Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Rum Cake

WIth less than one week to go to Christmas, what better way to wrap up this year's posts than with a holiday dessert. Everyone has their favorite cookie recipes, but I guarantee you this recipe takes the cake...literally.

This rum cake recipe was passed along by my good friend Barb Mercer, courtesy of her mom, Mrs. Barbara Drosey. Barb had brought this cake into work a few years back and it was a BIG hit. She was gracious enough to share the recipe, and it's been part of our holiday tradition ever since.

As the story goes, the original recipe was given to Mrs. Drosey by an acquaintance from the beauty salon where she worked. The recipe was actually orginally for a whiskey cake. Mrs. Drosey said it was so strong it was nearly inedible, and powerful enough to get you drunk! She tweaked the recipe, swapping out the whiskey for rum. It has since become a holiday classic.

Thank you, Mrs. Drosey, for allowing me to share your famous recipe.

And thanks to all of you for visiting my blog. I'll be back in the new year with plenty more recipes and stories to share.

Buon Natale e nuovo anno felice!


1 yellow box cake mix
4 eggs
1 3-oz French vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup milk
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 tblspn flour
1/2 cup oil
2 ounces white rum

1/4 lb butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup white rum

Combine cake mix, pudding mix and eggs, blend. Beat in milk, oil and rum. Beat two minutes. Mix flour and nuts together and fold in mixture. Pour into greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 350º for one hour.

Leave cake in pan. Heat butter, sugar and rum in sauce pan, bring to a boil.

Perforate the top of the cake with holes. Pour the hot glaze over it. Leave in pan for two hours. Wrap in foil and refrigerate.

Eat and be merry!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Website Suggestion - Petitchef

For great new recipe suggestions, blog links and recommendations, be sure to check out my friends at Petitchef is a French based cooking recipes portal. Lots of great offerings on their site! I've also added a link under my Recommendations column for easy reference.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas Dinner

Here we are...two weeks away from the big day! Were has the year gone?
Of course, being from an Italian family, our big lead-off for the holiday is the Christmas Eve Feast of Seven Fishes dinner. It's a glorious feast, and one that we look forward to sharing with my family each year.

Christmas Day with my wife's family is just as big a celebration for us. While the meal may not be as complicated as the deep fried, broiled and baked variety from the night before, it's equally as tasty and just as special.

Lasagna Roll-ups
My wife and I are usually responsible for a pasta dish. The common go-to is lasagna. What I like to do as an alternative to the standard lasagna tray is make lasagna roll-ups. It's very simple: just follow your standard lasagna recipe, or the recipe supplied on the lasagna shell box. Instead of layering the pasta and cheese, you'll want to lay the cooked noodles flat on a piece of wax paper. Spread some of your filling on the noodle and gently roll up until it's the size of your fist. Place the roll-ups in a sprayed baking dish side-by-side, spoon your sauce on top, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake as you would for traditional lasagna. It makes for easier serving and better portion size.

We also like to make two half trays - one with red sauce and one with chicken broth. The broth version makes for a much lighter dish, yet still has a remarkable taste...lots of great flavor! I suggest going light on the broth at first. Too much broth will make the noodles too soggy and will cause the cheese to run. Check the lasagna often as it cooks and add broth as needed.

Although we don't actually host the dinner, I do have a few other festive recipes that I have made on several special occasions that would work very well for Christmas dinner. Below are the links to the original recipes.

Eggplant Sausage Ziti Casserole
Our good friend Jung made this casserole dish for my wife and I a few years back as part of our Christmas gift. It was a beautiful gesture from the heart, and one that I'll never forget. This is an amazing dish. Hearty, lots of great flavor, wonderful aroma. It's one of my all time favorite dishes, and I can't say enough good things about it. If you want to fill up your guests with one dish, this is it!

Coca Cola Ham
A perfect traditional dish with a nice combination of sweetness and spice!

Crock Pot Risotto
Unlike traditional risotto, which requires a lot of time and attention, this dish is a 'set it and forget it' version that is very good. A great suggestion if you are hosting and want to spend time socializing with your guests!

Bourbon Pecan Smashed Sweet Potatoes
I've made this a number of times as a side with ham, chicken and turkey. Works great with all of the above! A delicious alternative to standard mashed sweet potatoes.

Up next...the most amazing Rum Cake you'll ever taste!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Chicken Cutlets: Reader Suggestions!

I got a couple of great follow-ups to last week's post on Chicken Cutlets. Thanks to my pals Johnny DeCarlo and Lisa Gardner-Inglima for submitting the recipes! And thanks Valerie for sharing Neum's recipe on the last post! I owe you a beer next time we head out!

Next up, I'll be posting suggestions for Christmas dinner and a killer recipe for Rum Cake that will knock your socks off!

Submitted by Johnny DeCarlo

In a large bowl, combine one can of cream of chicken soup, one small jar of marinated mushrooms, and ½ a cup of Pinot Grigio

Place 8 chicken cutlets in a shallow buttered casserole pan and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Layer two slices of Gruyere cheese on top of each piece of chicken and cover with the sauce

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook ¼ of a pound of string beans to pre-aldente (¾ of the way through), then pour them all around the chicken—surrounding them

Sprinkle 1 cup of herb stuffing mix combined with ½ cup of slivered almonds on top, along with some diced fresh green shallots. Drizzle 4 tablespoons of melted butter all over the top. Cover pan with foil

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about an hour

Serves 6-8

Submitted by Lisa Gardner-Inglima
Dredge cutlets in olive oil (in place of milk and eggs). Roll cutlets in seasoned bread crumbs. Place on grill for a delicious, smokey bbq taste!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Chicken Cutlets: Think Outside the Pan

Like many of you, chicken cutlets are a regular part of the dinner rotation in our house. They're easy to prepare (dip, bread, season, fry, repeat), they work well as either a sandwich or platter, and both kids and adults enjoy them (the last point being a biggie for parents with children who have picky appetites).

Occasionally, my wife and like to stray away from the standard frying method. We've tried baking the breaded cutlets to be a bit more healthy and to avoid the lingering fried smell, but weren't really happy with the end result. Too dry and not enough flavor. There are a few other alternatives to the standard cutlet that we've tried and really liked. I also have a few new ideas that I'll be experimenting with, and I'll be sure to post them as soon as I get to try them. Listed below are some of our favorites. These recipes are easy enough for you to judge for yourself the needed amount of ingredients, depending on your serving size.

Chicken Cutlet Roll-Ups
This dish works well with either breaded or unbreaded cutlets, although I prefer unbreaded. Season both sides of the cutlets with some salt, pepper, garlic and onion powders. Drizzle lightly with olive oil (no need to if you are breading the cutlets). Lay the cutlets flat, then add a layer of thin sliced ham or pepperoni, then a thin slice of provolone cheese. The pepperoni will add more of a spicy flavor, while the ham will be more mild. For a special treat, use a slice of prosciutto, a slice of provolone and a piece of fresh basil. Roll up the cutlet and hold in place with a toothpick. Bake in oven at 350º for 20 minutes or until chicken is done. You can also cook on the grill, turning the chicken every 6 minutes until all sides are done. Be sure to use thin sliced cutlets for easy rolling.

Chicken Pretzel Tenders
This is a fun dish that kids always enjoy, and it also works well as a party or game day appetizer. The pretzels add a nice salty flavor, so no extra seasoning is needed. I've tried both baking and frying this dish, and actually prefer the fried method better. Crush up a bunch of pretzels into tiny pieces, but not to the point where they become powdery. You want to keep some crunchy texture. Simply batter the chicken tenders as you would for standard cutlets, substituting the pretzel crumbs for breadcrumbs. Fry or bake until tenders are done and outside is slightly crispy. For extra flavor, try frying in peanut oil with an added teaspoon of sesame oil. Of course, your regular frying oil will work just fine. Serve with honey mustard for dipping.

Marinated Chicken
Believe it or not, bottled marinade works great with cutlets. It's a quick and easy go-to when you have the marinade on hand. We've used a number of flavors, but always seem to gravitate back to the honey mustard. I would recommend tenders of thicker sliced cutlets. Poke the chicken with a fork to allow the marinade to works its magic. Place the chicken into a large zip-lock bag, add the marinade, shake it up and let it sit in the fridge for up to 8 hours. Place the cutlets into a baking pan or on your grill, discarding the excess marinade. Cook until the chicken is done.

* Do you have a suggestion for chicken cutlets? E-mail me at, or post it on the Cucina Domenico Facebook Group page, and I'll be happy to post your recipe!