almond shortbread no-roll pie crust

My mom helped celebrate Pi(e) Day with me yesterday. I crossed my almond shortbread recipe with a very similar recipe for a no-roll shortbread crust and baked by proxy. It even involved math, appropriately enough. Thanks for being patient with my math and doing this for me, Ma!

What a delicious crust! And so easy. My mom is, without question, the best pie baker in the family, so my humble instructions were in good hands.


3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) salted butter
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons almond flour
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon salt (yes, 3/8, but I don’t have a 3/8 measure, do you?)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Blend ingredients till a soft dough forms. Pat into a 9-inch pie pan. Prick crust well with fork. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, till crust is golden.

Here’s the final pie–the filling is Cook’s Country’s lemon chess.

lemon chess pie cook's country

The crust is excellent! The pie filling’s texture is a standout–crisp, crackly top with a rich, silky custard beneath it. I especially love how the pie looks like the sun. And it’s very tasty, too. I would prefer a more tart, lemony flavor and will work on that as time goes by. But it hasn’t stopped me from eating my way through this plate of sunshine. Thanks again, Ma! Love you!



peanut butter pie

Two great tastes that taste great together–chocolate and peanut butter– come together beautifully and easily. Start with a store-bought Oreo shell, then whip up (literally) a quick ‘n tasty filling.


1 Oreo pie shell
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. Neufchatel cheese, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter (Skippy is my fave)
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon Maker’s Mark
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a stand mixer, whip the heavy cream till stiff peaks form. Move to a small, separate bowl in the fridge till it’s time to add to the pie.

Again, using a stand mixer, cream together the peanut butter and Neufchatel cheese till smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk, bourbon, vanilla and lemon juice. Beat till smooth, scrape down sides to be sure everything is incorporated. Next, fold in about 1/3 of the whipped cream you set aside. Then fold in the rest.

Pour into the Oreo shell and smooth the top of the surface. I saved one dollop of whipped cream for the center, just to be fancy. Refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving. Delicious!

hash 3

Ever notice it’s hard to find good corned beef hash out? Me, too. Sometimes, when you crave one of your favorite things, it’s best to start in your own kitchen. So, today, I made my own. It’s less of a recipe, more of a concept, so let’s go through the steps together.


Everything you chop should be about the same size–the badadas, pepper, onions and corned beef.
2 good-sized red potatoes, skins on, cut into cubes
1 red pepper (I used half red, half orange), chopped
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
about 3/4 pound corned beef (ask for a thick slice at the deli), cut into cubes
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Cook the potatoes in salted water till tender. You can do this a day before to save time on hash day.

Next, chop, chop, chop. The corned beef, too.

hash 0

Melt butter in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add peppers and onion.

hash 1

Cook about 5-7 minutes till onions are golden and beginning to lightly brown.

Add potatoes and stir. They should begin to brown in 5-7 minutes. At that point, stir in two tablespoons of heavy cream to form a nice crispy crust.

I’m just cooking for me today, so I transferred my portion of hash to a smaller pan, made an indentation, cracked an egg in and covered, cooking on low for about 5 minutes.

You could make several hash holes in the larger pan if you have company.

hash done

And there you have it. Egg in a hash hole. Don’t like eggs? Hash stands just fine on its own and is a meal unto itself. Enjoy!

Katty's almond bundt cake

Happy new year, amici! After ending the year with a crash and a bang (beware the walking mixer), I’m back to baking safely. In fact, I enjoyed the chocolate almond bundt cake I baked last week so much I wanted to try to come up with a straight up almond version.

Here’s last week’s model–look how pretty. My only modifications were to use two teaspoons of almond extract instead of just one, and to use powdered buttermilk. In fact, two of my tasters thought the cake had Amaretto in it! I made my own frosting, too.

chocolate almond bundt cake

A new week and a snowy day felt like the right time to make an almond version. I really liked the texture of last week’s cake. But how to make it just as delicious and ultra almond-y? I kept the extra almond extract and swapped out the cocoa powder for almond flour. I also cut back the sugar ever so slightly and made cake release with almond flour. Are you ready? Put on your dancin’ shoes and let’s bake!


First, you’ll want to paint your pan. Melt one tablespoon of butter, then stir in one tablespoon of almond flour. Yes, it’s not as smooth as regular flour, but that’s OK. It’s going to give an extra nice bit of texture to the outside of the cake. Paint your bundt pan with a pastry brush. Then, because the almond flour will clump a bit, simply smooth it out with your finger.

cake release for almond bundt

Preheat your oven to 350° F. Now, let’s make the batter.
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup finely ground almond flour (I keep a bag of Bob’s Red Mill in the fridge)
4 tablespoons powdered buttermilk*
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water*

*If you prefer to use real buttermilk, use a cup of it in place of the water and omit the powdered buttermilk.
In your mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beat well and scrape down the bowl after each addition. Add sour cream and extracts; mix well.
Combine flour, almond flour, powdered buttermilk, baking soda and salt. Alternate adding dry ingredients and water to the creamed mixture; beat well after each addition.
Pour into a greased 10-inch bundt pan. Bake at 350° F for 50-55 minutes (definitely just 50 minutes in my oven) or till a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely before you glaze. See the lighter spots where the almond flour in the cake release has made an appearance?
Katty's almond bundt cake unglazed
Now we glaze.
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
2-3 teaspoons milk
Drizzle over the cooled cake. For the sake of fanciness, you might want to drizzle the glaze while the cake is still on the wire rack, then move the cake to its final destination. But if you don’t mind extra pools of glaze, you, too, can do as I do. :) Slice. Enjoy! Sort of looks like a rocket to blast off into the land of good taste and happy feet, yes?


If you’re like me, your knowledge of chicken paprikash may be limited to that scene in “When Harry Met Sally.” Waiter! There is too much pepper on my paprikash! If so, also like me, you’ve been missing out. But, have no fear, we can make up for lost time and deliciousness.

Fast forward 25 years to last month, when one of my friends shared a recipe for this dish. It sounded so good, I wanted to give it a try with some of my own twists. Here’s a little disclaimer: I’m not Hungarian, I’ve never eaten this dish before and can’t tell you how authentic it is. In fact, I believe the original dish calls for chicken thighs rather than breasts. But, that’s the beauty of making something your own–you can do exactly as you wish. I can tell you it’s quite delish and I’ll be making it again during the season of my discontent (a.k.a. winter).


½ pound egg noodles

Butter and olive oil to coat the bottom of a pan
1-1.25 pounds chicken breast, cut into hearty chunks
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
freshly ground black pepper
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
4 oz. mushrooms, sliced
1 garlic clove, pressed
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1½ teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 cup sour cream
fresh chopped parsley

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt. Add chicken and toss to coat.

Add olive oil and butter to a pan over medium-high heat.

Add chicken and any remaining seasoned flour to pan. Brown chicken on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a dish.


PSSST! Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Soon, it will be time to cook the egg noodles.

But, for now, back to the pan where the chicken was cooking. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add onion and cook till golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, red pepper and sliced mushrooms. Cook 5 minutes more.


Then add wine, chicken stock and tomato paste.

Time to cook the noodles! Like magic, watch how the timing comes together perfectly.

Return the chicken to the pan and cover. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 7-10 minutes. This is about the time it will take to cook the noodles. For the last few minutes of the chicken part of the program, reduce heat to the lowest setting, add sour cream and parsley, heat through—about 1-2 minutes.


Serve with noodles. Enjoy the living daylights out of this dish. We did!

And, on an optimistic note, tomorrow is the winter solstice. Brighter days are ahead, amici!
Midnight has come. I hear music and I’ll keep on singing. 

lemon ricotta cookies ONE

There’s been a serious lack of sunshine ’round here lately, so I’ve been baking my own. First, it was lemon bars–always a favorite. Then I wanted to make ricotta cookies. My mom’s been making ‘em for years. But I wanted to do a lemon twist on the classic. So, I’ll show you two ways to make these light-as-air, delicious little pillows of cookies–one lemony, one almond-y. Yes, it’s a word. Ask any almond lover.

lemon ricotta cookies Celebrate with Hope

Care to celebrate with Hope? Here we go.

adapted from recipes from generations of talented Italian ladies, including my mom

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Combine and set aside.

1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla*
1 teaspoon almond extract*
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon, if you like)*

*To make an almond version, double the vanilla and almond extracts (so, 2 teaspoons of each) and omit lemon juice.

Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream together softened butter and sugar till fluffy. Add egg, ricotta, vanilla, almond extract and lemon juice*. Gradually add dry ingredients. Dough will be very soft. I used my trusty Zeroll 60 pink scoop, but you can use a teaspoon if you don’t have one. Drop onto ungreased cookie sheets.

I like to do the halftime switch trick: turn the cookie sheets front to back and switch racks halfway through. Bake for 14-15 minutes total–so, try 7 minutes, then switch racks for another 7–at 350 degrees F; bottoms of cookies will be golden.

Let the cookies cool, then choose your glaze–lemon or almond–and dip the top of each cookie.

Lemon glaze
Whisk together:
1 tablespoon melted butter
2 tablespoons lemon juice
zest of one lemon
¾ cup powdered sugar

Almond glaze
Whisk together:
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 heaping teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons milk

I hope sharing two recipe variations in one makes up for some lost time here. Know that my heart is never far from the kitchen. I’ve missed posting here and I’ll be back soon!

Dutch butter cake

If you like almond shortbread–and who doesn’t–you’re gonna love Dutch butter cake. It’s ultra-rich, with a generous dose of almond extract and plenty of sliced almonds on top. I understand it’s even better the next day. This is a little tough to imagine as it was quite wonderful when I baked it this morning.

Other recipes call for unsalted butter and less salt. But baked goods without enough salt taste like something is missing–to me, anyway. All that’s missing here are the portions I couldn’t stop eating this morning. Let’s butter cake it up!


1/2 pound salted butter (two sticks)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 egg, separated
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons sliced almonds

With a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together. Beat in egg yolk and almond extract. Add flour, baking powder and salt; combine till well mixed. Press evenly into 8 x 8 ” pan. I lined my pan with a silicone liner.

Brush top with beaten egg white and set aside for 30 minutes. Brush with egg white a second time. Use a fork to make a grid pattern if you wish. It will be hard to see under the almonds, but is kinda fun to do.


Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes until golden brown. Resist the urge to eat a whole row on your own.

Package ‘em up and share them–quick-quick!

Dutch butter cake triangles


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