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Red Velvet Cake

I have to admit that I am not much of a cake girl, but knowing that I would be baking in my mothers fancy convection oven sealed the deal.  Cake was for desert.  The next step was what kind of cake should I make.  I was thinking chocolate and then carrot, and in the end I wanted something that would go well with cream cheese frosting.  I borrowed the cake recipe from Martha Stewart, and added a little less coco powder than she did.  I wanted this cake to scream red, and it did.  Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the cake and its sinfully good frosting.


  • Unsalted butter, for cake pans
  • 2 1/2 cups cake flour, not self-rising
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/8-1/4 cup cocoa powder- add 1/8 for a brighter red cake, ¼ for a deeper red cake.
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup red food coloring
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp white vinegar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease cake pans with unsalted butter and dust with flour.  Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl; cake flour, salt coco powder; set aside.
Fit your electric mixer with the paddle attachment and combine the eggs and sugar, beat for a few minutes; add eggs one at a time.  Add food coloring and vanilla; please not that red food color can stain your kitchen, so be careful!

Add flour and buttermilk to mixture; alternating and scraping down sides as you go.  In a small bowl mix baking soda and vinegar; add to batter.  Beat for 10 seconds and then divide evenly into cake pans.
Bake for 30-35 minutes till toothpick comes out clean.  Cool cakes on racks before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Cream Cheese Frosting

I used this cream cheese frosting recipe on my red velvet cake.  You can add fresh orange, lemon, or lime zest to this recipe to change it up.   


  • 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 16 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups of confectioner's sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Place cream cheese and butter in mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment; whip on medium speed till combined and smooth.  Gradually add sugar; beat till smooth.  Add vanilla and lemon juice and blend.


Prime Rib

This was my first prime rib, and I have to say it came out pretty good.  When I got the prime rib home from the store I realized how big it was, and I got a little scared.  Worried that I would over cook it, under cook it.  In the end I put my faith into my probe thermometer, and like always it delivered.  The flavor of the meat with horseradish was just mouth watering.  It was a special treat to prepare this fine piece of meat for my family.

  • 10-12 lb prime rib bone attached roast
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • freshly grated black pepper
  • granulated garlic
  • 4 cloves of garlic, slivered
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary


Ask your butcher to cut bones away from roast and to tie them back onto the roast with butchers twine.  Remove your roast from refrigerator 2 hours before cooking, it must come to room temperature before you place it in the oven. 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Place prime rib in a roasting pan with 3 inch high sides.  The roast should be placed bone side down.  Pat the roast dry and liberally coat the roast with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic.  Rub olive oil the the two sides of exposed meat, not on the fat portion on the top of roast.  Cut small holes all over the top of the roast with a paring knife; insert pieces of the slivered garlic and rosemary.

Insert probe thermometer.  Seer prime rib for 15 minutes at 450 degrees; then turn oven down to 350 degrees.

Your prime rib will be done when your meat thermometer tells you, it takes about 20 minutes per pound.  125-130 degrees for a medium rare roast.  Once your roast reaches 125 pull it out of the oven and cover it with foil.  Let it sit for a good 30 minutes before carving.

Artichoke Leek Soup

This soup is just delicious, I made it as the starter to my fabulous Christmas dinner feast.  You could easily freeze left overs of this soup for easy lunches.


  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 leeks, white part only, washed well and chopped
  • 2 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 small potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 (8-ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp chopped chives, for garnish

Heat oil over medium heat in a large stock pot.  Add Leeks, garlic saute for two minutes.  Add the potatoes and saute for 7 minutes.   Add the artichokes, chicken stock, cream cheese, salt, and pepper; cook over medium low heat for about 40 minutes till every thing is nice and tender. 

Blend soup using a hand held immersion blender, or work in small batches in a blender.  Taste and season soup and add salt and pepper to taste.  Add lemon juice to the soup right before server, garnish bowls of soup with freshly chopped chives.  Enjoy
Serves 8


Potato Onion Gratin

This dish is always a hit.  I made it for both Christmas Eve (double batch), and Christmas Day (single batch).  This goes well with Ham, Beef, and Turkey.  Enjoy. 

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 5 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/16 inch think slices
  • 1 sweet white onion, cut in half and sliced into 1/16 inch think slices
  • 5 oz. Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine eggs, cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg in a large bowl.  Toss in sliced potatoes together using your hands.  Arrange onion slices at the bottom of a 3 quart baking dish; add potato mixture on top, make sure you distribute the potatoes and cream mixture evenly over the onions.  Cover with Gruyere cheese and parsley.  Cover backing dish with foil and bake for about an hour till tender, remove foil and bake for 15 more minutes to brown cheese.



These cookies are a favorite with my family at the holidays.  The first time I had them was on a trip to Chicago.  I remember how flaky they were and how I so wanted to master making them.  They are a little labor intensive but very worth it, trust me.  Enjoy!

  • 1 lb Butter, softened
  • 8 oz Cream cheese, softened
  • 3 c Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Egg, beaten

  • 2 can Solo raspberry, apricot or poppy-seed

Cream Cheese Filling:
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
Mix together and set aside.

Egg Wash:
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp water
  • Beat together and set aside.

Method for pastry:
Cream the butter and cream cheese together; once blended add egg and vanilla.  Mix in flour and chill in the refrigerator over night.

The trick to this dough is to work in small batches and always keep the dough you are not using refrigerated.  I work with about ½ cup of dough at a time.  Roll dough out to about 1/8 in on a heavily floured surface. 
Cut dough into 2 by 2 in squares. Place a row of your favorite filling, about 1 teaspoon.

Fold on edge of dough over the filling, dot with egg wash.  The egg wash is used as a glue, try not to get it on the outer portion of the pastry.

Seal pastry and place on a parchment lined backing sheet.

Back in a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Let cool and dust them when powder sugar before serving.

Yields 80


Chicken Egg Noodle Soup

The past few days have been so cold in the Bay Area.  Time for some more soup!  This recipe is pretty simple, and you can you chicken legs or thighs if you prefer them over breasts.  I used breasts cause they are a staple item in my freezer.  Enjoy!

  • 3 boneless skinless cooked chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 oz egg noodles
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • salt and fresh grated pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley


Heat olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat, add onion, celery, carrots, and garlic.  Saute till tender about 7 minutes. 

Add stock and bay leaf to pot and bring to a small boil.  Add egg noodles and cook for about 8 minutes.  Fold in chicken, remove bay leaf, add lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve each bowl with fresh chopped parsley.

Serves 5




This recipe comes from my dear friend Noah Wright.  All I can tell you is I feel like a leaf in the wind when I bake.  If you have never made your own bread I suggest you give a try.  Enjoy

  • 1 Cup warm water
  • 2 packages of Yeast
  • 2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 1/4 – 5 3/4 cups of flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • Poppy seeds (optional)


Place 1/2 cup warm water in large warm bowl. Sprinkle in yeast; stir until dissolved, and active.  Add remaining water, sugar, butter, salt and 1 1/2 cups flour; blend well. Stir in 3 eggs, 1 egg white (reserve 1 yolk), and enough remaining flour to make soft dough.

Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 6 - 8 minutes. place in greased bowl, turning to grease top.

Cover, let rise in warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30-45 minutes.  It took me a good hour to get my dough to rise.  My apartment is so cold, and I think that is what did me in.  After a half hour I decided to heat two cups of water in the microwave.  I then removed the water and put my dough in the microwave to sit in the nice warm air... do not heat your dough.  I did this as a way to keep the air around it warm.

Punch dough down. Remove dough to lightly floured surface; divide in half. Set aside 1 half. Divide remaining half into 2 pieces, one about 2/3 of the dough and the other about 1/3 of the dough. Divide larger piece into 3 equal pieces; roll to 12 inch ropes. Place ropes on greased baking sheet; braid. Pinch ends to seal. Divide remaining piece into 3 equal pieces.

Roll to 10 inch ropes; braid. Place small braid on large braid. Pinch ends firmly to seal and secure to large braid. Repeat with remaining dough to make second loaf. Cover; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in size; about 30-45 minutes.

Beat reserved egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water; brush over loaves. Sprinkle with poppy seed, if desired.

Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes or until done, switching positions of sheets in oven halfway through baking time. Remove from sheets; let cool on wire rack.

Makes 2 loaves


Boneless Ribeye

One of the not so nice things about living in an apartment is you can't use a barbeque on your balcony.  About a year ago I invested in a cast iron grill, and I find that you can grill up just about anything on it. I cook so many dishes on this grill, from salmon to chicken, and steak.  I highly recommend every pick one up.

  • 2 Boneless Ribeye Steaks
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Black Pepper
  • Granulated Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Cast iron grill


Heat your cast iron grill on high heat for 10 minutes, this step is most important.  Once grill is heated take steaks and drizzle olive oil over them, sprinkle garlic both sides along with salt and pepper.  Place steaks on grill and let cook 3-4 minutes a side.  The time depends on how think your steaks are and how you want them done.  Let steaks rest for 3 minutes before serving.  Enjoy


Mulligatawny Soup

 I found myself with lots of turkey left over from thanksgiving and thought.. hmmm soup.. and then the soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld was on, so that sealed the deal!  This is my take on Mulligatawny soup, Enjoy!

  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 boneless, skinless turkey breast half cut into cubes
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. curry powder
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • ½ cup cream
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro


Take a large stockpot over medium heat and melt down butter.  Add chopped turkey browning on all sides, after browned transfer to a bowl.

Add onion, celery, carrots, and garlic to stock pot saute for about 7 minutes.  Stir in curry powder and cayenne pepper, saute for another 2 minutes.

Add broth and browned turkey to stock pot, bring to a simmer.  Add the rice and cook for about 30 minutes.  Stir in yogurt and cream, and lemon juice.  Cook for another 10 minutes and serve with minced cilantro.

Servers 5



Thanksgiving would not be the same without a nice juicy turkey.  Please follow my brine instructions, and my baking instructions and you will not be let down.


1 comice pear quartered
1 yellow onion quartered
1 cinnamon stick
A healthy bunch of FRESH sage, rosemary, thyme, and flat leaf parsley steams


Heat oven to 500 degrees.

Washed the brine off turkey and dried it completely.  Set up turkey in roasting rack, and tuck wings under the sides of the bird to prevent burning.  Insert all the aromatics into the turkeys cavity.

Prep turkey shield.  This is Alton Brown's part, basically his method is to bake bird in a 500 degree oven on the lowest rack for 30 minutes, then pull turkey out and put turkey shield on the bird to prevent the breasts from drying out.  This idea and method caught my eye because it was based on the temperature of breasts to indicate when you turkey is done vs the hours per pound method most use. 

Turkey Shield:

1 sheet of heavy duty foil made into a triangle
olive oil
1 probe thermometer

Brush olive oil over the foil and press it onto the turkey creating a mold of the breasts.  Remove turkey shield and set aside to use later. 

Rub olive oil all over the turkey and place it in the lowest point of your oven for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes is up reduce your ovens temperature to 350.  Pull your turkey out and insert your probe thermometer into the deepest portion of the breast meat.  Set your probe thermometer to 161, and put the turkey back in the oven.  My turkey was 15lbs, and took 2.5 hours to cook, including the 30 minutes at 500.  Once your turkey hits 161, take it out and cover it will foil and let it rest for at least a half hour.


drippings from the turkey
fat separating measuring cup 
fresh rosemary
8 oz Cabernet Sauvignon
1/3 cup flour
1-2 cans of low sodium chicken broth
pepper and salt


Remove turkey from roasting pan and set aside.  Add broth and wine to roasting pan over medium heat.  The amount of wine and broth used depends on how many drippings you have. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the roasting pan getting all the bits up, continue to cook it to reduce it down.  Poor liquid into your fat separator, let sit for about 5 minutes. 

Take about 1/3 cup of liquid from fat separator and poor it back into your roasting pan over medium heat.  Slowly whisk in flour, gradually add more the the liquid from the fat separator till you have the consistency you prefer.  Whisk for about 5 minutes add your fresh rosemary, salt and pepper and serve.

The finished product!

Amy's Cranberry Sauce

1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Zest of one orange
½ cup of honey
12 ounces of fresh cranberries
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

Wash the cranberries, and toss out any dried or wrinkled berries.  Heat orange juice and honey in a sauce pan over med heat. Bring this to a boil, reduce to med heat add cranberries, cloves, and orange zest.  Continue to simmer over med heat for about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and place in severing dish and refrigerate till you are ready to use it.

Sausage Stuffing

Yum... Stuffing has always been my favorite part of Thanksgiving.  My recipe is a combination of my Mother's and my Aunt Brenda's recipe.  Its actually a very simple common stuffing, but I just adore it and never seem to try any other recipes when it comes to turkey day.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp non salted butter
1 tsp kosher salt
2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 cups chopped celery
2 cloves of garlic finally chopped
4 ounce can of chopped mushrooms drained
1 lb Jimmy Dean sausage
10 cups white bread cubed stuffing- not seasoned
2 tsp Bells Seasoning
2 14 ounce cans of chicken broth


Heat olive oil and butter in large skillet on medium heat.  Add onion, celery, and kosher salt.  Sweat vegetables down till they are almost tender about 5 minutes.  Add chopped garlic and mushrooms.  Cook for another minute and remove from heat, and place vegetables in a large mixing bowl.  Return skillet to stove and reduce temperature to medium low.  Break sausage into small pieces and cook on low heat for about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat when finished and combine with vegetables.  Add cubed bread crumbs, bells seasoning and mix well.  Slowly mix in chicken broth and transfer stuffing into a butter greased baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about a half hour and then  remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes till crispy on top.

This recipe makes enough to fill 9 by 13, 3 quart casserole dish.

Brussels Sprouts

This recipe was made for two people, and we had left overs.  Feel free to double or even triple for a larger crowd.

  • ½ pound Brussels sprouts sliced in half
  • ½ yellow onion sliced
  • 1 garlic glove finally chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper


Heat large skillet on medium high with olive oil.  Add onion slices to the pan with a sprinkle of salt, saute for about 5 minutes.  Add the Brussels sprouts to the pan flat side down.   Cook them for about a minute, then add garlic to pan.  Saute them for another minute add fresh lemon juice and serve.

Mashed Potatoes

I have never been a huge fan of mashed potatoes around Thanksgiving time, I myself prefer to fill my belly with stuffing.  This recipe can be made with or without the hard boil eggs, I find adding them gives them a different and welcome texture. 

4 Yukon gold potatoes
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Hard boiled eggs
Salt and pepper to taste


Peel and chop up potatoes and put them into a large pot.  Cover them with water, add salt, and bring them to a boil.  10-15 minutes later your potatoes should be soft when poked with a fork, at this point take them off the heat and drain them.  Placed cooked potatoes back in the pot.  Heat butter and heavy cream in a separate bowl in the microwave and add to potatoes.  Mash them with your favorite masher, add salt and pepper to taste.  Finely chop hard boil eggs and add to your mashed potatoes and serve!

Serves about 5

Turkey Brine

The Brine!

So for the turkey I decided to brine it for about 16 hours, and then bake it filled with aromatics.  The brine is so worth it, my turkey came out so juicy.  I highly recommend everyone trying this at least once.   


½ gallon water
½ gallon low sodium chicken stock
1 cup kosher salt
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey
1 Tbsp molasses
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp whole pepper corns
1 bulb of garlic chopped in half
1 gallon of ice water


Combine ½ gallon water, chicken stock, kosher salt, brown sugar, honey, molasses, soy sauce, pepper corns, and garlic in a stock pot over medium heat.  Bring to a boil and then refrigerate brine.

After brine is cooled, combine it with the 1 gallon of ice water in a 5 gallon stock pot, or bucket.  Rinse turkey off and remove all the innards.  Make sure turkey is full covered in the brine, you might have to place a weight on top of it to keep it submerged.  Brine for 6-16 hours.

When you are ready to cook the turkey, remove it from the brine, discard brine, and rinse turkey inside and out in sink.  Pat your turkey dry, and you are ready to prep turkey for the oven.


White Bean and Bacon Soup

This soup is similar to my mothers recipe, I made some changes and added bacon... everyone loves bacon!

1.5 lb of white beans - Canellini or Great Northern
4 quarts of water
2-3 lbs of ham shanks
1 lb center cut bacon, chopped up
2 cup of diced onions
2 cup chopped celery
1 1/3 cup chopped carrots
4 cloves garlic, diced
Salt and pepper
Herbes de Provence
Fresh parsley


Soak the beans in at least 3 quarts of cold water for about 2 hrs. Drain the water.

Put the ham shank pieces in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about an hour. Add the chopped vegetables and beans. Cook for another 2 hours, until the vegetables are soft and the ham meat easily pulls away from the bone.

Remove ham hocks from pot, and discard.  Your beans should be soft at this point, if they are not you need to let them cook longer. 

Heat a large skillet on medium heat and cook bacon till crispy.  Drain bacon on paper towels until beans are soft.  Once the beans are soft, break up the bacon into small pieces and mix into the soup.  Cook for about 15 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add a pinch of herbes de provence, and server with fresh chopped parsley.

Serves a lot.




Pastry Ingredients

16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
½ tsp kosher salt
3 cups white flour

1 beaten egg for pastry egg wash


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, minced
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves minced
¼ pork chorizo sausage
½ pound ground pork
½ pound ground beef
1 cup peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes, I used fresh
¼ cup Spanish brine-cured green olives, pitted and chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped



Beat cream cheese, butter, and ½ tsp salt until well blended.  Slowly add in the flour.  Mix till incorporated and form dough into two balls.  Place balls in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator.


Warm olive oil in a large fry pan over medium heat.  Add onions, bell peppers and garlic, cook till tender about 10 minutes.  Add the chorizo, pork, and beef and cook till no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, olives and cumin.  Cover and simmer until heated through, about 10 minutes.  Uncover and cook till all moisture is gone, about 5 minutes.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Put aside to cool.


Heat oven to 375.  On a floured work area roll one dough disk out to 1/8th thickness.  Use a cup or a jar with a 3 inch diameter to cut pastry disks.  Fill each disk with a nice teaspoon size ball of filling, top with a few pieces of hard boil egg.  Roll dough over and crimp edges with fork to seal.  Rinse and repeat till your cooking sheet is packed, brush with egg was and bake for about 15 minutes.