Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tortellini Soup


Two things I love the most about the winter season are soup and hoodies.  For about a month and a half I have been trying to find the day with the right combination of cold weather outside and spare time inside my kitchen to make this soup.  The funny thing is that it doesn't take too much effort to make this soup, so I'm going to blame it on the crazy busy holiday season and the unseasonably warm weather that has kept me from making this soup.  One of my best friends from college gave me this recipe years ago while we were in college and I have been tweaking it and making it ever since.  It is one of my all time favorite winter soups and is hearty enough to be served as a main dish.


1 lb Turkey sausage
1/4 tsp ground black Pepper
Olive Oil
1 Onion, chopped
2 cloves Garlic, minced
5 cups Beef stock
2 cups Water
1/2 cup Red wine
1 (14.5 oz) can tomatoes
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup Carrots, chopped
1/2 tsp dried Basil
1/2 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp dried Parsley
1 1/2 tsp red Pepper (+/- depending on how spicy you like things)
1/4 tsp ground black Pepper
1 (4 oz) can sliced black Olives (optional)
2 cups Zuchinni, chopped
16 oz. cheese tortellini (frozen or refridgerated)
1 green Bell pepper, chopped
Parmesan cheese, grated


Saute the sausage with ground black pepper over medium high heat until browned.  Remove from pan saving the drippings.

Saute onions and garlic for about 5 minutes in reserved drippings.  (If using lean turkey sausage you may need to add 1/2 tbs of olive oil)

Add beef stock, water, wine, tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano, parsley, red pepper, black pepper, and tomato sauce.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Add the olives, zucchini, tortellini, and green bell pepper and simmer for 10 minutes or until tortellini is fully cooked.  Ladel into individual bowls and garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese.   

This soup is great fresh, but even better the second day.  It serves 8-10, so it welcomes leftovers.

Amanda's Tips:
This recipe is for frozen or refrigerated tortellini.  If you pick up dried tortellini it will soak up a good amount of liquid while cooiking so include at least one extra cup water and one extra cup broth.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Italian Cream Cake

I LOVE baking...more so than cooking.  Everything just looks so pretty.  Plus who complains about sweets?  Food I can understand, there are picky eaters everywhere, but rarely do you ever hear about anyone complain about sweets.  My charming boyfriend, who rarely eats sweets, requested an Italian Cream Cake this week for his birthday.  (I say requested, but really I mean I told him he had to have something for his birthday and he might as well make a request because otherwise I’d come up with something.)

This year I spent Christmas with Raymond and his family.  At one of his family gatherings his Aunt had made an Italian Cream Cake that Raymond had THIRDS of!  I’m not sure I have ever seen him have seconds of a dessert, much less thirds.  I love trying new things and have never had an Italian Cream Cake (also called Italian Wedding Cake).  It was delicious! I asked her for the recipe she used and she pulled it out of her recipe card file.  (I think it’s so cute to see these, I have never used them as typing up my recipes on my computer is so much easier, but when you get a copy of a recipe that someone took the time to put on a card, you know that it is going to be a good one!)

Boy was I right.  One thing I learned though, is that I have been spoon fed my recipes.  I guess when you only have a 3x5 note card to write the recipe on, you assume that the reader knows the basis of the recipe pretty well, and you leave out as much erroneous information as possible.  I did some research before-hand to make sure I did not skip any important steps or make any wrong assumptions.  This turned out a delicious and perfectly most cake that I look forward to making again!

Yummy slice of Italian Cream Cake.


For the Cake:
2 cups Sugar
1/2 cup Crisco, room temperature
1 stick Oleo (aka. butter), room temperature
1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. Almond extract
1 small can Coconut (1 1/3 cup)
5 Eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups Flour, sifted
1 cup Buttermilk, at room temperature
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

For the Frosting:
1 (8-oz) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick Oleo, softened at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
1 (16-oz) box powdered sugar, sifted (3 3/4 cups)
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts


For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and prepare 3 (9-in) round cake pans with grease and flour.

Cream oleo, Crisco, sugar, vanilla, and almond extracts.  Add egg yolks one at a time.

Separately add the soda to buttermilk.

Add buttermilk, alternately with flour to Crisco mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix in the chopped pecans and coconut.  Separately beat the egg whites until stiff, and gently fold into the prepared batter.

Divide the batter evenly amond the 3 prepared cake pans.  Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and a tester comes out clean when inserted into the middle of each cake.

Allow the cakes to cook in the pans for about 10 minutes before turning them out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.  When the cakes are completely cool, stack the layers with the frosting and frost the sides and the top.

For the Frosting:
Cream the oleo, cream cheese, vanilla, and almond extract until smooth and creamy.  Add the sifted powdered sugar and mix until thoroughly combined.  Add the nuts and fold together.  Keep refrigerated until you are ready to frost the cake.

Raymond intently finishing off his birthday cake.

Amanda's Tips:
Never tap the egg white mixture or the scraper when folding egg whites into the batter.  This will cause the egg whites to flatten by expelling the air they have absorbed.