Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Saturday in the kitchen

Today it is Easter Sundy and I've been baking and cooking for 3 days. First I always make  Pasta Fagioli (pasta and beans) every Good Friday. And I always make Easter Bread every year as gifts for friends and family and of course don't forget my husband. This is one of his favorites going way back when his Mom made it. I have tweaked the recipe and it's a big hit with everyone.  Just tastes like Easter!
This is a great way to enjoy your Pasta Fagioli

1 medium onion
2 stalks of celery
1 1/2 teasp. ground cloves
2-14.5oz cans dark red kidney beans
1 cup pasta (ditalini or any small pasta)
1-2 tbls. tomato paste
1 large handful of grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onion, celery and cloves in 2-3 tbls. of olive oil in a medium saucepan till onion are translucent(5 mins). Add kidney beans with liquid and cook on low to medium heat for approx 30 mins. (do not let it get dry but some of the liquid will cook away) While this is cooking start a large pot of water to boiling, add one cup of pasta and cook until al dente (follow instructions on box) Take out 4 cups of water and keep on the side. Add kidney bean mixture to the pasta pot with 1-2 tbls. of tomato paste. Add salt and pepper to taste and a heaping handful of grated parmesan cheese.  Cook just until all the flavors have melded together. Serve with crusty italian bread and more grated cheese on top.  Yum!
(The reserved water can be added if there is not enough liquid after adding all the ingredients or you can use chicken stock which gives even more flavor)

Next up Easter Bread. This is a great recipe and definitely worth the time.

1 cup sugar
6 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup warm water
2 pkgs. active dry yeast (I use rapid rise)
5 cups flour
3 teas. anise extract
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 tbls. butter
Warm water (just enough to bring sugar together)
Food coloring (one or two drops of your favorite color)

First, in a small bowl add 1/2 cup of warm water and 2 pkgs. yeast with a pinch of sugar. Stir till dissolved and set aside for 10 mins. till it almost doubles in size. In a blender add eggs, oil and sugar and blend until yellow and creamy. Then in a free standing mixer add flour to the bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the egg mixture, anise and the the proofed yeast. Mix just until all ingredients pull together.  (If you don't have a free standing mixer you can add your flour to a large pot with a well, pour your liquid in the middle and pull the flour from the sides till mixed. This is a very sticky dough at first so I find the mixer works better but I did it the old fashion way for years) Flour a board or your counter and put dough on the counter and knead till smooth and together adding a little flour if needed to knead as this is a very sticy dough. (Not too much though) In a very very large bowl or large pot wipe with oil and place your ball of dough in the middle. Wipe top of dough with a very small amount of oil cover with saran wrap and put in a warm place for 8-10 hours. Dough will rise to the top of the pot.
Once the dough rises, punch down roll into a log and cut into 3 uniform parts. Form into small loaves (will make 3 loaves) Add to greased loaf pans and cover with towel and let rise again in a warm place. (I let them rise overnight and cook in the morning)
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 mins. depending on your oven. I keep checking it till it sounds hollow and then it's done!
(Shown is my braided wreaths that I love to make as gifts.  There fun and easy to make and are a nice presentation. Start with one portion of dough. Divide again into 3 equal pieces. Roll each peice to about 20 inches long. Press the tops together and then start braiding the strands (as you would a childs hair) When you get to the end keeping it flat bring the ends together, press lightly to keep together and put into a greased cake pan. (Keep an eye on these as they bake a little faster than the loaves)
Once cooled make confectioner icing and frost each bread and sprinkle with sprinkles.

I hope everyone has a joyous holiday with your family and friends. See you next time!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

My New Favorite Thing

Hi all!! Two weeks ago I decided to make Pizzelles. My daughter gave me a Pizzelle maker for Christmas (something that I have always wanted) and I finally had the time to try it out. Now this iron came with two boxes of all ready to go Pizzelle mix so I thought for the first time I would use that to make it easier. But I also wanted to make some Cannoli's (my favorite) so I thought I would try this also, being the daring person that I am.
My new favorite toy!
So I went on the food and found this fabulous recipe for the filling. (If you want the whole recipe go to


  • 2 cups ricotta cheese, preferably whole milk
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup small semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 lemon
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting
For the filling: In a medium bowl, whisk the ricotta until smooth. Sift in the powdered sugar, cinnamon and allspice. Mix to blend. In a separate bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), beat the heavy cream until fairly stiff. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the cream into the ricotta mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Lightly zest the exterior of the lemon and stir it into the ricotta. Refrigerate for a half hour to an hour. Then use a pastry bag with the largest tip to fill Cannoli's.
Now the recipe that came with the iron says to wrap the hot Pizzelles around a metal tube to shape and then deep fry. As I am always trying to find the lighter side of things I decided not to deep fry but just wrap and cool before filling.
Turned out pretty good don't you think??
So I was going to a very good friends house for dinner this night and thought what a treat it would be to take some Cannoli's and Pizzelles. And may I add this mix tasted great. So I filled the Cannoli's with this yummy filling recipe and added some regular Pizzelles to the dish and what a big hit!
(Do not fill the Canoli's till your ready to serve as they will get soft and not stay firm, lesson learned)
Don't you just want to eat one!

I had so much fun making these that I made them for my daughter in law Jenn's Jewelry demonstration the next day and what a hit. The Cannoli's were gone in 10 minutes and the rest in 30 minutes. A definite make again recipe!!
Thus, my reason for the name of this blog "My New Favorite thing" Thank you Christa (my daughter) for bringing this happiness into my life.
And to incorporate my painting, which is another favorite thing that I love to do I am showing a nice dish to serve them on for Easter.
Give them a try, your gonna love them!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

A Sunny Day in Pennsylvania

Hi everyone, it is Saturday and we are finally getting a nice weekend here in Bucks County,PA!
It sure does make me feel like painting. I am still on the animal print kick and I don't know why. Probably because it's different from my usual painting and I am trying to think outside the box (so to speak)so here are some of my newer designs.
As you can see I am trying to improve my pictures by adding props. What do you think, comments welcome!
Yep, same prop different setup!
I just started painting on candles and I love it. It's so much more different than painting on glass. You really have to be careful you don't touch the wet paint as you go around. Must be done in stages so it take a little longer but very rewarding. I love the hot pink.
Thank for stopping by. I will leave you now to go and make Cannoli's to bring to a friends house for dinner tonight! I have a few good recipes for these and will let you know in a future blog which one I chose and how they turned out. Wish me luck!!