Baked Rigatoni with Sausage

It’s time again for the recipe swaps!! This time around it’s ‘Blogger’s Choice’ meaning you’re assigned a blog and choose a recipe that sounds great to you.

I was given Kate’s blog and found quite a few that I’d like to make but ultimately picked this one. It sounded great for fall, easy to make and nice for a weekend dinner in.  It was a huge hit with everyone who tasted it.  I lightened up the recipe a bit by using chicken sausage and part skim mozzarella.

I don’t know who thought to put the garlic bread on top of the pasta under the cheese but I’d like to meet them and give them a hug. What  a SUPER idea!!

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Baked Rigatoni with Sausage

 Ingredients: 

  • 1.5 lbs. sweet Italian chicken sausage
  • 8 oz rigatoni, dry, then cooked al dente
  • 4 tbsp olive oil plus 1 tsp separated
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped small
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 26oz can marinara sauce (I used Trader Giotto’s) or use homemade
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil chopped, plus 8 whole fresh leaves
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus 3 tbsp
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 10 oz frozen garlic bread loaf, defrosted
  • 3 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, cut into 8 even slices.

Instructions:

  1. Cook the sausage and slice into thin coins. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the 1 tsp olive oil. When hot add the onion and cook for a few minutes to soften. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Reduce heat to low and add the marinara sauce.  Let it heat, stirring occasionally, for a few minutes to incorporate the flavors.
  3. Grease a 9×13 baking dish.
  4. Preheat oven to 400F.
  5. In a large mixing bowl combine the cooked sausage, cooked pasta, sauce, 1 tbsp basil, pepper and the 1/2 cup Parmesan. Stir it gently to evenly coat everything.
  6. Gently pour the mixture into the prepared dish.
  7. Make 6 even slices through the garlic bread (resulting in 12 halves top/bottom slices). Using the non-ends line 4 pieces over one half of the pasta and the other 4 pieces over the other half to have 2 rows.  Sprinkle the remaining 3 tbsp of Parmesan over the bread. Sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over the bread and exposed areas of pasta.
  8. Place the 4 tbsp of olive oil in a shallow dish. Gently dip each tomato slice in and coat it with the oil. Shake off the excess and place one tomato slice on top of each piece of bread.
  9. Bake, uncovered, for about 15-25 minutes until cheese is melty and bubbly.  It only took about 15 minutes for me.
  10. Remove the pan and gently tip up one of the tomato slices and slide one of the remaining full basil leaves underneath it. Repeat with each tomato.
  11. Allow the dish to set for about 10 minutes.
  12. Slice and serve.

Note: I sprinkled some more grated Parmesan on the 4 end pieces of the bread, wrapped them in foil and heated them in the oven with the pasta.

Makes 8-10 servings.

Adapted from http://www.katerecipebox.com/2011/09/26/baked-ziti-with-sausage/

 

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Pumpkin Sugar Cookies with Spiced Glaze

It’s time for the next installment of What’s Baking?. This time around the theme is pumpkin or squash (appropo, no?).

I love these sugar cookies!! They’re pillowy soft and so chewy and delicious. A hint of pumpkin, a hint of spice and sugar all rolled together with a thin layer of spiced glaze.

They were very easy to make and have stayed perfect in an airtight container for a few days. I froze half of the dough so that I can make them again soon.

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Pumpkin Sugar Cookies with Spiced Glaze

Ingredients:

Cookie:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup more for topping
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 cups AP flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Glaze:

  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 4 tbsp almond coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350F.
  2. Prepare cookie shee(s) with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl put the butter, oil, pumpkin, and eggs. Mix until well combined and smooth.
  4. In a small bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and pumpkin pie spice.  Whisk well to combine and break up any lumps.
  5. Add 1/4 of the dry ingredients to the wet. Mix to combine, scraping down any on the sides of the bowl. Repeat until everything’s combined.
  6. Spoon large 1 tbsp mounds of the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.
  7. Place the additional 1/2 cup sugar on a deep plate.
  8. Using the bottom of a glass dipped in the sugar, flatten each cookie round to 1/2 inch, dipping the glass into the sugar before each cookie.
  9. Bake for 8-10  minutes. They will not brown.
  10. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes then transfer to cooling racks with waxed paper or foil underneath.
  11. Mix the glaze. Spoon about 1 tsp over each cookie.
  12. Allow glaze to harden.

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Adapted from wishesndishes.com

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Chicken Curry Soup

I based this soup on the Curried Udon Soup in the Birthday 2014 issue of BBC Good Food.  I LOVE curry and don’t cook with it as often as I should. This is a wonderfully warming, light soup which is surprisingly filling and satisfying thanks to the chicken, shirataki noodles and tons of veggies.

I find that shirataki noodles are really great for soup because they don’t get mushy or disintegrate like regular pasta noodles and they reheat perfectly. I cook them separate initially to get rid of the moisture and incorporate a bit of sesame and curry flavor into them. I like this brand the most. If you’ve never cooked with them don’t worry-they’re easy. I’ll explain fully below.

Yummy? check

Healthy? check

Easy to make? check

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Chicken Curry Soup

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped small
  • 1 cup fat free low sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp plus 1/2 tsp yellow curry* separated
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 8oz packages Tofu Shirataki spaghetti noodles, drained, rinsed and drained again
  • 1 13.5 oz can light coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 16oz package frozen stir-fry veggies (I used Trader Joe’s)

Instructions:

  1. In a dutch oven or large pot heat the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook almost completely. Add the onion and cook for a minute. Add the 2 tbsp curry powder and stir. Add the coconut milk, a bit at a time, stirring. Add the chicken broth, honey and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. While the soup is cooking put the sesame oil in a pan over medium/high heat. When hot add the noodles and stir for a few minutes to evaporate some moisture.  Add the remaining curry powder and continue stirring and cooking until almost dry. Remove from heat.
  3. Add the vegetables and cover and cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Place 1/4 of the noodles into the bottom of each bowl. Ladle 1/4 of the soup over the noodles.

Note: for left overs store the noodles separately from the soup. Add the noodles before reheating.

Regarding the preparation of the noodles: they are packaged in liquid. To prepare pour the noodles into a colander and shake off as much moisture as possible.  Rinse them with clean water and drain again.  At this point you can put them aside until they’re ready to use. I find that cooking them in a pan until they’re almost dry really makes a difference.

*I used the British Curry from Teeny Tiny Spice Company of Vermont.

Rice and Beef Mexi-Skillet

This one-pan meal is very delicious and very easy to make.  It’s a big mash-up of yummy–ground beef, rice and beans, spices and cheese.  You probably have most, if not everything, to make this in your pantry already.  I love weeknight dishes that I can set to simmer for a few minutes-it allows me to clean everything up while it finishes cooking.

Feel free to change the spices around to your particular taste. The recipe below gives a bit of a kick but it’s not spicy (in my opinion anyway).

This would also be great on nachos, Husband ate it rolled in a tortilla, I just ate it straight out of the bowl. Both helpings :)  Leftovers reheat beautifully.

 

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Rice and Beef Mexi-Skillet

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground sirloin
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped small
  • 4 cloves garlic, grated or minced fine
  • 1 15oz can crushed tomatoes (not drained)
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp Goya seasoning
  • 1 8oz box Goya Rice and Beans (not instant)
  • 1/2 cup light mexican blend shredded cheese (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • Fat free sour cream (for topping)
  • Sliced avocado (for topping)

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oil in a large deep skillet over medium/high heat. Cook the beef until nearly cooked through, drain, then add the onion and garlic, cook until onion is soft -just a few minutes.  Drain fat again if needed. Then add the tomatoes, seasoning and spices and mix to combine.  Transfer the beef to a deep plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  2. In the same pan bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the contents of the rice box and boil for 30 seconds.  Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook until rice is tender and water is absorbed-about 25 minutes. If necessary add a few extra tbsp of water to cook rice.
  3. Remove the skillet from the heat, stir in the beef and then stir in the cheese.  Let it rest for a few minutes until the cheese has melted.
  4. Garnish and serve.

Greatly adapted from Goya’s Cheeseburger Rice recipe.

 

Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal

Fall is definitely here and pumpkin is out and about in all of it’s glory.  This past Sunday morning was a beautiful Long Island fall morning-chilly and crisp with the leaves just only barely beginning to change colors.  In other words the perfect morning for some delicious warming oatmeal.  Last October I posted this recipe for Maple & Brown Sugar Steel Cut oats and I used it as the basis for the oatmeal below. It’s a perfect satisfying delicious start to the day.

This isn’t a sweet or pumpkin pie like oatmeal-if you’d like it more sweet feel free to add it in, but I’m ok with just a sprinkle of brown sugar. For more of a pumpkin pie flavor add some pumpkin pie spice.  Also note: it saves and reheats wonderfully.  The recipe below makes a few cups.

sparksfromthekitchen.com pumpkin steel cut oatmeal

Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk with coconut
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • pinch of cinnamon (to taste)
  • 2 tsp real maple syrup
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • brown sugar (for topping)
  • walnut pieces (for topping)

Instructions:

  1. In a deep sauce pan boil the water. Lower the heat to low and add the milk and oatmeal. Stir occasionally and cook for 20 minutes.
  2. In the mean time cook the pumpkin puree over medium heat in a small skillet with the cinnamon over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the syrup, vanilla and pumpkin puree to the oatmeal, stir and cook for another 5 minutes.
  4. Top with brown sugar and walnuts and enjoy.

Delicata Squash Chili–slow cooker

So we’re coming up on the last weekend of summer. What a fantastic summer it has been-full of outdoor fun, friends, family and baseball.

But I’m ready for fall. It’s such a gorgeous time of year-the colors of the trees, the crisp blue or gloomy grey skies, fall festivals and I can finally pull my boots out again. I miss them all summer.

Even though there’s still summer left last Saturday started cold and rainy. So naturally chili came to mind immediately. The result of pulling different items from my pantry was delicious! Just enough heat, different tastes and textures and it’s very very very good for you.

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If you’re not familiar with Delicata squash it’s shaped like a giant pickle and is green and white striped. You can eat the skins but I prefer to remove them for this recipe. The taste is similar to acorn squash-perhaps a touch sweeter. They’re much easier to cut and peel than butternut or acorn squashes. Here’s a photo of the cap of the squash and the diced pieces. I forgot to take a photo of the complete squash but you get the idea :)
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Delicata Squash Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped small
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1 tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 4 cups (about 2) delicata squash, peeled, seeded and cubed to 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 16oz can low sodium black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 16oz can low sodium red kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 20 oz can fire roasted tomatoes (I used Muir Glen)
  • 8ozs frozen corn or canned corn rinsed and drained
  • 4ozs green chilis
  • 1 & 1/2 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth
  • fat free feta cheese for garnish
  • sliced avocado for garnish

Instructions:

  1. In a shallow pan over medium high heat melt the coconut oil. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring, to soften.  Add garlic and stir to cook. Add spices and cook for 1 minute to coat and heat.
  2. Place the onion mixture and all ingredients above through and including the chicken broth, into the bowl of the slow cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 1 hour then low for 4 hours.
  3. Spoon into bowls and garnish with feta and avocado and serve.

Makes: 12 cups

Serving Size: 1 cup

Reheats and freezes beautifully.

To make vegetarian swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth.

 

Perfect Easy Homemade Bread

I’ve been trying my hand at homemade bread (without the use of a bread maker) for quite a few years. Something always went wrong. It was too dense, it just didn’t cook right, all kinds of issues. And it was frustrating!  For hundreds, no thousands, of years people had been baking all kinds of delicious bread-why couldn’t I get it right?!

Until I found this recipe.  It’s an easy no-knead herb-topped cibatta-like yeast bread that comes together easily and bakes to a golden-brown deliciousness that will make your house smell amazing.

The minute this bread came out of the oven my homemade bread woes were over. It’s perfect. It’s sumptuous. It’s light, it’s crispy, it’s tasty.  You can dip it in oil with spices. You can make a panino. You can make a regular sandwich. You can dip it into soups or clean the plate of sauce. You can make croutons. You can just pull pieces off and eat them like I did.

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Perfect Easy Homemade Bread

Ingredients

  • 2& 1/2 tsp dry yeast (I used King Arthur Flower’s saf-instant yeast)
  • 2 cups 110F degree water ( I used an instant read meat thermometer to be sure it’s correct)
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar 2 tsp salt
  • 4 cups AP flour
  • Melted butter
  • dried herb blend for topping
  • sea salt for topping

Instructions

  1. Mix yeast and warm water in a glass bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. After the 10 minutes pour the yeast and water mixture into a large stainless steel mixing bowl . Add the sugar salt and flour. Stir until just combined. Do not over-mix or your bread will not be good.
  3. Cover it with a tea towel, put it in a warm place without drafts and let it double in size–about an hour to 90 minutes.  Just keep an eye on it.
  4. After rising, split it into 2 equal rounds and place each on a rimmed baking sheet drizzled with a bit of olive oil.  Let rise until doubled again.
  5. Preheat oven to 425F.
  6. Brush the top of each with the butter and sprinkle with herb blend and sea salt. I used King Arthur Flour’s Parmesan Garlic Bread Dipping Blend.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes then (leaving the bread in the oven) reduce heat to 375F and bake another 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Place on racks to cool.
I couldn't wait for it to cool!! YUM!

I couldn’t wait for it to cool!! YUM!

Uncooked dough ready for butter and herbs.

Uncooked dough ready for butter and herbs.

 

Uncooked dough with butter and herbs ready for baking.

Uncooked dough with butter and herbs ready for baking.

 

Bread right out of the oven.

Bread right out of the oven.

 

Adapted from www.yummyhealthyeasy.com to whom I will be forever grateful for this wonderful recipe.

Lone Star Chicken Spaghetti

Maybe I live in the wrong part of the country or don’t pay attention to enough of what goes on in Texas but I’d never heard of ‘chicken spaghetti’ before I saw this recipe on Maeghan‘s blog.  Which is ironic because she had never heard of it either until she came across it in a cookbook, The Homesick Texan’s Family Table. Well she made it and was nice enough to post the recipe. I’m glad she shared it because it’s DELICIOUS!!!  A sort of spaghetti and cheese with some Tex-Mex flavors and chicken.  Um, yes please.

Perhaps you’ve never heard of it either.  Well-today’s your lucky day because this is one super-tasty, easy to make, cheesy dish. It has a hint of heat-just right for the dish if you ask me and I like spicy, but with the chicken and cheese I didn’t want overpowering hotness.

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Lone Star Chicken Spaghetti

Ingredients:

  • 8 ozs spaghetti
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, halved lengthwise, stemmed and seeded
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1&1/2 tbsp light butter (for panko #3 below)
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 2 tbsp light unsalted butter (for cheese sauce #5 below)
  • 2 tbsp AP flour
  • 2 cups 2% milk, plus more if needed
  • 2 cups freshly grated light sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups freshly grated light monterey jack cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, and a bit more for garnish
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 4 cups cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small bite-sized pieces.

Instructions:

  1. Turn on broiler and move top oven rack so that it’s about 6 inches from the broiler.  Arrange tomatoes and jalapenos skin side up in one layer on a foil lined baking sheet along with the onions and garlic. Broil for 5-7 minutes until skin blisters. Remove and let cool.  Reduce heat to 350F.
  2. Cook spaghetti until it’s al dente in a pot of lightly salted water. Drain, rinse and set aside.
  3. While the spaghetti is cooking place butter in a small sauce pan and melt. Add the panko and toast until just golden brown. Set aside.
  4. Spray a dutch oven with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  5. Melt the butter in a deep sauce pan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour until well combined and slightly browned-about 30-45 seconds. Slowly pour in the milk and cook, stirring, until sauce thickens and will coat the back of a spoon, 3-5 minutes.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in most of the cheese, about 1/4 cup at a time, leaving a small bit of both aside for later.
  6. Put the chicken, spaghetti, roasted vegetables and pepper, herbs and spices and lime juice to the waiting dutch oven and stir to mix evenly. Pour the cheese sauce over and stir to evenly combine. Sprinkle the reserved grated cheese and panko over the top.
  7. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until brown and bubbling.
  8. Sprinkle with reserved cilantro and serve.

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Yummy bubbling cheese!!

Adapted from The Way to His Heart.

Baked Chicken with Herb & Parmesan Panko

I’ve made this chicken a few times since I found the recipe I’ve liked it so much. Each time it’s been fast and easy to put together and comes out perfectly done.  You probably already have all of the ingredients on hand.

What a great healthy weeknight dish! Enjoy!!

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Baked Chicken with Herb & Parmesan Panko

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp light butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1&1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup finely freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped small
  • 1/2 tbsp rosemary, chopped small
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped small
  • 2 lbs (4 half pound pieces) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper for seasoning
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Line a small rimmed baking sheet just large enough to hold the 4 pieces of chicken with parchment paper.  Set it aside.
  3. Spread breadcrumbs out into a wide bowl or dish.  Use a bowl large enough to stir the breadcrumbs around in.
  4. In a small skillet melt the butter, then add the garlic and stir gently for 2 minutes.  Set it aside for a few minutes to cool then pour it over the breadcrumbs in the dish and stir to evenly coat them then stir in the cheese and herbs, stirring again to mix evenly. 
  5. Set the 4 chicken pieces next to each other.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides.  Using 1/4th of the dijon for each breast, spread the mustard evenly on the top side of the chicken then press the mustard side into the breadcrumbs. Set the chicken, breadcrumb side up, on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake 18-20 minutes until breadcrumbs are golden and juices run clear or a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 165.

Adapted from Rachaelrayshow.com’s recipe.

What’s Baking July/August Round-up!

I was excited to be the host of this edition of What’s Baking? for July/August. I enjoy this great group of ladies and always look forward to see the amazing dishes that they bake. This time was no exception!

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I chose the theme “Bake your Heritage”.  The idea was to bake someting-sweet or savory-which is common to the/or a country in your heritage. The dishes did not disappoint!!

Joanna from Kosher Kitchen made some incredible looking Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bagels!

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Eva from Eva Bakes made Taiwanese Pineapple Tarts which sounds like a beautifully unique fruity pastry.

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Liz from Books-n-cooks contributed an amazing looking Chocolate-Flecked Babka.

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Ashley from Cheese Curd in Paradise baked a Dutch Apple Pie using her Great Grandmother’s recipe! Just in time for apple season!

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Nichole from Cookaholic Wife created a delectable Irish Trifle which has quite a background story-you have to read the post.

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Nicole from Cookies on Friday also submitted an English recipe as a nod to her husband’s nationality. Banbury Cakes-YUM!! her source was BBC Good Food Magazine which I love.

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Jenni from Dough See Dough put together some amazing Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns) .  I have had these at a small diner at Elizabeth and Bayard Streets in Chinatown years ago and was SO excited to see a version that I can make at home.

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Stephanie from Brownies and Blondies baked some Cassatedde to represent her Italian heritage-and her pastries look just like something you’d find in a bakery in Rome maybe, and enjoy with an espresso.

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Jaida from Sweet Beginnings looked to the Irish part of her heritage and submitted Beef and Guinness Pie which I’ve already noted to make in the fall.  Husband thanks you, Jaida!!

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Nicole from Seven Ate Nine went another direction and used the Midwest and the Southeast as her heritage and made a picnic and potluck pleasing Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

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Catherine from Pursuing Domestic Goddess-ness submitted her spin on her Aunt’s banana bread recipeBanana Walnut Ginger Muffins which look really delicious.
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And last, but not least, I made this delicious Caramel Croissant Pudding for the English part of my heriatge.

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Thanks everyone for sharing amazing recipes with interesting backgrounds!!

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