Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Remembrance Day

My Paternal Grandparents

Today marks the one year anniversary of my dad's passing. We were on vacation when he died. He had been in ill health for the last few years so it was not a shock for some. It was a small funeral just family. On our way out of the funeral home I picked up several of the memorial pamphlets. I was puzzled by the maiden name of my paternal grandmother. What a weird thing to focus on because I don't really remember her.
 My Midwestern stock comes from Illinois just outside in Chicago as my great-grandfather settled there after immigrating from Sweden in the late 1880's. I have been searching Ancestry to try and find out more about them, I have more questions than answers. 
I didn't really get to know my grandparents. My grandmother was in a nursing home for a long time, that's what my mom tells me. My grandmother passed away in 1979 and my grandfather passed in 1981.
She passed 2 recipes on to my mom. My mom made them during my childhood and she passed them on to me. I still make them today one at the holidays and this recipe I make as my comfort food. It's a pasta casserole made with Velveeta cheese, mushroom soup, shell pasta and mushrooms and a can of corn.
 I don't know the history on this recipe. It probably came off of the soup can or the box of Velveeta. I don't care where it's from I'm just glad that I it's part of my food history. It's my guilty pleasure and I hate to admit it but I can eat the entire pot in one sitting. Shhhh, don't tell anyone but I'm glad my husband doesn't like it, more for me.

Velveeta Shell Pasta Casserole from Corrine Spencer Axelson

1 box of shell pasta
1 16 oz brick of Veveeta cheese, cubed
1 8 oz can of mushroom soup
1 6 oz can of corn, drained
1 6 oz can of sliced mushroom pieces and stems, drained
1 cup of milk, I use the soup can to measure the milk use one can of milk

Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain the pasta. Put the drained pasta back in the pot. On medium low heat stir the cheese into the pasta. Add the soup, milk, corn and mushrooms. Stir until the cheese is completely melted. Serve hot.

The magic ingredients

ooey gooey cheesy 

Ready to get in my belly

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cherry Blossom Breakfast Roll

Cherry Blossoms at the tidal basin

Now that spring has arrived in town that can only mean one thing, tourists. Well they are only part of it to me best part of spring it's Cherry Blossom season. Thongs of wide eyed tourists arrive to view the trees and the other sites along the tidal basin.  The Cherry Blossom Festival lasts about two weeks. Peak bloom only lasting a few days so it can be tricky finding time to see them while dodging tourists and bad weather. During these few weeks there are lots of festivities-fireworks on the water, the tea lighting ceremony, 10 mile run, the parade but of course the star of the show of course are the trees themselves. I like to go down to watch the sunrise. As the sun comes up the tidal basin is washed in a soft pink glow. The trees are saturated with all hues of pink. The best part only the die hard tourists are there that early. 
I wanted to create a treat to honor the blossoms so I created a Cherry Almond breakfast roll. I wanted to save time so I chose to use the Pillsbury pastry sheet but you could use any breakfast roll dough for this.  It doesn't need to be cherry blossom season to make this big roll but it doesn't hurt.

Almond Schmear:
1 cup of blanched almonds
1/2 cup of powdered sugar
2 tablespoon of unsalted butter. softened
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg white

Put almonds, sugar, and butter into food processor. Process until almonds are finely ground, scrap the bowl if necessary. Add the almond extract and egg white. Process until mixed. Store in an airtight container. Bring to room temperature before using. This mixture can be stored in the refrigerator for a about a week.

Breakfast roll Glaze:
1 cup powered sugar
2 tablespoons of water (you may use less) you want to able to drizzle it over the roll
red food coloring (optional) don't use too much you want it to be pink.
Mix the powered sugar and water to get a consistency that makes it easy to drizzle. Add the red food coloring to get a light pink color.

To assemble the Cherry Blossom Roll:
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the pastry sheet or what ever breakfast roll dough you want to a  approximately 8 x12. it may be larger if you use homemade dough. Spread the almond schmear on the dough. Sprinkle 1 cup of dried cherries over the schmear, pressing them into the almond mixture. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter cut the dough into even sized strips. Take your first strip and roll it up and place in the middle of a greased pie pan. At the end of the first strip place the second strip and coil the strip around the roll. Continue with the rest of the strips around and around until you one big breakfast roll.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Let cool about 15 minutes before glazing.
Mix the glaze and drizzle over the roll. Serve warm.
Roll out the dough and spread the almond schmear

Add the dried cherries

Coil  the strips around and around

ready for the oven

Drizzled with pretty pink icing