Sunday, November 4, 2018

National Bundt Day - Pistachio cake {again}

I got a head start on National Bundt Day which is November 15 every year. 

For my August birthday, mom always made me a pistachio cake. Everyone in my family enjoys the cake...fond childhood memories...when I asked my sister Cheryl (on the left in the photo above) what cake she would like for her November 4th birthday, I was never thinking she would say pistachio but she did :-) It is also a nice cake for Christmas and you can decorate the plate it sits on. My sister Diane (on the right) also has a November birthday, and she will probably end up having pie with the entire family. Her birthday is on Thanksgiving this year, and I am hosting. 
 Out of all the cakes that I bake in this Heritage Bundt Pan, this cake comes out perfect and doesn't stick. And I don't do anything different. 
Each year I look back on my National Bundt Day posts. I'm grateful for this little blog because without it, I would forget half the cakes I have made. LOL

Recipe for pistachio cake:
1 package yellow cake mix (regular size)
2 packages (3.4 ounces each) instant pistachio pudding mix
1 cup water
4 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil

1/2 pint heavy cream
1 box instant pistachio pudding
9 oz. whipped topping (Cool Whip)

Directions In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mixes, water, eggs and oil; beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Pour into a greased and floured 10-in. fluted tube pan. Bake at 350° for 60-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. In bowl, combine the heavy cream and pistachio pudding, and fold in the whipped topping.  

The recipe is also on the Taste of Home website.

My grandmother Lana (who lived to be 100) also made pistachio cake. I've included her recipe which is very similar to the one I make. Love finding these old recipes that have been in the family for over 80 years.
Thanks for stopping by! 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

It's Pumpkin Time Again

I almost forgot to do a pumpkin post this year. We put six of mom's pumpkins out last week. The neighborhood children came over immediately :-) I love that my brought children so much joy on Halloween. 

Also, the two winners of the cookbook are listed at the bottom of this post. 

Our Xavier went on a pumpkin hayride a couple weeks ago, he will be three in March.
  If you've been following my blog for a while, you may recall that Mom loved carving pumpkins and she carved at least 125 pumpkins over a ten year period. I previously did a post on her pumpkins explaining that Mom used the "carvable" foam pumpkins and Pumpkin Masters patterns. After she finished carving the pumpkin, she traced around a quarter coin on the bottom back of the pumpkin and cut a hole for the light. The trick or treaters and neighbors looked forward to the display each year. Our local TV station also featured them. After mom passed away, we distributed the pumpkins to family members. Our "pumpkin lady" left us with wonderful pumpkin memories, and Halloween will always be a fun time for our family.  

Each year I show you mom's pumpkins..she was the master :-)

"When you do it with heart, that's art!"
The cookbook winners from my last post

Bev Sunderman
Emily from The French Hutch

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Hilarious Cookbook Giveaway

Do we have any Mean Girls fans out there? I thought I would amuse myself with this new cookbook on a night that I was about to bake an apple cake and discovered that I haven't baked since Easter and was out of flour.  

If you look closely in the photo above, you will see Strawberry Toaster Doodles from the 
 The Burn Cookbook by Jonathan Bennett (aka Aaron Samuels himself!) and Chef Nikki Martin.  This hilarious, delicious cookbook is a must-have for chefs (and wannabes) everywhere! Jonathan Bennett dishes out a tasty parody of Mean Girls, serving up behind-the-scenes stories from the movie alongside awesome recipes for treats that your favorite mean girls should be enjoying in Girl World. This is a must-own book for any food lover still trying to make fetch happen.

Since I had no flour in the house, and we kind of wanted something sweet for dessert, I made the toaster doodles which is like a toaster strudel and made with puff pastry and strawberry jam. This is technically a breakfast food, and we both enjoyed this as a dessert. No too sweet, and it hit the spot.

Disclaimer:  I was offered TWO cookbooks as a giveaway, and will pick TWO winners on October 31. You are welcome to take a look inside The Burn Cookbook and let me know if you are interested. 

The Burn Cookbook: An Unofficial Unauthorized Cookbook for Mean Girls Fans
THE BURN COOKBOOK is a hilarious, delicious must-have cookbook for chefs (and wannabes) everywhere! Jonathan Bennett (that's right, Aaron Samuels himself) dishes out a tasty parody of Mean Girls, serving up behind-the-scenes stories from the movie alongside awesome recipes for treats that your favorite mean girls should be enjoying in Girl World. Like math, the language of food is the same in every country, and this cookbook is packed with amazing creations like Fetch-uccine Alfredo, You Go, Glenn (Hot) Cocoa, and Just Stab Caesar Salad. Written with the help of rock star chef Nikki Martin, Jonathan also shares his favorite recipes from his own childhood, like his mom's famous stuffed shells, mandarin chicken salad, and other specialties that will round out any special event. Perfect for happy hour (don't forget it's from 4:00 to 6:00 PM), Wednesdays, or when sweatpants are the only thing that fits, THE BURN COOKBOOK is a must-own book for any food lover still trying making fetch happen.

Jonathan Bennett is an actor, television host, and food lover. He is best known for his role as Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls, as well as starring roles in Cheaper by the Dozen 2, Van Wilder: Freshman Year, MTV's Awkward, and All My Children, among others. He competed on season nineteen of Dancing with the Stars and is currently the host of the New Year's Eve celebration in Time Square and Cake Wars and Halloween Wars on Food Network.

Twitter: @JonathanBennett
Instagram: @Jonathandbennett

Nikki Martin is a private chef to the stars, blogger, and TV personality. She has appeared on several Food Network shows, and was known as "The Grill Next Door" on Food Network Star season eight. She has also appeared on Bravo's Going Off the Menu which featured The Roulette Society, her private dinner club. 

Facebook: @itsnikkimartin
Twitter: @ChefNikkiMartin
Instagram: @itsnikkimartin

Thank you for stopping by! Let me know if you are interested in winning the cookbook. You don't need to be a blogger, I have heard from five of you by email that would like to win. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Bellissima Northern Italy - Milan, Bellagio and Stresa

For those of you who know my husband, he is a planner. But the part you don't know is that he is very discreet in his planning. I had no idea he had been planning this trip of a lifetime to Northern Italy, and he was so excited that he actually called me at work to ask me if I could get the time off. I went silent. I had never taken 2.5 weeks of vacation from my job even though I have been there 34 years. Yes I would have a lot of catching up to do at work, but it was worth this trip of a lifetime. I wish I had brought a camera, but have gotten into the habit of using my phone to take photos. The first four days of our trip were in Milan, Stresa (Lake Como and Lake Maggiore) and Bellagio. 
Although not the reason we went to Europe, you've probably heard about the first Starbucks in Europe that was all over the news and opened shortly before we arrived in Milan. It's like no other Starbucks. A work of art. 
Our love affair with beautiful Italia began at the Grand Hotel et de Milan. Upon arrival in Milan at 9 a.m., we arranged for an early check-in and therefore had an hour to browse shops in the Monumentale area which is where Starbucks is located. We loved this limoncello display in Peck's and their wine cellar is also very impressive.
We bought a ticket for the roof top tour of the Duomo, and so happy we did. It took thousands of workers, a new canal system and over six centuries to complete the construction which started in 1386. This is a must see while in Milan.
After taking a shower, we walked to the Duomo (Milan Cathedral). Bless that man that was dust mopping the alter in the church. I was trying to take a photo without him. He must be in everyone's photo :-)

This photo was taken in front of our hotel on Montenapoleone after a tour of Milan in this vintage Fiat on Day 2. What it lacked in comfort was made up getting cozy with our tour guide Luca who was awesome. We felt like celebrities with people taking our I didn't take pictures but our tour took us past Sforza Castle, the Montenapoleone luxury district, the Brera art district, the Scala Opera House, Milan Roman Area and much more.

After a sunny ride in the Fiat, I refreshed at Teatro Alla Scala.
This fort was a free attraction and a popular place to visit in Milan. 

Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie is where the "The Last Supper" is displayed. It is a "fresco" mural which was done by painting water-based pigments on freshly applied plaster. The word fresco comes from the Italian for "fresh". There are certainly advantages and disadvantages of fresco painting. 
We had dinner one evening at Cracco's in the Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II, and I MUST find a way to duplicate this risotto. It tasted like sun-dried tomatoes, so I will start with that. Joe's margherita pizza was amazing also. Our son's co-worker from Italy recommended Cracco's, and I'm so glad he did. 

Of course we had to try the limoncello in Italy. I've only had it once before.
The beautiful Galleria Vittorio Emanuelle II which is one of the oldest shopping centers. 
The day we were leaving Milan to travel to Lake Maggiore and Lake Como, they were setting up for fashion week outside our hotel. I wish we could have stayed to see more, but we did get to see the "interesting" clothing in the windows of the stores and some of the models walking the cobblestone roads. We are now off to Italy's most beautiful lake - Lake Como.
We were transported by bus to Tremezzo and visited Villa Carlotta which is known for it's lovely setting and splendid 17th century gardens decorated with sculptures, stairways and fountains. 

 While in Bellagio, one must buy a silk scarf as a souvenir. 
We are off to Lake Como.
On the Lake Como cruise (very popular way to get around), we passed George Clooney's house. We were told that Brad Pitt is a frequent visitor, but recently Jennifer Aniston has also been seen hanging out there (with Brad).

The Milanese have second homes at the lakes where they escape to on the weekends. It's about an hour drive from Milan to Lake Como. This photo was taken from our balcony on Lake Maggiore at Belle Epoque hotel in Stresa. Lake Como has a Mediterranean micro climate with a lot of rain due to the mountains, and also lots of sunshine.   

We traveled by boat to Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore and the exquisite Villa Borromeo on a tiny, private island. Count Vataliano Borromeo began the construction of this Baroque palace and gardens in 1632. We then took a boat to Isola Pescatori where we had lunch before returning to lovely Stresa. 
After spending the morning in Isola Bella, Joe and I decided we'd like to experience a change in elevation. The Mottarone Cable Car departs every 20 minutes from the Lido in Stresa and is one of the best ways to view Lake Maggiore. The first stage of the cable car took us to Alpino where, a 5 minute stroll from the cable car station, you will find the Alpine Gardens. Covering nearly 10 acres, the Alpine gardens are well worth a visit and are a welcome break from the heat in the summer. We wandered around the terraces, reaching a view point where we could admire the lake and the surrounding mountains. There were Alpine and Sub-Alpine species from the West, but also from China and Japan. The second stage of the cable car took us to Mottarone where, a 10/15 minute walk took us to the summit. From there we had a 360° view which includes 7 lakes and the beautiful Mount Rosa. And we stopped at the little "country" cafe for a selfie with pinnochio. 
After a 10 minute walk back to our hotel, we are back to palm trees and relaxing for the rest of the evening. We even ordered pizza room service this evening. We enjoyed the walking we did in Italy, some days 16,000 steps. We ate non-stop (it seemed), and after all that walking for two weeks, I lost four pounds.
Don't you think retirement looks good on Joe? :-) He retired in June, and this was his well-deserved retirement trip. 
Each morning started with cappuccino, and this particular day, we were packing our suitcases in Stresa and headed to Verona for two nights.
Beautiful morning sunrise in Stresa. 

In my next post, I will take you to Verona and Bologna. 

Did you know that most families in Milan have downsized and are having only one child? 

Truthfully nothing is like the Grand Hotel et de Milan where we stayed and which has old world charm, a great bar, excellent breakfast room, impeccable caring service, kind hearted people and an easy going feeling of a beautiful home away from home. The hotel in Milan was a beautiful rose in the nicest neighborhood in all of Milan and directly across the street from Via Montenapoleone (the famous street of Fashion designers). Verdi lived in this hotel and it has a long history of illustrious guests. 


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