icebox cake

If even one person discovers icebox cake because of this post, then I’ve done my job. It’s a Smitten Kitchen recipe (of course) Deb adapted from Magnolia Bakery. I’ve been making it at least 3 years now, if not longer, and no matter what else I say I’ll bring to a party, inevitably the question is “why don’t you just bring that cake you brought last time?” or “but what about that cake that looks like a giant Oreo?”

icebox cake stacked and ready

It’s my “you guys have worked so hard lately” cake, my family’s favorite birthday cake… I even brought it to a 4th of July party this past year, worried about the extreme heat, but I didn’t have to because it was gone in under 5 minutes after I took the cover off.

prep for icebox cake

What I’m trying to say is, if you want a quick, no-bake cake to bring to New Year’s that will create shock and awe wherever you bring it, here. Try this. Oh, and if you really don’t want to turn on your oven, and want to bring two desserts, you can’t go wrong with Bailey’s Irish Cream balls.

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soft gingerbread cookies

In case there’s any confusion on what we’ve been doing with our time this holiday season… it largely involves cookies. Gingerbread cookies, at that.

rolling out gingerbread cookie dough

(And lest you wonder why I have such huge man hands, those are Jay’s hands.)

We make tons of gingerbread cookies every year, ever since our cousin Josephine (she of apple brandy and Bailey’s Irish cream balls fame, among other stellar recipes) made them at Christmas. I didn’t even want to try them because I usually hate gingerbread cookies; most are too hard, and either WAY too spicy, or bland to the point of boredom. Not these.

gingerbread cookies close-up

No, these are perfectly spiced and so soft and chewy, which juxtaposes perfectly with the hardened sugar glaze and tons of Christmas sprinkles we put on top. I’m too lazy to glaze them, and I’m terrible at cookie decorating in general, so we just dunk them in the glaze, and Jay is my official sprinkle-topper.

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italian sausage and chestnut stuffing

Out of everything my mother-in-law has ever made, I think this is my favorite. Not just my favorite, but everyone’s. This Italian sausage and chestnut stuffing is a staple in my husband’s family, and one year, when I brought my parents over for Thanksgiving, with them being of the Stovetop-stuffing camp, this blew my mom’s mind. AND she hates mushrooms, and loved this. (We didn’t tell her there were mushrooms in it until way later. I’m not stupid.)

I didn’t really like stuffing until I tried this one, and now, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it. In my mental dictionary of food, when I see stuffing, this is the picture that comes to mind.

italian sausage and chestnut stuffing

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homemade lasagna

Where do you start after leaving your blog alone for two months? (Sorry about that.) I vote lasagna.

This is my lasagna.

homemade lasagna

Not to be confused with the crazy lasagna that my mother-in-law makes on Christmas, in a 3″ deep pan with so many layers it’ll blow your mind. This is the version that I cobbled together, based on wanting to achieve that bubbly, yummy goodness without the significant time investment. more…

quick tomato sauce

What do you do after you don’t post for two months? I’m going to post twice in two days. (Sorry about that, by the way.) Hint: the next recipe will use this sauce.

This is a simple, quick-cooking, fresh-tasting tomato sauce; it’s not really a marinara sauce because I don’t add a ton of spices, but you could add dried oregano, black pepper, a little extra garlic powder, and whatever other spices you love, and you’d have a great pizza sauce. You can also double or triple this recipe and freeze what you don’t use this time so you have an easy start to a meal another night. (Before you ask, no, this is not my Sunday sauce. That’s a whoooole other beast.)

quick tomato sauce

If you aren’t using this quick tomato sauce in another recipe, grab a box of pasta from the pantry and put up a big (6+ quart) pot of water to boil. By the time the pasta finishes cooking, you’ll have the sauce ready to go! Almost as easy as opening up a jar from the pantry. I use Jersey Fresh tomatoes and you can really tell the difference because of how quickly this cooks.
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