Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving in Michigan

As long as I can remember, Thanksgiving Dinner was always held at Uncle Vince and Aunt Mary’s home in Dearborn Heights, Michigan. The smell of the huge turkey baking in the roaster in the basement wafted throughout the house. All the relatives brought side dishes. After thoroughly stuffing ourselves, the meal was not complete until Uncle Ed said, “OK, who’s ready to go get some hamburgers!”

The Thanksgiving menu was traditional with turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes with marshmallows, and Ocean Spray cranberry sauce. There might have been a jello salad on occasion, but they were never memorable!

I still stick to the original menu, sometimes adding Corn and Oyster Casserole and Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Shallots. Thanksgiving is a time for comfort food not experimentation.

Adam's version of Turkey Tetrazzini.
This year, I did experiment with a leftover turkey dish making my own version of Turkey Tetrazzini. According to Wikipedia, “The dish is named after Italian opera star Luisa Tetrazzini. It is widely believed to have been invented circa 1908–1910 by Ernest Arbogast, the chef at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, California, where Tetrazzini was a long-time resident.”

I found several versions of the recipe, most including turkey, pasta, cream, mushrooms and Parmesan cheese, but the variations are endless. My version follows. My husband and I found it mighty tasty!

Adam's Turkey Tetrazzini Casserole

5 tablespoons melted butter, divided
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 package (8 ounces) sliced mushrooms
1 can Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
3 cups cubed cooked turkey
1/2 cup frozen peas, rinsed and thawed
8 ounces (1/2 of a 1-pound package) linguini broken in half and prepared as directed, drained
1/2 to 1 teaspoon McCormick’s Grill Mates Montreal Chicken seasoning
1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
Butter flavor baking spray


Set oven to 400 degrees. 

Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Combine one tablespoon of the melted butter with the bread crumbs in a small bowl and set aside.

In the frying pan with the melted butter add the onions and red pepper and sauté until onions are golden and the red pepper has wilted. About 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for an additional 6 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.

In a small bowl, whisk together soup, half and half, chicken broth and Parmesan cheese.

Add sauce, peas, and chopped turkey to frying pan and stir to combine. Add McCormick Montreal Chicken seasoning to taste.  Add the linguine and toss to coat. Spoon the chicken mixture into a 13x9x2-inch baking dish sprayed with butter-flavored baking spray. 

Bake for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the chicken mixture.

Bake for an additional 5 minutes or until is hot and bubbling.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Adam's Lemon Cream Cake

Although I have always liked to cook and bake, I never thought I could cook for large groups like the 2nd Sunday Brunch or fundraising dinners we have had at St. John the Apostle MCC Church in Fort Myers, Florida. When I first joined St. Johns I volunteered to help serve brunch, never thinking that someday I would be creating menus and executing meals for groups as large as 80 people. It still amazes me that I can pull it off at a reasonable price, with good quality and taste, satisfying most people. I do struggle with individual needs such as gluten-free, nut-free, vegetarian, etc. I work with a simple home kitchen with usually a staff of one—me! (My husband John does dishwashing, taste-testing, delivering, helping set-up, serving, cleaning, and generally keeping me sane, for which I am very, very thankful!)

I am grateful that God has given me a talent that I did not know I had. And I am humbled by the words of praise that come from satisfied diners. It can often take days of planning, deciding, modifying, purchasing, fixing, delivering and serving a meal that is over in about an hour. The dinner itself has an ethereal quality about it. What took hours to prepare is gone within minutes. I am lucky if I take a photo of the end result and often I don’t--to my regret.

Adam's Italian Lemon Cream Cake (Photo by my niece, Jennifer)
I got the idea to make a lemon cream cake for the Lip-Schtick dinner, a church fundraising event, after having a piece of Italian Limoncello Cake at Bruno’s of Brooklyn Italian Eatery restaurant in downtown Fort Myers. If you haven’t been there yet, I highly recommend it. I don’t normally cook with alcohol so had to find a substitute. The Dickinson’s Lemon Curd worked nicely. If I had the time, I would search out a recipe for lemon curd on the Internet and make it from scratch, but Dickinson’s is very nice and it certainly is a timesaver.

Adam’s Italian Lemon Cream Cake

1 15.25-ounce box Betty Crocker Super Moist Lemon Cake Mix

3 eggs

1/2 cup oil         

1 cup cold water

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1 10-ounce jar of Dickinson’s Lemon Curd (or you can make your own)

2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 good sized tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar (sweet to your preferred taste)

1 8-ounce container of mascarpone cream cheese

1 and 1/2 teaspoons lemon flavoring.

Canned whipping cream

Jelly lemon pieces (Optional) (I found them on Amazon)


Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour 3 9-inch baking pans or use a baking spray with flour. If you only have 2 pans, will have to reserve some batter and re-use one baking pan.

Prepare cake mix as directed adding 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest to the ingredients. Divide 3 equal portions and spread in cake pans. Bake approximately 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Do not overbake!

Remove from oven and allow to cool on rack for at least 10 minutes. Using a cookie sheet or big plate lined with parchment paper, flip the cake over and out of the baking pans. Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for about an hour until chilled and firm.

When cool, spread about a 1/3 of a cup of the lemon curd on each cake layer.

Whip the cream until it starts to come to soft peaks. Add confectioners’ sugar, lemon flavoring and mascarpone, and continue to beat until hard peaks form. Do not overbeat.

You have a couple of options at this point. You can spread the cream equally on top of the lemon curd on the bottom and middle layers which is what I do, or you can reserve some of the cream and frost the sides of the cake with the reserved cream.

Put in refrigerator and chill about 4 hours or overnight before serving. This cake keeps well in the refrigerator.

Cut into serving size slices and place slices on their side. Spritz some canned whipping cream on each slice, then garnish with a piece of optional lemon jelly candy.

This cake is very rich so small slices will go far.