September 12, 2010

Chocolate Ganache Icing

Posted in Desert- Cake at 12:21 am by Shannon


7 oz bittersweet chocolate

1/2 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons coffee


1. Melt all ingredients together over low heat until melted.  Allow to cool slightly before icing cakes.  Will harden as it cools.

*  The original recipe calls for brandy instead of coffee, but I love the way coffee compliments dark chocolate, so I use it instead.


Dark Chocolate Cake

Posted in Desert- Cake at 12:18 am by Shannon

This is a fairly dense, dark chocolate cake.  John asks for this same cake every year for his birthday.  Even his father likes this cake (and his father is pretty picky).

You can fill and ice the cake with anything you like.  This year, I iced it with Chocolate Ganache and filled it with chocolate pudding and chocolate chips.


2 cups boiling water                                               1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 3/4 cup all purpose powder                              2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder                                          1/2 tsp salt

1 cup butter, softened                                            2 1/4 cup white sugar

4 eggs                                                                        1 1/2 tsp vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Grease and flour 2 9″ round cake pans.

3. In medium bowl, pour boiling water over cocoa powder and whisk until smooth.  Let cool.

4. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

5. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla.

6. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the cocoa mixture.  Spread batter evenly between pans.

7. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out dry.  Allow to cool before frosting.

January 16, 2010

Wild Mushroom Risotto

Posted in Rice Dishes at 12:10 am by Shannon

2 tbsp EVOO                                                            3 crushed garlic cloves

1 med onion, finely chopped                                    1 cup Arborio Rice

S&P to taste                                                            ½ cup dry white wine

4 cups warm beef stock                                      12 cremini mushrooms, finely chopped

1 Portobello mushroom, finely chopped            12 white button mushrooms, finely chopped

2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

  1. Steep dried porcini mushrooms in the warm beef broth to reconsitute
  2. Saute the garlic, onions, and all mushrooms in 2 tbsp EVOO over medium-high heat until the mushrooms darken, then season with S&P
  3. Add the rice and cook for another minute or two.  Add and cook off the wine, 1 minute.  Add a few ladles of the warm stock, just to cover the rice and mushrooms.  Stir frequently and continue to ladle in stock until the rice is cooked and very starchy, about 22 minutes total cooking time. 
  4. Once all stock has been added, stir in the cheese, thyme, and parsley, adjust S&P.

Peasant Soup

Posted in Pork, Soups and Stews at 12:06 am by Shannon

2 tbsp EVOO                                                            1 small ham steak, chopped

2 carrots, chopped                                                1 med onion, chopped

2 celery ribs, chopped                                                1 leek, cleaned and chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced                                    1 large shallot, finely chopped

1 small head of cabbage, chopped into large pieces

1 tsp sugar                                                            Coarse S&P

4 cups chicken stock                                         Some chunks of beef for stew

Crusty Bread

  1. Heat the soup pot over med-high heat with EVOO
  2. Add the soup pieces as they are chopped.  Beef,ham, carrots, onions, celery, leeks, garlic, and shallots.
  3. Add the cabbage to the pot and sprinkle with the sugar and salt.
  4. Add 2 cups water and cover the pot.  Steam the cabbage for 15 minutes.  Uncover the pot and add the stock.  Turn up the heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and keep at a low simmer.  Adjust the salt and pepper.  

This was absolutely delicious.  John loved it (even though it had cabbage in it!  Shhhhhh!  He thinks it was a “special gourmet” lettuce).  The beef was added because I had some thawed and needed to use it.  It is absolutely not necessary.  You can also make this with cannellini beans (15 oz can), but because I had added the beef, I did not add the beans.  If using beans, add immediately following the addition of stock.  BTW, I left this simmer on the stove for almost 2 hours.

    January 15, 2010

    Chicken with Wild Mushrooms and Balsamic Cream Sauce

    Posted in Chicken at 11:58 pm by Shannon


    with a Chopped Salad

    Coarse Salt & Pepper                                                ½ pound orzo

    2 tbsp EVOO                                                            4 b&s chicken breast halves

    2 tbsp unsalted butter                                                12 cremini mushrooms, sliced

    12 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, and sliced

    12 white mushrooms, sliced                                    2 large garlic cloves, chopped

    1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped                                    2 large shallots, thinly sliced

    2 tbsp flour                                                            1 ½ cup chicken stock

    1 tbsp balsamic vinegar                                    3 tbsp heavy cream

    ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

    1. Preheat a large non-stick skillet over med-high heat, and add the EVOO.  Season the chicken liberally with S&P and add to the skillet.  Cook for 5-6 min on each side.  Remove the chicken from the pan and cover with foil to keep warm.
    2. Return the skillet to the heat, reduce heat a bit, and add butter.  Once the butter melts, add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes.  Once browned, season with S&P, add the garlic, thyme, and shallots.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes, or until the shallots are wilted.
    3. Sprinkle the flour into the pan and cook for 2 minutes more.  Whisk in the stock slowly, the balsamic vinegar, and the cream.  Turn the heat up to high and simmer for 2 minutes.  Slice the chicken on an angle.  Add the chicken to the skillet to heat up with the parsley, about 1 minute.
    4. While the chicken is cooking, make the orzo.  Once the chicken and sauce are finished, ladle over the orzo.

    This was absolutely delicious.  Sooooo good.  Thank goodness there were leftovers that I get to eat them the next day too (since John wasn’t  here to steal them away).

    Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops

    Posted in Pork at 11:56 pm by Shannon


    Balsamic Glazed Pork Chops

    Leftover Mashed Potatoes (from Saturday)

    Chopped Salad 

    3 tbsp unsalted butter                                                3 tbsp EVOO

    4 pork chops                                                            S&P to taste

    1 small onion, chopped                                    1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

    1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped                        3 garlic cloves, chopped

    ¼ cup balsamic vinegar                                    2 tbsp honey

    1 cup chicken stock                                               

    1. Heat a large skillet over med-high heat for the chops.  Add 2 tbsp of the EVOO.  Season the chops with salt and pepper, then add to the hot skillet.  Cook the chops for 5 minutes on each side. Transfer the chops to a platter, cover with foil.
    2. Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining tbsp of EVOO and the onions, thyme, rosemary, and garlic, then sauté for 4-5 minutes.  Add the vinegar, honey, and chicken stock.  Cook until the liquids have reduced by half.
    3. Once the glaze has reduced by half, turn off the heat and add 2 tbsp cold butter.  Stir and shake the pan until the butter melts.  Add the chops to the pan and coat them in the glaze.

    This was okay, nothing special.  There wasn’t much extra flavor to the pork.

    Papa al Pomodoro

    Posted in Soups and Stews at 11:56 pm by Shannon


    I borrowed this image from, but it is the same recipe and looks very similar to the one I made.

    Papa al Pomodoro

    Chopped Salad

     3 tbsp EVOO                                                            4-6 garlic cloves, chopped

    1 med/large onion, finely chopped                        15 oz can petite diced tomatoes

    28 oz can crushed tomatoes                                    S&P to taste

    1 qt chicken stock                                                4 cups chopped, stale bread

    2, 15oz cans cannellini beans                                    ½ cup grated Parm-Regg

    1. Heat a medium soup pot over medium heat.  Add 3 tbsp EVOO, the garlic, and the onions.  Cook for 7-8 minutes, then add the diced and crushed tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.
    2. Add the stock and raise the heat to make the soup bubble.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the bread and beans.
    3. Stir the soup as it simmers until it reaches a stew-like consistency.  A wooden spoon should be able to stand upright in the pot.
    4. Turn off the heat, adjust the S&P, top with grated cheese to serve.

    This was a fancy name for  – a very thick tomato and onion soup.  It was good and has served itself well since I have been home with sinusitis.  The soup has been great for leftover lunches and dinner.

    Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

    Posted in Desert at 11:54 pm by Shannon

    2 – 15oz cans pumpkin                                         1.5 cups finely crushed gingersnaps

    1/4 cup melted butter                                            1/4 cup packed brown sugar

    2 -8oz packages cream cheese, softened        1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar

    1/4 cup all purpose flour                                      2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

    2 tsp cinnamon                                                       5 eggs

    1. Position oven racks, one above the other, bottom rack in lowest position.  On bottom rack, place a 13x9x2-inch baking pan and pour in water to 1 inch depth.  Heat oven to 350.  To drain pumpkin, line a colander with paper towels, spoon in pumpkin, and set aside while preparing crust.

    2. For crust, in bowl, stir together crushed gingersnaps, butter, and 1/4 cup brown sugar.  Press crumb mixture onto bottom and about 1 inch up sides of spongiform pan.  Bake 5 minutes, cool completely on rack.

    3. For filling, add cream cheese and 1 1/4 cup brown sugar to food processor and blend until smooth.  Pulse in pumpkin (discard the pumpkin liquid), flour, and spices until combined.  Add 5 eggs, pulsing lightly after each one.

    4. Pour filling into crust-lined pan, spreading to sides of pan.  Place pan on oven rack, above water-filled pan.  Bake 1 hour, or until filling appears set when gently shaken.  Turn off oven; let cheesecake stand in oven 30 minutes.  (Top may crack as it cools).

    5. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes.  With small, sharp knife, loosen crust from sides of pan; cool 30 minutes.  Remove sides of pan and cool completely on rack.  Cover and chill at least 4 hours before serving.

    I didn’t get to try any of this since I ended up with the flu and didn’t get to go to John’s grandmother’s.  However, I heard from a reliable source (my MIL), that this was really yummy.  I did happen to try the filling that was left over in the bowl – I am not a pumpkin fan, but I was really enjoying the uncooked filling.

    Carrot Cake

    Posted in Desert at 11:50 pm by Shannon

    Holiday Carrot Cake (Modified from – Family Circle, Nov. 29, 2009)


    2.5 cups all-purpose flour                                   1 tsp baking soda

    1 tsp baking powder                                             1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice

    1/2 tsp salt                                                              1 cup granulated sugar

    3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar                  1.5 cups vegetable oil

    4 eggs                                                                       2 tsp vanilla extract

    2 cups carrots                                                         3/4 cup chopped walnuts

    1. Heat oven to 350.  Coat two cake pans with cooking spray.  Line bottoms with waxed paper, coat paper with spray.

    2. In medium sized bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice and salt.  In large bowl, beat sugars, oil, eggs and vanilla on medium speed until blended.  On low, beat in flour mixture until smooth.  Stir in carrots and nuts.  Divide batter evenly between pans.

    3. Bake at 350 for 42-45 minutes, until inserted toothpick is clean.  Cool on wire rack 10 minutes, Turn out and cool completely.


    2 – 8ox packages cream cheese (at room temp)                         1/2 cup unsalted butter (softened)

    1 tsp vanilla extract                                                                           3 cups confectioners’ sugar

    walnuts for garnish

    1. In large bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until creamy.  Gradually beat in confectioner’s sugar until smooth.

    This cake was good, but a little bland.  I would make it again, but I would add 1/2 tsp of nutmeg and 2 tsp of cinnamon to try to perk up the flavors.

    Veal Scallopine with Mushrooms and Marsala Wine

    Posted in Beef, Pasta at 11:46 pm by Shannon

    7 pieces of Veal Scallopine (cutlets)                                   Salt and Pepper

    All-purpose Flour                                                                    3 tbsp EVOO

    1 stick unsalted Butter                                                            2 tbsp finally chopped onions

    3 cups finely sliced mushrooms                                          1/2 cup dry Marsala wine

    1 cup Chicken Stock                                                                2 tbsp chopped Parsley

    1. Season both sides of the veal lightly with S&P.  Dredge the veal in flour to coat both sides and tap off any excess flour.

    2. Heat EVOO and 2 tbsp butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until the butter is foaming.  Add as many of the veal pieces as possible without touching and cook until golden brown on the underside, about 3 minutes.  Flip and cook until the second side is lightly browned, about 2 minutes.  Remove from the pan and repeat with the remaining veal, adding more oil if necessary.  Remove the veal from the pan when brown and drain on paper towels.

    3. Drain the fat from the skillet and return the pan to the heat.  Add 2 tbsp of the butter, and when melted, stir in the onions.  Cook, stirring, until wilted, about 3 minutes.  Scatter the mushrooms in the pan, season lightly with S&P, and cook until lightly brown, about 4 minutes.

    4. Pour in the marsala, bring to a boil, and cook until slightly syrupy, about 3 minutes.

    5. Add the remaining butter and pour in 1 cup chicken stock.  Bring to a vigorous boil and season lightly with S&P.  Boil until reduced by half, then return the veal to the pan, tucking them into the sauce.  Cook, turning the veal in the sauce, until the veal is heated thoroughly and the sauce is lightly thickened.  If necessary, add small amount of chicken stock to make enough sauce to coat the the veal generously.  Swirl in the parsley and serve, dividing the veal among the plates and spooning some of the sauce and mushrooms over each serving.

    We served this with pasta and tomato sauce.

    This was fantastic, but not light.  Very heavy and not very healthy!  A whole stick of butter!  Not to be cooked if watching your cholesterol  Next time I make this, I definitely need to try to make it healthier.

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