2 Boxes of the cheapest Ginger cookies you can find at the supermarket (mine were a dollar each)
2 Tablespoons Butter, melted
3 8oz blocks of room temperture cream cheese
1 cup Ricotta
1 Teaspoon each: Ginger, Cinnamon
1/2 Teaspoon Nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Cloves
3 Teaspoons Almond Extract
1/2 Cup Molassase
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1 1/2 cup Sour Cream
5 Tablespoons White Sugar
1 Teaspoon almond extract
handful white chocolate chips
red and green sprinkles
Preheat over to 350
blend cookies until smooth, mix with butter and press into a greased spring form pan. make sure to have a TICK bottom and go high up the sides of the pan. use extra butter if necessary. bake for 15 minutes.
Dump all those ingredients into a bowl and MIX MIX MIX until mostly smooth and color is consistent (such a yummy gingerbread color). dump mixture into mostly cooled pie crust. bake for 70 minutes,
blend sour cream, sugar and extract until smooth. spread VERY gently spread the topping over the cheese cake. make sure to cover the top of the cake to the edges. take white chocolate and sprinkles and mound in the center of the cake.
bake 10-15 minutes longer until the cake is solid and the topping has begun to melt. you may need to cover the cake with foil to prevent the topping from browning while the cake finishes baking. add more chocolate and sprinkles to decorate. watch your family aw over what and awesome cheesecake maker you are ;)
ok...so i made this for thanksgiving, but make it for Christmas and i bet you $10 bucks no one complains. Super decadent and rich. this is a great end to any holiday meal.
we went on a pig hunt. was is fun, yes. was it hunting, not at all. was it a little disturbing, sure. basically it was 375 for a 300 lb pig, which was a good deal. another plus was that you got to hunt it! here i am thinking wild boar in the swamps of the south. what we really killed was an Amish raised pig on an island in the Suskie. we had a really good time, and the price was right for the meat (especially since we butcher it ourselves. but i felt a little bad shooting a domestic animal with a box and arrow....i didn't drop it immediately and this was not the 'wait for the animal to bed down and bleed out' sort of hunt. i ended up finishing him with the gun, but i would have much rather just shot the thing in the head like we do the ones in the head. its quick, its painless, i feel a lot better about it.
don't get me wrong. i LOVE to hunt. there is something very beautiful about stalking, or sitting in cover, waiting for the right moment to draw and release, then watching your kill drop or tracking the blood trail. its part of human nature, the same way its part of a cats nature, or a dogs nature. its just dulled in us from generations of easy living. likewise, a cat or dog doesn't really find interest in a toy until your shake it and move it around. give it some Fight! these pigs didn't have much fight to them, they just kind of hung out.
i would go again, especially for the price, i had a great day with my father and husband and my best friends husband, but when i can raise or buy my own pig for cheaper...ill definitely go that route. Or just bring an AR-15 the next time i go hunting farm pigs.
Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin and Pin-Wheeled Chops
Someone once said to me, "Well, do whatever the heck you want!", they then threw their hands up and walked away. I took their advice, joyfully, and have done things just the way i wanted ever since. This cake is good evidence of my disposition. I KNOW there is some kind of FORMAL recipe for a Hummingbird Cake, but i didn't follow it. rather i gathered that a hummingbird cake involves bananas, nuts of some sort (in my case, coconut. yes i stretched the rules again) pineapple and maybe fruit.
In other words, i took a Hummingbird cake to be a bright, happy jubilation of 'Spring is Coming!" goodness. so i made my version of that feelings. the cake is rich and warm,
Humming Bird Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Icing
first you want a large tray, i used a pizza pan because it was the perfect size and shape. place that aside for later. at this point you can cut a piece of cardboard about 1 1/2 larger then the base of your cake (makes the finished product easy to move) or you can follow my lead (however misguided) and use a sheet of the parchment paper you froze the cake in as a base. its your choice, but place you bottom layer onto of one or the other.
ice the top of the bottom cake and them place the nest layer on top. ice the second layer and place the third layer on top, place the forth layer on top and STOP! use your hand to hold the cake steady from the top (that is why we didn't ice the top layer...though licking icing off your fingers IS fun...) and use a standard bread knife to cut strait down along the edge of the cake and even up the sides. just take your time and you will be fine.
peel away all the trimmings and munch away. you have earned it girlfriend/boyfriend! brush any crumbs off the side of the cake. NOW you can ice the top, and the sides. dont worry if its a bit messy, this is the first layer. the second layer of icing will smooth out the look of the cake.l
let the cake sit for 15 minutes, this allows the icing to set. once the icing firmed up, add a second layer. once covered feel free to smooth the icing to look however you prefer. it wont show to much since we are going to cover the cake in coconut. get out a bag of the regular sweetened shredded stuff, and pinch up a good bunch. press the bunch against the top layer on the side of the cake and let the excess fall. i take pinched of the excess and press it along the places that did not cover. do this all around the cake. and then cover the top as well.
once you have covered the cake in coconut clean off the edges of your base a bit. then you can either lift up the cake on the cardboard and place it on the pizza tray, or slide the cake on the parchment onto the tray. the tray will get a little messy, just wipe it off with a slightly damp paper towel then dry. take a large paper doily and hold it over your cake to see how big of a piece you need to cut from the center. remove the center and lay the doily down around the cake, if you end up with a gap where the ends of the doily circle meet, cover it with a decorative flower.
feel free to top the cake with more decorative flowers (please nothing poisonous), maraschino cherry and birthday candles.
Ta-Da! you are now a splendid baker! Have fun transporting it!!!!
For holidays, my whole family gathers at a house, it varies by holiday, but normally it's my Cioci Deb house. Cioci cooks the big stuff, the Ham or the Turkey, and has drinks and all sorts of sides. Regardless of the beautiful spread, everyone tries to chip in and bring something either necessary or special to take the load off Cioci a bit.
my father doesn't tend to get busy in the kitchen often, but one year my mother asked him to make something to bring along and what he came up with was deviled eggs. the eggs turned out to be such a hit that not only were they requested to be made for the NEXT Easter, but the 'next' of every other holiday as well.
very proud of his eggs, my father always kept the recipe exactly the same (Don't Mess With PERFECTION!) but got decidedly fancier with the garnishments. alway paprika and parsley, but one year the parsley was fresh and artfully placed. then the filling was swirled more delicately and so on.
Last year we saw an AWESOME pin on pinterest of deviled eggs dolled up to look like little hatchling chickens. so we had to try it. along with the recipe for my Dad's Deviled Eggs, there is a short tutorial on how to make those egg hatch. its actually pretty easy and a lot of fun
Dad's Holiday Deviled Eggs
HOW TO MAKE DEVILED EGGS LOOK LIKE PEEPS
pull half of the egg white away from the yolk. scoop out the yolk into a gallon sized plastic bag. be careful not to tear the lower egg white when removing the yolk, as it will make your final product less stable. at this point i like to place reserve the egg carton and place the corresponding pieces together back in their spots. this makes the eggs easier to fill, deliver and handle.
once all of the eggs are placed in the carton, and the yolks are in to bag proceed with the instructions for mixing the filling
"place the yolks in a gallon sized plastic bag, and crumble up BEFORE adding the miracle whip. add the miracle whip and squish the bag until the mixture is smooth. clip a very tiny hole at the corner of the bag. ALWAYS make it SMALLER then you think you need, you can always make it bigger later"
hen remove the top 'shells' of your chicks and pipe in the filling. pipe them extra shy and do not worry about running out of filling. remember these yolks filled the eggs before you even added anything to them. you will have plenty left over for post holiday sandwiches. (Try THAT on toast!)
place the top 'shells' on top of the filling, angle them towards the back so that you have plenty of room to make the 'faces'. get out your carrots and shave them if whole or cut them in half if already cleaned. i tried to find and easy way to do this, but all it really comes down to is that you cut the carrot pieces into tiny triangles. i was feeling BIG beaks this year , so i cut my pieces large. last year we cut them small, but they look cute both ways
Stick the beak into the center of the 'face' and then very carefully place two peppercorns above it for eyes. Ta-Da! now all you need to do is cross of 'EGGS' on the carton and replace with 'PEEPS'. you are ready for a Hoppy Easter (ha, forgive me!)
What's your favorite holiday craft?
This recipe was actually a happy accident. When making Corned Beef and Cabbage, I made, as usual, waaaaaayyyy to many vegetables. This is not a problem, but all the meat got gobbled up and my mother was reminded of a recipe the 'Cioci's ' used to make called SauerKraut Soup. Tart and full of veggies and ham, this recipe brings back memories of spring at my Cioci Helcha's House, and for my mom, it brings back memories of my Uncle Stanley chasing me around in my Barbie Car.
You can most definitely make this recipe without having made corned beef first, simply boil your vegetables in beef or pork broth to soften and flavor them, then continue with the recipe as i have. a simple way to do this is to set the vegetables in the crockpot during the day and finish the soup on the stove when you return home.
This recipe is great for Spring. it has a bite from the sauerkraut, but still holds heartiness from the warmth of the soup and the weight of the ham cubes....plus this is easy to make and leaves time for starting your plants in the nicer weather....
I will admit, corned beef has always mystified me. not a part of any family meal or holiday ritual, the bricket meat of a cow was never cooked in my home. despite the bland impressions i was given about Irish food (and please don't take offense, my godmother is Irish and her and my mother often talked about the differences at their dinner tables), Corned Beef was always talked about as the epitome of perfect meat....i mean look at the reuben...swiss cheese, corned beef, thousand island dressing?!! who thinks of that that is not absolutely obsessed with the meat?
anyway, i wanted to try to make corned beef and cabbage for my father's birthday, which is good old St. Patrick's. i tried last year but rushed the recipe and you can imagine how that turned out.....
i wanted the boiling to be easy. i had heard of corned beef recipes where the crock pot was utilized and wanted to go that route. i did not want mushy vegetables though, so i created a plan of counter attack. the potatoes, onions and corned beef were placed in the crock pot last night, along with my spices, the spice packet that came with the meat, mustard, and a full covering of water. this morning, that crock pot went on low for 9 hours. when i arrive home at 3:30, that roast and potatoes will go in a roasting pan and be basted with a mustard and brown sugar mix. the water, now broth, will be kept going in the crock pot with the addition of cabbage and carrots. if all goes as planned the veggies will soak up the beef broth goodness and the potatoes and roast will crisp.
keep your fingers crossed for me!
if i can master the cooking of corned beef, perhaps i can venture into making some of my own corned meat this fall (ooo corned venison!!!!)
Ah, it's Lent....aside from the religious benefits of the 40 day friday meat fasts this entails, I am very fond of the culinary change it forces on most people. During much of the year, it is easy to forget about the benefits of incorporating fish and non-meat sources of protein.
i personally am guilty of this, focusing many meals on a main dish of venison beef or pork, even chicken should be avoided on fridays in lent. Being forced to work with fish, eggs, or other sources of protein gets me all excited about what to make each week. in fact, i often make these dishes more often during the rest of the week in Lent, just because i run into so many good recipes.
last week the fish was battered and fried, this week i wanted to try something else....and keep your eyes peeled for linguine with clam sauce next week. yum!
Head cheese is a traditional recipe back from when folks needed to eat EVERY part of the animal to survive. when we look back and try to recreate these recipes, it often comes as a surprise that these far surpass the standard cuts, taste wise. this would probably be because of the fact that the 'undesirable' parts tend to take a bit more coaxing to reach dinner table status. methods like pickling, slow cooking, braising, grinding, sausaging (?), and boiling are used. these methods are so intensive, in time and energy, because the goal is to take the tough tissues of and animal and break them down to an edible texture. this is pretty bangin' because its that tough tissue that holds the 'meatiest' taste of all the cuts on an animal.
anyway, back to headcheese. while it is possible to create a 'modernized' headcheese from more desirable cuts of meat (think pork butts and pigs feet) the hubby and i recently butchered a pig for a friend and were able to obtain the head cheeses name sake. a fresh, whole pig's head.
when cleaning a pigs head, it is important to remove the eyes and the brain. to do this, i first skinned the head. as the animal we butchers was not boiled and scraped, i also removed the ears, but if cleaned,the ears are a desirable producer of the collagen that holds the slicing meat together once finished
once skinned, our idea was to split the head down the center, from the nose to the back of the neck, due ta an incredibly sturdy skull and a dull electric blade, this proved difficult. to compensate we 'scalped' the head, removing the rounded cap off the top of the skull. this enabled us to remove the surprisingly small (think tennis ball sized) brain. the eyes were simple with a bit of digging and cutting.
once the head was cleared of skin, hair, ears, brain and eyes, what needed to be removed next was any of the clotted blood still left inside the head. to do this, i took the large stockpot i intended to boil the head in and soaked the head in salted water overnight. the first batch came out on the red side, but by the third soak and rinse (2nd being 6 hours and the 3rd 1 hour) the water was rinsing through clean.
the first bout of boiling i started on a Sunday night, i went about doing my thing and cooked the head at a medium boiled, covered, for approximately 6 hours covered. when ready for bed i put the whole pot in the fridge. i had not dissipated more then half of the liquid, so on Monday afternoon (while my father taught me the basics of butchering ducks) i put the pot on again. this time i went with a slow boil and left the cover off. when the pot had about 2 inches of liquid left, i turned off the heat and let the pot cool on the stove. while this was cooking my father comment on how good the soup broth smelled, and essentially that is what you are doing here. boiling most of the liquid out of the richest broth you have ever made.
once cooled i took a large pyrex bowl and placed a strainer in it, i dumped the majority of the liquid through and then began picking the head for meat. suprisinly, there is alot of REALLY delishous meat here. yes, you need to sort through the meat, but there are large portions off the tenderest pulled pork i have ever handled. the slow cooking completely breaks down any toughness this meat had before and turns it into quite the treat
two organs i was rather happy to add to the mix and create diversity in the head cheese was the Tongue and the heart. as you know i am quite fond of the deep texture of heart meat and save the hearts from my deer, chickens, and recently ducks. pork is no differant. when we pulled the innards from the pig on saturday, my first action was to rescue the heart from the pile, rinse it and store it in a plastic bag. while cleaning the head i set to saute' a pot of celery, onions and cubed heart pieces. clean the pig heart follows the same basics that i give in the link below for cleaning deer heart
after the heart was cleaned cubed and cooked, i added it to the pork mixture i was getting from the head. when arriving at the mouth cavity of the pig, i was taken back by the size of the tongue. this thing had three times the mass of the animals brain!
anyway i currently have a cows tongue in my freezer and have done some research on how to cook them. apparently the slow boil is the best way to bring forward a desirable texture and meaty taste in an animals tongue. in fact the meat is regarded highly for its ability to be sliced thin and used as a sandwich meat.
IMPORTANT: when cleaning the tongue, it is very to be sure to peel every bit of the skin from the meat. while the tongue is a very savory flavor, the skin has a bitter and unpleasant taste to it, this makes it key to boil and strip of the top layer.
the tongue was peeled and cubed and added with the pulled pork in a large bowl. one pigs head produced somewhere between 2 1/2 to 3 lbs of meat! the skull and scrap i tossed. only keep the nicest meat for the head cheese and pick through to get it, discarding anything that is gritty or excessively fatty.
at this point i added the boiled down cooking liquid to the chopped and shredded meat, mixed well and packed into a square Pyrex dish. on top of this i took a gallon sized bag of water and, after encasing it in another gallon sized bag, laid it on top of the head cheese to weight it down and fill any space there might be when i added the lid to the dish.
once packed tightly into the dish, i placed it in the refrigerator and left it for 2 days. this allows the meat broth to cool and gel. you know how when you placed a broth in the fridge a layer of fat forms on top. the layer you skim off of soup is what is going to gel and hold all the meat together in your head cheese. remember this is VERY rich.
on Christmas day, i took the container from the fridge, removed the lid and the bags of water, used a butter knife to loosen around the edges of the meat, placed a cutting board on top of the container and flipped the whole thing upside down. with a couple gentle taps, the meat jelly freed itself from the bottom of the glass container and landed on the cutting board in one piece.
the fact that the broth gelled completely and held everything together in a solid piece reaffirms that enough collagen was derived from boiling the head and there was no need to add artificial gelatin or pigs feet to the boiling pot.
once on the cutting board, i split the head cheese lengthwise into four even logs. this meat is, again, very very rich and even half of one of these logs would be enough to accommodate a cheese and crackers platter. once in logs, use a sharp knife to slice of squares and place on saltines. enjoy.
TRADITIONAL HEAD CHEESE
Here is my ode to thanksgiving leftovers.
While plenty of the cranberry sauce i made was eaten at dinner and taken home for spooning on reheated turkey, i still went home with 1/3 of a 4 quart container. this is probably due tro the fact that i tend to over cook.
my husband will attest to this, as when i make soup, chili, a roast, or any other delishousness, he knows that it will be appearing in his lunches and dinner for the next week. well, tough cookies, honey bunny, i would rather have to much then the dreaded 'to little'. who knows when you are having company for dinner anymore?
plus, i love leftover recipes, there is something so rewarding about being able to transform leftovers into a beautiful new meal. it also never hurts to have a couple quart size bags of turkey and sausage gumbo, or venison chili hanging out in the freezer for a busy day.
So here is my use for the excess cranberry sauce i brought home. needless to say my husband found this to be a very pleasant surprise when returning from a side job on Sunday night (my baking day!). this made for a tart and somewhat healthy after dinner treat or packed lunchtime 'snackie'. so whip out the cool whip and enjoy!
LEFTOVER CRANBERRY SAUCE PIE
one year, at Easter, my aunt forgot to buy the 'lamb butter' (butter molded to look like a lamb) and was so upset that i offered to carve one for her. since that holiday, i have to be sure to arrive early to carve the butter for the holiday table. ha! here is this years turkey butter and a little pumpkin butter to boot
Samantha Lee Gornowicz