Friday, March 16, 2018

St. Joseph's Day

Italian cream puffs are always made around this time of year and especially on March 19th, the Feast of San Giuseppe, St. Joseph's day. In the bakery, you have your choice of the traditional vanilla custard (zeppoli) and the other is filled with a rich cannoli cream (Sfinge). I drive by Cafe Caruso several times a week, see the handwritten signs and of course had to stop at least once (photo above). The feast honors the patron saint of all fathers, and since my husband's name is Joseph (his family is from Massena, a harbor city in northeast Sicily), he enjoys them "the Debbie way". He asked that I make them if I had the time so I made eight last evening and will make eight more on Monday. 
 I've been using a recipe from a handwritten cookbook that my friend's family put together over 30 years ago. I had very little interest in baking desserts when I was younger, and when I made these cream puffs for the office (at age 25) everyone raved about them and asked for the recipe. They probably didn't bake either. LOL I remember being so proud of myself and it was one of my first successful baking experiences. So fast forward to St. Joseph's Day, the cream puffs are consumed on his Name Day, it is a celebration that is larger than one's own birthday. I've made cream puffs for him a couple times on St. Joseph's Day but almost forgot this year until he asked if I was making them :-) And I just realized that I have never blogged about the cream puffs. Hope you will give them a try. 

Debbie's (and Joe's) Cream puffs

Heat to rolling boil in saucepan:

1 cup water
½ cup butter

Stir in:

1 cup sifted flour

Keep stirring over low heat until mixture leaves pan and forms well – about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Beat in thoroughly:

4 eggs – one at a time

Stir until smooth and velvety. Drop from spoon onto ungreased baking pan. Bake at 400 until dry 45-50 minutes. Cool puffs before filling. Makes 8.

2 half pints heavy cream
1 ¼ cup cold milk
1 package instant vanilla pudding

Whip all ingredients until thick. The filling makes enough for 16 puffs.

Filling the puffs:

Cut off tops; pull out any filaments of soft dough. Fill puffs with filling. Replace tops. Dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with chocolate. Refrigerate until serving time.

Wishing everyone a good weekend!

Monday, March 12, 2018

March is Maple Month

Living in Central New York, we are accustomed to seeing signs for maple syrup for sale and the buckets attached to the trees that collect the sap. My love of maple syrup started as a child and our parents would treat us to maple sugar candy in our Easter baskets. And in the summer, they would treat us to maple walnut ice cream at an ice cream stand on the way to our camp. To this day, I still enjoy maple walnut ice cream if we are out for a drive and stop for ice cream. We were recently in Lake Placid and picked up some maple syrup from the Black Rooster, and I have to resist putting it on everything :-)
I use manilla folders to organize my recipes, and they contain only recipes that are winners that I wish to make again and again. Would you like to see my drawer in the kitchen? LOL A few years ago I was delighted to find a biscotti recipe on La Table De Nana's blog. The recipe came from Costco Connection Magazine so please check it out at their site if you are interested. If you are a maple lover, this biscotti will win you over big time. 
If you are hosting Easter this year, may I suggest this cute bunny decoration for your door. I bought the last one they had at our store, and am glad I spotted her. For ten dollars, all I had to do was add a couple checked eggs and a ribbon. 
Joe "the cannoli man" made cannoli and three Stromboli for Xavier's second birthday celebration. This little guy is growing up so fast.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Three Layered Cake to honor a friend

A big 60th birthday party deserves a special cake for
a special person.  

When my friend Colleen offered to host a birthday party for our friend Annemarie, she chose a German menu and d├ęcor. Annemarie has lived in the USA since she was 19, and Colleen felt she would enjoy a “theme” from the country she grew up in. The theme definitely surprised her!

Colleen had shown me a picture of a Germany themed cake she found on Pinterest. The flag is black, red and yellow so I used those colors.

I made two boxes of cake batter using my favorite cake mix, Aldi’s Classic Yellow Extra Moist.
 I love how moist and how flavorful it is, and all the ladies commented on how good it was.

I scooped out 2 cups of batter into four 8” cake pans that I lined with parchment paper. I cut parchment circles to fit in the bottom of each pan, and didn’t use anything else. No Pam, no flour. Once the cake was baked, I ran a sharp knife around the edge to loosen it, and let it cool for 10 minutes. Turned it upside down on a cooling rack, removed the parchment paper, and it came out perfectly. I learned this trick from a blogging friend Jackie. Thanks Jackie!  

Once I tinted the frosting, I filled three 16” disposable Wilton decorating bags. I used three colors, black, red and yellow and used a 1 M decorating tip. Thankfully we have a wonderful baker in the family that loaned me some of her cake making supplies.  

refrigerated my cake in between layers so the 
roses would be firm and not slide. Once the cake was done I put it in the fridge until it was time to transport to the party. I got lucky and found the perfect size large box in the attic to transport the cake. 

The cake was a joint effort. Thanks Joe for the help! I found out my hubby is very good at helping with cake decorating. Once he was done, he grabbed his chainsaw and helped a neighbor with a river birch tree that was damaged by the heavy snow from the winter storm the day before. He was more in his element outdoors, but I think he even shocked himself (and me) helping with the cake since I was in a hurry.

Happy 60th Annemarie!
There were 8 of us there and we played a German game which would also be fun for my grandchildren once they are older. I can't recall what the German game was called, but we were blind-folded, and given a wooden spatula. The hostess placed a small metal mixing bowl on the living room rug with a small prize under it, and we had to try to find and hit the bowl with the spatula to win the prize. Thankfully we all (still) have good knees to crawl! 

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Tales of the Traveling Tote - Winter Edition

 If you are here for the first time, welcome to Mountain Breaths. Today I am joining a group of talented bloggers to bring you our Tales of the Traveling Tote. Do not expect to see palm trees in this post!  I had Olympic fever and am a winter sports enthusiast. The Adirondacks (where my camp is) has a special relationship with the winter Olympics. Lake Placid hosted the Games in 1932 and 1980 (Joe attended), and that history lives on as the region continues to be a center for world class competition and training. A dozen athletes from our "north country" competed in Pyeongchang. So off we went to Lake Placid and stayed at the Mirror Lake Inn im February for Joe's school break.  
Each afternoon at 3:30, they have "High Tea" and something we have enjoyed over the last 20 years going to the inn. Then we roamed around the inn and the town enjoying the Olympic vibe. Take me back! I can get used to eating chocolate chip cookies every afternoon.
Lake Placid rolled out the welcome mat for us. The village embraces the Olympic spirit like nowhere else. It's nearly impossible to go anywhere in the village without encountering somebody in training for something, whether it's skiing, bobsledding, mountain biking or a triathlon. Everything about it, the whole vibe. Main Street is decorated in red, white and blue and adorned with welcome flags.

Flashback to December when we travelled to NYC after Christmas. If you travel on Amtrak, did you know that you can get a Red Cap to haul your luggage and put you on the train? It's a service they offer, although my husband always tips them. You will find the employees with the Red Caps when you check into Amtrak at Penn Station. I love this service since we are always first to board the train. Guess where my first stop was? Yep, to Magnolia Bakery to get my favorite cupcakes. As soon as my teeth hit the buttercream, all is good in New York City. 

Brrrr, can you tell I was frozen to the core but a quick stop at Magnolia Bakery cured that. Also, a trip to NYC is not complete for us without lunch at Tavern on the Green. It's under new management, and we have many fond memories over the years. It is very relaxing and they don't rush you which is great because it took me an hour to warm up. 

If you are planning to be in NYC around the holidays in December 2018, the trees are spectacular. We walked the streets and enjoyed the trees at Tiffany, Lotte New York Palace, Bryant Park, Washington Square Park, Le Parker Meridian, Chanel and Rockefeller Center. 

My friend Tami shared a photo of her tote while attending a Stitching Getaway with many talented ladies.

To see what Miss Aurora's tote sistas have been up to, click on the participating blogs below.

Emily with Miss Courtney ChildsThe French Hutch
Jenna with Miss Coquille @The Painted Apron
Linda G with Miss Poppy @ More Fun Less Laundry
Linda P with  Miss Lola Life and Linda Life and Linda
Patti with Miss Kenzie and Miss Taylor @ "Pandora's Box"
Rita with Miss Luna C Panoply 
Sarah with Miss Merri Mac @ Hyacinths for the Soul
Jackie with Miss Madi K
Lea with Miss Scarlett @
Ricki Jill with Countess de Monet @ The Sketchy Reader 

See you again in June with more adventures! Thank you so much for stopping by!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

A Sweet February

 Ready to play along? This blog post will be short and "sweet" I promise :-) This is the sunroom in our house, the room I blog in. Lots of windows and skylights, perfect for a romantic, locally sourced dinner from the farmers and food artisans of the Oneida County Public Market. 
 We decided to show how much we care by cooking with our own two hands for our anniversary. We picked up our "Farm Gate to Dinner Plate" meal ingredients from our public market. They chose the menu and gave us the ingredients.
 I love how they did the bread. You just pull apart the sections. No slicing necessary!  
 The table is set, I froze the bread and will warm it up on Wednesday. They also gave us some wonderful cookies for dessert but I had already made the heart sugar cookies so I froze them. Joe's picking up a small bouquet of roses for the center of the table. This table is small and space is of a premium. 
 The menu is below. I can't wait for this dinner to happen. LOL
I appreciate you stopping by!


Appetizers (2) Birthday Week (2) Blog Anniversary (2) Bread (2) Breakfast (4) Breakfast; MacKenzie-Childs (2) Breville Pie Maker (3) Cannoli (3) Chicken (2) Chicken Riggies; Foodie Friday (1) CHRISTMAS 2011 (4) Come To The Table (4) Cookies (2) Dessert (9) Dinner Parties (3) Easter 2012 (2) Events (3) Fairy Garden (2) Favorites on the First (2) Filled Strawberries (3) Flashback Friday (6) Foodie Friday (20) Garden 2009 (3) Gingerbread Pumpkin Bars (3) Halloween (2) Kentucky Derby; Run for the Roses Pie (1) Key West (4) Kick-Off To Summer BBQ (2) Lake Life (2) Lemon (3) Lemon Berry Cake with Mascarpone Filling (2) Let's Dish (13) Let's Dish; Tablescape Thursday (2) MacKenzie-Childs (35) MacKenzie-Childs; Traveling Tote (4) Magazine recipes (2) MAGNOLIA BUTTERCREAM FROSTING (2) Martha's Vineyard (3) McKenzie-Childs (2) Miss Aurora; (1) Monday Mosaic (5) Monday Mosaic; Seasonal Sundays (3) Mother's Day 2012 (3) Mystery Ingredient; Halloween 2013 (2) National Bundt Day (3) Nordic Ware Heritage Bundt Pan (3) Outdoor Wednesdays (2) OWLS (2) Pasta (2) PEONIES (4) Philadelphia Garden Show 2009 (10) Pier One (2) Pork (2) PUMPKIN PIE FUDGE (3) Rhubarb (2) Salads (2) Seafood (3) Seasonal Sundays (9) Showy Lady's-slipper (Cypripedium reginae) (2) Soup (4) Spider Web Pizza (1) St. Patrick's Day (4) Summer 2013 (2) Summer Dessert (4) Sunday Favorites (3) Sycamore Hill Gardens (2) Table For Two (2) Tablescape Thursday (18) Tablescape Thursday; MacKenzie-Childs (2) Thanksgiving (5) Tips and Tidbits; (2) Tybee Island; Georgia; Savannah; (2) Utica Greens; Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook; Escarole (1) Valentine (2) Valentine's Day (3) Vietri (4) Weekends (6) World Famous Paradise Bakery Sugar Cookies with Magnolia Bakery Buttercream Frosting (3) Zucchini Bread (2)