Lemon Ricotta Bars

So, even after I made the Ricotta Orange Pound Cake I posted about last week, I still had ricotta cheese left-over and I didn’t want to toss it. So, I decided to make Lemon Ricotta Bars. Lemon & ricotta go together so well… If you don’t believe me try making these bars, these pancakes I posted about a few years ago or these cookies I posted right before the holidays last year. All were delish!

Lemon Ricotta Bars

Ingredients:

For the crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (15 crackers)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

1 cup whole-milk ricotta

4 large eggs, beaten

1 1/3 cups sugar

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons lemon zest

2/3 cup lemon juice, from 3 to 4 large lemons

1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a 9x13x2 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

For the crust: Combine the ingredients for the crust in a medium bowl and mix until moistened. Press the mixture evenly in the prepared pan and about 1/4 inch up the sides of the dish. Bake in the preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, until set, and then set aside to cool.

Reduce the oven to 325F.

For the filling: Whisk the ricotta, eggs, sugar and flour in a bowl until well combined. Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and blend well. Pour the filling into the crust and bake until filling is firm, about 30 minutes.

Let the pan cool on a wire rack, at least 2 hours. Cut into desired sized bars with a knife, wiping the knife between cuts.

Recipe adapted from Food Network and Food52

Ricotta Orange Pound Cake

I always have a container of ricotta cheese in my fridge just in case I want to make a baked ziti, a cheesecake or something or other. Unfortunately what ends up happening is, it sits in my fridge, I know it’s there, but I don’t get around to using it until it’s about to expire and then I’m scrambling to make something because I don’t want to throw it out. When this recently happened I decided to make something I made a few years ago, but didn’t come out quite right the first time… a Ricotta Orange Pound Cake. This cake has a nice orange taste and is quite moist thanks to the ricotta cheese.

Ricotta Orange Pound Cake

Ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups cake flour*

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 orange, zested

2 tablespoons amaretto

*If you don’t have cake flour, use this method to substitute with all-purpose flour and cornstarch.

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease a loaf pan with butter, or spray with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to blend.

With a mixer, cream together the ricotta cheese, butter, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after adding each one. Add the vanilla, zest and amaretto and beat until well combined. Add the dry ingredients, a little at a time, and mix until just incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan, about 45 to 50 minutes. If you find you need to bake it a little longer, you may want to lower the temperature of the oven to ensure that you don’t burn the cake. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Food Network

Homemade Gnocchi In A Mushroom Sauce

I’ve been wanting to make Gnocchi for quite some time. Not really sure why though because I’ve only had it once or twice. I think it’s the challenge of it all… Can I really make it? One thing that was holding me back is that most recipes call for a potato ricer. Something I don’t own and was reluctant to purchase. I went to a couple of stores and couldn’t find one and truthfully didn’t want order one online. I did find a few recipes that said you could mash the potatoes but then I found some recipe reviews that said mashing the potatoes wouldn’t turn out good gnocchi. And then, I found a recipe that used a large hole grater and I was ready to go.

To make the dough I baked 3 medium Russet potatoes at 400 F for about 45 minutes. I let them cool for a few minutes, then peeled them and grated them using the large holes of a box grater into a large bowl. I added in a lightly beaten egg and salt and then added in flour, a little at a time, until the dough wasn’t sticky. I then dumped it out on a lightly floured surface and kneaded it.

Next, I divided the dough into 6 smaller balls and rolled out each ball into a rope about 3/4-inch thick.

I then cut the dough into 1-inch pieces.

Once I had rolled out all of the dough and cut it. I boiled them in a pot of well-salted water. I knew the gnocchi was ready once it floated to the surface of the water.

Next, I finished off the gnocchi in a mushroom sauce. And here’s the funny thing about this… the first day it tasted good, the 2nd day it was delicious, but, on the 3rd day not so much. I think by then the gnocchi had absorbed a lot of the sauce and it just turned an odd color and the flavor was off. So, apparently homemade gnocchi is good for 2 days and that’s it.

 

Homemade Gnocchi In A Mushroom Sauce

Ingredients:

Gnocchi:

3 medium Russet potatoes (about 2 lbs.)

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Mushroom Sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

12 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup shallots

1 14.5 ounce can low-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

5 ounces baby spinach

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

For the Gnocchi:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Prick the potatoes all over with a fork and place on a baking sheet and bake for 45 – 60 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender. Flip the potatoes halfway through the baking time. Let the potatoes cool slightly.

Peel the potatoes and then grate them over the large holes of a box grated over a large bowl. Add the egg and the salt and mix well with a wooden spoon.

Add the flour to the potatoes, a little at a time, using only as much as you need so the dough doesn’t stick to your hands. When the flour has been incorporated dump it and any remaining floury bits onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough. Press down and away with the heel of your hands, fold the dough over, make a quarter turn and repeat. Knead for about 3 to 4 minutes.

Form the dough into a ball and then divide into 6 smaller balls. Using your fingertips roll each ball into a rope about 3/4-inch thick and cut into 1-inch pieces.

To cook, bring a large pot of salted water to boil and add the gnocchi in batches. Once it rises to the surface remove from the water and set aside on a baking sheet.

For the Mushroom Sauce:

Cook the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until the butter begins to brown. Add the mushrooms and shallots and sauté until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken broth and parsley; simmer until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the gnocchi and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and stir until wilted.

Divide among bowls and drizzle with parmesan cheese.

Gnocchi Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Mushroom Sauce adapted from Epicurious

A Red Velvet Valentine Heart

In honor of Valentine’s Day tomorrow I decided to bake up a red velvet cake heart and decorate it with cream cheese frosting. I just can’t stand when red velvet (or carrot cake for that matter) are frosted with buttercream or vanilla frosting. The flavors just don’t go well together in my opinion. So, what are your plans for Valentine’s Day? Or will you be celebrating Singletine’s Day? Or Galentine’s Day? Which is actually today!

For the cake I used a recipe that I came across on another blog that was for 12 cupcakes. In one bowl I combined all of my dry ingredients – flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, unsweetened cocoa powder and salt. And in a smaller bowl I whisked together buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, an egg, vinegar and red food coloring. I didn’t have buttermilk so I made my own by combining a 1/2 cup of milk with 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice (you could use vinegar in lieu of the lemon juice). I stirred the two together and let it sit at room temperature until it was slightly thickened. You may also see some curdling on the top as well. Ever since I learned I could make my own buttermilk I have opted to do that as opposed to buying it. Inevitably I always end up throwing out most of the buttermilk since I have nothing else to use it for.

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Next, I added the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat them until they were well combined. And then slowly added in hot water – I boiled the water and then let it cool a bit.

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And finally, I poured the batter into my prepared 6-inch heart pan (I sprayed it with baking spray) and baked it in a 350 F oven for about 40 minutes. Now, if you plan on using a 6-inch heart pan like I did, don’t make the same mistake I did. I poured all of the batter into the pan. I probably should have only poured in enough to fill half or 3/4 of the pan, but, it was slightly more than 3/4. So, what happened, it overflowed when I baked it. Thankfully I had the premonition that it would so I placed aluminum foil on the rack beforehand so I didn’t have a huge mess in my oven.

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It wasn’t all that bad though, after letting the cake cool I was able to torte the cake. I just used the cut side as the bottom of the cake.

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And then it was time to decorate. I made cream cheese frosting and let it firm up a bit in the fridge before decorating with it. I began by make two large rosettes on the cake using a Wilton 1M tip…

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And soon enough, using various sizes and shapes of decorating tips, my heart was completely decorated.

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So, however you will be celebrating, or if you’re not celebrating at all, I hope you have a wonderful day.

 

Red Velvet Cake

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 teaspoon white vinegar

2 teaspoons red food coloring

1/2 cup hot water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare your desired pan. This recipe was originally for 12-14 cupcakes, but, can be easily used for a single layer 6-inch or 8-inch cake.

In a large bowl combine the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt, set aside.

In a medium bowl whisk together the buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, egg, vinegar and red food coloring.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and using a hand mixer beat until well combined.

Slowly add the hot water to the batter and mix on low speed until well combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.

If using a cupcake pan, bake for about 15 – 17 minutes. If using a cake pan, bake for 30 – 40 minutes. Until a cake tested comes out clean.

Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 2 minutes and then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Recipe from The Cake Blog

Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

1 8-oz. package cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

Combine the cream cheese and butter in a bowl and beat until smooth.

Gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until smooth.

Add in the vanilla extract and beat until well incorporated.

Carrot Cake For Two…

Or dessert for One for two days! I love carrot cake, but, truth be told it’s a lot of work to make for just me alone to eat. Okay, it’s really not a lot of work; it’s a lot of cake for me alone. But, I recently came across a recipe for carrot cake that resulted in two perfect-sized slices of cake, which would be great as a dessert for two or in my case dessert for one for two days… Yum! Who doesn’t love a delicious dessert two days in a row?

To make the batter I began by whisking together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl. I then created a well in the center of the flour mixture and added in eggs and sugar and mixed the two together. Next I added in oil and vanilla extract and continued mixing it with a fork.

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I then incorporated the flour mixture and egg mixture and folded in shredded carrots and pecans to the batter. Once the batter was well combined I transferred it to a 9-inch round pan that I sprayed with baking spray.

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After baking the cake in a 350 F preheated oven for about 25 minutes I removed it from the oven and allowed the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 20 minutes.

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After the 20 minutes, I removed the cake from the pan and allowed it to cool completely on the wire rack. Once it was completely cooled I cut the cake into 4 equal parts and frosted the top of each piece with cream cheese frosting.

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I then stacked the four pieces and frosted the back curve of the cake.

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After refrigerating the cake for half an hour I then sliced it in half and was left with 2 perfect sized slices of cakes.

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Carrot Cake For Two

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

Pinch freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg, at room temperature

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

5 ounces carrots (about 3 small), finely grated (about 1 cup)

1/4 cup pecans

 

For the Frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

Directions:

For The Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 -by- 2 inch round cake pan with baking spray.

Whisk together the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg – in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Working within the well, use a fork to mix together the eggs and sugar until well combined. Add the oil and vanilla to egg mixture and continue mixing with a fork until well combined once again. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together with the fork until just combined. Fold in the carrots and pecans.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes on a wire rack. Turn out the cake and let it cool on the wire rack for about an hour until completely cool.

For The Frosting:

Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer on medium, beat together the butter and cream cheese. Slowly add the confectioners’ sugar and continue beating until well incorporated. Finally add in the vanilla extract.

To Assemble the Cake:

Cue the cake into 4 equal wedges. Frost the top of each wedge with about 3 tablespoons of frosting. Stack the wedges on top of each other and with the remaining frosting frost the back curve of the cake, and leave the 2 sides of the cake open. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, then cut the cake wedge in half and serve.

Recipe from The Food Network

Chicken Egg Rolls

There’s nothing like making homemade takeout… you know those staples like pizza, burgers, Mexican and probably one of the most popular Chinese. I don’t know about you but one of the things I like the most from my Chinese take-out are the egg rolls. And today I am bringing you a super simple and absolutely delicious recipe to making egg rolls at home!

First, in a medium bowl, I combined shredded chicken (I bought a cooked rotisserie chicken from the supermarket), broccoli slaw (which you can find in your local supermarket in the bagged salad area), cilantro, scallions, and freshly grated ginger along with teriyaki sauce, duck sauce and vegetable oil.

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Next, with the egg roll wrapper positioned in a diamond shape in front of me I placed about two tablespoons of the mixture in the lower corner.

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To roll, I folded up the bottom corner, then each of the sides (it’ll look like an envelope) and then dabbed the top edges with water and then rolled to enclose it.

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Once I had finished rolling all of the egg rolls I heated vegetable oil in my cast iron skillet. I’ll say it was about 1/4 of the way up the sides of my skillet. Now, I’m not one to take the temperature of the oil when frying food. My trick, place a wooden spoon in the center of the oil and if bubbles form around it you know the oil is ready. This is definitely a lot safer than my other “trick,” flicking water into the oil. Not a lot of course, just enough to get a reaction. So, once my oil was ready I fried the egg rolls in batches, turning, about 3-4 minutes until they were golden brown. I then transferred them to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

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I served the egg rolls with a broccoli slaw salad made by combining the remaining broccoli slaw, cilantro and scallions in a large bowl and tossing it with teriyaki sauce, duck sauce, vegetable oil and rice vinegar. And of course with a side of duck sauce for dipping! YUM! The fresh grated ginger is really the standout ingredient in these egg rolls… You taste it, but, not as an overpowering ingredient but as one that really brings all the flavors together.

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And it wasn’t long before I made these again (less than a week later) but without the chicken, yet, they were just as delicious. I am thinking of trying shrimp next.

 

Chicken Egg Rolls with Broccoli Slaw

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, skin removed

4 cups broccoli slaw (about 8 ounces)

1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro

4 scallions, sliced

2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger

3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce

3 tablespoons duck sauce, plus more for serving

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for serving

8 egg rolls wrappers

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

 

Directions:

Mix the chicken, 2 cups broccoli slaw, 1/4 cup cilantro, 2 scallions, the ginger, 2 tablespoons each of teriyaki sauce and duck sauce and 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a medium bowl.

Heat about 1/4 inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is hot but not smoking. While the oil is heating, arrange the chicken mixture in the center of each egg roll wrapper.

Tuck in the ends and roll to enclose, dab the edges with water and continue to roll to enclose.

Once the oil is hot, fry the egg rolls in batches, turning, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

To make the slaw, combine the remaining broccoli slaw, cilantro and scallions in a large bowl. Add the remaining tablespoon each of teriyaki sauce, duck sauce and vegetable oil along with the rice vinegar, toss. Serve with the egg rolls.

**The original broccoli slaw recipe included a 14-ounce can of baby corn which I opted to leave out.

Recipe from Food Network

Lavender Ricotta Donuts

Happy National Donut (or Doughnut) Day! For almost 80 years now (77 to be exact) the first Friday in June has been declared Nation Donut Day – started by the Salvation Army as a way to honor the volunteers of World War I who served donuts to soldiers. Not that there needs to be a reason to enjoy these incredibly sweet and delicious treats, but, on this day enjoying them may be a little more enticing as some places will give you a free one! In honor of today I decided to convert a Lavender Ricotta fritter recipe I made a few years back in a cooking class into donuts.

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To make the batter I combined ricotta cheese, eggs, vanilla paste, sugar, baking powder and flour in the bowl of my stand mixer and used the whisk attachment to mix the ingredients. I then added in dried lavender and continued mixing the batter until it was thick.

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Next I used a piping bag – I just snipped the end of the bag off – and piped the batter into a prepared donut pan; I sprayed it with baking spray.

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I then baked them for about 15 minutes in a 350 F preheated oven. After removing them from the oven I let them cool in the pan before inverting them on a wire rack to cool completely.

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Final outcome… They definitely tasted good – especially after an extra dusting of powdered sugar on top – but I definitely need to work on my donut making skills. I’ll be the first to admit that they are a bit wonky looking! One other thing, they didn’t have the typical dense texture of a donut, more like the moistness of a cruller thanks to the ricotta cheese.

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If you like the flavor of lavender check out these other recipes I’ve made using the herb: Lavender Cupcakes with Mascarpone Frosting and Lavender Vanilla Ice Cream. With both of these recipes I was able to get the flavor of lavender into them by soaking the dried flowers in milk overnight and then straining the milk prior to using it in the recipes.

Lavender Ricotta Donuts

Yield: 10 Donuts

Ingredients:

2 cups ricotta cheese

3 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste*

1/4 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup flour

2 tablespoons dried lavender

Confectioners’ powder, for dusting

*Can also use vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Prep donut pan by spraying it with baking spray.

2. Whisk together the ricotta cheese, eggs, vanilla bean paste, sugar, baking powder and flour until combined. Add in the dried lavender and continue mixing until the batter is thick.

3. Transfer the batter to a piping bag or Ziploc bag and snip off the end and pipe the batter into the prepared pan.

4. Bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes, until a cake tested comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. Once cooled use a sifter to sprinkle the donuts with confectioners’ sugar.