Foodie Friday: Boston Cream Pie--it's not really a pie!


A few days before Thanksgiving my daughter had her 20th birthday. She requested a Boston Cream Pie for her cake. I don’t like Boston Cream Pie. I’ve never made one. So, lazy ass that I am, I picked one up from a local bakery.

Wow, what a disappointment! We’ve had cakes from them in the past that have been wonderful, but it was a serious disappointment.

Boston Cream Pie is supposed to have a thick custard filling. The bought cake barely had a layer of filling. It had toasted coconut around the edge, but I’m guessing that was to disguise the fact there was virtually no cream filling.

So I decided to make it up to my kidlet and make her a Boston Cream Pie. I quickly downloaded a Martha Stewart recipe, fully expecting the recipe to follow Martha’s exacting standards.

Again, what a disappointment!

The recipe ingredients were out of order, didn’t make sense, and I had to reread the instructions numerous times to figure out what was to be done.

So to that end, this is MY interpretation of the recipe, along with my numerous Tips and Tricks at the end of the recipe.


Boston Cream Pie


Pastry Cream

2 cups whole milk

1 cup sugar, divided into ½ cups

2 tsp. vanilla bean paste

Pinch of kosher salt

3 egg yolks

1 egg

2 ½ Tbls cornstarch

3 Tbls butter, cubed




3 large eggs

1 cup sugar

1 ½ cups flour

1 ½ tsp baking power

½ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

½ cup milk

6 Tbls butter




3 oz milk

4 oz. sweet chocolate, chopped


Pastry cream:

Dampen small cookie sheet, line with plastic wrap.

 In medium saucepan, combine milk, ½ cup sugar, vanilla paste and salt. Slowly bring to boil over medium heat.

 While milk mixture is heating, whisk together ½ cup sugar and cornstarch in medium bowl. Stabilize bowl on kitchen towel. Add yolks and egg. Whisk until mixture is homogenous and no lumps. Set aside.

 When milk mixture comes to a low boil, remove from heat. Add vanilla bean paste. Temper egg mixture in three additions, whisking briskly.

 *Tempering eggs: Add a small amount of hot liquid (small ladle) to the egg mixture, whisking after each addition. Once the egg mixture feels as warm as the rest of the milk mixture add it back to the original saucepan, whisking to combine.

 Whisk egg mixture over medium heat until it starts to thicken, about a minute. Whisk until thick, about two minutes. Remove from heat. Whisk in butter.

 Pour custard through mesh sieve onto prepared cookie sheet. Spread to level. Cover with plastic wrap. Chill at least 2 hours.



 Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour 9-inch round cake pan.

 Combine milk and butter in saucepan over low heat.

 Beat eggs and sugar until thick, and lightened in color, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla. Add dry ingredients, mixing until just incorporated. Add milk and butter mixture, mix until smooth.

 Pour into prepared pan.

 Bake until cake is golden, about 35-40 minutes. Cool cake 10 minutes in pan. Remove from pan, transfer to rack to cool.

 Assembling cake:

 Place cake on plate or stand. Using serrated knife, split cooled cake horizontally. Set top of cake aside. Spread bottom cake layer with Pastry Cream, spread to within ½ inch of outer edge. Place top half of cake onto custard layer.


 Microwave cream for 30-45 seconds. Add chocolate, allowing about a minute to soften chocolate. Stir until smooth.

 Pour over assembled cake, smoothing to edge of cake and allowing a little to drip over edge.


 Refrigerate leftovers.

 Tips & Tricks


·         When I made the pastry cream, I didn’t have whole milk. I used ¾ cup of half and half and 1 ¼ cup of 2% milk.

·         Pastry cream can be prepared 1-3 days ahead of time. Instead of using cookie sheet, store in a covered container. Remember to cover the cream with plastic wrap prior to covering with an airtight lid. This will keep it from developing a ‘skin’. A thickened layer like you would have on pudding.

·         I used a small ladle to temper the eggs. If you don’t have a ladle, then you can pour a small amount of the milk mixture into the eggs while whisking. This might be a bit of a messy process.

·         While I used a mesh sieve to strain the custard onto the cookie sheet, it is a step that I added. I didn’t need it this time because I did a good job tempering. But if you add too much hot milk or don’t whisk quick enough, then you might have bits of cooked egg in your custard. This makes it grainy and less silky of a mouth feel.

·         I also used a piece of cut parchment in the cakepan. Butter under the parchment to adhere it to the pan, then butter on top of the parchment.

·         If you want to heat the cream for the ganache in a pan, feel free. I just decided to microwave it since it was already in a measuring cup and I was tired of washing dishes.







Foodie Friday: Pasta ala Todd

Good Morning!

It has a very long time since I posted anything. I don’t know if I’ll become a regular blogger again, but if I have something new to say, I’ll post.

Here is a new Foodie Friday recipe we just enjoyed two nights ago.

There are two restaurants in Tulsa where my hubby enjoys a spicy pasta dish. One place calls it Pasta Yaya, and the other place calls it Pasta Taylaird (with Cajun seasoning). We took a basic vodka sauce recipe and upped the spices, the heat, and added tons of goodies. It’s a thick and hearty meal that’s perfect for those cold nights. We enjoyed the meal with bought Italian bread (I was busy running errands and didn’t plan enough time to make fresh bread).

Don't forget to scroll through Tips and Tricks!

So here is Todd’s version:


Pasta ala Todd

AKA Hearty Rigatoni with Vodka-Tomato Sauce


2 T olive oil

1 C. finely chopped onions

1 8 oz. pkg mushrooms, sliced

½ t. dried crushed red pepper flakes

½ C. Vodka

1 C. whipping cream

1 C. tomato sauce

1 T. basil

1 T. parsley

½ t. black pepper

Salt to taste


½ C. grated Parmesan cheese


1 lb. rigatoni pasta


1lb. Hot Italian sausage, cooked, drained and crumbled

1 C. pepperoni

1 C. diced cooked chicken



Turn salted water for pasta on high. While it’s heating up, work on the next few steps.

Heat oil in heavy wok over medium high heat. Add onions, crushed red pepper and mushrooms. Sauté until onions are translucent and water from mushrooms is cooked down, about 5 minutes. Add basil, parsley, and black pepper (I added a touch of salt, but be careful, you don’t want to make it too salty after you add everything else). Stir to incorporate.

Add vodka and ignite. Simmer until flames subside, shaking pan occasionally, about 2 minutes.

Add cream and boil until mixture thickens, about 3 minutes.

Add tomato sauce, boil until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add Sausage, chicken, pepperoni, and Parmesan cheese. Stir to combine.

Turn heat to low while cooking pasta.

Meanwhile, cook rigatoni in salted water until firm to bite (a minute or two below the lower time on package).

Drain pasta. Reserve about ½ cup of pasta water in case you need to thin the sauce. Add rigatoni to sauce mixture.

It will be thick and hearty. If it is too thick add some pasta water.

Sprinkle with additional parmesan cheese and a touch of parsley for color.



 Tips and Tricks:


·         We were shooting for SPICY. If you do not like SPICY then use mild Italian sausage, and skip or reduce the red pepper flakes.

·         I had bought a rotisserie chicken from Sam’s Club (I prefer them to Costco and Target) and had broken it down. Two pounds were vacuum sealed and frozen. And I cubed one cup for this recipe.

·         I purchase my Italian sausage from a local sausage maker (Seigi’s). Package contains 4 6-7-inch links. I remove the casing and cooked the links. When they are half cooked, I used my tongs to break off small chunks from the links.

·         Vodka flames…AGAIN Vodka FLAMES. When you light it to cook off the alcohol it will flame 1-2 feet. We took care not to light anything on fire. Be sure to keep a lid to your pan nearby to smother the flames if they freak you out.

·         Since this recipe has tons of extra goodies, I had increased the cream and tomato sauce. If it is too thick, then add pasta water to thin it.

·         Have everything ready to go. This recipe cooks and comes together quickly.

·         Turn on your salted water when you start cooking.

·         This recipe makes 6-8 hearty servings.


Chicken with Creamy Parmesan Sauce

What does one do if you have chicken tenders, spinach, mushrooms and a lot of rice?
You improvise!
From start to finish, including the rice cooker rice time, it took about an hour. A large part of that time was the prep work, especially cleaning the chicken yuckies.
As always, prep everything ahead of time. If you don't care about the tendon running down the chicken tender, then you saved time. You can also save time by buying pre-sliced mushrooms, a little jar of minced garlic, and grated Parmesan cheese.
The only reason I made rice, it because I have a lot of rice, and the only pasta I had was lasagna noodles, though this would be nummy on fettucine!

Chicken in Creamy Parmesan Sauce


1.5 lb. chicken tenderloins
2 Tbls. olive oil
10 oz. mushrooms, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 Tbls. butter
1 Tbls. flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup cream
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2-3 cups baby spinach, rough chop
2-3 Tbls. sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, julienne cut
Garlic powder, optional

Heat oil in large skillet or wok over high heat. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken. Add chicken to hot oil. Cook until brown and turn, about 3-4 minutes. Cook another 4 minutes and remove from pan. Add mushrooms to pan and cook until liquid evaporates and edges are caramelized, about 3-4 minutes. Remove mushrooms from pan.

Turn down heat to medium. Melt butter in pan. Add garlic, and sauté for a few minutes until light brown. Stir in flour, and cook for about a minute. Add chicken broth, cream and Parmesan cheese. Stir to blend for 3-4 minutes. Taste seasonings. Adjust with salt, pepper, or garlic powder, if needed.

Add spinach to sauce, allow to wilt. Add chicken, mushrooms, and sun-dried tomatoes. Stir to blend. Heat for a few minutes to bring the chicken and mushrooms up to temperature. Serve immediately.

Serve over rice or pasta, or if you want to be healthier…a bed of spinach. Yes, more spinach.

Tips & Tricks:

·         My family is particular about their chicken. I tend to clean it up by removing excess membrane and the tendon running down the center of the tenderloins.

·         Chicken broth—I used 1 cup of water and @ 2 tsp. of Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base.

·         I like the baby portobello mushrooms because they are meatier, but use white button mushrooms if you like.

·         “Rough chop” is exactly what it says. Grab a handful or two of spinach, chop it a few times one direction, then again, the other way. Makes it less stringy.


Dad's Favorite Chili v. 2.0

There are so many chili recipes out there. If you had 20 people make chili, you would have 20 very different types of chili, from bland to uber spicy, from vegan to a meatsa-meatsa fest, from beans to no beans.
Everyone has their own take on chili. This version is the current favorite in the Golla household.


Dad’s Favorite Chili

 2.5 lbs. ground beef, 85% lean
1.5 lbs. Hot Italian sausage
¼ c. bacon crumbles
1 large onion, chopped
2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bottle Corona, 12 oz.
1 Tbls. Beef Better than Bouillon
4 15-oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 15-oz cans spicy chili beans
1 6-oz can tomato paste
¼ cup chili powder
1Tbls. oregano
1Tbls. cumin
1Tbls. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. hot pepper sauce, (e.g. Tabasco)
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. sugar

Heat large stock pot over medium heat. Add beef and sausage, breaking apart while it cooks until brown. Drain excess grease.
Add rest of ingredients. Stir to blend.
Cover and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
Taste and adjust flavor. Add salt, pepper, chili powder, or nothing at all.
Do whatever floats your boat.
This is YOUR chili. Own it.

Tips & Tricks:

·         Use this recipe as a template. Adjust it to suit your family’s tastes.

·         This recipe makes A LOT OF CHILI. Half it, or freeze half after it cooks.

·         It’s good in a bowl with bacon sprinkled on top, then cheese. Or on Fritos.


Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas v. 2.0

Over the years since I was given the original recipe for Sour Cream Enchiladas from a co-worker, I’ve made a few changes. I’ve tried some different ingredients. Some worked. Some didn’t work. And depending on your personal, or families, preferences, you might make a few other changes.

My daughter isn’t a fan of chicken enchiladas, but likes the sour cream sauce. I had a cream cheese mixture* in the fridge that I formed into cylinders for the insides of her enchiladas. And yes, I did add more shredded cheese when I rolled them up. I didn’t put jalapenos on her two enchiladas to remind me which ones were hers.  

This is the recipe that I made last night.

Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas v. 2.0

2 cups sour cream
½ cup Herdez Salsa Verde
2-3 cups chicken, shredded or diced
1 Tbls. butter
½ onion, chopped, @ ½ cup
1 4-oz can Hatch chopped green chilies, drained
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
8-10 tortillas
Shredded Mexican cheese
Jalapeno peppers, sliced


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Mix sour cream and Salsa Verde in bowl.

Spray 9 x 13 glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread ½ cup sour cream mixture on bottom of pan.

Melt butter in large sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in chilies and spices. Add chicken. Mix well until chicken is hot. Stir in ½ cup sour cream mixture. Turn off heat while building the enchiladas.

Lay tortilla on flat surface, spoon about 1/3 cup of chicken mixture down one edge of tortilla. Add handful of shredded cheese. Roll tightly. Lay seam side down in baking dish. Continue filling pan or until you run out of chicken mixture.

Spread remaining sour cream mixture over enchiladas. Sprinkle with cheese and jalapeno slices.

Bake for 10-15 minutes until bubbly and slightly toasted.


*Cream Cheese Enchilada Filling

8 oz package Philly cream cheese, softened
Garlic powder
Mayo, small amount
Shredded Mexican cheese
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Fresh chives, snipped 

Mix all together. Taste. Add more of whatever, depending on preferences. Also makes a good dip for whole grain tortilla chips, or spread on a bread and broiled until bubbly.


Tips & Tricks

·         Use regular sour cream, otherwise it might ‘break’ on you. “Breaking” happens when the product becomes too warm and separates into liquid and solid. The resulting chunks are edible, though unappetizing both visually, and in texture.

·         Feel free to use more or less salsa, depending on your preferences. I use enough to make the sour cream sauce a little more fluid, plus add flavor.

·         This time, I poached 3 large chicken breasts in water with peppercorns, oregano, cumin, garlic, and a bay leaf. When cooked, dice or shred when cool to the touch. I’ve also used rotisserie chicken, but the result varies depending what seasoning the provider uses.

·         When I sauté, I tend to use my flat-bottomed wok. The higher sides keep the potential messes to a minimum.

·         I used Hatch hot chilies. They weren’t as hot as I’d hoped. I’ve also used a fresh chopped poblano chili instead of the canned chilies.

·         Alter the spices to your preference, though I tend to make recipes as written prior to tweaking. The good part about this recipe is that everything is cooked prior to building the enchiladas, so you can adjust the seasoning accordingly.

·         Since my family isn’t a fan of corn tortillas (I am. I like white corn tortillas.), I use flour tortillas fajita-sized.

·         Pour the shredded cheese into a bowl. Digging in and out of the bag is a PIA, plus you’ll be contaminating the remaining cheese with your chicken filling fingers.



No New Year's Resolution

Over my lifetime, I've made thousands of New Year's resolutions.

And have subsequently failed to meet them over the next 365 days.

This year will be different.

I won't make any resolutions. Instead, I'll borrow this wonderful idea from the talented author Holly Jacobs. Last year, her word was GLEE. This year, her word is RESTART.

Find one word that will be your mantra for the year.

For me, that word will be FOCUS.

It will be useful in many aspects of my life:
  • losing weight
  • becoming more active
  • work
  • and last, but not least, writing 
One word is easy to remember. Do you have one word that will allow you to make a New Year's resolution without making a resolution?

I found one word. I bet you can, too!



Foodie Friday--Strata or Breakfast Casserole

This recipe is called Strata—no, I have no idea where the name came from—or breakfast casserole, or simply baked eggy-bready-cheesy-goodness-made-from-refrigerator-leftovers.

Whatever it’s called, it’s yummy.

The beauty of this breakfast casserole is that you can make it any way you want. If you want to go a little Italian, then brown Italian sausage (mild or spicy) and add a teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Or make it using diced ham or bacon, instead of sausage. Add browned onions, or grape tomatoes, diced poblano or jalapeno peppers, or sauté spinach, drain and chop it. If you want more smoky spice then add chipotle powder. Or if you want a herbier type of casserole, add dried sage. Use whatever you happen to have on hand, it doesn’t matter. All you need is the basic eggs, milk, bread and cheese, leave the rest to your imagination.

This recipe calls for white bread slices, but I don’t like white bread, so I used a ½ loaf of French Country bread (weighed—about 8-10 ounces), or use Italian bread, or French bread, it doesn’t really matter. The staler the better since the eggy mixture is absorbed into the bread, like soaking French Toast.

The cheese can be whatever cheese you like. If you don’t have any idea what to use, use a sharp cheddar as the flavor will be a little stronger. And no, the cheese quantity is optional. Personally, I use far more cheese in my strata recipe than recommended . . . like two or three times the amount. This recipe is the perfect way of getting rid of those little chunks of random cheese left over from other recipes. I used a white cheddar cheese and a Mexican cheese blend, but I plan to use my leftover Gruyere and Fontina cheese the next time I make this recipe, which will be Christmas day . . . er, actually, I’ll make it Christmas Eve, but it will soak overnight before I bake it on Christmas day.  



Strata or Breakfast Casserole

8 eggs
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dry mustard
½ tsp. white pepper
2 cups milk
1 lb. bulk sausage, browned and degreased
6 slices of bread, cubed, about 8 cups
2 cup cheese, grated 

Fry sausage, breaking apart until cooked. Drain fat, blot excess fat with paper towels. Set aside. Cube bread. Set aside.

In large bowl, whisk eggs, salt, mustard, and pepper. Whisk in milk. Fold in grated cheese and bread.

Pour into greased 9 x 13 pan. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake Strata for 35 minutes until browned and set.

Serve immediately.


Tips & Tricks

·         Use LARGE eggs

·         I don’t drink regular milk; 2% milk works fine. I added a little cream to the milk to give it a slightly higher fat content.

·         Use spray oil for the pan. It’s easier

·         When I baked this for my work gang, I put the casserole in a cold oven and turned it on to 350 degrees while I showered and dressed. I wasn’t about to putter around while waiting for the oven to preheat.  I added 15-20 minutes to the stated baking time and kept an eye on it toward the end.

·         The dry mustard and white pepper give the casserole a little zing. Put your own spin on the basic recipe. Add whatever seasonings you feel like.