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ItCream (17)

A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a birthday lunch for my younger daughter at Bucca di Beppo restaurant in Cincinnati.  I ordered three of their (large) desserts for the six of us to share:  cheesecake, cannoli and Italian Cream Cake.  I expected the Italian Cream Cake to be the one I’m familiar with that has pecans, coconut and a cream cheese frosting.  The cake here was light-textured with a mascarpone/cream cheese filling/frosting and a drizzle of raspberry sauce.  It seemed to have a very light touch of lemon either in the cake or in the filling.

It was delicious but especially memorable because my 15-year-old grandson loved it so much.  He said he was in heaven when he tasted a piece of this cake – this from a boy who will eat no kind of pie except apple.

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I knew I had to try to duplicate the cake.  I could find no copycat recipes  and spent time looking through recipes for cream cakes, mascarpone filling and raspberry puree to come to this adaptation.

Italian Cream Cake with Raspberry Puree
2 eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1-½ cups cake flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Grease and flour a 9-inch square cake pan or round pie pan.  I used a vintage tube pan and increased the baking time about 10 minutes.

In a large mixer bowl, beat eggs, sugar and vanilla, beating well.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Add the flour mixture alternately with the whipping cream to the egg mixture, beginning and ending with flour and beating well after each addition.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

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Place on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges to loosen and invert onto a rack.  Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes, then lift the cake pan off and allow the cake to cool completely.

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When cake is completely cool, separate into layers by placing cake on a piece of parchment paper and inserting toothpicks at the midpoint of the sides of the cake, leaving 3 inches or so between toothpicks.

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Resting a serrated knife on the toothpicks, carefully slice around the cake.  Go around a second time cutting toward the center until cake has been cut in two.

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Place the bottom of the cake on the serving cake plate.

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Mascarpone Filling
1-½ cups heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar, divided
8 oz. mascarpone cheese at room temperature
½ tsp. lemon extract

In the large bowl of a mixer and using whisk attachment, beat whipping cream and 1/3 cup sugar until stiff peaks form.  (Don’t whip too long to form butter.)

In a separate bowl with whisk attachment, beat mascarpone cheese, 1/3 cup sugar and lemon extract until creamy and smooth.

Fold the mascarpone mixture into the whipped cream.

Spoon the mascarpone filling generously on the top of the layer on the plate.  This makes a lot of filling, so you can be generous.

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Place the top layer, cut surface up, on the bottom layer and continue to spoon filling on the top of cake.

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If there is filling left over, it can be placed in a bowl and served along with the cake or refrigerated in a covered container to use as topping on pudding, Jello, etc.  The mascarpone will keep the whipped cream stabilized for about a week.

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Refrigerate the cake until ready to serve and refrigerate any leftovers.

Serve with just a drizzle of raspberry puree.

Raspberry Puree
Two 12-oz bags frozen unsweetened raspberries
2-4 Tblsp. granulated sugar (to taste)

Remove berries from bag and allow to defrost in a strainer over a bowl for 6-8 hours (or overnight).  Microwaving them will take away some of the flavor.

Press with a wooden spoon and then force through a fine sieve to remove seeds.  I used a food mill first and then pressed through a large fine sieve.

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Stir in the granulated sugar, cover and refrigerate.  I like to remove the puree at dinner time and let it set at room temperature until dessert is served.  This makes about 1-½ cups of puree.  Place in a pretty pitcher to drizzle over the cream cake.

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The puree is very strong-flavored and intense, so a drizzle is just right to complement the cake and filling.  Six to eight servings.

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The cake was delicious, although not exactly like Bucca di Beppo’s, but the important thing was that my grandson loved it just as much and asked to take some home with him – I sent him off with the remaining half-cake.

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Red Brolly is offering a free pattern for a really cute, easy-to-make mug carrier and mug rug.  http://www.red-brolly.com/2015/03/butterfly-mug-bag-have-you-made-yours/

The bag is designed to hold a medium sized mug about 6 inches tall x 3 inches diameter …

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and has a pocket for some teabags.

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There is an accompanying mug rug which folds up in back of the mug bag.

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I have made four versions of the bag to use as gifts.  I made this one as an Easter gift for my granddaughter.

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The fabric is from scraps of an Easter dress I made for her in 2011, back before she became a sophisticated going-on-12 lady who doesn’t wear pretty lace-trimmed dresses any more.

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Instead of a mug, I’m using an 8-oz jar of jelly beans in the bag and will be putting a gift card in the pocket.

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For my two daughters, I’ll have the mugs filled with candy and will have gift cards in the pocket.
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I made one bag/rug to have ready to give to a good friend from Chicago who visits during the summer.
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In her case, I made an embroidered mug rug that shows a painter because she’s a gifted artist.

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I enjoyed making these bags and rugs out of scraps, including using up a lot of small batting pieces.  I included a snap and vintage button on each one.  It’s a pleasant afternoon’s project with just a bit of hand sewing.

Red Brolly’s post has some beautiful bags made from her pattern by other readers.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

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Last week, when I completed my Sew Sweet Simplicity BOM blocks and made them into kitchen curtains, I said I would post pictures of the curtains as soon as a non-snowy and sunny day came along.  Well, there are still some small hills of snow around, but the sun is bright and the sky is blue – so, here are the curtains.   The top picture shows the bay window area and this is the panel over the sink.

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I tried several approaches to making the blocks into curtains and decided to use a simple, streamlined method of using the blocks with sashing and borders to make panels which are very much like wall hangings with a sleeve on the back rather than regular curtain casings.  I wanted the panels to hang similar to a blind without any gathers.

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This project worked out well for me and at a distance and in the right light, the panels look almost like stained glass windows.

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I’m posting a repeat of three recipes from 2008 that my family thinks make the best Lenten meal.  I make this every Friday during Lent (7 Fridays in a row) and although I like more variety in my meals, my younger daughter loves this lunch so much that I go through the one-hour prep time so the two daughters and I can enjoy Our Favorite Lenten Meal:  Salmon Patties, Macaroni and Cheese, and Scalloped Tomatoes.  These three items just seem to go together so well.

Mom’s Salmon Patties

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I make these patties the way my mother used to make her “salmon” patties, which were actually mackerel.  Mother didn’t have the money for the expensive salmon and I think mackerel was about 10 cents per can back in the 1940s.  Although I loved her version and didn’t have a very big food budget when I married, I always made the patties with salmon and used her method of adding only crackers, onions and seasoning to the mix, no egg (my mother used as few eggs as possible in every dish).  My family prefers them this way and they are never as crispy on the outside and moist on the inside as when they are fried in Crisco.

MOM’S SALMON PATTIES

  • 1 Tblsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • One 14-15 oz. can Alaskan pink salmon
  • 12 saltine crackers, crushed
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Crisco for frying

In a small skillet, heat oil and saute onions on low heat until they are soft but not brown.

Drain salmon and remove any bones.  Place salmon in a bowl and add the sauteed onions.  Add the crushed saltines and a grind or two of black pepper.  The saltines add enough salt for our taste.  Mix together and form into 6 patties.  The mixture should hold together but still be slightly moist.

Melt Crisco in a large skillet and add the patties, browning/cooking about 5 minutes on each side.

Shannon’s Macaroni and Cheese

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I’ve used several good macaroni and cheese recipes through the years, but this one has become my favorite because, with the use of lower fat ingredients such as milk, cheese and cottage cheese, it is not too bad cholesterol-wise and is still delicious.

SHANNON’S MACARONI & CHEESE

  • 3/4 cup dry macaroni
  • 3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 2 Tblsp. dried onion
  • 3/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • 2 slices bread, processed into crumbs (about 2 cups)
  • 3 Tblsp. Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 9×9″ pan with non-stick spray

Cook macaroni in salted boiling water for approximately 8 minutes.  Drain.  Place in large bowl, add cheese and onion.

In a blender or food processor, blend cottage cheese, milk and mustard.  Pour over the macaroni mixture.  Add salt and pepper.  Pour macaroni into prepared pan.  Sprinkle bread crumbs on top of macaroni and add a sprinkling of the Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes @ 350 degrees F.

Yield:  6 servings

Old Time Scalloped Tomatoes

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This dish has been a family favorite from over 25 years ago when I had a lot of tomatoes at all times.  My husband had every variety in large amounts in his garden and I spent a lot of time canning and freezing them for use all through the year.

Old-Time Scalloped Tomatoes

  • 1 Tblsp. oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • One 14-15 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • One 14-15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tblsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • Dash of salt and a few grinds of black pepper
  • 2 cups soft bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

In small skillet, heat oil and saute onions on low heat until soft.  Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.

In 8×8″ baking pan place tomatoes.  Roughly cut up the whole tomatoes.  Add the sauteed onions.

In the same skillet used for the onions, melt the butter, stir in brown sugar until dissolved.  Add to tomato mixture and stir to blend.

Sprinkle crumbs on top of tomato mixture and bake @ 350 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes until tomatoes are heated through and topping is browned.

Yield:  6 servings

Serve everything piping hot.

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The salmon can be made into patties ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to serve.  The two side dishes can also be made earlier in the day and then baked at the same time, adding 10 minutes if the dishes are cold.

You may not want to eat this meal 7 weeks in a row but it would make a delicious Good Friday supper.

 

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I completed the final block in the Sew Sweet Simplicity BOM, which in my case was Bonus Block 2.  It turned out to be my favorite block because of the chevrons in the patchwork and the blue fabrics I used.

Since I only had 5 bluebird embroidery patterns and needed 6, I made a duplicate of one of the blocks and used blue floss for the flowers.

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Jacquelynne posted the final instructions and the time has come for me to decide what to do with these pretty blocks.  I really don’t need another wall hanging and the embroidery patterns were of kitchen subjects, so I decided to make panel curtains for my kitchen windows.  I have a bay window with three sections and a large window over the sink.  I decided to make one-block sections for the two small bay windows and two blocks each in the larger windows.

The first step was to pin the blocks to a backing ….

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…and then do some very simple big-stitch hand quilting along with some random starbursts.

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I auditioned several different approaches to making the curtains, including using some old lace material, but decided to keep it simple and streamlined, using sashing and borders.  I just completed the curtains and the first non-snowy, bright, cheerful day that comes along, I’ll post some pictures.

This has been an interesting BOM series and you can still make your version from Jacquelynne’s web site – she doesn’t archive patterns for very long, so it‘s best to copy the free patterns and save them for when it‘s time for a new project in your sewing room.

The embroidery patterns were found here.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/29529717@N04/

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After 3 major snowfalls in one week, we were more than ready for something hearty, warm and comforting for supper.  I used ingredients and techniques from a couple of my favorite recipes to make this dish which my two daughters and I loved.

BAKED HAM, BEANS AND DUMPLINGS

2-½ cups (home-cooked or two 10 oz cans) Great Northern beans, drained lightly
½ cup cooked ham, cubed
½ cup sour cream
½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup milk
1 packet (small envelope) Goya ham seasoning (optional but adds really nice flavor)
Dash of pepper
10 oz can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

Dumplings:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
3 Tblsp. Shortening (Crisco)
½ cup milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Greased 9 inch baking dish

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Place drained beans and ham in the bottom of a greased 9-inch baking dish.

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In a small bowl or food processor, whisk together the sour cream, mayonnaise, milk, ham seasoning and pepper.

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Whisk in undiluted cream of mushroom soup.

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Pour soup mixture over beans and ham in baking dish.

Prepare dumplings:
In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt.  Cut in shortening and stir in milk.  Drop mixture by measuring tablespoon in small dollops on top of mixture in baking dish.

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Bake in preheated 400 degree F oven for approximately 20-25 minutes until dumplings are done and very light brown on top.

4-6 servings

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Refrigerated leftovers are good warmed uncovered in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  The dumplings will be crispy on top but still delicious.

Valentine Runner or Banner

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I combined some hand-embroidered squares with some paper-pieced hearts to make a runner for Valentine’s Day.  Some of the embroidery patterns were found online and I made up some of them using vintage Valentines from my collection as a source.

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The boy and girl in the top row of these squares are from a Valentine my mother received from her teacher in 1923.

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I added a sleeve to the back so I can also hang this piece.

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I like this cheerful addition to my Valentine’s Day decorations.  Hope everyone has a great Valentine’s Day.

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