Thursday, March 28, 2013


Easter is my favorite of all the Christian celebrations!  This is the weekend that we remember, reflect and celebrate that Jesus died and has risen so that we could be forgiven in this life and have eternal life.  I don’t know about you, but for me that is a huge relief and definitely cause to celebrate!

I celebrate with lots and lots of chocolate.  Easter chocolate really is the best don’t ya think?

I also celebrate by enjoying a feast with friends and family.  I know that some of you have been planning your menu for some time; I have seen that many of my past recipes from Thanksgiving and Christmas being referenced.  I suspect however that most of you are like me and just getting to that planning now, so I have put a bunch of my past recipes together to help you with that.

Baked goods are my favorite way to start my morning.

Roasted Strawberry Scones:  Tender, Fruity and not too sweet.
Roasted Strawberry Scones

Orange Glazed Strawberry MuffinsFresh strawberries and a strawberry surprise in the center all topped with a yummy citrus glazed.

Orange Glazed Strawberry Muffins

 Maple Glazed Whole Wheat Apple Bread:  Really nice with a cup of coffee.

Maple Glazed Whole Wheat Apple Bread

And then for dinner:
Buttermilk Brined Turkey BreastBrining the turkey breast in buttermilk makes for a moist and perfectly seasoned turkey breast.  This is perfect to make for a smaller gathering.
Buttermilk Brined Roast Turkey Breast with Gravy

Festive Roast Pork with Root Vegetables
Shortcut Stuffed Artichokes:  What says spring like artichokes?  These are great as a side dish or and appetizer.

Shortcut Stuffed Artichokes

 Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes:  Creamy and rich mashed potatoes are a must!

Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes

Oven Roasted AsparagusAlso a spring veggie.  This is such an easy preparation and ready in minutes.

Oven Roasted Asparagus

 Oven Roasted Grape (Cherry or Campari) Tomatoes:  Sweet and slightly acidic, just what is needed to compliment all those other rich dishes.

Oven Roasted Grape (or Cherry, or Campari) Tomatoes

Green Bean and Mushroom CasseroleThis really is a party in a side dish.

Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole

Coconut Lime Baked Custard:  Creamy and not too sweet or rich, perfect after a big, festive meal!

Coconut Lime Baked Custard

I hope that you and your loved ones have a Happy Easter!!!!!

Monday, March 25, 2013

SPINACH AND RICOTTA PIE (Pizza Rustica, Easter Pie))

Y’all, I’m so excited.  I have family visiting!  My mom (Little Mama), Dad (Big Daddy), Aunt Nancy and Uncle Rick are here from Victoria, British Columbia!!!  You would think being that I live in South Florida that I would have a constant stream of visitors, but sadly we don’t.  We just live so far away, it’s actually quicker for me to fly to Europe, than to go and see my family.
Thanks for letting me share that; now on to the food.

What to make when you have all kinds of creamy, delicious, rich, ricotta cheese?  I’m thinking Spinach and Ricotta Pie...Also known as Pizza Rustica…Also known as Easter Pie.

Pizza Rustica or Easter Pie is a stuffed pie always filled with ricotta cheese and eggs, which is varied but the addition of meat, or spinach, or even with citrus.  The story is that the nuns of San Gregorio Armeno are the originators of Easter Pie, which they would make on the Thursday or Good Friday in order for the flavors to meld and serve it for Easter.

I make this pie when I’m having a brunch, luncheon or need a dish to bring to a party because it can sit at room temperature and it’s nice and sturdy so it travels well.

The dough is not fussy at all.  I’m going to call it a hybrid dough, because it’s kinda like a cross between pizza dough and pastry dough.

A food processor makes light work of this dish; I’m pretty sure the nuns would one have used if they had it available.  I used the food processor to make the dough…then I used it to mince the onions and garlic… then I used it to grate the cheese.  Be sure to use a spring form pan so that you can remove the pie.  Super easy!

Here’s what you do.

I fit my food processor with the pastry blade.  Add the semolina flour, all-purpose flour, salt, eggs and olive oil.  Turn the processor on.

If the dough doesn't come into a ball, add some water, one tablespoon at a time just until it does.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap to rest for at least 30 minutes.

The blade has been changed over to the chopping blade.  Mince the onions and garlic.

Sweat the onions and garlic in a little olive oil over medium heat, just until the onions are translucent.

Squeeze the water out of the thawed spinach.  I just the spinach in a strainer over a bowl and use a spatula to press the water out.

Add the spinach to a large bowl along with the cooked onions and garlic.

Use the food processor to grate the Pecorino Romano and mozzarella cheese.  Add that to the spinach along with the riccotta, salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Finely dice some sun dried tomatoes and toss those in too.

Stir in the eggs.  That's the filling.

Cut the dough in two.  Notice that the dough is not evenly cut; two thirds of the dough is for the bottom and one third is for the top.

Roll the bottom dough out into a 16 inch circle and line the bottom of a spring form pan; be sure to bring the dough up the sides. 

Roll the remaining dough into a 10 inch circle, that is for the top of the pie.

Pour the filling into the pan, smooth the top to make it even.

Put the top on the pie.  Cut the excess dough even with the edge of the pan.

Roll the dough over to seal the edges.  Cut some holes for steam to escape.  Brush the top with egg wash.  The egg wash sealed up my holes again which caused the top to pouf up, so go ahead and put the tip of your knife back in the holes.

Sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes until the top is nice and golden brown.
Allow the Spinach and Ricotta Pie to cool in the pan for at least 20 minutes before removing it from the pan.  This can be served warm or at room temperature, which makes it perfect for a buffet, pot luck or a picnic!

                                    SPINACH AND RICOTTA PIE (Pizza Rustica)

Serves 8 to 10

1              cup                         Semolina flour
1 ½          cups                        All-purpose flour
½             tsp.                         Salt
3                                            Eggs      
¼             cup                         Olive oil
1 to 4        Tbsp.                       Water

  1.       Add the semolina flour, all-purpose flour and salt to the bowl of a food processor that has been fitted with the dough blade.  Pulse a couple of times just to mix the dry ingredients.
  2.       Add the eggs and olive oil to the food processor and turn it on.  Work the dough just until it comes into a ball; you may need to add some water, one tablespoon at a time to achieve this.
  3.       Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes.

FOR THE FILLING (make the filling while the dough rests)

½                                           Large onion, minced
3              cloves                      Garlic, minced
½             Tbsp.                       Olive oil
2-10          oz. pkgs                   Frozen chopped spinach, thawed and the liquid squeezed out
3              Tbsp.                       Sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
15             oz.                          Ricotta cheese
8              oz.                          Mozzarella cheese, grated
3              oz.                          Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
½             tsp.                         Salt
¼             tsp.                         Pepper
1/8           tsp.                         Grated nutmeg, fresh is best
6                                            Eggs, slightly beaten

  1.       In a small skillet over medium heat, sweat the onions and garlic in the olive oil; just until the onions are translucent.
  2.       Now combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, stirring until everything is incorporated.


1                              Egg
1              Tbsp.         Water
1              tsp.           Sesame seeds

1.  Whisk the egg and water together to make an egg wash.


  1.       Pre heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2.       Cut about 2/3 from the dough and roll it out to a 16 inch circle.  Lay that in the bottom of a spring form pan; bringing the dough up the sides.
  3.       Roll the remaining 1/3 of the dough into about a 10 inch circle, this is the top.
  4.       Pour the filling evenly into the dough lined spring form pan.
  5.       Place the 10 inch circle of dough on the top of the pie.  Cut any excess dough off, cut it even with the top of the spring form pan.  Fold the larger piece of dough over, on top of the pie, and crimp the edges.
  6.       Cut some slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
  7.       Brush the top of the dough with egg wash, and sprinkle sesame seeds over that.
  8.       Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
  9.       Allow the pie to set for about 20 minutes before removing the sides of the spring form pan and cutting into it.
  10.   Spinach and Ricotta Pie can be served warm or at room temperature.

Friday, March 22, 2013


For years I had wanted to host an Easter brunch or coffee or something, but it was never convenient for my friends to do the morning.  Well the last couple of years my church has held Easter service at the stadium near my home so that now makes my house the gathering place for friends and neighbors afterwards.  Woo hoo, I so love it!  I don’t do brunch, but rather I make some baked goods to serve along with fruit, yogurt and devilled eggs.  I get everything ready so that I just have to put it out on the counter when I get home from service.

One of the things that I’m making this year are “da da da da”…Roasted Strawberry Scones!

Admittedly this took me a couple of times to get the recipe right.  My first attempt I tried with whole wheat flour, and didn’t have enough strawberries.  They were okay, but not great.  Because I think so highly of you, I strive to only provide you with great recipes!  My second attempt I used all-purpose flour and doubled the amount of strawberries, et viola…greatness was achieved.

Roasting the strawberries removes some of the liquid and intensifies the strawberry flavor. 

The key to tender scones is that all the ingredients should be cold, and to not over work the dough.

Demerara sugar (aka Sugar in the Raw) sprinkled over the top adds a little sweetness and some crunch.  White granulated sugar would be fine provided that you eat the scones the same day as the white sugar tends to dissolve when the scones are stored.  With the demerara sugar you can make them the night before and provided that they have been completely cooled, they can be stored and served the next day and they will still have that crunch.

Billy loved the second batch so much, that he balked when I told him I wanted to share the scones with our neighbors.  Was it that he’s so dang greedy, or that the scones are so dang good?

Here’s what you do.

Pre heat oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the strawberries with canola oil and honey.

Lay the strawberries in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment.

Roast the strawberries for 25 minutes.  This releases some of the liquid therefore intensifying the strawberry flavor.

Allow the roasted strawberries to cool in a strainer that has been placed over a bowl.  Discard the juices, or pour them over some ice cream; just don't add the juices to the scones.

Combine the dry ingredients together in a large bowl, give them a whisk to be sure it's nicely mixed.

Add in some cold cubed butter.

Use a pastry blender or two knives to cut the butter in.

The butter should be pea size.  Make a well in the center.

Whisk half and half, egg and vanilla together.

Pour the wet ingredients into that little well that you made.

Just barely stir the wet and dry ingredients together.  See how much flour is still visible; stop mixing here.

Add the strained, roasted strawberries.  Gently stir them in, just so that the strawberries are evenly distributed.

Dump the dough out on to a well floured surface and sprinkle some more flour on the top because the dough is sticky.  See the chunks of butter still visible.

Very gently need the dough just about 10 times.

Use your hands to mold the dough into a 9 inch circle that is 1 inch thick.  Cut the dough into 8 wedges.

Brush any excess flour off of the scones and place them onto a sheet pan that has been lined with parchment.  Brush heavy cream over the scones.

Sprinkle the tops with demerara sugar, be generous.  This provides a nice crunch on the top.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the tops are golden brown.


Makes 8 scones
2             lbs.         Strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 ½         Tbsp.       Canola oil
1 ½         Tbsp.       Honey
2 ½         cups       All-purpose flour
1/3          cup        Granulated sugar
2             tsp.        Baking powder
½            tsp.        Salt
½            cup        Cold butter, cut into cubes (1 stick)
1/3          cup         Half and half
1                           Egg
1             tsp.        Vanilla extract
1             Tbsp.       Heavy cream
1 ½         Tbsp.       Demerara sugar (Sugar in the Raw)


  1.       Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2.       Toss the strawberries with the canola oil and honey.  Spread in a single layer on to a parchment covered sheet pan.  Roast for 25 minutes.
  3.       Use a slotted spoon to transfer the roasted strawberries to a strainer that has been placed over a bowl.  Allow the strawberries to cool completely, while some of the juices drain.  Discard the juices.
  4.       Combine the dry ingredients; the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.
  5.       Use a pastry blender/cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the flour mixture; until the butter is the size of small peas.
  6.       In a small bowl whisk together the wet ingredients; the half and half, egg and vanilla extract.
  7.       Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients add the wet ingredients to the well.  Barely stir the ingredients together.  There will still be quite a lot of flour that has not been worked in.
  8.       Add the strawberries to the mixture; gently stir those in so that they are evenly distributed.  The dough will still be sticky, do not over work it; clumps of butter should still be visible.
  9.       Dump the dough out onto a cold surface (a marble or granite counter top is great, not wood though) that has a generous amount of flour on it.  Add a little more flour on to the top of the dough to keep your hands from sticking and gently knead the dough about 10 or 12 times just to smooth the dough a little, add more flour to keep your hands from sticking if needed.
  10.   Use your hands to mold and pat the dough into about a 9 inch circle that’s about 1 inch thick.  Cut the circle into 8 equally sized triangles.
  11.    Brush any excess flour from the scones and place them on to a sheet pan that has been lined with parchment paper.
  12.   Use a brush to brush the heavy cream over the entire top of the scones, and sprinkle the demerara sugar over the top.
  13.   Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until the tops are golden brown.
  14.   Remove baked scones to a wire rack to cool.  

  *   Scones are best if eaten the same day.
  ** The key to tender scones is cold ingredients, and not to over work the dough.

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