Monday, March 09, 2015

Old Fashioned Vanilla Peach Cake

One of those cakes my Mom used to make that stays in your mind forever. I could always tell when she was making one of these because the smell of baked peaches and vanilla would fill the house and make you so hungry. Make this cake one time... and I promise you will never forget it! And it gets better each day until it's gone! 

Old Fashioned Vanilla Peach Cake

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 lb. frozen peaches
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon orange juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 10 inch Bundt pan. I use Pam Non-Stick Spray with Flour. In a medium bowl, sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Next with a mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy for about 3-5 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Next add the flour mixture, a little at a time to the wet mixture. Scrape the bowl frequently. 

Toss the peaches with the remaining ¼ cup of flour. Pour about 1/3 of your batter into your pan, then add a third of the peaches on top. Repeat again twice, ending with a layer of peaches.

Reduce oven temperature down to only 325 degrees and bake for about an hour and 10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool at least 20 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Once cooled whisk together the powdered sugar, heavy cream, and orange juice. Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cake. 

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Brussel Sprout Slaw

If you like Brussels sprouts, be sure to give this a try. Leaving the sprouts raw keeps them crisp and mild in flavor with none of the distinctive odor that comes from cooking them. I add some slivered almonds for crunch and some raisins and cranberries for sweet and it is so good.  I use Star Extra Virgin Olive Oil with maple syrup with just a touch of Dijon mustard and it's just perfect!  Serve this salad with just about anything. 

Brussel Sprout Slaw 

3 1/2 cups shaved and shredded Brussel sprouts 
1/2 cup golden raisins 
¼ cup dried cranberries 
1/2 cup raw slivered almonds 
1/2 cup green onions 
¼ cup chopped red pepper (optional) 
1/3 cup Star Fine Foods Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
1/4 cup maple syrup 
1 tablespoon dijon mustard 
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

Add the shredded and sliced sprouts to a large bowl. Toss in the golden raisins, red pepper if using, dried, almonds, and  cranberries and green onions. 

In a small bowl, mix the olive oil, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper together. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss everything together. 

Let the salad sit for at least 30 minutes before serving. 

Note: Add ½ cup finely diced green apple and ¼ cup crisp bacon for a real treat. 

Look for STAR Extra Virgin Olive Oil in the olive oil section of our local grocery store or online at

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 Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!

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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Chinese Orange Chicken

You can get Orange chicken everywhere these days.  You can order it of course at any Chinese Restaurant, the mall food court, even in the frozen food section of the grocery store. But there's nothing like homemade orange chicken to satisfy your taste buds and make it exactly the way you like it. The recipe is very easy to make but the trick is getting that chicken moist and tender and not chewy and overcooked. I found the secret! I use Star Fine Foods Asian Cuisine Cooking oil to marinade my chicken and also to fry it.  Oh my what a difference in taste and texture!

Orange Chicken


2 lbs boneless skinless, chicken breast or thighs, diced into 2 inch pieces
1/4 cup Star Fine Foods Asian Cuisine Cooking Oil
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/2 cup orange juice                                          
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2/3 cup sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon salt
pinch of red pepper flakes

Place chicken pieces in large resealable plastic bag. Whisk all ingredients and pour marinade over chicken in bag. Seal and massage bag so that all pieces are covered. Refrigerate for an hour.

Orange Sauce 

¾ cup low sodium chicken broth
¾ cup fresh squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange zest 
6 tablespoons white vinegar 
¼ cup soy sauce 
½ cup dark brown sugar 
3 medium garlic cloves, minced 
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger (or use 1 teaspoon of dried) 
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch 
2 tablespoons cold water 

In a large saucepan, combine the chicken broth, orange juice, zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper; whisk until the sugar is fully dissolved. Bring mixture in the saucepan to a boil over medium high heat. 

In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and cold water; whisk the cornstarch mixture into the sauce. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Set sauce aside. 


2 egg whites 
1 cup cornstarch 
½ teaspoon baking soda 
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional) 
4 tablespoons Star Fine Foods Asian Cuisine Oil 
1/4 cup vegetable oil 

Remove chicken from refrigerator and shake off excess marinade. Place the egg whites in a shallow dish and beat with a fork until frothy. In a second pie plate, whisk together the cornstarch, baking soda and cayenne if using. Pat the chicken with paper towels to remove any excess marinade. You want to fry the chicken in batches so place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat. Transfer the pieces to cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly.

To fry the chicken, heat both oils in a Wok or large saute pan until hot and sizzling. Carefully place chicken (in two batches) in the oil; fry to golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning each piece with tongs halfway through cooking. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate. 

To serve, add the chicken to the orange sauce and reheat until simmering, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and gently toss until evenly coated and heated through. Serve immediately over white sticky rice. 

Photography is the property of and copyrighted to ©Welcome Home.

Limited availability at select Albertsons (So.Cal), Stater Bros., Walmart, select Safeway and Vons stores and online at

 Disclaimer: I have an ongoing relationship with STAR Fine Foods for my recipes and photography using their wonderful products. This post is sponsored by STAR. I am compensated for my time and work and I am sent products as I request them. However, all opinions of the product stated in this post are 100% my own. I truly love their products!
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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

♥ Caramel Cheesecake

This is one of those desserts that make you close your eyes when you taste it.  Also probably one of my favorite cheesecakes. I love white chocolate cheesecake but with the addition of this salted caramel sauce...oh my. Well let's say, you'll never forget it.

Caramel Cheesecake

10 ounces graham crackers, crushed into crumbs
7 tablespoons unsalted butter

Cheesecake Filling
3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces Ghirardelli or any premium white chocolate, chopped
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt
boiling water

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and press into the bottom and 1 1/2 inches up the side of a 10 inch spring form pan. Bake for 10 minutes and then allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees while crust is cooling and you make your batter.

Place the chopped white chocolate into a heat safe bowl and set aside. Bring the 1/2 cup of cream to a simmer over medium heat in a small sauce pan. Pour the hot cream over the white chocolate, and allow to stand for one minute. Stir the chocolate gently until melted completely.

In your mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth and lump free. Add the sugar and mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. On medium speed, slowly add the white chocolate mixture. Once combined you can add the eggs, one at a time, beating on low speed until each egg is incorporated. Once you've added all the eggs, mix in the vanilla and salt and pour into your prepared crust that has cooled in your spring form pan. 

Set the pan onto a couple of heavy duty, large sheets of aluminum foil and smooth them up the sides of the pan to waterproof. Set the cheesecake into a large roasting pan and then place in the oven. Pour the boiling water into the roasting pan, filling to about one inch. Bake at only 325 for the first hour and then reduce heat again down to only 300 degrees and bake for another hour or so or until the center is just set. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Once cool chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

To glaze, gently warm the 1 cup of the caramel sauce on the stove or in the microwave until slightly runny and then pour onto the cheesecake. Smooth the caramel over the cake and you're ready to serve.

Caramel Sauce

1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp water
1/4 cup salted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream

Gather all of your ingredients and have them nearby ready to add to the mixture as needed.

In a heavy-bottomed 3 quart saucepan, heat sugar and water over medium-high heat whisking constantly to dissolve sugar. Once mixture reaches a boil, stop whisking and allow mixture to boil until it reaches a dark amber color, carefully swirling pan occasionally. 

Once mixture reaches a dark amber color, immediately add butter and whisk until butter has melted then immediately remove from heat. Carefully pour in cream and immediately whisk to combine (it will bubble vigorously). Whisk until mixture is smooth. Pour caramel into a glass jar to cool. When cooled drizzle freely over your white chocolate cheese cake and top with any topping you'd like.

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Baked Tortelini with Meatballs

I love pasta!  With a nice side salad and some crusty fresh Italian Bread! And there is nothing out there like my Mom's recipe for Italian Meatballs! I love to make this recipe!  It's one of my favorite pasta dishes.

Baked Tortelini with Meatballs

1 (13 oz) bag fresh cheese tortellini 
2 cups of Marinara sauce or use a jar of your favorite sauce 
1/2 cup heavy cream 
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided 
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 11 x 7-inch baking dish.

In a pot of generously salted boiling water, cook tortellini for 3 minutes. It will be slightly under cooked at this stage because it will continue to cook in the oven. Drain well and return to warm pot but not on heat. Add a tablespoon of butter and toss lightly. In a large bowl, combine the the marinara sauce, heavy cream, and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Then add to the drained pasta and gently toss until coated. Season with salt and pepper if desired. 

Place the tortellini into the greased baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese and mozzarella. Then bake uncovered for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from oven and serve with homemade Italian Meatballs.

Italian Meatballs

1 pound ground beef 
1 pound ground pork 
1 cup bread crumbs, fresh or dried 
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan 
1/4 cup evaporated milk 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil 
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley 
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 small onion, chopped finely 
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, lightly mix all ingredients by hand, but do not pack down meat mixture. Take a portion of meat in hand, and roll between palms to form a ball that is firmly packed but not compressed. Repeat, making each meatball about 2 inches in diameter. Arrange meatball onto prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until browned and cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Makes about 16 meatballs. Serve with pasta of your choice such as Tortellini above.

Basic Marinara Sauce

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil 2 small yellow onions, finely chopped 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped 2 celery stalks, finely chopped 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste 1/2 teaspoon pepper, plus more to taste 2 – 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes 2 dried bay leaves

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery, carrots and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Sauté until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste. Let the sauce cool, and then refrigerate or freeze it.

NOTE: This recipe makes 2 quarts of homemade sauce. The above recipe calls for just two cups. I freeze mine in Ziploc freezer bags for up to 3 months and use as needed for many recipes.

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Friday, February 27, 2015

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

I love shrimp. It is probably one of the most versatile of all the ingredients I use in cooking. There are so many ways to prepare it. I prefer to buy raw shrimp and cook them myself, rather than buy them pre-cooked. They just taste better.  This is one of my favorite recipes and I serve it hot or cold. It makes a delicious salad.  It is wonderful served warm over rice and just perfect in a lettuce wrap! I think you'll like it too.

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound large uncooked shrimp, peeled and de-veined 
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon of lime zest
pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse and prepare shrimp. You can leave the tails on or off. 

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. When oil is hot and sizzling add the shrimp and garlic and season with salt and red pepper flakes. Turn down the heat to medium and continue to cook shrimp until they begin to curl and start to turn pink.  Do not overcook or shrimp will be tough and rubbery.  Once shrimp are just pink, remove to large bowl stop cooking process. 

Toss the shrimp with the lime juice and cilantro and season to taste. Top with lime zest.  Serve hot over rice or refrigerate to eat cold or in a salad. Or add them to lettuce leaves to make wonderful lettuce wraps.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

♥ Cheese Quesadillas

I only had cheese today for my quesadillas but even without all the extras they are so good. Gooey cheese oozing out of a crisp and buttery tortilla. How simple can you get and how delicious can it be?

Cheese Quesadillas

4 (10-inch) flour tortillas ...
1 cup grated cheese, Mexican blend cheese
4 tablespoons butter
Sour cream, for dipping
Salsa, for dipping
Guacamole, for dipping

Heat skillet on low heat with just a pat of butter. Lay a tortilla in the skillet and sprinkle cheese on top leaving about an inch of space around the edges. Warm the tortilla over low heat. The cheese will begin to melt a little. Lay another tortilla on top and continue to cook on low. Slightly lift up the edge of the bottom tortilla to make sure it is brown and then with a large flat spatula, flip it over, holding the top tortilla down with your finders as you flip. 

Allow the tortilla to brown for about two minutes, then using a spatula, gently lift the edge so you can check to make sure it has browned enough. When it is brown and cheese is all gooey, transfer to individual plates or a large platter. Repeat with remaining butter and tortillas. Top them with the sour cream, salsa and guacamole.

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♥ Tortilla Bake

This is a quick and easy meal to make and there are so many things you can add to it to make just the way you like it. I keep mine pretty simple and on the mild side, but you can give it as much kick as you want by adding spicy peppers and chilies and other seasonings.

Tortilla Bake

1 lb ground beef
1 small onion
1 packet taco seasoning
4 medium corn or flour tortillas
2 cups Mexican Blend Cheese
1 (10 oz) enchilada sauce, mild or hot
4 oz sour cream for topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ground beef and onion over medium-high heat until beef is cooked through; drain. Return the beef and onions to the skillet and add taco seasoning. Stir in the enchilada sauce. Leave on low heat to simmer for 10 minutes.

Spray a 9 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray. Lay the first tortilla in the dish and sprinkle meat mixture on top, taking it all the way to the edges. Then sprinkle a layer of cheese on top. Cover with another tortilla and repeat until you use all four tortillas. Sprinkle top layer with more cheese and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes until heated through. Serve with your choice of topping such as sour cream, salsa or guacamole.

Other optional ingredients you may want to add....

Green or red chilies
Jalepeno peppers
whole corn
Refried beans
green or red peppers
black olives
Pepper Jack Cheese
hot sauce

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Warm Apple Fritters

There is nothing quite like warm apple fritters on a cold morning with a fresh cup of piping hot coffee and a warm fire going with fur babies at your feet and home made bread baking in the oven. Will you join me?

Warm Apple Fritters

1 cup All Purpose Flour ...
¼ cup Sugar
¾ tsp Salt
1½ teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
⅓ cup Milk
1 Egg
1 cup Chopped Fuji or Gala Apple
Oil for frying


2 cups Powdered Sugar
1½ Tablespoons of milk or more as needed
1 teaspoon vanilla Extract, optional

Combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon. Stir in milk and egg until just combined. Fold in chopped apple.

Pour oil into large deep skillet so that it is approximately 2 inches deep. You can also use a large soup pot or dutch oven or even an electric fryer. Heat oil to about 375 degrees. Your oil is ready when a small piece of fritter dough floats to top. Carefully add dough to oil in heaping tablespoons. 

Cook until brown, about 2 minutes, then carefully flip. Cook another 1-2 minutes, until both sides are golden brown. Transfer briefly to paper towels to absorb excess oil, then transfer to cooling rack. Fry fritters a few at a time.

Make glaze by stirring milk and powdered sugar together in a small bowl. Drizzle over apple fritters. Wait approximately 3 minutes for glaze to harden, then flip fritters and drizzle glaze over the other side. Best served warm.

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Breakfast Stromboli

I'll make you a promise my friends...if you make this you'll love it. It's the easiest recipe to make and it is absolutely delicious! Flaky, buttery, puffed pastry filled with scrambled eggs and cheese and whatever else you'd like to add. ...I made this with just egg and cheese (my favorite way) but I also sometimes add bacon, ham, steak, even crab and shrimp. I also change up on the cheese and use Cheddar, Jack, Swiss or whatever else I feel like that morning.  

Breakfast Stromboli

1 box (2 Sheets) Pepperidge Farm frozen puffed pastry
5 eggs
1/4 cup evaporated milk                                                 
1 egg+ 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
5-6 slices of cheese (your choice)
salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove pastry dough from package and allow to partially thaw for about 15 minutes on a cookie sheet that has been spray with non stick cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Unwrap dough and smooth out seams with a little water on your finger tips. Then mix the egg and water to make a wash and brush all over pastry sheet.

Beat eggs with evaporated milk until blended well. In large skillet, add butter and beaten eggs along with salt and pepper to taste. Scramble eggs until just set. Do not overcook as they will continue to cook in the oven. Remove eggs to a plate and cool completely. I put mine in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool them quickly.                                

Next spoon eggs onto bottom half of pasty sheets leaving at least 2 inches of space on both sides and bottom. If you choose to add ham or bacon, lay strips on top of eggs. Follow with 2 or 2/12 cheese slices cheese slices to cover meat. I usually overlap the cheese to completely cover the meat and eggs.

Next pull top of dough down over the bottom filled portion of dough to cover the egg, meat and cheese filling. Pinch dough together all the way around and fold over or crimp with a fork to make sure it is sealed all the way around. Make a small slit in the top and brush the remaining egg wash all over the top and sides.

Bake on center rack of oven (Leave enough room on top as these can puff up to 2-3 times the size). Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees until golden on the outside. Slice and enjoy!

NOTE: Sausage doesn't work with this one as it is too greasy and the dough will absorb the grease. Also, I make two and keep them in the refrigerator for up to a week or so. They go fast so you probably won't have any to freeze! 

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