Our Favorite Italian Meatballs

On top of spaghetti all covered with cheese
I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed.
It rolled off the table, it rolled on the floor.
And then my poor meatball rolled out of the door.

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Actually, I’m not a fan of spaghetti and meatballs (though those with whom I reside are).  Eek! What?! Huh?! you say.  Nope.  I do, however, love a tomato sauce-simmered meatball on a crusty roll (highly recommend you make King Arthur Flour’s Crusty European-Style Hard Rolls) with melted provolone and fontina to hold it all together.  [Swoon]  Or a singular beauty right out of the pot with a soopa-big spoon.  [Kerplunk]  To each their own but nobody is every disappointed.

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Aiden’s Key Lime Pie Ice Cream Birthday Cake

 

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In our house, like many I guess, the tradition is that the birthday person gets to pick his or her birthday cake and I create it.  Some years ago, we went from my go-to domed ice cream cake creations (molded in the yellow Pyrex bowl) which were pretty easy to assemble and accommodated all sorts of flavor combos, to requests which were a bit elaborate for my skill level (read: patience with fiddly things).  For some reason – my bull-headedness perhaps – I would accept each challenge with generally reasonable success.  Quadruple chocolate ice cream layer cake?  Done!  Forty-seven-fruit-flavors-in-one ice cream layer cake? Done.  Banoffee pie as ice cream layer cake? Uh… Anyway.

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[My] World’s Best Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting

An amazingly moist rich chocolate cake with light-as-air chocolate frosting.  This is the ultimate chocolate layer cake.

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I consider my birthday to be my personal New Year and celebrate accordingly.  No overcrowded soirees and schwanky duds for this chicken; I prefer good company, introspection, bubbles, and my du jour favorite foods.  This year, I had a hankering for Cuban sandwiches and chocolate cake.  Cubans are pretty straight-forward (except that I used chicken … I just cannot help myself with the experimenting… it was okay; pork’s better).  Cake, on the other hand … cake takes thought.  Given that I’ve grown up with the queens of chocolate cakedom (Nonnie and Mom), this couldn’t be any ordinary cake… it had to exceed expectations.  I was having a needs-expectations-exceeded birthday so the pressure was real.  Birthday drama is my jam. Even made up cake drama.

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Dark Ale Chocolate Cake with Dark Ale Ganache

Deep rich chocolate cake with the subtle bitterness of a dark beer, hints of coffee and caramel, and covered in a thick dark ale ganache.

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I am in awe of – and look for – anyone who can take a dream, combine it with hard work, a lot of sweat and tears (hoping no blood) and turn it into a thriving business.  This is how we found New District Brewing.  It’s within walking (a stretch) and biking distance of our house.  It was born of a home-brewing business (I have a soft spot given BD’s foray into esophogeal-charring jalapeno beer which turned into our Christmas Eve traditional beer cheddar soup) and is now a brick-and-mortar business putting out some fine beers.  We’ve been going there since they opened in 2017 and are thoroughly enjoying the evolution of their beers. Altruistically, we support local.  Selfishly, we like good beers! Read More


Berry Jam Crumble Bar Cookies

A buttery short crust with hints of cinnamon and the hearty flavor of toasted oats cradling an ooey tart-sweet center of jam.  Perfect for picnics, lunchboxes or a random Monday afternoon.

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The first time I made these cookies was for a winery tour of Virginia that was a gift for my mother.  Since she’s not a huge chocolate fan (yes, please read my last post re: her world-famous chocolate cake … go figure … I digress) and needed to be portable (read sturdy), I went hunting for a bar cookie recipe.  This is an amalgamation of several I came across so apologies for not sharing the lineage.  I proudly dub this’n a mutt cookie.  And we all know mutts are the best…. no pomp or pretense… just good stuff.

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Choco-Colada Cheesecake

Sitting atop an intensely chocolate cookie base is the creamiest coconut cheesecake swirled with dark chocolate throughout.  An indulgent crowd-pleaser of a dessert.

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I’ve been baking since I was a kid.  For a long time my repertoire was limited to cookies, brownies and sheet cakes. Nothing to sneeze at but I felt the need to expand my horizons.  My mother is queen of the layer cake so a phone call in that direction could always get her world-famous (or at least anyone-who’s-ever-tried-it famous) chocolate cake whipped up if’n you were in her good graces; so why bake when you could get delivery?!  It’s like DiGiorno only better.  And chocolate.  I decided my foray in a new direction would be “fancy” cakes and I would start with cheesecake.  Et viola!  The choco-colada cheesecake came to be in my life. Read More


Cranberry Bliss Bars

A homemade version of the very popular Christmas treat at Starbucks known as the Cranberry Bliss Bar.  A white chocolate and cranberry flecked citrus blondie with just the right schmear of cream cheese frosting.  Perfect any time of year with your cuppa … tea or coffee.

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I can’t remember exactly when I had my first Starbucks Cranberry Bliss Bar but I do remember thinking (in no particular order): it could become a very expensive habit, sitting out in the air too long would make them go stale quickly, and only having them available during Christmas holidays was not an option…. I mean, what’s a girl to have as a treat with her coffee mid-March? A cake pop?! Pfft! That’s so last fad.  Never to be outfoxed by a baked good, I went searching into the ether and came back with a promising knock-off recipe … which I further knocked off.  Peace and sanity were restored and mah belly was happy.

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