Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Ricotta Pie

Oh my. This past week has been quite long...
My kids were home from school for Spring Break, as I talked about here. It rained most of the, on one of those rainy days I decided we would make a ricotta pie for brunch on Sunday. Growing up, my grandmother would always make a ricotta pie on Easter. It has a more sophisticated taste than most kids would go for. But, even as a child, I always loved it!
It seems that every Italian mother, or grandmother, has her own way of making this traditional dessert {I won't even get started on the savory version...with sausage, ham & and/or cheese}. Some add soaked wheat grains to the filling. Some add chopped candied orange peel, citron, or mixed fruits. Some add chocolate chips.
Most commonly, my grandmother added chocolate chips & candied mixed fruit. Although, I do remember an Easter, or two, where she did make the grain pie.
I didn't have my grandmother's recipe. But, I figured with some searching on the Internet, I could find a similar version. So, after some poking around, I decided on one. It included many steps & was very complicated looking, but I figured we had nothing else going on that day & decided to go for it.
The result?
A complete fact, inedible.
I was so disappointed. Not only had I wasted an entire afternoon baking something I wouldn't be able to serve, I still didn't have a dessert for Easter! So, I called my father & asked him if he knew grandma's recipe for Easter pie. He said he thought he had it around somewhere & that he would look around.
That afternoon, I was very happy when he emailed me a copy of her recipe. I decided to make it Easter morning for our brunch that day. We were having a family brunch here at my house. I had planned, shopped & prepped all day Saturday for the event.
But, unfortunately, things didn't turn out as I had planned.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Eggs...

Easter is pretty much my favorite holiday. I love this time of year...the warmer weather, the Spring flowers & budding trees, all the pastel colors. I host a family brunch every Easter as well & it's my favorite holiday to decorate for. The best part of all is the decorating of Easter eggs!
Over the years we have experimented with everything from Paas kits, to vegetable dyes, to glittering name it. Here are some great ideas from around the web to give you some inspiration.
{a.} I bookmarked this image last year, from Design Mom, because I love the idea of using Bonne Maman jelly jars for the dye. I always have tons of them around the house! {b.} Last year, we used this Martha Stewart technique to glitter hollowed-out eggs, then they can be used as decoration year after year. {c.} I love these pretty leaf-print eggs! {d.} Paper Napkin Decoupage Eggs...this is a great way to use leftover party napkins. {e.} Martha has so many great egg decorating ideas! Now, they're available as an iPhone app! {f.} The website Not Martha also has the best egg decorating ideas! Like this post with directions and color formulas for DIY egg dyes.....{f.} and how to make Surprise Eggs!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Surviving Spring Break...

I had the best intentions this week. I planned on getting all these great Easter recipes cooked up & posted before Sunday. How I figured this would happen with my two Bozos home on Spring Break? I don't know.
Obviously, we are warm, turquoise water getaways for us. To top it all off, it's pretty much rained daily. All this rain + two wild boys indoors = a frazzled Mama. But, I've managed to keep them entertained with some help from a few fun activities we've pulled out this week. I thought I'd share them as they double as great Easter gift ideas...
{a.} All three of us have been enjoying these "smelly" coloring pages by's a good smell by the way! {b.} My current favorite "board game", YamSlam! It's so much fun & addictive. {c.} The kids iPod Touch's are a lifesaver. Their favorite app of the moment? Tap Town! {d.} These "Create a Wooden Family" Kits supply hours of fun & are cute as can be! {e.} My little guy loves making books, so this Book in a Box Kit, which produces little accordion books within a box is perfect for him! {f.} Remember Spirograph Art? I particularly love this Hypotrochoid Art Kit because not only does it teach Math, but it travels well...perfect for restaurants!
Another great activity this week? Coloring Easter Eggs! More on that coming soon...

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Milky Rice Pudding

This recipe has to be one of the easiest desserts I've ever made. If not for the fact that I needed to photograph some of the steps, all of the ingredients {all three of them}, could have been mixed in one measuring cup...added to a baking dish, cooked & served. It really couldn't be simpler.
Not only is it simple...but, rice pudding & I have a history.
Dh & I went through a rice pudding stage, years ago...while living in Brooklyn. We had a habit of devouring tubs of locally made Kozy Shack rice pudding.
You know how young couples, in love, will tend to gain weight, after being together some time?
It's the rice pudding. In fact, I consumed so much of the stuff that eventually, the sight of rice pudding made me ill. It's been years since I've had some.
But, this rice pudding is no Kozy Shack {even though I do did love the stuff}. First off, it's warm...straight from the oven...not from the refrigerated section of your local grocery store. Secondly, it milky & creamy...with a texture similar to steel cut oats. This version contains no eggs, so there's no tempering involved {always a nerve racking technique for me}. But, in my opinion, it tastes just as delicious as versions made with them.
The only regret I had in making this was that I didn't quadruple the recipe. It will certainly make four servings for an "after a big meal" dessert. But, if you plan on eating it on it's own...maybe for breakfast one's more like two servings. Being that this recipe is so easy, I highly recommend making a double {or more} batch. If you do, you may need to adjust the cooking time.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Bozo Picture of the Week...

Anyone out there who has kids knows that obsessions come and go. With my guys it's been everything from Power Rangers, to Legos, to Silly Bandz, to Pokemon Cards.

The latest has been these little plastic collectible figures called Gogo Crazy Bones. Thankfully, this obsession is nearing it's end around our house. But, before it did, I noticed my older son organizing his figures by color, in a big Crazy Bone rainbow. I loved it so much I had to take a few pictures...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mango Sorbet

This time last year I posted about my addiction to Champagne mangoes. I love mangoes in general, but this variety is truly something special. They have a super smooth texture & are very sweet.
I saw them at the grocery store last week, in season once again & I bought a bunch. I bought so many that I couldn't eat them all before they became overly soft I had no idea what to do with them. I was going to dice & freeze them to add to my "smoothie bag"--My smoothie bag is where I add fruit that has ripened too much to eat, but will still be great in smoothies.
Smoothies are both my kids favorite after-school snack...but, frozen organic fruit is expensive & we go through a lot of it! So, having a bag of frozen fruit on hand is always a useful thing around here.
But, this time I decided that these mangoes needed something special. I decided to make some mango sorbet. I'm not a huge dessert person, and the only time I'm known to eat ice cream is when I'm pregnant. But, there's something about mango sorbet...or any sorbet really...that I think is perfect after a meal.
It was my first attempt at making sorbet, so I did a search & found this recipe by the great David Lebovitz...who knows a thing or two about making ice cream. I modified his recipe quite a bit as I only had two mangoes, and this variety is much smaller than a traditional mango. I added in some tequila, instead of rum, because that's what I had on hand. I also cut back on the sugar, because these mangoes were sweeter than normal. I think I was able to adjust it just right, because it came out fantastic!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Strawberry Ricotta Muffins

This past weekend the DH took the guys out for a bike ride. They were back at the house in about 5 minutes. Why? Because my 6 year old couldn't keep up & got worn out. His older brother went back out with his Dad & he was very discouraged. I told him, chin up...let's go bake something! I had it in my mind I wanted to bake something that day anyway. It was rainy & cold. Perfect weather to turn the oven on.
When they're both in the kitchen with me, there's always fights over who gets to measure this, who gets to pour this. So, every once in awhile, if I get the chance to cook with one of them alone, it's a nice treat.
These muffins were the fruits of our labor. It was one of those times where I looked at what I had in the fridge...some fresh strawberries that had about a day left before they had to be eaten, a half a container of ricotta, which I didn't want to throw out. So, I thought...ricotta? strawberries? What could we make?
Thankfully, Google is always available for instances like these & we found this recipe. It's a variation on a Dorie Greenspan recipe, called Ricotta-Berry Muffins, in which she recommends using any berries you'd like, except they're too juicy.
But, then I found this version, that uses strawberries & is successful doing so because she dehydrates them first. Perfect! That's what we did...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Bozo Picture of the Week...

This post isn't just about pictures of my Bozos. It's also not just about the ridiculously cute 7 week old puppy in the pictures either. It's about spring clothes!
If you're like me & have young boys, you may be able to relate to the frustration I have with finding cute, but also cool clothing for them! Sure, when you have girls you don't have this problem...there's a plethora of choices available. Not always the case with boys!

I have two, in the past I never had to worry about finding clothing for my younger son, because he always gets the hand-me-downs. But, as my guys get older, they trash their clothes way faster than they used to.
I also like to get my little guy a few new pieces every season, so it's not always second hand stuff. The past few seasons, I've been getting him his clothes at Tea Collection. I love their collection for boys!