Pecan Pie French Toast Bake

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Thank you to Advocate Magazine for featuring me in the December Magazine and Kathy Tran for the awesome photo shoot!!!!  

PECAN PIE FRENCH TOAST BAKE……Yessss!!!  So after Thanksgiving, I thought I was done with pies for a little while.  I was ready to move on to Christmas cookies, but Pecan Pie French Toast Bake is the answer that we all need for all of our holiday brunches…I promise you will fall in love!  

French toast can be made with a variety of different breads, but my go to is challah bread.  This eggy, soft and rich bread, makes the most fluffy french toast that is sure to impress all of your guests.  

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Pecan Pie French Toast Bake
Serves 10
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French Toast
  1. 1 Loaf Challah Bread, cut into 1" cubes
  2. 8 large Eggs
  3. 2 cups Milk
  4. 1/2 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
  5. 3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  6. 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
  7. 3 Cups Pecans
Pecan Pie Filling
  1. 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  2. 1 Cup Light Corn Syrup
  3. 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  4. 1/3 Cup Butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for the pecan pie filling and set aside
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, heavy cream, sugar and vanilla, and pecans
  4. Add the chopped bread into a deep casserole dish (9x13) and pour the egg mixture over to bread to cover completely
  5. Gently stir bread to get each piece coated in the egg mixture
  6. Evenly pour the pecan pie filling on top of the bread mixture
  7. Bake fore 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and cooked throughout.
  8. Serve warm with maple syrup and fresh whipped cream!
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
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How to Host a Cookie Exchange

img_5835Are you ready for the nonstop parties, gatherings, and abundance of cooking and gift giving? While some of us love entertaining, for others it may be a bit stressful. If you need to cut back on your baking, gather your friends and host a cookie exchange. You only have to bake one kind of cookie, but you’ll get several dozen to bring to your holiday table.

My sister and I started hosting cookie exchanges for our friends several years ago, and we look forward to it every year. The cookies get better and our friends get more creative with the recipes. There is no need to be a professional or invite only friends that are good bakers. Invite the friends you want to share the holidays with. Exchange cookies, enjoys sips and bites, and spread the holiday cheer!

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Here are the steps you need to know so that you can host your own Cookie Exchange.

Invitations
Just like any party, you must start with a guest list, set the date and send out the invitation. Choose 10-20 (or more) of your friends who have a sweet tooth like you. For the sake of time, sending an emailed invitations such as an Evite or Paperless Post is perfectly acceptable for this type of gathering. Choose a date for your cookie exchange that is close enough to the holidays so that you can enjoy your assortment of cookies with your family

Cookies
Now it’s time to choose the cookie that you want to bake and share with your friends. You can be a simple or fancy as you would like, but remember you have to bake several dozen to share. The week of your cookie exchange, let your guests know how many people are attending so they can start baking. We recommend each guest bring one type of cookie and bake enough cookies that everyone gets to take 2-3 of each kind. So if you are inviting 12 people have your guests bake and bring 2-3 dozen cookies.

Packaging
Once all the cookies are displayed on the table for everyone to admire, it is time to start swapping. Have a table ready just for packaging up these scrumptious cookies. Boxes for each guest, tissue paper to line the boxes, ribbon and a gift tag will be the perfect way to send your friends off with a beautiful assortment of cookies.

Snacks
Last but not least, make sure you have some savory snacks and cocktails or mocktails for your friends to enjoy. They will not be able to survive just on cookies alone, so 3-4 bite size appetizers and a signature drink for the night is the perfect amountimg_5816

Peppermint Meringue
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Ingredients
  1. 3 Egg Whites
  2. 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  3. 3/4 Cup Granulated Sugar
  4. 1/2 tsp Peppermint Extract
  5. Red Food Coloring, gel
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees F. and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a mixer with whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy and turns into stiff peak
  3. Reduce the speed on the mixer and slowly add in 1/2 cup of granulated sugar
  4. Once the sugar is fully combined and the eggs become a little glossy add in the peppermint extract
  5. When you have stiff peaks, stop the mixer and gently fold in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar
  6. Take a 1/2 of the meringue into another bowl and fold in red food coloring until combined (do not over mix)
  7. Using a piping bag and a star tip, fill the red meringue on one side of the bag and the white meringue on the other side of the bag and start piping
  8. Pipe meringue onto prepared baking sheets into 2” cookies
  9. Bake at 200 degrees F for approximately 1 hour or until the meringue cookies have dried out.
  10. Remove the meringue from the oven, allow the cookies to cool and store in an air tight container until ready to serve
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
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Chocolate Marshmallow Whoopie Pie
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Ingredients
  1. Chocolate Whoopie Pie
  2. 2 Cups All Purpose Flour
  3. 1/2 Cup Cocoa Powder
  4. 1 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  5. 1 tsp Salt
  6. 1 Cup Buttermilk
  7. 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  8. 8 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  9. 1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  10. 1 Egg
  11. Marshmallow Cream Filling
  12. 8 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
  13. 2 Cups Powdered Sugar
  14. 2 Cups Marshmallow Fluff
  15. 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
Chocolate Whoopie Pie Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk together
  3. Cream together butter, brown sugar and vanilla extract until fluffy
  4. Add egg to butter mixture beat until combined
  5. Slowly alternate adding flour mixture and buttermilk and beat until smooth
  6. Scoop 1 tbsp size mounds of batter onto prepared baking sheet
  7. Bake for 6-8 minutes or until the cookie springs back when you touch it
  8. Remove the cookies from the oven and cool completely before assembling
Marshmallow Cream Filling Directions
  1. Beat the butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract and marshmallow fluff together until smooth. 
Cover and set aside until ready to use
Whoopie Pie Assembly
  1. Pipe the marshmallow cream to cover the flat side of one cookie
  2. Sandwich two chocolate cookies together
  3. Serve or store in an airtight container
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/

No Tricks Just Halloween Treats

img_5389I love Halloween, not for the scary and spooky stuff, for the creativity it brings out of everyone.  Starting with costumes,  it is so fun to see my girls coming up with what they want to dress up as.  As a mom it is hard not to want to tell them what they should be or what costume would be the cutest, but really it is the best when they come up with their own ideas.  

Working up Halloween treats in the kitchen is the same, the more creative the better. Halloween is not a serious or elegant holiday so why not be a little crazy and have fun with it.  This year I am focused on treats that you and your kids will enjoy and get their hands a little dirty with.

Black and White Chocolate Bark is a simple treats you and your kids can make together.  With nearly no recipe needed at all, find whatever Halloween candy or salty sweet combination you like and sprinkle over melted dark and white chocolate.img_5391

Candy corn and caramel corn both scream fall and why not combine the two for a delicious snack that you won’t be able to stop eating.  Candy Corn Caramel Crunch combines all of my favorites, popcorn, buttery caramel, roasted peanuts, candy corn and drizzled with chocolate.  Serve in a bowl for your guests or package up for a perfect school treat for friends.img_5317

If you are hosting friends on Halloween Orange Fizz Punch is refreshing before or after trick or treating.  Frozen orange sherbet topped with pineapple juice and lemon lime soda ending with a fizz is decadent and sweet, it can even be dessert! img_5449

Keep Halloween stress free with these three kid and adult friendly recipes that will bring your creative juices out!  

Black and White Chocolate Bark
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 8 ounces Semisweet Chocolate
  2. 8 ounces White Chocolate
  3. Candy Corn
  4. Sixlets
  5. Pretzels
  6. Candy Corn M&M
  7. Peanuts
Instructions
  1. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  2. Melt semisweet chocolate in a double boiler, stirring until chocolate is melted
  3. (remove one ounce of semisweet chocolate and save)
  4. Pour onto a prepared baking sheet and spread to be even and smooth
  5. Allow the semisweet chocolate layer to cool
  6. Melt white chocolate in a double boiler, stirring until chocolate is melted
  7. Pour the white chocolate over the semisweet chocolate layer and spread evenly to cover the semisweet chocolate
  8. While the white chocolate is still melted, drizzle the extra semisweet chocolate in rows onto the white chocolate and take a toothpick to spread the semisweet chocolate through the white chocolate
  9. Immediately sprinkle the toppings; candy corn, sixlets, pretzels, M&M’s and peanuts over the white and dark chocolate.
  10. Allow the bark to cool completely, approximately 1 hour, before breaking it into pieces
  11. Package for gifts or store in the refrigerator until ready to serve
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
Candy Corn Caramel Crunch
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter
  2. 1 Cup Light Brown Sugar
  3. 1/4 Cup Light Corn Syrup
  4. 1 tsp Salt
  5. 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  6. 8 Cups Popcorn, Popped
  7. 1 Cup Candy Corn
  8. 1/2 Cup Unsalted Peanuts
  9. 1 Cup Semi Sweet Chocolate, melted
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F
  2. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  3. In a large Saucepan, melt butter completely
  4. Stir in light brown sugar and light corn syrup and stir until fully combined
  5. Bring butter mixture to a rolling boil and boil for 5 minutes without stirring the caramel mixture
  6. Continue cooking for 5-8 minutes or until the mixture comes to a desired caramel color
  7. Turn the heat off and stir in the salt and baking soda
  8. Slowly pour in the popped popcorn and peanuts and toss until completely coated
  9. Spread the caramel corn onto a sheet pan 
Bake for 15 minutes until the caramel becomes a deep amber color
  10. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and immediately sprinkle with candy corn and drizzle with semi sweet chocolate
  11. Once the caramel corn has cooled, break the pieces into small chucks
  12. Package the candy corn caramel crunch for gifts or store in an air tight container
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
Orange Fizz Punch
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 1 quart Orange Sherbet
  2. 1 Can (46 ounces) Pineapple Juice
  3. 2 Cups Orange Juice
  4. 1 Liters Lemon Lime Soda
  5. Garnish: Halloween Sprinkles
Instructions
  1. In a large punch bowl, combine pineapple juice, orange juice and lemon lime soda
  2. Right before you are ready to serve add orange sherbet to the punch bowl
  3. Serve the punch in individual glasses and top it off with a splash of lemon lime soda to create the fizz!
  4. Garnish with halloween sprinkles and a straw
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/

Easter Bread…A slice of an international tradition

IMG_6437A sweet bread full of tradition and lives through many cultures is one that has been passed down from generation to generation in my family. Italian Easter bread is a rich, eggy bread with a pop of citrus flavor, eggs (dyed or whited) braided into the dough, a sweet sugar glaze, and the best part…covered in rainbow sprinkles.

A tradition that my great grandmother started and has been shared and enjoyed by many is one of my favorite Easter morning memories. Every year this sweet brioche like bread would stay on our counter and throughout the weekend would be sliced and buttered until the whole thing was gone. Although is it typically made for the Easter holiday, I tend to crave it all year long.

Throughout many years of sharing our family’s Easter Bread, I quickly learned that it is not only an Italian tradition, but one spans many other cultures.

Italian Easter bread (Pane di Pasqua) 
The wreath symbolizes the crown of thorns, and the eggs represents birth and life.

Greek Easter Bread (Tsoureki)
This is very similar to the Italian tradition.  Three strands of bread symbolize the holy trinity, and red dyed eggs represent the blood of Christ.

British Easter Bread (Hot Cross Buns)
These are spiced sweet buns made with currents or raisins and enjoyed on Good Friday. 
The cross represents the Crucifixion of Christ.

Croatian Easter Bread, Pinca
Round loaf with a cross cut into the surface of the bread symbolizing the Crucifixion.  It is flavored with raisins, rum and citrus zest.

Spanish Easter Bread, Mona de Pascua
-Mona de Pascua means “gift of Easter”and is very similar to the Italian tradition as well, but is typically made with quail eggs, olive oil instead of butter and accented with flavors of orange zest and rosewater.

I hope you enjoy this special recipe from my Nanny’s kitchen to yours!

Nanny's Easter Bread
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Dough
  1. 4 cups all purpose flour
  2. ¼ cup granulated sugar
  3. ½ cup vegetable shortening
  4. ½ cup whole milk
  5. 1 envelope active dry yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
  6. 4 eggs
  7. 1 orange, zest and juice
  8. ½ tsp salt
  9. ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  10. 4 eggs (for decoration)
Glaze
  1. 2 cups powdered sugar
  2. ¼ cup whole milk
  3. Sprinkles for garnish
Dough
  1. Place flour and sugar in a large mixing bowl with dough hook attachment and add shortening until a course crumb forms. Heat milk in a saucepan until warm to the touch (110 degrees F) and add yeast.
  2. Combine eggs, orange zest and juice, vanilla extract and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk until combined. Slowly add yeast mixture to the flour mixture and knead until it comes together (it will be dry at this point). Add egg mixture a little at a time until fully combined.
  3. Knead the dough in the mixer or by hand until dough is soft and elastic. Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise until doubled in size (approximately 1 hour).
  4. Divide dough into two pieces and roll each piece into 24-inch-long pieces. Twist the two pieces together. Form the rope into a 12” round circle, pinching the ends together to seal, and nestle 4 eggs into the dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size (approx 45 minutes).
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F; once the bread is ready, bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown on top. Allow the bread to cool completely before glazing and adding sprinkles.
Glaze
  1. Whisk together powdered sugar and milk, adding more of either ingredient to achieve the desired consistency. Use a pastry brush to glaze the top of the Easter Bread.
  2. Before the glaze dries, garnish the bread with rainbow sprinkles
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
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The Feast of the Seven Fishes

tableGrowing up in a large family, we celebrated every holiday to the fullest and had many traditions.  Christmas Eve was and still is one of my favorite family traditions and one that I want to share with all of you. There is something very special about this day and has left me with vivid memories as a child and I still look forward to Christmas Eve every year. It is not about the gifts and getting to bed early waiting for Santa, it is actually the total opposite.  As a family Christmas Eve has always focused on cooking and enjoying a long evening of feasting.  

The feast of the seven fishes is a tradition that I thought everyone celebrated on Christmas Eve until I got older and realized this was an Italian tradition and a very special one! The origin of The Seven Fishes comes from the Roman Catholic Church to fast during Holy Week.  This fasting later turned into feasting with an abundance of food and celebration.  No one knows the exact meaning behind the specific number seven, but it is thought to come from the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church .

Leading up to Christmas Eve, the menu preparation of this Southern Italian tradition is quite elaborate.  Every family has a variety of seafood dishes but there are some that are more common and other that are family favorites. The dishes that sit at our table have been with us for many years: stuffed lobster tails, whole red snapper, clams and pasta, seafood salad, baccala in red sauce, garlic shrimp and mussels in a white wine sauce. It is very important to choose seafood that is fresh and can be purchased at your local gourmet grocer. Most of the seafood I found this year was purchased from Central Market, but can also be found at any local seafood market. Baccala is one of the more uncommon seafood dishes, it is also known as salted cod and sold in a slab form. The history of Baccala shows the importance of the preserved fish for an inexpensive meal when fresh fish could not be found. Because the fish is preserved it must be soaked for at least 3 days before cooking and can be found is very specialty shops or can even be found and shipped through amazon.com. Although it is a long process and more difficult to find, it is absolutely worth making!

As I had the opportunity to prepare every dish with my uncle, Mario Sorrentino, I felt the love for this holiday more than ever. Mario moved to Dallas 12 years ago from New York but was born and raised in Naples, Italy. He has shared so many wonderful and authentic recipes from his home town and we love having them at our table every year. I look forward to continuing this Christmas Eve tradition for my family and I hope you will share it with yours.lobster

Baked Lobster Tails
(serves 6 people)
Ingredients:
6 4-5 ounce Lobster Tails
1 cup Bread Crumbs
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
12 Tbsp Butter, divided for each lobster

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Cut the top of the shell along the whole lobster tail with scissor and then using a knife make the cut deeper into the flesh and remove the vein
Combine bread crumbs, garlic powder, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper in a large bowl and mix to combine
Fill the lobster tail cavity with the breadcrumb mixture
Place 2 tbsp of butter on top of each lobster tail
Wrap each tail in aluminum foil and place a sheet pan
Bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes
Once lobster is cooked through remove from the foil and serve immediately

seafood salad

Seafood Salad
(serves 6 people)
Ingredients:
8 Cups Water
1/2 Cup White Vinegar
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 1/2 lb. Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb. Sea Scallops, cut in half
1 1/4 lb. Mussels, cleaned
2 lbs Squid Tubes
1 lb. Crab Meat, cooked

Sauce:
1 Cup Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
1 tsp Garlic, minced
Zest of 2 Lemons
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 Tbsp Champagne Vinegar
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 Tbsp Parsley, chopped
1/4 Cup Celery, chopped
1/4 Red Bell Pepper, sliced thin

Instructions:
In a large sauce pan, combine 8 cups water, vinegar and salt and bring to a boil
Rinse and cut squid tubes into 2” pieces and place in boiling water for 2 minutes
Remove squid from boiling water and place in a large bowl (save water)
Bring water back to a boil and add shrimp and boil for 2 minutes or until cooked through
Remove shrimp and add to bowl with squid (save water)
Bring water back to a boil and add scallops and cook for 4 minutes or until cooked through
Remove scallops from water and add to bowl with squid and shrimp
You may discard water at this point
In a sauté pan, steam the mussels until they open and remove the mussel from the shell and place in the bowl with all other seafood
Make sure to drain seafood again to remove any additional water
Add crab meat to bowl with seafood and gently stir to combine

Prepare the Sauce:
In a sauté pan over medium heat, warm olive oil
Add thyme, garlic and lemon zest to the olive oil and cook over low heat for 1 minute
Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper and champagne vinegar
Pour the hot vinaigrette over the seafood and add in the chopped celery and parsley
Gently toss the seafood salad and garnish with fresh parsley and slice bell peppers

red snapper

Baked Whole Red Snapper
(serves 4 people)
Ingredients:
1 3 lb. Whole Red Snapper
1 Lemon, Sliced
2 sprigs of Thyme

Sauce
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Capers
1 Large Shallot, Chopped
1 tsp Fresh Thyme
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper
Scale and gut the whole fish
Place the fish on a lined sheet pan and season the cavity of the fish with sliced lemons and thyme sprigs
Score the top of the fish and season with salt and pepper, olive oil and arrange lemon slices around the fish; bake for 30-40 minutes
Prepare the sauce: heat olive oil in a sauté pan and add the chopped shallots, capers and thyme. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper
Once fish is fully baked, remove the skin from the fish and place on a serving dish with sauce covering the top

mussels

Mussels in White Wine Sauce
(serves 4 people)
Ingredients:
2 lbs Mussels
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
6 Tbsp Butter, Unsalted
1/2 Cup Shallots, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 Cup White Wine
1/2 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper

Instructions:
Clean mussels: place in a large bowl and soak for 30 minutes; Remove any mussels that are already open.
In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil and butter. Add shallots and thyme leaves and cook for 5 minutes.
Add the white wine and reduce the liquid to half.
Once the wine is reduced add the mussels into the wine reduction and season with salt and pepper.
Cover the pan and simmer over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until mussels open completely (discard any that do not open).
Pour the mussels and sauce into a large serving dish and enjoy with toasted baguette.

garlic shrimp

Garlic Shrimp
(serves 4 people)
Ingredients:
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, sliced thin
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 lb. Large Shrimp, peeled and deveined, tail on
1 Tbsp Butter, unsalted
Salt and pepper

Instructions:
In a large skillet, heat olive oil
Add garlic and red pepper flakes; cook until garlic is fragrant and golden
Add shrimp to olive oil and cook until shrimp are opaque
Add butter and stir until shrimp are fully coated
Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh parsley
Serve immediately

clams and pasta

Spaghetti with Clams
(serves 4 people)
Ingredients:
2 lbs Littleneck Clams
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
4 Garlic Cloves
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 Cups White Wine
1 Tbsp Fresh Parsley, Chopped
1 lb Spaghetti, Cooked

Instructions:
1. Soak and scrub the clams in water for 30 minutes to remove the sand
2. In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil
3. Add garlic and red pepper flakes to oil until garlic is soft and fragrant
4. Add white wine to garlic and simmer until half of the liquid is evaporated
5. Add clams to the white wine mixture and steam until clams have opened completely
6. Sprinkle the clams with fresh parsley and toss over cooked spaghetti
7. Serve immediately

baccala

Baccala Stew
(serves 4 people)
Ingredients:
1 lb Salted Cod (Baccala), soaked
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
1/2 Large Yellow Onion, sliced
1 Celery Stalk
2 Large Carrots
4 Yukon Gold Potatoes 1 Can (15 oz) Crushed Tomatoes
1/4 tsp Oregano, dried
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1 1/2 Cups Water

Instructions:
Soak Salted Cod in water for a minimum of 5 days, changing the water 3 times per day before using
Cut salted cod into 2” pieces
Chop the onions, celery, and carrots into 2” pieces and peel and slice potatoes in half
In a large sauté pan heat olive oil and add onions and garlic until soft and fragrant
Add crushed tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes, oregano and 1 1/2 cups of water to onions and garlic; simmer for 15 minutes
Add the salted cod to tomato mixture and simmer until cod is tender, approximately 15 minutes
Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh parsley
Serve immediately

All recipes have been featured in The Dallas Morning News!  

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Holiday Wine and Desserts…A Perfect Pairing

wines and dessertAs the holidays quickly approach, wine and dessert are two of our favorite things. Although wines are usually paired with savory dishes and coffee paired with desserts, wine and desserts can find perfect harmony while livening up your seasonal soiree. So how do you know which wines are the best for your dessert selection? There are a few factors that you need to consider: acidity, intensity and sweetness. The rules are simple: wines pair with like colors; oaky wines go with simple flavors like vanilla bean, butterscotch and caramel; the sweeter the wine, the less sweet the dessert should be. With these easy rules and a list of wine and dessert pairings, step out of the box and try wine instead of coffee at your holiday table. –

Sauvignon Blanc originates from France, specifically Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. Sauvignon Blanc is a dry white wine and is very different than most due to it herb like flavors. While you are sipping on a glass, you are sure to taste hints of lime, green apple and passion fruit as well green bell peppers and jalapeño.
Dessert Pairing: Lemon Meringue Tart

Riesling is one of the most aromatic grapes in the world and is a highly acidic wine that originated in Germany. Riesling has several varieties; dry, semi sweet and sweet and the flavor will vary depending on the region that it was made. Some of the most common flavors that you will find while drinking riesling are lemon, apricot, peach, apple and honey.
Dessert Pairing: Apple Tarte Tatin

Chardonnay is known to be the most popular white grape in the world and it originated in the Burgundy Region of France. The fermentation process for this grape is done in oak barrels which brings out the buttery flavor. Vanilla and cinnamon are some of the flavors that you will taste as well as many tropical flavors such as banana, mango, melon and pineapple while drinking Chardonnay.
Dessert Pairing: Butterscotch Pot de Creme

Prosecco is a sparkling wine that comes from Italy. While sipping on Prosecco you will experience a hint of green apple, honeydew, pears and cream as well as some floral flavors. This wine can be enjoyed on its own or added to fresh squeezed juices or other refreshing cocktails.
Dessert Pairing: Fresh Berries and Whipped Cream

Pinot Noir is known for its subtle flavors of berries, cherries and cranberries. This grape is grown in cooler environments and despite being a weak grape and fairly hard to grow, the price of pinot noir is competitive to other red wines.
Dessert Pairing: Creme Brûlée or Chocolate Mousse

Merlot originating from Bordeaux, this grape has a dark and intense color that gives off flavors of plum, blackberries and leafy greens.
Dessert Pairing: Dark Chocolate Truffles or Double Chocolate Chip Cookies

Port wine is the most common wine to be enjoyed after dinner. Port is a sweet red wine that comes from Portugal and gives off flavors of berries, chocolate, caramel and nuts. This wine should be paired with something not to sweet and might add a touch of salt.
Dessert Pairing: Assorted Cheese Platter

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Pear + Almond Tart

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With only a few days away from your Thanksgiving feast, I am sharing an all time favorite tart recipe that will be the perfect ending to your holiday.  Pears and almond are two flavors that I long for all year.  The key ingredient to this tart is Frangipane; almond cream, sugar, butter and eggs…you will want to use it in every dessert that you make, it’s that good!  

Here’s what you need:
my favorite flakey pie dough
frangipane (recipe below)
bosc pears
sliced almonds  

I hope your Thanksgiving week is filled with family, food and fun…we have a lot to be thankful for! IMG_4783IMG_4802

Pear Almond Tart
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Ingredients
  1. 1 recipe Pie Dough
  2. 1 recipe Frangipane
  3. 2 Bosc Pears
  4. 1/4 cup Sliced Amonds
Frangipane
  1. 1/2 cup Almond Paste
  2. 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  3. 3 Tbsp Butter, unsalted
  4. 2 Tbsp Cake Flour
  5. 1 Eggs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Roll out pie dough into 9" round or rectangle tart pan, refrigerate until ready to use
  3. Prepare frangipane and spread a very thin layer on the bottom of the chilled unbaked tart shell
  4. Peal pears, cut them in half and remove seeds using a melon baller
  5. Slice each pear half into thin slices keeping the half together and place on top of the frangipane
  6. Sprinkle the area around the pears with sliced almonds
  7. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until frangipane is light golden in color and baked through
  8. Serve warm
Frangipane
  1. 1. Cream almond paste and sugar together in a mixer with paddle attachment
  2. 2. Add butter and cream together until fully combined
  3. 3. Add cake flour and then add egg
  4. 4. Mix until there are no lumps and all ingredients have come together
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
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Rum Balls

IMG_4684We are almost one week away from my favorite day of the year, Thanksgiving!  I don’t know about you, but I love everything about this day; the most delicious food, our family is together all day, and there is no pressure of gifts.  Once we sit down for dinner, we don’t get up for a long time.  We eat until we can’t eat any more and then my family has a tradition to go around the table and say what we are thankful for.  It is really a wonderful tradition that brings out a lot of laughs and some tears, we reflect on everything the year has brought us.  I am so Thankful for the year that has passed, it has been such a wonderful time in my families life watching our two little ones grow and evolve into the funny, silly and caring girls they are. We are so blessed to have so many kids in our life bringing so much joy!!! And, our family is growing with another little one coming this week, I will have a new nephew.  This is what life is all about!   
IMG_4677I am also so thankful for my love of baking.  The kitchen is truly my happy place, whether I have a moment alone or my girls are sitting on the counter watching me and trying to eat everything I make :) As I start my holiday baking, this is one of my go to, simple and actually requires no baking.  Rums Balls are the size of a truffle, a strong rum flavor and are coated with sugar crystals for the perfect crunch.  Enjoy these for a holiday dinner or share them as a gift this season!

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Rum Balls
Yields 20
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 Cups Pecan, finely chopped
  2. 1 1/2 Cups Vanilla Wafers, finely chopped
  3. 1/2 Cup Powdered Sugar
  4. 2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  5. 2 Tbsp Corn Syrup
  6. 1/4 Cup Rum
  7. Sugar Crystals (for coating)
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, finely chop pecan pieces and vanilla wafers; place in a medium bowl
  2. Add powdered sugar, cocoa powder, corn syrup and rum to pecan mixture
  3. Stir ingredients together until fully combine and forms a ball
  4. Scoop 1" balls on to parchment paper and roll each ball until smooth
  5. Dip and roll each rum ball into sugar crystals until fully coated
  6. Chill the rum balls for until ready to serve
Adapted from Joy of Baking
Adapted from Joy of Baking
INK foods : In Nanny's Kitchen http://inkfoods.com/
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