Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Almond Poppy Seed Cake

Almond Poppy Seed Cake 

1/2 cup poppy seeds, ground in blender 
1/3 cup honey
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs, separated
1 cup plain or honey yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon honey wine (also known as Mead)
2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup powdered sugar
1 to 1/2 tablespoons Mead (use a sweet white wine if you don't have any honey wine)
3/4 cups slivered almonds

For cake
Preheat oven to 350. 
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
Add poppy seeds and honey to creamed mixture and mix. 
Add egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. 
Blend in yogurt and vanilla or honey wine. 
In another bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Gradually add the wet poppy seed mixture to the dry mixture, beating well.
In a small bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into batter.
Pour batter into a lightly greased and floured 9-inch tube (or bundt) pan.
(You can also use two loaf pans.)
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Cool in pan for 5 minutes. 
Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.
For topping: 
Mix powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon Mead. Add additional Mead, just a bit at a time, until it reaches the consistency of light cream. Pour over warm cake and sprinkle top with almonds.

Let cool and enjoy! 

This is called Makovy Dort in Czech. I made it in honor of our beautiful daughter-in-law and her family & to remember the wonderful time we had with them this summer. It also reminds me of my Nana, who was from Austria & an amazing baker/cook in her own right!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Grandma Aziz' Apple Cake- Gluten Free Style

Grandma Aziz' Apple Cake- Gluten Free Style


Cake:2 cups granulated sugar1 cup oil1/4 Orangecello* (I use Drop Shop from Springfield, Oregon- it's so good!) 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract4 eggs3 cups gluten free flour mix (I use Namaste GF Flour Blend)3 teaspoons baking powder1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Filling:2 1/2 cups apples, cored, peeled and diced1 teaspoon apple pie spice

Icing:1 1/2 cups powdered sugar2 teaspoons Orangecello1-2 teaspoons milk

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Make icing by whisking together the powdered sugar and Orangecello. Add milk, 1/4 teaspoon at a time until it is the consistency of heavy cream. Let sit on counter until cake is finished baking.
  • Mix together apples and apple pie spice in small bowl; set aside.
  • Beat first five ingredients with wooden spoon in large mixing bowl. In medium size bowl, stir together flour mix, baking powder and salt. Add dry ingredients to large bowl and mix well. 
  • Place 1/3 of batter in Bundt pan. Pour 1/2 of apple mixture on top of batter. Repeat with 1/3 more batter, rest of apples and finally, finish with remaining batter. Spread batter to edge of pan.
  • Bake for 55-60 minutes. Let rest in pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and pour glaze over warm cake.
  • Delicious served warm or at room temperature with soft whipped cream or poured custard.
*If you can't use the Orangecello, try using the same amount of orange juice.

This was one of our family favorite's from my Grandma Aziz. She didn't cook a lot of things, but her apple cake, oatmeal cookies and walnut twist rolls are classic. I've tweaked her recipe a bit as well as making it gluten free for my daughter with celiac- I think it's a great recipe whether regular or gluten free!


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Just the Recipe, Ma'am

In order to help you all with what you hopefully come to this blog for, I have decided to simplify and give you the just a weekly recipe without a long story that you have to trudge through before you can see if you even want to make it. I will probably write a short background and maybe even some ideas of what the recipe would be good to serve with. With everyone's busy lives, my hope is to share some simple and delicious ideas!

Stay tuned for the first weekly recipe tomorrow!!



Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Tasty Tuesday- Thanksgiving Round Up & Best Cinnamon Rolls Ever

We're still giving thanks here!
Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! We once again headed off to our friends at Fordyce Farm for dinner then over to another dear family for dessert. The conversation was lively, the wine and other beverages wonderful, and the company just right! Since we wanted to enjoy ourselves all day Thursday, we started off preparing a couple days before with the marinating of the beef brisket we would be taking. I found this recipe for Oven-Roasted Beef Brisket at Genius Kitchen. It was amazing! We were also taking mashed potatoes that we made the day before, thanks to a recipe from Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Lady. Smooth and creamy and totally simple to make, I would highly recommend these. I made a grits, bacon and cheese casserole too. It was delicious and a great accompaniment to the rest of the wonderful food everyone brought! My dessert contribution was from my Grandma Pitalo cookbook- Mrs. Sarkin's Spice Cake with a few Mangia Mamma twists like a spiced crumble and spiced liqueur/caramel icing. It was yummy!!
Brian getting into the spirit making
the crumble for the spice cake!

We started celebrating our Thanksgiving Day in the morning with my parents coming over for breakfast and the Macy's Parade. Since most of the kids are away at school, it was a great time to share our new home and some delicious food. I've been experimenting with cinnamon rolls from scratch since the kids were little, and found a recipe quite a while ago in a book called, We Didn't Know They Were Angels by Doris W. Greig. 

It's been much used and well loved!
The whole book is a lovely ideas on how to be hospitable without a ton of effort. It contains a number of recipes that I've used over the years, but the one I have used most of all is for the overnight cinnamon rolls that I like to call The Best Cinnamon Rolls Ever. I've made a few adjustments, but the recipe is terrific just as is. One batch makes about two dozen rolls, but the recipe can be easily doubled. As a matter of fact, I've made 5 times the amount for a few gatherings, and they've always turned out super! These are yummy anytime of year, but for holidays and special occasions you can add all sorts of goodies in the filling, from nuts to raisins or cranberries to fresh berries or even chocolate chips! Oh yeah, one more thing, these can be frozen before the second raising for up to two months. So get out that mixer and make a batch of these for Christmas morning. I know that's what I'll be doing soon!
David giving the thumbs up that the rolls
are ready to put in the oven!


6 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 tsp. salt
5 tsp. active dry yeast
1 cup milk
1 cup butter, divided
2 large eggs
2 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar, divided

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. butter extract
1-2 tbsp. heavy cream

In bowl of heavy duty mixer, stir together 5 cups flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, salt and yeast using flat beater.  In a small pan, combine milk, water and 1/4 cup butter, cut into pieces. Place over low heat and warm until 120 degrees (butter doesn't have to melt). You can also do this in a microwave-safe bowl; heat for 1 1/2 minutes or until 120 degrees. Slowly add liquid mixture and eggs to dry ingredients, blending with flat beater until everything is combined. Change flat beater to dough hook, and knead with machine on stir, adding flour 1/4 cup at a time until dough is not sticky. Continue to knead for 5-7 minutes until dough is shiny and smooth. Place dough in greased bowl and cover top with plastic wrap; let rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size. 
While dough is rising, spray 2 - 9 x 13 pans with nonstick cooking spray then line bottom of pans with parchment paper. Melt 1/2 cup butter; pour equal amounts into prepared pans. Sprinkle 1/2 brown sugar over each of the pans. Set aside.
Once dough is doubled, punch down and divide in half. On a floured board, roll each half in a 9 x 18 inch rectangle. Melt remaining butter; brush 2 tbsp. over each pice of dough. Mix together remaining sugar, brown sugar and spices in small bowl. Sprinkle evenly over each dough rectangle. If you are adding other filling goodies, now is the time to do it!! From the long side, roll each piece into a log. Cut each log crosswise into 12 equal pieces. Set rolls cut side up evenly in pans. You will have 12 in each pan. Cover each pan with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight or up to 24 hours. You can now freeze them for future use if you want!
For baking, take pans our of refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake at 375 for 24-28 minutes until golden brown. While the rolls are baking, make icing. Mix powdered sugar and butter extract together in small bowl; add 1 tbsp. heavy cream and mix well, adding more heavy cream until thick but pourable consistency is achieved. To serve: remove from pans by placing a serving tray on top of pan and flipping over. Be careful of the caramel on the bottom of the pan as it is super hot!! Remove parchment paper and drizzle with icing. 
Makes 24 rolls

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Tasty Tuesdays- Thanksgiving Happiness Cake

So it's that time of year again- Thanksgiving is just around the corner. There are so many delicious, and let's face some just weird, recipes out there. Instead of adding to what is already a headache inducing plethora of new stuffing (or dressing, depending on what you call it), turkey, or the innumerable dessert recipes, I thought I'd go back to my Grandma Pitalo cookbook for one of my favorite recipes. With all going on in the world these days, this is a recipe- even though she wrote in down so many years ago- that we need to read and produce. 

I hope you all enjoy your Thanksgiving remembering to give thanks to the One who makes it all possible. May God bless you and your family abundantly!

We all need to share some happiness especially during this time of year!
The flowers are ones I've been making for Mary's winter formal dress,
and they make me happy too!

P.S. I am actually excited about the dishes I'll be making for Thanksgiving, so expect a post next week for beef brisket as well as grits, bacon and cheese casserole along with photos of our weekend adventure!!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Saintly Women of the Week

“When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. She brings him good, and not evil, 
all the days of her life” (Proverbs 31:10-12).

To be honest, this piece of scripture has always been hard for me to fathom. There are times that I might have felt that I've done it right, but that's usually when I totally blow it. Arguing, snarky comments, disrespectful attitude- I have done it all. 
That's the reason I am so grateful for my little posse of Saints. I can look at their lives as well as ask for their intercession when I am messing up. This week there are a number of saintly women we celebrate who are part of the "communion of saints". Some were wives and moms, one was a brave missionary, and one a martyr. Even with their different stories, they have all helped me to be able to work on being that "unfailing prize" as a wife and mom, but even more importantly, as the woman God is helping me to grow into!


St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Tasty Tuesdays- From Garden to Table Fried Green Tomatoes

My Piccolo Di Luce Studio

We have been in our new house for a little over a week now. It is starting to feel a bit more like home even with a mountain of boxes still needing to be unpacked and so much stuff needing to be put away. I've started to set up my studio space, and I thought I'd share the view into our backyard. The little house on the right is our chicken coop which will be occupied in the spring. I can't wait to be able to watch our chickies enjoy themselves whilst I am sewing- not to mention being able to see the little birds and all the different plants we have!
What a view!

Tomatoes are still in the garden!!
Freshly picked!

Talking about plants, the previous owners were really nice and left a fantastic garden area for us. We've got everything from grapes to blueberries to an apple tree plus herbs and three raised beds. They even left an artichoke plant which I am super excited about!! There are also a good number of tomato plants in one of the raised beds. I've picked a bunch of the cherry tomatoes for salads, but yesterday thought I'd be a bit more adventurous. I picked green tomatoes to make some Fried Green Tomatoes for breakfast. Normally I have a small breakfast, but I thought it would be fun to use garden fresh produce~ the whole garden to table thing was like a siren's call to which I gladly succumbed. They were so delicious and easy to make that I wanted to share the recipe. I made a couple of poached eggs (can't wait to be able to have eggs from our own chickens) to serve them with although they would be yummy on a sandwich or as a side dish with dinner. Even if you have never eaten them before, give these a try. They are so good plus they're a great way to use up those unripe tomatoes you have in your garden!!

Fry 'em up!
Just a few ingredients needed!
Garden to Table
Fried Green Tomatoes

4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 green tomatoes, cut into 1/2" thick slices
1/4 cup half & half
1 egg
3/4 cup Panko bread crumbs
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper, divided
1 tsp. Italian herbs
2 poached eggs

Heat 3 tbsp. olive oil in frying pan over medium heat. Whisk together half & half, egg, salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper in medium bowl. Mix together bread crumbs, remaining pepper and Italian herbs on plate. Dip tomato slice in egg mixture than bread crumbs, being sure to press bread crumbs onto tomato slice. Place on another plate; repeat with all tomato slices. When they are all coated, place a few gently into frying pan being sure not to crowd the pan. Cook on one side for 2-3 minutes then flip to other side, cooking for another 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Remove from pan with spatula and place on plate, covering with foil to keep warm. Repeat cooking process with all tomatoes. 
To serve with poached eggs, place tomatoes on plate, top with poached eggs; sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and drizzle with remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil. 
Garden to Table Breakfast

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Moving Right Along

Which way to the Keatley's?
Over the last couple of weeks we have been packing, prepping and getting ready in all sorts of ways to move into our new home. As I wrote a few months back in my post, A Better Place Could Not Be, we had thought we were called to Virginia then realized we were supposed to actually stay in Salem. This last week we finally finished up one part of our #keatleyfamilyadventure as we moved all our belongings to a new home about 6 miles from where we have lived the last 22 years. As we settle in a bit more each day, I am awed by the mercy and blessings of God. We will have many opportunities to do a lot of things we haven't been able to do before. We now have a chicken coop- more to follow on that in the next few months, a garden with raised beds- also more to come, not to mention a gas stove and oven that I can't wait to try out recipes on to share!

What I have really been learning is how to not only be grateful for what we have, but also for what we get to do with our gifts and talents that have been given to us. In our previous home, I was always so happy to have it filled with our kids and extended family and friends. Now that our kids have grown, I so look forward to opening our home in new ways. We want to have dinner parties and kids gatherings and maybe even a regency dance or two. There will be picnics and BBQ's and Epiphany Feasts. How fortunate we are to have a home to share with others while serving the Lord with these gifts and talents.

Gnome Sweet Gnome

I haven't cooked a lot in our new home yet, but I did make some delicious quesadillas with salad and my simple Honeyed Dijon Dressing. Here are a couple of photos of the new house plus the easy recipe I hope you enjoy!

Honeyed Dijon Dressing

1 cup Dijon Mustard (Brian likes Grey Poupon)
1/4 cup raw honey
2 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. garlic granules 
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. white pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in small bowl. Pour into jar and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes for flavors to meld. Delicious over green salad and can be used as marinade for chicken or pork too!

Little Kitty Josephine loves our bedroom!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Tasty Tuesdays- Pumpkin Pie DIrty Chai

On the Way to Mass in Mt. Angel
A sparkling spider web
 I talked in last week's Tasty Tuesdays about the weather changing here in Oregon. I do love this time of year for so many reasons. The foggy sunrise over the Cascades, the dew shimmering on a spider web (outside, of course), and the flavor of pumpkin spice (PS). I know a lot of people think it's a bit overkill on the PS- with it in everything from hot drinks to ice cream to waffles and muffins to even beer. It's been funny to see that people are not on the fence about this. You either like it or hate it. There just isn't much middle ground. Without getting into too much of the PS politics, I must admit I like me some pumpkin spice. What I don't like (not just now, but anytime of the year) is paying a lot of money for a PS latte or mocha or chai get my drift. In the interest of saving money without sacrificing flavor, I have been experimenting with some new hot drinks at home. My newest favorite, just in time to be in with the PS crowd, is a Pumpkin Pie Dirty Chai. Did you know you can either buy Pumpkin Spice or Pumpkin Pie flavored syrup? There are a number of companies out there that have these, but I hav found I like DaVinci the best. I also like the Pumpkin Pie syrup better than Pumpkin Spice. They are pretty much the same, but I think the Pumpkin Pie one has a deeper and richer flavor without being bitter at all. I love to go to our local Cash & Carry as they have a huge selection of syrups for anytime of year. I have also come to really enjoy the Caffe D'Vita Chai mix. You can find it all over & I know Fred Meyer carries both regular and decaf which is great if you aren't supposed to have any caffeine. Of course, drinking anything out of my adorable and lovely "hobbit at heart" mug from Tea with Tolkien is a treat, but this time of year you'll find it filled with my Mangia Mamma version of  the Pumpkin Pie Dirty Chai. Here are the easy directions to enjoy your own taste of Autumn that packs a PS flavor without the price!!

I love feeling like a Hobbit at Heart!
Pumpkin Pie Dirty Chai

Prepared Coffee- enough to fill mug 3/4 full (I make a pour-over using my favorite decaf)
4 teaspoons Caffe D'Vita Chai Mix
2 tablespoons Pumpkin Pie or Pumpkin Spice flavored syrup
2 tablespoons half and half or non-dairy creamer

Place chai mix in your favorite mug. Add hot coffee (or use the pour-over method right into your cup). Stir well until smooth; add syrup, half and half or non-dairy creamer. Stir again and enjoy!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Piccolo Di Luce Update & Sale

It's been a great year for my little business, Piccolo Di Luce. For those of you that don't know, I started making pocket oratories and quilted icons a few years ago. It has grown a bit into having online shops on Etsy and Peter's Square as well as being able to be a vendor at a couple of women's conferences this year. 

When November comes, we remember those who have died with All Saints and All Souls Feast Days. There are a number of really cool traditions around the world to celebrate the lives of those who have meant so much to us while here on earth. Our family always makes a trip to the cemetery to visit the graves of my Great-Grandparents, Grandparents and other relatives, taking flowers to decorate. I also love looking through old photos and recalling stories that they shared about the family. This month is always a wonderful time of remembrance.

In honor of this celebration, I am having a special All Saints Sale in my shop on orders placed between today and November 2nd. You can shop at either Etsy or Peter's Square and get 15% off any order over $20.00 by simply using the code ALLSAINTS during checkout. 

I hope you have the chance to stop over to Piccolo Di Luce and check out my new products as well as the special items I have in stock ready to ship. They all make great gifts, and you may even find a little something for yourself!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Throwback Thursday- St. Wenceslaus' Feast

I wanted to post this sooner, but I thought I'd play the "throwback Thursday" card instead! Three Thursdays ago (September 28) was the feast day of St. Wenceslaus. He was an amazing man of faith who lived in Bohemia in the 10th century. You can learn more about him here. Bohemia is now part of the Czech Republic which lies in the center of Europe. During his 2009 visit to the Czech Republic, Pope Benedict XVI called the country's patron saint “a martyr for Christ” who “had the courage to prefer the kingdom of heaven to the enticement of worldly power.” (Catholic News Agency). 
That Thursday was also a special day for a number of people in our Archdiocese. They were going to be confirmed by Archbishop Sample. I had the pleasure of making dinner for him and a small group including our pastor and parochial vicar before the confirmation at St. Joseph's. It's always fun to make special dinners, so I wanted to do this one with a Bohemian flair in honor of St. Wenceslaus. I searched the internet for Czech recipes and found a few I thought I could try. I am linking to most of the recipes because I was so pleased with how simple (even though time consuming) each recipe was. I wish to give full credit where it is due! With Brian's terrific help as my sous chef/prep guy, we make the following menu:

My version of
Salad with Romaine, Strawberries & Plum Dressing 
(salad dressing from last weeks plum sauce recipe)

Rohlíky- Czech Rolls  from Czech Stuff

Svíčková with Houskový Knedlík-
Beef Roast & Vegetable Sauce with Bread Dumplings

Apple Squares with Salted Caramel Sauce

Turecký Med- Czech Big Hunk Candy from A Little Bit of Czech

It took almost all day to prepare, but it was totally worth it. The Svíčková was probably the best pot roast I have ever eaten, and the Rohlíky were perfect for dipping in the delicious vegetable sauce. It was such a joy to see the plates come back to the kitchen empty & a few of the guests even had time to finish their Turecký Med before heading off to Mass.

I did make the salad and dessert with my own recipes. I thought I'd share the recipe for the Apple Squares with Salted Caramel Sauce for you today!

Apple Squares with Salted Caramel Sauce 

Apple Squares:
1 box of frozen puff pastry 
6 apples, cored, peeled and sliced thin (I used Liberty, but you can use your favorite)
1/3 cup raw sugar, 
1 teaspoon apple pie spice
more raw sugar, for sprinkling over the top of the squares

Salted Caramel Sauce:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces (thimble size)
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons Himalayan pink sea salt (I buy mine at Winco in the bulk section)

To make the apple squares, start by thawing puff pastry according to directions. While that is thawing, line two baking sheets with either parchment paper or Silpat pads. Prepare filling by mixing apples with 1/3 cup sugar and apple pie spice in a medium bowl. When the pastry is thawed, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut each piece of pastry into 6 squares and place 6 on each baking sheet. Divide apple mixture onto each pastry square. Fold up all four corners of each pastry square to the middle, making a smaller square with filling in the middle. Secure each apple square by pressing the middle point of pastry together. Sprinkle each square with a bit of raw sugar. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown.

To make the sauce, begin by heating the sugar in a heavy 2-3 quart saucepan over medium high-heat. As soon as the sugar starts to melt, start whisking it.  Keep whisking, even though the sugar will clump up as this will help it melt faster. Once the sugar is liquified, you can stop whisking. and just swirl the pan to keep the sugar moving. Turn the heat to medium and Continue swirling the pan until the sugar reaches a deep amber color. You will need to watch the pan closely, so the caramel doesn't burn. When the sugar reaches the dark amber color, add the butter, one piece at a time.  Using a wooden spoon, stir butter until it is almost melted before adding the next piece; continue until all the butter is added.  Remove the pan from the heat. Slowly pour in heavy cream and whisk until blended. This takes a bit of time, but just be patient.  Once it's all smooth and silky-loooking, stir in the salt. Let sit and cool for 10 minutes before pouring into container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 

To serve: Swirl sauce around on each plate however you want. I tried a swirled circle using a plastic condiment container with a pointy tip. Place your Apple Square on top of the caramel. Make a cannel of ice cream or whipped cream to serve alongside. It would also be delicious with slivered almonds sprinkled over it. 
Makes 12 servings