cooking when he was doing it, and by how good his food was.  You always hear people say when someone passes that “they lived life to the fullest”, and it might sound cliche but I can tell you Fred did.  He enjoyed life, he was fun to be with, and his laugh, you can still hear it.  He is missed and will always be missed.  I’m sad that he didn’t get to meet Oliver, he would’ve had a blast with him. He was a lover of kids, and all around people person.  So making this cake made me think of him because this is his mothers recipe and my mom was here making it.  Yes, she was the one that actually made it, Oliver slept and I stuffed my face with hummus and pita chips and read her the recipe. It was perfect, the cake , the company, and the memories.

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Ingredients:

1 3/4 lb. ricotta cheese (room temp)

1 lb. cream cheese (room temp)

1 1/2 cups sugar

6 eggs (room temp)

6 Tbsp flour

1 pint sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla

cinnamon

 

Directions:

Preheat oven 350.  Beat together ricotta, cream cheese, and sugar.  Continue to beat adding one egg at a time. Add vanilla. Fold in sour cream and then flour.  Pour into greased and floured 10″ spring form pan. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.  Bake for one hour. When done turn off oven and let the cake sit for one hour in the oven.  When cake is cooled wrap in foil.  Place in frig and let it sit for 24 hours.  Eat the next day and enjoy!!!

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I’ve been wanting to post this cake recipe, but Oliver and I came down with the stomach flu, and then it got Jonathan a few days later, so needless to say the last thing I wanted to talk or write about was food.  It’s funny when I was sick and wasn’t taking care of Oliver, I would scroll through Instagram, or Facebook.  And I realized how many people post things about food, whether they made it, had it made for them, or just something they were craving.  But I couldn’t handle it, I wanted to barf on my iPad.  It made me understand how people can be over the food posts, and pics, I get it.

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But I have realized I may be a little obsessed with food.  While Oliver was sick we had lots of screen time, because we were both too sick to really do anything, so we both kinda laid around.  Jonathan came in the room to check on us, and Oliver was watching a video of he and his cousin over Christmas.  He loves watching these types of videos.  Anyway my sister and I were talking in the background about food, and Jonathan made a comment about how so many of our family videos I’m talking about food with someone else.  Is it just me, or do other people enjoy talking about it too?  Maybe I am a little too into food. I love going to new restaurants.  I love reading about food, no lie, if I’m not reading a book, I will lay in bed and read one of my cook books (my sister does the same thing).  I’m always ripping out recipes.  I love when family or friends come to visit, because that means I can cook to hearts delight for them.  I love reading other food blogs. So yeah, maybe I am a little obsessed but I guess there are worse things to be obsessed with.  I’m a food geek.

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For me, cooking, and baking is a release.  I feel like I’m doing something creative, I love working with my hands, and what I really love more then anything is to make something for someone else.  It’s the people pleaser in me.  I know not everything I make is 100% healthy.  But the way I look at it, I made it and I know exactly what I’m eating, and where it came from.   Everything in moderation.  I don’t deign myself anything, but I also don’t over do it.  It’s not a healthy way to live, to say “I never eat sweets, or I never eat carbs, or gluten” (unless you have celiac)  How boring.

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I made some homemade pizzas a few weeks ago when my in-laws were visiting, and had some leftover ricotta, because a certain almost two year old threw an extra tub in my cart.  Not the first time this has happened without me realizing it til I’d gotten home.  So I decided to make a ricotta-orange pound cake.  I was going to make my god mothers famous ricotta cheese cake, but I’m going to make it when my mom is here for Easter.  And that will be a post because that cake is to die for!!!  Both of these are a perfect cake for Easter dessert.  I was going to do a strawberry topping for this cake, but I’ll be honest.  It doesn’t need anything.  It tastes perfect on it’s own.  It’s light, has a ton of flavor, and is filling if that makes sense.

I’m hoping to do a homemade Easter candy post.  I’m trying to figure out what to make….any suggestions?  But here are a few Easter candy posts from the past…..the ever so famous cadbury creme egg, the peanut butter egg, or the peep. Enjoy!!!

 

recipe adapted from giada de laurentiis

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • zest of one orange (I used mandarin because they’re in season)
  • juice of orange
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350. Grease 9′ cake pan.  Beat butter until smooth and ribbon like.  Add sugar, and eggs one at a time once the sugar is incorporated.  Next add vanilla, juice and zest.  Then add ricotta.  Last add all your dry ingredients.  Bake for 50 minutes.  Let cake cool for about 20 minutes before flipping.  Once it has cooled down you can sprinkle on some powdered sugar or not.  Enjoy.

 

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Well I think the weather forecaster may have read my 80 degree taco post, because we’ve been having what some might call winter here.  Its been rainy and in the 60’s during the day, and 40-50’s at night.  So needless to say there has been some sweater wearing, jackets, and the heat is on.  In the past when it would rain Jonathan and I would go to breakfast in the morning, or I would make a pancake breakfast, and the rest of the day we would lounge around watching movies.  Times have change, and with a toddler in tow, you have to get creative, and keep their attention and avoid as many breakdowns as possible.  So we baked this weekend, went on hikes when it wasn’t raining, read lots of books, crafted, and watched a few movies later when Ollie was in bed.

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My new mom friend invited us over for a Sunday supper.  I’m fortunate that a lot of my really good friends had babies around the same time I did.  So its always awesome hanging out with them.  The downfall is most of them have gone back to work, or school.  Which is something I myself will be doing next year, going back to school after 20 years.  That’s something for another post.  Trying to make new friends besides the friends I already have has been difficult for me.  Trying to connect to someone I really like, is not so easy.  I’ve sorted out the crazy mom’s and I’ve learned my lesson to not give my number out to just any mom.

 

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I met my new friend Sara through a client and good friend of mine.  She kept trying to get us to connect but both us where not really interested.  Maryjane finally convinced us that we would really like each other.  And she was right, we do like each other.  Its so nice to meet someone new, and actually like them.  They had us over for dinner on Sunday and it was great.  Some of her family came too, that also have little ones.  It’s nice so the kids can have fun and run around.  She made a delicious bolognese sauce with pasta, and a really good salad.  I wanted to make something that was suiting the rainy and cold day.  So I made a blood orange upside down polenta cake, served with a bourbon creme anglaise.  It came out good.  I liked it and I think everyone else did too, I think.  I normally have an after picture of the it, but I forgot so you’ll have come up with your own image!! Enjoy!

 

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Ingredients for cake:

  • unsalted butter 2 sticks plus 3 tablespoons, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2-3 thinly sliced blood oranges
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2/3 cup fine cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

First I cooked the orange slices in 1/2 cup water and 1 cup sugar.  Cook for about 10 minutes or until the peel is translucent.  Take them out lay in a 9 inch cake pan that has been lined with parchment paper.  At this time preheat your oven to 350. In a saucepan add 3 Tablespoons of butter along with your brown sugar.  Cook until the butter is melted and all is incorporated.  Pour over orange slices.   Mix butter until smooth, then sugar, and one egg at a time.  Next add your vanilla and sour cream.  Then your dry ingredients.  Bake for 40-50 minutes.  Test with a tooth pick. Let cake cool for about 10 minutes and then flip your cake out onto the plate you want to use for serving.

 

Ingredients for bourbon creme anglaise:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon

Directions:

 

  • Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside.
  • Place milk in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and salt until thick and light. Slowly pour in half of the hot milk, while stirring constantly. Slowly pour the egg mixture into the remaining milk mixture, stirring constantly. Stir in bourbon.
  • Place saucepan over low heat and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring constantly. Continue cooking until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and reaches 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from heat.
  • Strain creme anglaise through a fine mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Set bowl in ice water bath and stir creme anglaise until cooled. Keep refrigerated until ready to use, up to 1 day.
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    I hope you all had a lovely heart day on Saturday.  We had a fun day out.  We spent the day at Arboretum so Oliver could chase after some Peacocks, and run through their sprinklers.  Pretty heavenly for him.  Then an early dinner at out favorite Mexican place, and some heavenly margaritas for us.  Mellow and nothing really out of the normal, but still nice to have all three of us together for a whole day.

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    The day after we spent with our favorite KK sisters.  Karen moved back to Texas and was visiting with her new beau so we were all excited to see her and meet the new boy.  He was awesome.  A true cowboy, even took his hat off when he introduced himself.  Winner!!!  Katherine was here with her baby boy McKinney who we all want to eat up.  He’s such a chill and sweet baby.  And KK was just back from a ton of work traveling.  I love hanging out with these girls….so much!!! We were going to BBQ here, but then decided to go out.  I had everything to make this salad for the BBQ, so decided to still make it and munch on it this week for a snack.  My father in law makes something similar that I really like.  He makes his with zucchini, hazelnuts and Parmesan…… delicious.  So I took his salad and did a different spin on it. The great thing about this salad is you can make it any time of the year, which is why I’m calling it the any season salad.

     

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    Ingredients:

    2 zucchini

    1 medium apple (I prefer pink lady)

    1/4 cup feta

    1/3 cup pistachios

    handful of chopped mint

    1 lemon zest, and juiced

    dash of olive oil

    salt and pepper

     

    Directions:

    Cut apple and zucchini into thick matchsticks.  Place in bowl.  Chop mint or you can just tear it too.  Top with mint, feta, nuts, lemon juice and olive oil.  Toss.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Enjoy!!!

     

     

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    I don’t know about the rest of you but it is clearly a little too warm here.  I’m not complaining, but it is the middle of February and its remained fairly warm for a while.  Normal temps for now are around 65-70.  But its been warm as in 80 degrees, and sometimes just hot….like 87.  I’m almost longing for some cold, or rain, or even some snow.  I know we don’t get snow here, but we could see if we wanted to.

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    I am however in the mood for cooking like its summer.  Fish tacos are something that you can’t go wrong with.  These are easy.  Like easy.  I made something similar in the summer while we were in New Jersey at the beach house.  We all had to cook one night.  So I made fish tacos.  My friend Allyson made some mango salsa to go along, which was a pretty perfect paring.

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    Ingredients:

    3/4 pound fish ( I used talapia because its light, but you could also use Mahi mahi)

    1/2  head cabbage

    3/4 cup sour cream

    3 limes

    1 mango

    cilantro

    1 jalapeno

    1/2 cup red onion

    flour or panko crumbs

    2 eggs

    1/2 cup milk

    salt & pepper

    Flour tortillas or corn, I prefer corn, but had flour at home so I just used those

     

     

    Cabbage slaw:

    Thinly slice 1/2 head of cabbage.  Add to bowl.  Squeeze two limes, sour cream, and handful of chopped cilantro.  Toss and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and put in frig.

     

    Mango Salsa:

    Dice mango.  Put in bowl.  Add chopped jalapeno, diced red onion, handful of chopped cilantro, juice of one lime and a dash of olive oil. Toss and season with salt and pepper.  Cover and put in frig.

     

    Frying fish:

    Mix together egg and milk in a bowl.  In another bowl add flour.  Season the flour with salt and pepper.  Wash fish, towel dry and cut up into slices.  At this time start heating your oil in a pan.  Make sure its a pretty deep pan.  Have oil an 1/2 inch deep.  Place fish in milk and egg mixture and let it soak for a minute or two.  Then place in flour.  Fry your fish about 3 minutes in each side.  If you don’t want to fry fish you can also do the same thing panko crumbs and just bake it in the oven at 350 for about 15 minutes.

    Grill or toast your tortillas. Assemble tacos and enjoy!!!!!

     

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    This past weekend my in-laws came in for a visit. It’s always nice when they come or my parents, because Oliver gets lots of extra loving.  He needed it especially this time because he got his first ear infection, which came from a cold.  Poor guy was not his normal self this visit, but he had many moments of being real happy and putting on a show.  Another great thing about the grandparents visiting is Jonathan and I take advantage and take a date night.  It’s always so strange when you go out after having children because night life still goes on.  I’m always surprised how many people are out.  I always feel like, so this is what people do while I’m at home trying to get my toddler to sleep.

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    Even though Oliver wasn’t feeling his best.  We did go out.  Made a trip to the zoo, and two different gardens near our house.  Oliver is such an extrovert.  He may not have been feeling well, but the second he got out and amongst people or other kids he just perked up.  It’s pretty cool to see that in him.

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    One thing we did was make this amazing soup that Jonathan’s parents told us about.  My in-laws are best friends with a couple, Jim and Rebecca. Well Jim loves to cook.  So they all get to reap the benefits!!! It’s always good to have someone in the group that likes to cook!!! I really loved this soup.  The great thing about it is you can use really any kind of meat, and use the green purée as your base and build to it.  I promise you it will not disappoint you or any of your guests.  We topped the soup with a squeeze of lime, sliced radishes, queso fresco, avocado, and cilantro.

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    Jim’s recipe:

    1. 3 lbs boneless pork sirloin, fat trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes (not tenderloin)
    2. 1/2 cup vegetable oil (not olive oil)
    3. 9 hatch green chilies (medium to mild) – I use 3 poblano’s cut into 2 inch pieces and put into pot with tomatillo’s – I remove all seeds and veins but you can leave some heat in the stew. I have also used anneheim chillies. Any large green chilli will do I think.
    4. 1 1/2 lbs tomatillos, husks removed
    5. garlic cloves
    6. 2 medium onions, chopped
    7. 1 bunch cilantro, stems removed I keep the stems – they taste good and will get chopped up in the blender
    8. 1 quart water
    9. chicken bouillon cube
    10. 1/2 tablespoon cumin
    11. 3 cans white hominy
    12. 1 to 2 tablespoons ground cumin
    13. salt and peppe
    14. Season the pork with salt and pepper.

    Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven on high.

    Add a thin layer of canola or vegetable oil, but not olive oil, which conflicts with the green chiles.

    When oil is hot, on the brink of smoking, add a small batch of pork chunks.

    Do not crowd. And if you add the pork too early, it will absorb too much of the oil.

    Allow pork to saute for a few minutes before turning with tongs to prevent the meat from sticking to the pan.

    Tip from America’s test kitchen. Instead of browning in batches, put all of the pork in the dutch oven with half a cup of water – cover and cook for twenty minutes – remove cover and cook until all the meat is browned from cooking in the rendered fat.

    Properly searing the meat seals in the juices and flavors.

    Once the first batch is done, remove with a slotted spoon.

    Add more oil, if necessary, then put in the remaining pork.

    After all the pieces are properly seared, remove from pan, drain excess oil and set aside.

    Add small amount of oil to frying pan and saute garlic and onions until tender, about 5 minutes. Add cumin and garlic at the last minute or so – just enough to let them bloom

    Fill a large pot with about 1 quart water and add boullion cube.

    Bring to a boil.

    Add tomatillos and cilantro and poblano’s.

    Boil about 5 minutes, or until tomatillos are soft.

    Drain off the water (saving 1 cup for stew). I save all of this very flavorful water

    Using blender or food processor, puree the vegetables. Aim for a consistency similar to a light gravy.

    Add pork and onion mixture to puree, and bring to a boil.

    Reduce heat to medium-low, add the roasted chiles (roasting chillies is way too labor intensive for me – I boil them with the tomatilloes  and cilantro)and simmer for 45 minutes to allow the flavors to meld and the pork is tender. Add the saved water as needed.

    Do not cook in the oven; which causes the pork to dry out and shred. The chunks of pork should remain intact.

    Drain the hominy from the canning liquid and add drained hominy to the saved water – heat and add hominy to the pozole. The water is now really good and you can stretch the dish by adding some or all of this water.

    Spoon stew into bowls and top with a light sprinkling of shredded cheese, and serve with lime slices and tortillas.