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Filtering by Category: easter

Homemade Cannoli

Patricia Reitz

A big holiday weekend is just around the corner.... and when I think of big holidays, I think of big family gatherings.... and when I think of big family gatherings, I think of big platters of delicious cannoli!  If you live in a big city, you're likely able to get your hands on some pretty good cannoli, but I live in the burbs, were a good cannoli is practically unheard of, so I make my own.  And now you can make your own too - this is how it's done. 

Note:  plan ahead, the filling needs to be prepared about 24 hours before using.  The cannoli shells can be used immediately after cooking, but you can also make them several days ahead of time if you store them in an airtight container (or freeze for up to a month).

Start by mixing together a simple cannoli shell dough, similar to the way you'd make pie dough.  I like to make my dough in the food processor (if you want to see that, check out my all-butter pie crust tutorial). 

The dough will look crumbly, but should hold together when compressed.  The least messy way to do this is to place the crumbles in a large zipper bag and press them into a disk shape.

Seal the bag and place the dough in the fridge.

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The dough should chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

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When it's time to roll the dough, remove it from the fridge and dust it with a little flour.

Now go down to the basement and dig out your pasta machine (am I right??).  Set the rollers at the widest setting.  For my machine, the widest setting starts at #1, but some machines that would actually be the thinnest setting.  You'll be able to figure out the widest setting on your machine pretty easily.

No pasta machine?  No problem - you can use a rolling pin, but I have to tell you, using a pasta machine is so much more fun! 

Ok, now that your pasta machine's rollers are set for the widest setting, pass the flour-dusted cannoli dough through the rollers.  If you have any kids around, I bet they'd enjoy cranking the handle.

Adjust the rollers of the pasta machine one level thinner.  Dust the now elongated piece of dough with a little more flour and pass it through the machine again.

Continue dusting, adjusting, and rolling, one level at a time, until the dough is very thin like (1/16-inch) - level #5 on my machine (the thinner you roll the dough, the more bubbles will appear on the shells when you fry them).

Continue dusting, rolling, adjusting... dusting, rolling, adjusting....

making cannoli shells at home - recipe and photos.

When you've reached the 5th level, stop rolling and grab a 4-inch round cutter..  Dust the cutter in flour and start cutting the cannoli shells.

The round cutouts aren't quite ready to use yet...

One more quick pass through the pasta machine, this time on the 6th level.  This will turn the round cutouts into ovals - you'll see why in a moment.

Alrighty, time to wrap the dough around the stainless cannoli forms.

Add a dab of water just where the two ends overlap.  Be careful not to get water on the cannoli form because it will cause the dough to stick and the shell will break when you try to remove it.

Press the overlapping edges together well to make sure they're sealed.  If you don't, they can pop open and fall off the form during frying.

homemade cannoli shells. recipe with photos. homemade cannoli - homemade recipe.

If you like, you can flare the ends a little.  Honestly, it looks nice, but I don't usually bother.

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Continue rolling the shells while you heat several inches of peanut oil in a deep pan.  

Heat the oil to 360F.  A good candy/oil thermometer is vital (I have this one).

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You should also have ready a pair of tongs to remove the shells from the hot oil, and a paper towel lined sheet pan to place them on.  

how to make cannoli from scratch. how to make cannolis. cannoli recipe with how-to photos.

CAREFULLY place the dough-wrapped cannoli forms in the oil and cook until brown and bubbly, being careful not to crowd the pan.  Watch the oil temp - it shouldn't fall below 350F. 

The shells will deepen in color a bit after being removed from the oil so it's not a bad idea to make a few practice ones first.

how to make cannoli shells at home. cannoli recipe with how-to photos.

Carefully remove the extremely hot cannoli forms from the oil and place them on a paper towel-lined sheet pan to cool for a few minutes (watch for hot oil inside the forms).  Carefully slide the shells off the forms (if the shells are too hot, hold them with a clean kitchen towel).   Allow the forms to cool completely before wrapping with more dough.  Continue until all the shells are done.

Remember what I told about not pressing the seams closed well enough?  Oops!  No biggie, cook's treat ;).  

Let me point out a few differences between the two shells above.  The non-flared one on the left started with a thinner disk of dough (resulting in tiny surface bubbles), but you can see by the color that it was left in the hot oil just a little too long.  The flared one on the right started with slightly thicker dough (larger surface bubbles), but it spent the right amount of time in the hot oil.

The shells should be allowed to cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to a week (or freeze for up to a month).  

IMPORTANT:  Don't fill the cannoli shells until just before serving.

Ricotta.jpg

To make the filling, drain ricotta cheese in a cloth lined strainer overnight in the fridge.  Cover with plastic to keep the cheese from absorbing any refrigerator odors. 

Once all the excess whey has drained from the ricotta, add the softened mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, confectioner's sugar, pure vanilla extract (use the best), and ground cinnamon.  Mix them well and chill for 8-12 hours for best flavor.

step-by-step cannoli from scratch. step-by-step cannolis from scratch. how to make cannoli?

When you're ready to fill the shells (shortly before serving), put the filling in a large pastry bag (I like these) or large, heavy-duty zipper bag and cut a 1/2-inch hole at the tip.  Squeeze the filling into each end of the cannoli shells, then dip in chopped pistachios or mini chocolate chips (or both!).  Place the cannoli on a platter and dust with confectioner's sugar (this nifty tool is fun).  

Items used to make this recipe:


Homemade Cannoli

makes about 24 cannoli (leftover cannoli dough can be frozen for use later)

Ingredients

Cannoli Shells:

  • 2 cups all purpose flour

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 1/2 cup dry white or rose wine

Cannoli Filling:

  • 2 cups very well drained ricotta cheese (see notes below)

  • 6 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened to room temperature

  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted

  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • mini chocolate chips and chopped pistachios for garnish

Directions

To make the cannoli dough:

  1. In the bowl of a small food processor, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon.

  2. Add the butter, egg yolk, and wine, pulsing until the mixture looks uniformly crumbled.

  3. Place crumbles in zipper bag and press into a disk shape.

  4. Seal bag well and chill for at least 30 minutes before rolling.

To make the cannoli shells:

  1. Roll dough very thin (about 1/16th-inch) using pasta machine, dusting with flour as needed to prevent sticking.

  2. Cut 4-inch circles using a round biscuit of cookie cutter and pass each round through the pasta machine one more time to turn the round into an oval.

  3. Wrap oval dough around stainless cannoli forms; moisted overlapping edges with a little water and press well to seal (keeping water off cannoli form.

  4. Fry shells in 360F oil until bubbly and golden; remove from heat, drain, and remove from forms when cool enough to do so. Cool completely before filling. Leftover shells can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week (or frozen for up to a month).

To make the filling:

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle or BeaterBlade attachment, place drained ricotta, mascarpone, cream, confectioner's sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon; beat on medium speed until smooth.

  2. Place mixture in a pastry bag or sturdy zip top bag; refrigerate until ready to use. Don't fill shells until serving.

Notes:

  • To drain ricotta, place in a sieve lined with cheesecloth (or coffee filter, linen tea towel, etc) and suspend over a bowl; cover well with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight.

  • Prepared filling should chill 8-12 hours for best flavor.

  • For best results, fill shells just before serving.

DIY Corned Beef

Patricia Reitz

I recently learned how easy it is to make corned beef from scratch and I thought since St. Patrick's Day is just around the corner, I'd show you how it's done.  And let me just go on the record and say this, you may never go back to the stuff from the grocery store again.  

Be sure to plan ahead -  the brisket needs to brine for 6-8 days before cooking. And you'll also need to find pink curing salt, not to be confused with pickling salt, pink himalayan salt, or pink Peruvian salt (look for Instacure #1 or Prague powder #1).  You can order it online or you might be able to get some from a butcher or someone who makes their own sausage or cures bacon.

First prepare the brine.  The beef brisket will sit in the brine for a minimum of 6 days and a maximum of 8.  Clockwise from top left:  table salt, whole garlic cloves, brown sugar, pink curing salt (instacure #1), bay leaves, whole allspice berries, whole coriander seeds, whole peppercorns.

You'll also need 16 cups of water, and a non-reactive vessel (glass, food-grade plastic, stainless steel, or ceramic) large enough to hold the brine and brisket (I used this ginormous 13.25-quart French oven, but anything that's big enough and isn't made of aluminum, uncoated cast iron, or unlined copper will work).

How to make your own corned beef from scratch - recipe and how to photos

Add the brisket, bay, garlic, peppercorns, allspice berries, and coriander seeds.  My brisket stayed completely submerged in the brine.  I yours doesn't stay submerged, you can be weighed down with a dinner plate.

Cover the container and refrigerate for a minimum of 6 days and a maximum of 8 days.  Less than 6 days and the brine won't penetrate all the way through the briskets.  More than 8 days and the brisket will be too salty.

Recipe for homemade corned beef - ButterYum

Here's what the brined brisket looks like after 8 days.  Remove the brisket and discard the brine.

On the day you prepare the corned beef, you'll need more peeled garlic cloves, black peppercorns, and bay leaves.  Also preheat the oven to 250F.

How to make your own corned beef recipe - ButterYum

Place the brined brisket in 10-quart or larger stockpot and add the bay, peppercorns, and garlic.

Recipe for homemade corned beef - ButterYum

Pour in 8 cups of cold water.

How to corn beef from scratch - ButterYum

Bring to a boil on the stove top, then remove from heat and cover.

Place in center of preheated oven for 3 hours.

Return stockpot to stovetop and transfer corned beef to platter; drizzle with some cooking liquid to keep it from drying out.  Add the cabbage, carrots, and potatoes: simmer for 15-30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender (remove cabbage after 10 minutes).

I like to scrape away some of the excess fat from the top of the corned beef - that allows me to see what direction the grain of the meat runs.  Cut slices across the grain.

Try not to drool.

Mmmmm.... it's soooooooo incredibly good! 

Items used to make this recipe:


DIY Corned Beef

makes 12 servings

Ingredients

Brine:

  • 4 quarts water

  • 3/4 cup table salt

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons pink preserving salt #1 (see note below)

  • 4 bay leaves

  • 3 whole peeled garlic cloves

  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds

  • 5 whole allspice berries

 Additional Ingredients (the day of cooking):

  • 4 pound flat cut beef brisket, fat trimmed to 1/4-inch

  • 2 quarts water

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 3 whole peeled cloves garlic

  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns

  • brined corned beef

  • 1 head cabbage, cut into wedges

  • 1 1/2 pounds red new potatoes

  • 1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

Directions

  1. Brine (6-8 days before cooking): In a 12-quart or larger non-reactive container, whisk the table salt, brown sugar, and curing salt until dissolved; add bay leaves, whole garlic cloves, black peppercorns, coriander seeds, and allspice berries.

  2. Place trimmed beef brisket into brine, cover, and refrigerate for a minimum of 6 days and a maximum of 8 days (brisket should stay completely submerged - use a dinner plate to weigh it down if necessary).

  3. Remove brisket from brine and discard brine.

  4. Preheat oven to 250F.

  5. In a 8-quart or larger stockpot over medium-high heat, combine 2 quarts water, bay leaves, whole garlic cloves, black peppercorns, and the brined brisket until it reaches the boiling point.

  6. Turn off heat, cover, and place in preheated oven for 3 hours.

  7. Remove stockpot from oven and return to stovetop; transfer corned beef to a platter and drizzle some of the cooking liquid over to keep it from drying out.

  8. Add cabbage, carrots, and potatoes to the stockpot and bring to a simmer for 15-30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender (remove the cabbage after 10 minutes).

  9. Slice beef across the grain and serve with the cooked vegetables.

Notes:  

  • Pink curing should not be confused with pickling salt, pink himalayan salt, or pink Peruvian salt (look for Instacure #1 or Prague powder #1). It should contain a mixture of sodium chloride and sodium nitrite.

  • The difference between curing salt #1 and #2? Basically, curing salt #1 is used to preserve things that will be cooked (corned beef, sausage, bacon, etc). Curing salt #2 is used to preserve things that will be air dried (salami, pepperoni, jerky, etc).

adapted from America's Test Kitchen

Even More Perfect Easy-Peel Eggs

Patricia Reitz

Perfect Easy-Peel Eggs - ButterYum

Perfect Easy-Peel Eggs - ButterYum

A couple of years ago I shared a technique for steaming hard-cooked eggs that allowed the shells to slip off almost effortlessly (you can read about it here).   If I were to rate that technique, I'd give it 9 out of 10 stars, but today I'm going to share an even better technique.  This one earns 10+ stars.  I've cooked about 6 dozen farm-fresh eggs using this new method and haven't had a single shell stick. Big shout out to Noreen from Noreen's Kitchen for sharing this awesome technique.

Whether you use the old steaming method, or this new and improved electric pressure cooker method, the only ingredients needed are eggs and water.  I'm using farm-fresh eggs, but older eggs from the grocery store will work too.  

100% guaranteed method for making hard-cooked eggs that peel perfectly every single time.

Place about 1/2-inch of water in the cookwell of a pressure cooker and make sure there's a rack in there too.  

The eggs should hover over the water so be sure the top surface of the rack sits above the water.

guaranteed Perfect Peel eggs in a pressure cooker

Place eggs on the rack.  I've spaced these apart for a pretty photo, but I usually squeeze as many eggs into a single layer as I can.  You don't want to stack eggs on top of each other, but the sides can touch.

Put the lid on the pressure cooker and lock it closed.  Also check to be sure the steam vent is closed.  I don't own a stove-top pressure cooker so I don't know if this technique would work in one.  Sorry.

Okay, set the pressure cooker for 6 minutes on the rice cycle.  The cooker will heat the water and come to pressure before the timer starts counting down so the total time in my cooker is actually about 10 minutes from start to finish.

When the timer alerts you that 6 minutes have passed, use a pair of tongs to quick release the steam.  Stand back, there will be a little spitting and spurting as the pressure releases.

Almost done....

Alrighty, as soon as all the pressure is released, you can open the lid and remove the eggs.

To help prevent the yolks from developing the ugly green layer, immediately submerge the hot eggs in a large bowl of ice water and allow the eggs to cool completely.

As soon as the eggs are cool, you can start peeling. 

Egg peeling perfection,.  Perfection, perfection, perfections.... absolute perfection!  

And just look at those yolks, would you?  I'm so, so happy to have found this technique. Thanks a million, Noreen!!

EVEN MORE PERFECT EASY-PEEL EGGS

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • eggs (fresh or from the grocery store)

  • water

Directions

  1. In the cookwell of an electric pressure cooker fitted with a rack, place 1/2-inch of water, being sure the top of the rack is not submerged under the water.

  2. Place a single layer of eggs on top of the rack.

  3. Seal the pressure cooker and set for 6 minutes on the rice cycle.

  4. Quck release the steam and open the cooker.

  5. Immediately remove the eggs and place in a large bowl of ice water to cool completely.

  6. When eggs are cool, the shells should come off the eggs with minimal effort.

$69.99
$13.99

Dry Brined Turkey

Patricia Reitz

I usually brine my turkeys in a liquid solution that includes sugar, salt, and a variety of herbs and spices; then I rinse and dry it, loosen the skin, and schmear the whole thing, inside and out, with an herb-infused compound butter.  It produces a moist and flavorful bird, but It's a very messy and time consuming process.  This year I wanted to try a more simple technique, a dry brine made of nothing more than kosher salt.  I'm glad I tried it because we were pleasantly surprised with the results.  

If you're intimidated by the thought of brining in a liquid solution, this might be the technique for you.  Plan to begin the process about 24 hours before you place your turkey in the oven.  Here's what you should do. 

Rinse and dry a 12-14 pound turkey well and place on a rimmed sheet pan. If there’s a pop-up timer in the turkey, remove it (they’re notoriously inaccurate).

Sprinkle the entire bird, inside and out, with 6 tablespoons of kosher salt.

Place the turkey in the fridge, uncovered, for 24 hours.

Be careful about accidental cross contamination - here I placed a barrier of homemade chicken stock in front of my turkey to reduce the risk that someone might accidentally touch it.

After 24 hours, remove the turkey from the fridge and rinse it very, very, very well (inside and out), then dry it thoroughly.

Next, tuck the wings, tied the legs smear butter all over the skin, and insert an oven-safe probe thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh (without touching any bone). Sprinkle the turkey lightly with salt and pepper. Not too much, the salt brine will have flavored the meat already so we’re just adding a little flavor to the skin.

Roast in a 325F oven for 15-18 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165F. I check both legs in a couple of places, just to be on the safe side.

Allow the turkey to rest for 30-40 minutes before carving. That should leave you with plenty of time to make gravy with all the yummy pan juices. Happy Roasting!

Items used to make this recipe:


Dry Brined Turkey

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 12-14 pound turkey (thawed if applicable)

  • 6 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  • kosher salt and pepper for sprinkling

  • 1 large onion, sliced

  • 1 large carrot, sliced

  • 1 large stalk celery, sliced

  • 2 cups water

Directions

  1. Remove neck, giblets, etc from inside turkey; reserve for gravy.

  2. Rinse turkey well and dry thoroughly with paper towels; place on half sheet pan.

  3. Sprinkle turkey inside and out with salt, refrigerate uncovered for 24 hours.

  4. Preheat oven to 325F and place oven rack in the lower third position.

  5. Rinse turkey well of all salt and dry thoroughly with paper towels.

  6. Place a roasting rack into a large roasting pan; add sliced onion, carrot, celery and water.

  7. Smear softened butter all over turkey and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and pepper; place on roasting rack.

  8. Place turkey in oven, uncovered, and roast for 15-18 minutes per pound or until the meat in the thickest part of the thigh registers 165F.

  9. Remove from oven and rest for 30-40 minutes. Strain pan drippings and use to make gravy.

Easy-Peel Eggs - Guaranteed

Patricia Reitz

How to Peel Farm Fresh Eggs - ButterYum

I know just about everyone has felt the frustration of trying to peel hard cooked eggs, and the fresher they are, the harder they are to peel.  The shell sticks like crazy glue and you're left with an unsightly egg that resembles the cratered surface of the moon.  Not very appetizing.  

In the past, the only surefire way I'd found to guaranteed a shell would released cleanly and easily was to start by cooking eggs that were several weeks old, but we go through eggs so quickly at our house that we don't often have older eggs to cook.  

But recently I read about a technique for cooking and peeling farm-fresh eggs on the blog The Prairie Homestead and I couldn't wait to try it.  The technique worked beautifully and I'm so happy to be able to share it with you today.  Happy peeling! 

UPDATE:  If you have an electric pressure cooker, I've learned a new technique that works maybe just a tad better.  Check it out here.

Start by finding a metal colander or steam basket that will fit down inside a stockpot, leaving enough room for the lid to fit on top.  Place your fresh eggs in the basket and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, but not touch the eggs. 

Place the pan over high heat and bring the water to a boil.   As soon as the water start to boil, cover the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low.  The steam temperature will remain the same weather the water is fully boiling or just gently boiling so lower the heat to reduce the risk of the pan boiling dry.

Set a timer for 22 minutes - give or take a minute or two depending on the size of the eggs.  I tested this technique with my extra large store-bought eggs and they needed about 24 minutes - and yes, they peeled just as easily. 

When the time is up, cool the eggs in cold water to stop the cooking process. 

Your fresh eggs should now peel without any trouble.

And here are the results.  The egg in the upper left is an extra large store-bought egg; the other two with darker yolks are fresh from the farm.  

Happy peeling!

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$16.95

Traditional Hot Cross Buns

Patricia Reitz

Here's a post I shared a couple of years ago.  Perhaps you'll make them this Easter.

I have one word for these - Delish!  The recipe comes from Rachel at The Traveling Spoon who spend an exorbitant amount of time searching for the traditional Hot Cross Buns of her childhood in England.  Rachel is a purist and says these are the real deal.  She also says traditional hot cross buns never have icing crosses - the crosses you see here are made from a sweetened flour paste that is piped on just before baking.  These buns are excellent warm from the oven or gently heated the next day.  I'm posting the recipe as written, but I'll share my notes for using a stand mixer.

Note - The only thing I'd change next time would be to use dried currants instead of raisins because currants are smaller and would distribute more evenly throughout the dough. 

Items used to make this recipe:


Hot Cross Buns

from The Traveling Spoon via Citrus and Candy

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

Buns:

  • 310ml warmed milk

  • 60g granulated sugar

  • 16g dried yeast (about 4 teaspoons)

  • 600g all-purpose flour, sifted

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon allspice

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 2 large eggs

  • 60g butter, room temperature

  • 1 - 1 1/2 cups raisins (I prefer dried currants)

Crosses:

  • about 60g all-purpose flour

  • about 60 ml water

  • 1-2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Glaze:

  • 2 tablespoons fruit jam, warmed (apricot recommended).

Directions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, warmed milk, and yeast until sugar has dissolved. Cover loosely and set aside for 10 minutes or until mixture becomes frothy - it should almost triple in size, so be patient!

  2. Meanwhile, mix the flour, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in a large mixing bowl. Rub the softened butter into the flour mixture with your fingers until evenly distributed (I prefer doing this in a heavy duty stand mixer fitted with a dough hook). The mixture will be crumbly. Stir in the egg, frothy yeast mixture and the raisins (or currants) until completely combined.

  3. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for about 5 minutes until it comes together and becomes smooth and elastic. Add flour to your kneading surface as necessary. Lightly grease another large, clean mixing bowl (I knead in the stand mixer on speed 1 or 2 for five minutes).

  4. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it several times to coat lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm, non-drafty place for about 45 minutes, or until it has doubled in size.

  5. When dough has doubled, remove the plastic wrap and punch down the dough (don't be shy - you can really thwack it). Knead briefly, on your lightly floured surface, until smooth. Separate the dough into 12 even rounds.

  6. Shape each round into a bun and place in a lightly greased 9x13-inch baking pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 390°F.

  7. Whisk together the 60g of all purpose flour, the sugar, and the water to create the paste for the crosses. Add flour if necessary to thicken so that the paste can be easily piped onto the buns - use a piping bag or a zip-top bag the a small hole cut in one corner. Pipe crosses onto the buns and bake for 10 minutes at 390°F. Then reduce oven temperature to 350°F and bake for another 15 minutes, or until buns are golden and sound hollow when tapped - don't worry, they will soften after baking.

  8. Warm the jam for the glaze and dilute with water if necessary. Brush onto buns while still warm.

  9. Buns are best eaten warm from the oven or freshly toasted on the day of baking, but they're also tasty cold and you can store any leftovers in an air-tight container for a day or two. Recipe makes 12.

Jello Easter Eggs

Patricia Reitz

My fun little Easter Egg idea has turned into one of my most frequented blog posts through the years so I can't let the Easter season go by without sharing them again. I came up with the idea of making them when my kids were young.  I usually make them at Easter time, but they're fun any time of the year. 

I start with these egg molds.  I got mine at the grocery store about 15 years ago, but you can find them online and occasionally in thrift shops.  I've also seen molds that make egg halves available like this one (or check out the other links I have listed below) - just be sure the mold cavities are 1-2 ounces to make jello eggs that are about the same size as normal eggs.

I fill the molds with the jello jiggler recipe (below), then chill for at least 4 hours.  After unmolding, I cut them in half lengthwise and then I use a melon ball tool to make a little well in each half.  Pop that little bit into your mouth - cook's treat.

Arrange the prepared halves on a deviled egg tray.  Do this before you fill the halves, or you'll have a huge mess on your hands.

I like to pipe a pretty swirl of the vanilla cream cheese mixture using a pastry bag and "closed" star tip (the closed star makes those deep grooves).

To pipe the filling more than 6 hours ahead of time, add a packet of Whip It to the vanilla filling mixture when you add the heavy cream.  You can skip this step if you like, but I think of it as extra insurance.

Ta-da!  Go make some fun and tasty Jell-o Easter Eggs.

Items used to make this recipe:


Jello Easter Eggs

Printable Recipe

FOR THE EGGS (makes enough for 6 egg halves):

  • 3 ounce package of jello, any flavor

  • 3/4 cup boiling water

FOR THE VANILLA FILLING (makes enough to fill about 24 egg halves):

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature (mascarpone cheese works well too)

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

To Make the Jello Easter Eggs:

  1. Lightly coat egg mold with a thin layer of canola or vegetable oil.

  2. Snap mold together and set it on a tray to catch any spills.

  3. Combine jello and boiling water together; stir for 3 minutes until the jello is completely dissolved. Slowly pour mixture into mold. Chill overnight.

  4. When you're ready to unmold the eggs, slowly pry the mold halves apart (I use a butter knife to gently coax the halves apart).

  5. Using a sharp chef's knife, cut the eggs in half lengthwise using one continuous motion.

  6. Use a melon ball tool to make a well in the large end of each egg half.

To Make the Vanilla Filling:

  1. Cream together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth.

  2. Add the heavy cream and whip until stiff peaks form.

  3. Put the cream cheese filling into a pastry bag that has been fitted with a large star tip and pipe the filling into the egg halves. Chill until service.

Note: To fill the jello eggs with cream cheese filling more than 6 hours ahead of time, add a packet of Whip It to the cream cheese filling mixture when you add the heavy cream.

Irish Soda Bread

Patricia Reitz

Here's an awesome recipe for Irish Soda Bread.  It's not the most attractive bread, but it tastes fantastic.  Lightly sweetened with a very tender crumb, it's absolutely delicious all by it's self, toasted with jam, or plain with a healthy schmear of Irish butter (our favorite way to eat it).  There's no yeast in this recipe, so it can be made in a fairly short amount of time.  Just bring a stick of butter to room temperature, then mix everything together, shape, and bake.  That's it - give it a go.

Start with flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

Whisk together well.

Add softened butter.

Mix and smoosh the butter and flour together until it looks like this.

Add egg and buttermilk - stir, stir, stir.

When the dough looks like this, pour it out onto a clean, flour-dusted surface.

Knead for just a minute or two until you can form a round ball of dough about 2 inches tall.

Use a bench scraper to scrape away all the excess flour.

You can strain the excess flour through a sieve - throw away the clumpy bits.

Place the dough on a greased sheet pan.

In a heat proof container, combine butter and buttermilk.

Gently melt them together.

Brush the loaf well with the butter/buttermilk mixture.

Use a very sharp knife to cut an "X" into the top of the bread.

Bake for about 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Cool completely on a cooling rack.

When the bread has finished cooling, slice it with a serrated knife.

We love to eat this bread with Irish butter.  If you've never tried it, you must - it's out of this world!

This bread is also excellent toasted and served with jam.

Items used to make this recipe:


Irish Soda Bread

makes 1 loaf

Printable Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 cups all purpose flour

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  • 1 egg

  • 1 cup buttermik

  • 2 tablespoons buttermilk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F and grease a sheet pan.

  2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

  3. Using a spoon or your fingers, add the softened butter and mix until combined.

  4. Add the egg and buttermilk; combine until a shaggy dough forms.

  5. Dust a work surface with flour and knead the shaggy dough for a minute or two until you can form a ball. Place on greased sheet pan.

  6. Gently brush 2 tablespoons of buttermilk together and brush over bread dough.

  7. Cut an "X" on the top of the dough.

  8. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean. Cool completely on a cooling rack.

adapted from allrecipes