Tuesday, January 29, 2013

limoncello mini bundt cakes with limoncello glaze

When deciding on a name for my blog last spring, my runner up was "When Life Gives You Lemons - Bake!"  The obvious reason for the name...I adore lemons!  After googling the name, there were too many similar designations, so I nixed the idea and started brainstorming again.  Coincidentally, when the name "a cup of mascarpone" finally struck, and I posted my first creation last July, a divine Blueberry and Lemon Mascarpone Tart, found here, it contained both  of the lovely ingredients: lemon and mascarpone! 

Sfusato lemons are a variety of lemon grown in Italy on the Amalfi Coast, where some of the best lemons in the world are grown.  They are very large, with a point on the end, similar to the ones in my photos; however, mine are not Sfusato lemons...darn!  I wish I could say they were, because that would mean I might be in Italy! :)

Using the fragrant zest, over half of the Sfusato lemon harvest is infused to make one of Italy's finest liqueurs, Limoncello.  Served ice cold right out of the freezer, or in numerous sophisticated cocktails, Limoncello is superb...and it's also exceptional to use in baking!

One of my favorite creations from this liqueur is a tangy Limoncello bundt cake, or alternately baked into these delicious, moist, and tangy mini bundt cakes.  Light and fresh, drizzled with Limoncello glaze, there is nothing better!

Until next time...mangia!  xox


Limoncello Mini Bundt Cakes with Limoncello Glaze

Makes one average size (8-10 cup) bundt cake or mini bundt cakes (number of cakes depending on mini-pan size used - see Carol's note below)


for the cake:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
4 large eggs
lemon zest of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup Limoncello
1 teaspoon lemon extract (I use 1/8 teaspoon Boyajian Pure Lemon Oil)

for the glaze:
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
2 - 3 tablespoons Limoncello
fresh raspberries for garnish, optional

Create the Limoncello Bundt Cake(s):

for the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease and flour mini bundt pans, or 1 regular size bundt pan, and set aside.  You can also use a non-stick baking spray to prepare the pans.

Mix together butter and sugar until well blended.  Add eggs, one at a time and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Add to the batter, alternating with Limoncello. Mix in lemon extract or oil and the zest.

Bake regular size bundt cake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Bake the mini bundt cakes for 20 - 30 minutes depending on mini-pan size, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

for the glaze:
Sift 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar in bowl.  Mix in 2 - 3 tablespoons Limoncello until smooth, or to desired consistency.  Drizzle over cooled cake(s).  Garnish with fresh raspberries, if desired.

Instead of the glaze, dust with powdered sugar or splash with 1/4 cup Limoncello (divided among mini cakes.)

Carol's notes:
I used Wilton Mini Fluted Tube Pans like these.  The recipe will create approximately 8 mini bundt cakes.  The pans come in sets of 2 and can be purchased inexpensively at Michael's (with their weekly coupons.)  :)

I always use Boyajian Pure Citrus Oils in my baking when a recipe calls for citrus extract, and sometimes in place of zest in a pinch.  The oil is extracted from the zest of citrus fruits, so is all natural, and in my opinion, gives baked goods a better taste than extract.  When using pure oils, you will need to reduce the amount used.  Use 1/8 teaspoon of oil to 1 teaspoon of extract, or adjust according to taste.

These mini bundt cakes freeze beautifully.  If freezing, glaze after defrosting.

Recipe source:  a tiny card insert around the neck of the Limoncello bottle.  I needed the strongest readers ever to be able to read it! lol

Friday, January 18, 2013

pizza-fied chicken

I literally could eat pizza every single day of the week...but don't, thank goodness!!!  I think twice when I visualize one of my favorite reminders..."you are what you eat!"

As children, my sister, two brothers and I couldn't wait for the invitation from my grandmother that it was pizza night!  Walking into my grandparent's home, you immediately felt the warmth from the scent of homemade dough, and my grandmother's incredible tomato sauce simmering in a big pot on the stove.  The spicy Italian sausage, cooked earlier, was draining on paper towels, and the fresh, creamy white mozzarella was waiting to be shredded.  Large rectangular cookie sheets were sitting on the counter drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with cornmeal, waiting patiently for the pizza dough to line them.  Like most Italians, my grandmother was cooking enough for an army!  Oh, the lovely memories...

Since it's hard for me to stop at one or two slices, I have a favorite creation that I make at least once a month, usually more, to take my pizza love's place, and absolutely adore it!  The recipe is from Hungry Girl's cookbook, 1-2-3: The Easiest, Most Delicious, Guilt-Free Recipes on the Planet.  Yes, the book title is a mouthful, but so true to its name.

The original recipe is written for one, but since it's just as easy to create four "pizzas" at a time, I've adjusted the recipe below to serve 4.  Pizza-fied Chicken is absolutely delicious!  Are you ready for the greatest part?  The entire, scrumptious dish is ONLY 282 calories!!!  A whole, healthy, filling, mouthwatering meal for only 282 calories!  In addition, one entire serving is 5.75g fat, 2g fiber and 44g protein.  How 'bout that for an incredible pizza substitute!

pizza-fied chicken toppings

I thought it would be fun, and maybe appreciated :), to bring some of my favorite skinny, easy to prepare meals from time to time, in between some of my delectable sweet and savory creations, just to balance things out. Hope you enjoy this yummy Pizz-fied Chicken as much as I do.

Are you ready for some lemon?  Next up...Limoncello Mini Bundt Cakes with Limoncello Glaze!

Until next time...mangia!  xox


Pizza-fied Chicken
4 Servings


4 (5 ounce) raw boneless, skinless lean chicken breast cutlets, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness
1 teaspoon garlic powder for seasoning chicken, plus 1 teaspoon for seasoning tomatoes, or to taste
1 teaspoon onion powder for seasoning chicken, plus 1 teaspoon for seasoning tomatoes, or to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste for seasoning chicken, and seasoning tomatoes
1 cup diced green bell pepper
1 cup sliced or roughly chopped mushrooms (I use baby bellas)
8 tablespoons diced onion (approximately 1 medium onion)
4 sticks light string cheese
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
16 slices turkey pepperoni, chopped (I use Hormel 70% less fat turkey pepperoni)
4 teaspoons freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano
fresh basil leaves for chicken topping, and garnish, optional (my addition, not on original recipe)
crushed red pepper to taste for garnish, optional

Create the Pizza-fied Chicken:

Season chicken with garlic powder, onion powder, salt and ground pepper.  Set aside.

Bring 1 large skillet, sprayed with nonstick spray to medium heat on the stove.  Cook bell pepper, mushrooms, and onion until softened, 4 to 6 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

In same skillet, cook chicken until cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.  Remove from heat.

Place crushed tomatoes in a small bowl and season to taste with garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and ground pepper.  Evenly spoon seasoned tomatoes onto chicken in skillet.  If desired, put 2 or three leaves of fresh basil over tomatoes.  Tear string cheese into pieces and place over the tomatoes.

Top chicken with vegetables and turkey pepperoni.  Return to heat, cover with a lid and continue to cook until toppings are hot, and the cheese softens, approximately 2 - 3 minutes.

Plate your pizza-fied chicken, and sprinkle with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano.  Garnish with crushed red pepper and fresh basil leaves, if desired.

My revision:  You are what you eat.  So I am skinny Pizza-fied Chicken! ;)  - quote courtesy of ffffound.com

Saturday, January 12, 2013

laura bush's cowboy cookies

Family Circle Magazine has been holding a cookie contest between presidential candidate's wives every four years since 1992, when Hillary Clinton and Barbara Bush first baked off!  Readers  of the magazine were asked to bake the entries, and vote for their favorite.  Only one contest winner did not go on to live in the White House.  In 2008, Cindy McCain's Oatmeal-Butterscotch cookies beat out Michelle Obama's Lemon and Orange Shortbread Cookies!

In the year 2000, Laura Bush's Texas Governor's Mansion Cowboy Cookies, the full name of this fabulous cookie, went up against Tipper Gore's Gingersnaps, and won by a landslide.  Mrs. Bush's cookies have become one of my absolute, most favorite cookies!  Although I'd like to claim this as my signature cookie for as many times as I've created them, that distinction obviously belongs to our former First Lady.

It's Chocolate Party time again!  Since I've been participating in Roxana's Home Baking's monthly Chocolate Party, the lovely ingredient chocolate has been paired with pumpkin, cranberry, peppermint, and January's pairing...ta-dah...coconut!  I was thrilled with January's choice, since besides loving coconut, I knew instantly I was going to create Laura Bush's Cowboy Cookies.

This colossal cookie, is bursting with lots of merging, textural flavors from chocolate, coconut, oats, and pecans...claiming a crispy outside and delicious, chewy inside.  Recipe requests follow every time I bake them. They are incredible warm, cooled, or right out of the freezer, which is the way I usually eat them to pace myself! :)

My next post is a low calorie, low fat, scrumptious, savory dish...which I think you'll be happy to receive after gobbling down these cowboy cookies.

Until next time...mangia!  xox


Laura Bush Texas Governor's Mansion Cowboy Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen large cookies (see Carol's notes)


3 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, at room temperature (I use unsalted)
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips (I use dark chocolate chips)
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
2 cups chopped pecans  (I use pecans or walnuts depending on what I have on hand)

Create the Cookies:

Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

Using a stand mixer on medium speed, beat butter until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute.  Gradually add sugars and beat to combine, about 2 minutes.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each one, and then add the vanilla extract.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture gradually until just combined.  Add the chocolate chips, oats, coconut, and pecans, mixing until just combined.

Drop 1/4 cup of dough (I use a 1/4 cup ice cream/cookie scoop) onto the baking sheets for each cookie, spacing 3 inches apart.  Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, then rotate sheets top to bottom and front to back.  Bake for an additional 8 to 9 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.  Don't overbake.  Let cookies cool on baking sheet for about 3 - 4 minutes, then transfer to rack to cool completely.

Store in airtight containers at room temperature for up to a week, or may be frozen.

Carol's notes:
I find that the entire recipe is way too much to work with.  You will need a 7 quart stand mixer.  I have a large 6 quart professional Kitchenaid stand mixer, and the dough and I always struggle with each other coming over the top. :)  I prefer to make half the recipe, and make it again if I want more (which you may, once you taste them!)  I also work with only one cookie sheet at a time in the center of the oven, and turn it around halfway through, having the 2nd sheet ready to go in once the first one is complete.  Just my preference.

Although I've never made a smaller size, if desired, you can make smaller cookies using a rounded tablespoon of dough, and adjust cooking time accordingly, about 10 - 12 minutes total.  This will yield a huge bunch of cookies using the full recipe (about 6 dozen)!!! :)

Recipe adapted from Family Circle Magazine.

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Saturday, January 05, 2013

cranberry almond streusel coffee cake

Happy New Year!!!  I hope you all rang in the new year with your loved ones doing what makes you the absolute happiest!  I seriously believe I was the last person on the planet who had not either read the book or watched the movie, The Hunger Games.  So before 2012 ended, switching back and forth with an exciting college bowl game, I watched The Hunger Games.  With a bottle of Prosecco and freshly popped popcorn, I was gripped to the television.  Why had I waited so long?  What a movie!  Since I'm one of those who can't wait to find out what happens in the following two books, I had to text my daughter, as she was out partying, and ask her to please tell me what happens in the next two books, since she had read the entire trilogy.  Although her return text to me, "Mom, really.  Now?", the sweetie that she is called anyway and filled me in on all the exciting details.  What a creative imagination Suzanne Collins, the author, has!

Hopefully this delicious Cranberry Almond Streusel Coffee Cake makes you hungry!  As I write this blog post, I'm longing for a slice with a hot cup of coffee on this below freezing cold morning, but unfortunately, we gobbled it all up over the holidays.

The crumb of this cake was so moist and scrumptious, with the lovely hint of almond, harmonized  perfectly with tart fresh cranberries, and topped off with a delicious, chunky streusel...which puts any coffee cake over the top, and adds just the right amount of sweetness.

This coffee cake is absolutely the best served freshly baked from the oven; however, since I was baking ahead, froze it in an airtight container for two weeks prior to serving, which worked out just as nicely.

Here's wishing you all the happiest and healthiest of New Years!

Until next time...mangia!  xox


Cranberry Almond Streusel Coffee Cake
Serves 8 - 12


for the coffee cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) salted butter, room temperature (I used unsalted butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt)
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups sour cream
2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed
3 tablespoons granulated sugar

for the streusel topping:
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature (I used unsalted butter and no salt)
confectioner's sugar for dusting

Create the Cranberry Almond Streusel Coffee Cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder.
Butter a 9" springform pan. (See Carol's notes.)
Cream butter and sugar until light.
Add eggs, one at a time, and stir together well.
Mix in vanilla extract, almond extract, and sour cream.
Add the flour mixture and beat until combined.
In a small bowl toss the cranberries with the 3 tablespoons sugar, and fold into the batter.
Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan.
In a medium bowl, work together the sugar, flour and butter until crumbly, and sprinkle over the batter.
Bake until golden brown, approximately 50 - 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Cool in pan on a rack for approximately 30 minutes and remove the springform side.
Dust with confectioner's sugar before serving.
Refrigerate any leftover cake in an airtight container.

Carol's notes:
The original recipe called for a 9" round cake pan; however, this is not large enough if the pan only has 2" sides.  I used a 9" springform pan, which has slightly higher sides, so it just made it.  If you use a 9" round cake pan, be sure it has 3" sides.  Otherwise, it would be best to use an 11" coffee cake pan,  10" angel food pan, or a 10" round cake pan, which will better fit the coffee cake ingredients.  Adjust the cooking time accordingly, and carefully remove from the pan after cooling on rack for approximately 30 minutes.

If the edges rise above the sides of the pan and the streusel begins to brown too much before the cake is completely baked, cover the edges with foil.

Recipe adapted from Sweet Paul Blog.