Sunday, March 23, 2014

Celebrating the Feast of St. Joseph

This year's altar…...

St. Joseph Table is an old tradition from Sicily. Saint Joseph is one of the most beloved saints among Italian-Americans. As the patron of workers and the protector of the family, he is honored with a feast on March 19.

According to legend, there was a famine in Sicily many centuries ago. The villagers prayed to St. Joseph, foster-father of the Infant Savior, and asked his intercession before the throne of God. Their prayers were answered. With the ending of the dreadful famine, a special feast of thanksgiving was held in commemoration of the Saint. This celebration became tradition.

Much symbolism is contained in the shape and decoration of St. Joseph's Table. The "steps" represent the ascent from earth to heaven. On the topmost step is a statue of St. Joseph or a picture of the Holy Family. White linen tablecloths cover the table. Vigil lights of green, brown and deep yellow, representing St. Joseph's attire, are profusely placed. Palms placed nearby and around the room, as well as lily plants and white carnations give the table softness and the scents together with incense used in the opening of the ceremony are suggestive of the fragrance of heaven and the sweetness of salvation. The food dishes represent the harvest, the created beauties of the world. Breads are baked in shapes of a staff, a carpenter's implement.

Francesca taught us her secret breading recipe for the cardoons.

Vancy made sure we learned the technique for perfect frying of the cardoons.

In between frying the cardoons, baccala and preparing pasta the men enjoyed homemade wine.

Of course once the prep was done we all got to taste the fruit of our labors.

Sadly, I don't have a picture of the beautiful reception hall as it appeared today with red linen table clothes and over 200 people enjoying the feast. I was far too busy serving to take any pictures! However, if any come my way in the near future, I will update this post.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Nonna's Carrot Cake

My husband requested carrot cake for his birthday this year,  and of course I wanted to oblige. I haven't made a carrot cake in years. The last one I made was made with junior baby food, but this time I wanted to make one using shredded carrots. I went online to a few of my favorite sites and found three different versions. After reading all three of them, I decided to pull what I like best from each of the recipes and create my own version.

Hoping for the best I mixed together and set aside:

2 c flour
1 c white sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
2 heaping tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt

Beat together:

3 eggs
1 c brown sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 (5.4 oz) container of plain Greek yogurt
2 tsp. vanilla

Using a spatula slowly add dry ingredients to wet mixture, and combine well. Then fold in 3 cups shredded carrots (almost an entire 1 lb. bag of baby carrots) and 1 cup crushed walnuts and 8 oz well drained crushed pineapple. (If this would've been my birthday cake I would've added raisin, but hubby dislikes them so I omitted them.)

Bake at 350 in a greased and floured 13 x 9 pan for 45 mins, or until done.

*Frost with your favorite cream cheese frosting.

*This cake was traveling 600+ miles and would be decorated by a 5 year old, so this time around I opted for canned frosting.

The cake was moist and delicious!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Delicious Baked Wild Caught Salmon

Occasionally on a Sunday we will eat our big meal early in the day, and that is exactly what we did today. 

I bought wild caught salmon this morning and wanted to make it while it was fresh. I found a recipe that was rather quick, easy and decision on The only changes I made was: 1. I did not have time to marinade the salmon for an hour (I'll bet it is even better after sitting in the marinade). 2. I used fresh basil not dried and 3. I used 1/3 cup of olive oil.

Baked salmon (All Recipes)

2 cloves garlic, minced
6 tablespoons light olive oil
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
2 (6 ounce) fillets salmon
1.In a medium glass bowl, prepare marinade by mixing garlic, light olive oil, basil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and parsley. Place salmon fillets in a medium glass baking dish, and cover with the marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator about 1 hour, turning occasionally.
2.Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
3.Place fillets in aluminum foil, cover with marinade, and seal. Place sealed salmon in the glass dish, and bake 35 to 45 minutes, until easily flaked with a fork.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Turn Off The Oven Roast

Recently someone told me about making beef roast in a high temperature oven that you turn off and allow the meat to gradually cook. She said the roast was done perfectly, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I did a quick Internet search for details since I didn't pay close attention to the directions she gave when sharing the technique and found this  'High Temperature Eye-of-Round Roast' on the site.

The directions are for a 3 pound roast. I used a 4 pound roast with a pop-up temperature gadget. I followed the directions exact and the roast was cooked to medium rare perfection! The temperature gadget popped an hour before the timer went off, but I think had I took it out of the oven then it would've been too rare.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C). Season the roast with salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan or baking dish. Do not cover or add water.

Place the roast in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 475 degrees F (245 degrees C). Roast for 21 minutes (seven minutes per pound) then turn off the oven and let the roast sit in the hot oven for 2 1/2 hours. Do not open the door at all during this time!

Remove the roast from the oven, the internal temperature should have reached at least 145 degrees F (65 degrees C). Carve into thin slices to serve.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Red Velvet Trifle

Happy New Year!

We were invited to a friend's house for New Year's Day dinner and I wanted to bring something festive to share for dessert. I decided it would be this luscious trifle. It seemed everyone really enjoyed the dessert which was not too heavy after a filling pork and sauerkraut meal.  The recipe can be found on Pinterest; on my "baking" board However, when you see the picture you will see much more cake than you see in my picture. The recipe said to use 3/4 of one layer of the cake made, which was NOT enough cake and I think there was entirely too much whipped topping. Once again let me say, everyone seemed to enjoy it just the same.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Yam Gratin with Gruyere

My husband is still talking about this dish this morning! Even if you are not a fan of yam/sweet potatoes you will like this rich, cheesy, creamy side dish. A friend told me about the recipe and how much her guests enjoyed it for Thanksgiving, so I decided to make it for Christmas. 

This is the actual recipe found on the Wegman's site:

2 cups (16 fl oz)   Heavy Cream
1 tsp salt
3 lbs  yams, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup  Shredded Gruyere

However, you know me, can't follow a recipe exactly. So, if you want the rich creamy version that my husband is still raving about, you will use 2 cups of heavy cream and 1 1/2 cups of half and half, along with 1 cup of shredded gruyere…..yummmy!!!!

The recipe is time intensive, but so worth it. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray 9 x9" baking dish with nonstick spray.

Stir together heavy cream and salt in large bowl. Using mandoline, slice yams into bowl, coating slices with cream mixture as you work.

Layer 1/3 of yams in baking dish. Sprinkle with half of cheese. Repeat with another 1/3 of yams and remainder of cheese. Top with remaining yams. Pour any remaining yam-cream mixture over top.

Bake uncovered on center rack of oven 30 min. Remove from oven, then press fork or spatula, carefully, against top layer to allow liquid to flow over "crust." Replace pan in oven; bake 30 min. Remove pan; press top layer to allow liquid to flow over top. Replace pan in oven; bake 40-45 min or until yams are tender. Remove from oven; let rest 15 min.