Pink and White Anise Cake

Pink and White Anise Cake Recipe 00

I admit it, this is one of those blog posts that I’m writing so that I can Google the recipe later. Every time I’ve gone to make this recipe in the last 5 years I would pull out all the ingredients, start the recipe, get to the instruction that said “add eggs, one at a time” and then I realize that “eggs” never even made it onto my ingredients list so I would have to call my mother and ask her to go dig the recipe out of her binder to tell me how many eggs were supposed to be in this cake.

What is anise cake you might ask? Well, it’s cake that has a little bit of that Sambuca, black licorice flavor going on. It’s one of my favorites. I also appreciate that it’s one of the few cakes that I like without frosting.

Pink and White Anise Cake Recipe 01

Another fun thing about the cake is that it’s cut in diamonds. Which isn’t as hard as it sounds. It also gives you an excuse to eat a lot of “end” pieces.

How to Cut Cake into Diamond-Shaped Pieces

It’s not as hard as it looks, I promise.

Pink and White Anise Cake Recipe 02

This is one of the staple recipes from growing up. I’ve really enjoyed sharing it with people along the way, although I’ve been sad to find out how many people don’t like the flavor of anise. They’re missing out. (That said, some people who don’t really like it still enjoyed the cake.) And one guy told me it tasted almost as good as his grandmother’s, which sounds like the highest compliment you can ever get.

Pink and White Anise Cake Recipe 03

Pink and White Anise Cake

Pink and White Anise Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cups crisco
  • 3/4 cups milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons anise
  • 3 eggs
  • Red food coloring
  • Powdered sugar for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease and flour a 17 x 11-inch pan
  3. Sift flour three times
  4. Add sifted flour, granulated sugar, and baking powder to mixing bowl
  5. Mix in crisco, milk, and anise and beat well
  6. Add eggs, one at a time, beat until smooth
  7. Pour and spread half of the batter into the prepared pan
  8. Add red food coloring until its a bright shade of pink (approximately 5 drops)
  9. Pour the pink batter on top of the white and spread it evenly with a spoon
  10. Bake for 35 minutes or until toothpick comes clean
  11. Cool the cake and cut it into diamonds
  12. Top generously with powdered sugar and serve
http://chrystinanoel.com/2016/08/11/pink-white-anise-cake/

Please let me know if you like it! Or just if you like black licorice. There’s got to be more people out there, right?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Rice Krispies Cookies

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 00

This is the second time recently I’m taking a stab at a recipe post. The other one was my (mom’s) manicotti recipe. And now we’re onto my favorite chocolate chip cookies in the whole wide world, another recipe courtesy of my mother (and the back of a cereal box in the 90s).

I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for almost five years and still haven’t shared this recipe with you. The key to my favorite chocolate chip cookies of all-time? They have peanut butter and Rice Krispies in them. This is an absolute must try recipe.

Yes, that might sound like cheating, but this is what I’ve always known chocolate chip cookies to be (peanut butter chocolate chip rice krispies cookies that is), which means that all other chocolate chip cookies are sub-par. (Sorry, y’all. I’m willing to be proven wrong though, so feel free to send cookies my way.)

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 01 My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 04 My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 05 My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 06 My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 07

Also. I’m reminded over and over again why you’re not supposed to bake in the middle of summer. Admittedly, usually these cookies aren’t quite this flat. This happened even with me putting the dough back in the fridge between scooping each cookie.

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 08 My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 09

Now, I’m not gonna lie to you. I managed to get some decent shots of this, but for the most part my kitchen counters look like this.

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chrystina Noel 10

I also have no idea how to write directions (instructions?) yet. So here goes nothing.

My Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

Makes 6 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup peanut butter
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups rice krispies
1-1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Blend margarine and sugars in a mixer
  3. Mix in eggs, vanilla, and peanut butter adding ingredients one at a time until fully mixed in
  4. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
  5. Add flour mixture to mixer slowly until fulled mixed in
  6. Stir in cereal and chocolate chips by hand
  7. On an ungreased cookie sheet place 12 balls of dough, each approximately 1 inch in diameter
  8. Bake 7-9 minutes

Does anybody else use water displacement to measure things like peanut butter and crisco? If you need 1/2 cup of peanut butter, in a 1 cup glass measuring cup, put 1/2 cup of water and then put enough peanut butter in the measuring cup to fill the water to the 1 cup line. Then drain the water and add the peanut butter. It makes it way easier to scoop out.

Please let me know if you try these, I would love to hear what you think!

P.S. You thought I was kidding about this instructions thing, but Ben just had to inform me that I wouldn’t write “Hand-stir in cereal and chocolate chips”.

The Sweet Love & Ginger Cookbook

Answering Cooking Questions with JC

I know I talk about Jessica (aka JC aka Ginger) a lot on this blog, but that’s pretty much because she’s awesome. She was recently featured as my March hostess of the month. Just as a reminder, I “met” JC when she posted on my about page two years ago saying “I’m a civil engineer who likes hosting parties too!” – and then we were friends. She blogs at Sweet Love and Ginger about everything from cooking to fitness to gardening. Her blog has become my go-to “I need a recipe for dinnrer, what should I cook” answer because her recipes are always simple and easy-to-understand.

At the end of every year, JC puts together a list of her best and favorite recipes in a cookbook that’s free to download. I was super excited when I went through the list of recipes that made it into this year’s cookbook including:

  • Pear & Brie Toasts with Honey Balsamic Drizzle
  • Soba Noodle Broth Bowl with Chicken
  • Crispy Honey Mustard Sweet Potato Fries
  • Shrimp and Sundried Tomato Cream Sauce Pasta
  • Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos with Chipotle Mayo
  • Thai Glazed Salmon

About a year ago I started a series on my blog where I would ask cooking questions and JC would answer them. After about 3 months of that I didn’t have any more questions, at the time, but we’re going to bring it back around because after reading through her cookbook there were a few questions that came to mind:

Why does every recipe tell you to take the bay leaf out?

Because eating a bay leaf is in fact gross (I speak from experience). They are tough, woody and have way to much flavor. Accidentally get one of those in your mouth while eating and it’s all you will taste for the next few hours.

What the heck is julienned?

I cannot explain this in words myself, so I’ll let a pro show you how it’s done. Check out this video.

When you make soup do you put it all in the fridge together or do you separate out the broth from the stuff in it?

Typically is should all be able to be stored together, though I have found that for those one pot wonders where the pasta is cooked in the broth do get mushy when left in for too long. Also things like wontons and soba noodles get mushy when left in liquid for more than a few minutes. So basically it depends on the preperation method and the type of “stuff” thats in it.

What have you found is the easiest way to make rice? I tend to mess it up a lot.

I’m about to loose some cred by telling you that I suck at plain white rice. I always for get to set a timer, and that is key. Give me a risotto or a pilaf and I’m a pro, regular white and I’m bound to screw it up. My best advice is to follow the package instructions.

Let’s pretend I don’t have a food processor. Then what?

It depends on what you are trying to do. If you just need to finely chop a bunch of veggies, get out a knife and go to town, if you need something smoother a blender will work, or I suppose a mortar and pestle would work. I used a tiny little nutribullet for years before I got a reall food processor or a blender. It can be done.

Do have have any advice for working with premade pie crusts?

Pre-made pie crusts can be difficult at times. Let them come up to room temperature and they will crack less when you roll them out. I like to roll them out onto wax paper and then work out any kinks or tears with a rolling pin. The wax paper helps to transfer the crust to the pan without tearing (you can pretty much just flip it).

What’s the best place to buy…

  • Frozen wontons? Trader joes has some good ones, but I’m sure a number of grocery stores do.
  • Yellow miso? I actually found this at my local grocery store, but an asian market would definitely carry it also.
  • Whole wheat egg noodles? I found these at my local grocery store.
  • Broccoli slaw? This is usually found in the produce section of the grocery store, with the coleslaw mix and sometimes near the tofu or sprouts area.
  • Lemon grass? I found this also in my local grocery store, but an Asian market would also have it. You can find it in the produce section.

If you would like your own free copy of her Best of 2015 Sweet Love and Ginger cookbook, just sign up for her mailing list below. It’s only one email a month and always comes with some great inspiration of recipes, fitness, diy, and minimalism.

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My Homemade Manicotti Recipe

How to Make Homemade Manicotti

Four years ago I wrote three blog posts about how to make homemade manicotti. That means these were some of the first blog posts I ever wrote. I divided it into (1) making the crepe batter, (2) making the crepes, and (3) stuffing and baking the crepes. I have no idea why I decided to do it like this. It’s confusing. It’s hard to follow. The recipe isn’t coherent. And you need to have multiple browser tabs open at once. It’s awful.

So today I bring you ONE POST how to make homemade manicotti. With a more comprehensive recipe, better photos, and a lot less of a hot mess.

Here’s what you need to know when you start: you need to start this process at least 36 hours in advance. That said, you could actually make the crepes ahead of time to spread out the work. Alright, now you know. Here we go – homemade manicotti.

Making the Crepe Batter

That’s right. Manicotti is essentially a crepe stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella. You could use these crepes for anything – Nutella, berries, etc.

Ingredients

Makes 20-24 crepes

1 ⅓ cup flour, sifted
1 ¼ cup milk
4 eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons melted butter

Tools

Measuring devices
Mixing spoon
Bowls
Sifter
Blender

Instructions

  1. Sift the flour.
  2. Add milk to sifted flour a little bit at a time until well-blended.
  3. Put the flour and milk mixture into a blender.
  4. Add eggs, salt, and melted butter to the blender.
  5. Blend ingredients together until smooth.
  6. Cover and refrigerate the batter (in either the blender, bowl, or other container) for 12-24 hours before making crepes to make sure the bubbles have a chance to dissolve.

How to Make Homemade Manicotti 01 How to Make Homemade Manicotti 02

Making the Crepes

This part takes a little bit of time and keeps you standing over the stove for a little bit. It also takes some pretty skilled wrist-work. The first few times I ever tried this I failed miserably.

Ingredients

Oil for frying (if necessary)

Tools

⅛ cup measuring cup
Frying pan, approximately 5.5”
Wax paper
Spatula or fork to flip crepes
Plate to cool crepes on
Paper towel to put on plate to cool crepes on

Instructions

  1. Take the batter out of the refrigerator. Slowly stir it by hand a few times to ensure the mixture is homogenous.
  2. Put very little oil in the frying pan. This may not be necessary if the pan is non-stick.
  3. Heat the pan with the oil to a temperature where if a drop of water is placed in the pan it splashes back out. Keep heat consistently right below this temperature constantly for even cooking.
  4. Add ⅛ cup of batter to the pan and swirl the pan (off the stove) so batter covers the entire bottom of the pan. This must be done immediately after putting the batter in the pan.
  5. When the bottom of the crepe is golden brown, flip it over.
  6. Cook it briefly on the other side.
  7. Once the crepes are cooked, put them on a plate to cool. Once they have cooled, place them in a stack with wax paper in-between each one. This makes it easier to (a) store them, or (b) stuff them. They can be stored in the fridge or freezer until you decide to use them.

It takes about 45 minutes to fry 24 crepes.

How to Make Homemade Manicotti 03 How to Make Homemade Manicotti 04 How to Make Homemade Manicotti 05 How to Make Homemade Manicotti 06

Stuffing the Crepes

Now this next part is going to take some calculation and ratios, but I have faith in you. There’s really no way to screw it up. It’s cheese, in a crepe.

Ingredients

1 1b. Ricotta per 12 crepes
1 lb. shredded mozzarella per 36 crepes
1 egg per 12 crepes
Grated cheese to taste
Black pepper to taste

Tools

A large table or counter
Bowl
Mixing spoon

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl
  2. Lay the crepes out on the counter (each one should be on the piece of wax paper it was stored with)
  3. Divide the filling evenly among the crepes. Place the mixture on the lower third of the crepe so that it is easier to roll.
  4. Roll the crepes like a log.

It takes about 1 hour to make the filling and stuff 24 crepes.

How to Make Homemade Manicotti 07 How to Make Homemade Manicotti 08

Baking the Manicotti

Now, yes, you could make your own sauce, but I haven’t quite been that adventurous yet. Nor have I had the time. If you’d like, you can doctor up the jarred sauce by adding an onion and garlic and cooking it for a few hours before you need it.

Also, fun fact. The first time I ever made these my mom told me the way to tell if they were done was to stick your finger in the center of them and see if it burns.

Ingredients

2 jars sauce per 24 crepes
Oil
Grated cheese

Tools

Oven
Oven safe pans that will fit the manicotti
Tin foil

Instructions

  1. Set the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease the bottom of the pan(s)
  3. Put a thin layer of heated sauce on the bottom of each pan
  4. Place the rolled manicotti in the pans all going the same direction so they’re easier to serve.
  5. Coat the manicotti in sauce so they don’t burn.
  6. Sprinkle the top with extra grated cheese.
  7. Cover the pan(s) with tin foil to keep the heat in.
  8. Cook the manicotti for 30-45 minutes, or until the insides are hot.

How to Make Homemade Manicotti 09 How to Make Homemade Manicotti 10

Serving the Manicotti

Serve the manicotti with extra sauce, garlic bread, and salad. And meatballs if they’re your jam.

How to Make Homemade Manicotti 11

And that’s it. I recently had the privilege of cooking manicotti for 12 of my closest blogging friends in Austin. It was so much fun to bring a little bit of Italian goodness down to Texas. I’m definitely hoping to get the chance to do it again next time I’m there.

PS. I definitely forgot to take the money “Pinterest-worthy” photo of the final product, but you can’t always win, right? At least I’m getting closer.