Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Tucker...and vanilla bean cupcakes

One year ago today Spencer and I were blessed with our healthy and wonderful little boy, Tucker.  It's amazing how quickly time flies, it seems like this past year has been a whirlwind.  We've had so much fun and we've experienced something new and fun each and every day.  We've made so many wonderful memories throughout this past year and I will cherish each and every one of them forever.  I look forward to what the future has to bring but still I can't believe my little boy is already a year old.  Happy birthday baby, I love you so much!

We haven't has his party yet but I just had to make something sweet for him to have on his birthday and to share with all of his "classmates" at "school"!  I decided to make Vanilla Bean Cupcakes, adapted from a cake recipe seen on  Confections of a Foodie Bride.  I wanted the cupcakes to be delicious but I didn't want to do too much since a group of 1 year olds would be eating them. 

These cakes were absolutely delicious, the vanilla flavor really stood out with the use of fresh vanilla beans and I love the small flecks of vanilla that can be seen throughout the cake.  They were very moist and fluffy and packed full of flavor.  The next time you want a delicious "plain vanilla" cake I would make this, no questions asked.  You will get more than you bargained for with this recipe, and it's so much more than a normal vanilla cake!

My Sous Chef-He loves butter!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Chicken and Spinach Lasagna Roll Ups

Everyone is always looking for new things to do with chicken.  To me chicken is a blank canvas, it is so versatile and there are so many things that can be done with this type of meat.  If I'm ever in a cooking rut I know I can always pull out some chicken and come up with some dish that will be a crowd pleaser.  This meal was definitely a crowd pleaser; it combined a classic favorite, lasagna, but then changed up a little by adding chicken and spinach rather than the traditional beef and red sauce.

These roll-ups were so delicious and packed with so much flavor.  The creamy chicken filling with the sauce of cheesy goodness was absolute perfection!  Everything is packed in this one little roll; it's a great spin on a traditional dish and it's also a fun dish for kids to eat since it's all packaged in one lasagna noodle.  This is a great way to get kids to eat their veggies since they are combined with the cheese and chicken; this meal would satisfy even the pickiest of eaters.

Another bonus of this dish is that it could be made ahead of time and then add the sauce and bake when you're ready to serve.  I, like a lot of people, have a limited amount of time to get supper on the table in the evenings so I'm alway looking for great make ahead, fast or crockpot meals.  This one definitely fits the bill for a make ahead meal and if you use a rotisserie chicken it would also be a quick meal!  Whether you're looking for a meal that can be made in advance or one that would be perfect for Sunday lunch, this definitely won't let you down.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Ribbon Pasta with Tomato, Dill and Ricotta

I am always looking for new meals that are quick and easy to cook during the week.  It's nice to be able to come home and do very little to prepare a meal and have the end result be something delicious.  When I saw this pasta in the October issue of "Everyday with Rachael Ray" I knew I had to try it; it looked great and very low fuss. 

This recipe hit the mark!  It was sooo good, very light but filling.  I loved the juicy sweetness from the tomatoes, the tartness of the dill and the ricotta topped everything off and mixed nicely with all the flavors.  This is a great meal for the weeknight; just serve with some nice, crusty bread and even a salad and you're all set.  This would also make a great side dish to accompany some type of chicken or pork, no matter what you serve this with you will not be disappointed.   

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Chocolate Pie with Fresh Whipped Cream

I have gotten a little behind in my blog updates from the summer; I just had so much going on that I didn't really get a chance to update some of the delicious things I made over the summer.  I'm finally getting to post some of these great recipes I made for some folks over the summer and I'm so excited!  It seems like summer is birthday season, I know quite a few people that have birthdays over the summer months and I have been fortunate enough for them to request desserts from me!

This particular person LOVES pies; I don't know if there's a pie that he hasn't met or tried but two of his favorites are chocolate and coconut. Can you guess what I made for him???  That's right, a chocolate pie with fresh whipped cream and a coconut meringue pie with mounds of meringue (because in his eyes there can never be too much meringue)!

I have never made a chocolate or coconut pie, and I wanted these to be perfect, so when I knew his birthday was approaching I knew exactly who to ask for recipes and tips on making these pies.  There are some awesome cooks at my parent's church, I always looked forward to the potlucks growing up because those people didn't joke around when it came to food and they still don't, if I happen to be visiting my parents on a weekend the church is having a potluck I get so excited!  There are two ladies that are infamous for their desserts; everyone always looks forward to gobbling up their goodies so they were my "go to" people when it came to making these pies.  Their pies are always incredible, and not only are they delicious they are picture perfect every time!  My dad called one of the ladies and asked if she would be so kind to share her recipe and some pointers with me and she was more than willing to do so, so after getting the information from her I knew I was armed with a "no fail" recipe and some tips and I was ready to bake.  Thanks Ms. Vicki, the pies were great!

Both the chocolate and coconut meringue (recipe to come) turned out incredible.  The filling was perfectly silky, my fork just glided through it and it was full of so much flavor.  Everyone raved and raved about them, but most importantly the birthday boy approved not only of the taste but even the way they looked!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Whole Wheat Pitas

I made these pitas to serve with these chicken gyros.  They were very good, and I was very pleased with the results, especially since this was my first time making pitas.  They had a little crispiness on the outside but the inside with soft and fluffy, a great combination but a little different from the traditional pita bread. 

Next time I make these, I will make them a little more thin to start out with since they do rise for a bit before they cook.  Other than them being a little too thick for my taste they were very delicious and had a great flavor, they also complimented the gyros very well.  Not only did we use these to make gyros, we also cut them into triangles and ate them with roated red pepper hummus.  Oh yes, that recipe will be coming very shortly.

All in all these were pretty easy to make.  Don't be intimidated by food from different ethnicities; be a little adventurous and branch out from time to time.  You'll never know if you can make your favorite dish at home if you don't try!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Potato Salad

Potato salad is one of my all time favorite side dishes.  I've had many different versions and I haven't had any that can top my MaMaw's, it was awesome!  While I LOVE my MaMaw's recipe and make it often, there is another potato salad that ranks very close to my MaMaw's and that is the potato salad from Whole Hog Cafe

Every time I go to Whole Hog I always get double potato salad for my sides; I love it...I honestly think I'm addicted!  It's a good addiction though; it's an addiction that has encouraged me to try to duplicate their recipe. I have to say that my interpretation came extremely close to the original, and I had multiple people confirm that it was pretty close.  Spencer and I had some people over to watch football and I made this as a side to go along with ribs and a few other things.  One of the girls that was there is a die hard fan of Whole Hog potato salad and she absolutely LOVED it!  It was a hit with everyone, and people couldn't wait to get the recipe!  I love this potato salad; it's not too much of any flavor and when all the ingredients are combined it's the absolute perfect flavor combinations.

I hope you enjoy this as much as my friends and I do!    

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Daring Baker's October Challenge-Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Cake Doughnuts

I don't know anyone who has met a doughnut they didn't like, sure everyone has their favorites but I've never had anyone turn one down because of where they are from.  I was so excited to find out this month's daring baker's challenge was homemade doughnuts.  This challenge came at the perfect time; Spencer and I had just been talking about homemade doughnuts, how good they were and the fact that we needed to make some!  I've made homemade doughnuts before but I've just made them using store bought biscuit dough, so I was so excited to see that this challenge was not only for homemade doughnuts but to also make them from scratch.

 The October 2010 Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Lori of butter me up. Lori chose to challenge DBers to make doughnuts. She used several sources for her recipes including Alton Brown, Nancy Silverton, Kate Neumann and Epicurious.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

French Toast

We love breakfast food in our house; we not only eat it for breakfast but many times we'll have it for lunch or supper, I think Spencer would be completely content if I made it three times a day everyday.  It's just the type of food that you can have any time of day and be totally satisfied after you're finished eating.  The other night was one of those nights where we had breakfast food for supper and it was delicious.

We had bacon, scrambled eggs, and Alton Brown's french toast.  Let me tell ya, the french toast was amazing; it was crispy, crunchy and fluffy and soft all at the same time.  The "custard" that the bread was soaked in gave it so much flavor, it was so much more than "fried" bread with no true taste other than the syrup that covered it.  The toast itself had so much taste that I could have eaten it without any toppings. 

If you're looking for a wonderful breakfast dish, look no further, this french toast is amazing.  We had this toast along with scrambled eggs and bacon, but I could make a meal out of only toast...yes, it was that good!         

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Gulf Shrimp and Grits

Growing up in the south I had some truly southern meals growing up, and continue to cook them now, but there are a few dishes that I have recently learned about that are said to be "true southern food" that I have never heard of.  While I have had grits, shrimp of all varieties, waffles, and fried chicken I have never had the combination of shrimp and grits or waffles and fried chicken and I must say the first time I heard of these food combinations I was a little taken aback.  When I think of grits and waffles I think of breakfast, and while I do eat breakfast foods on a regular basis I typically don't put shrimp in that category and most of the time I don't put chicken in that category...unless we are talking about Chic-fil-a's chicken biscuit...we all make exceptions!  One of the shows I was watching that featured shrimp and grits said that it was a southerners meal and that if you had never had shrimp and grits then you weren't a true southerner; well I guess I wasn't a true southerner until about a month ago when I decided to make this meal.  Let me tell ya, I have been missing out, this was soooo good and the combination of all the flavors just melded so well together.  The cheesiness of the grits, the sweetness of the shrimp, and the smokey and salty flavor of the bacon were truly sublime.

I got this recipe from Food Network after I watched "Throwdown" with Bobby Flay.  Can I just say I love watching that show!  The challenges he takes on are from all different cuisines and from all different courses of the meal; it doesn't matter if it's a traditional wedding cake or an Asian breakfast dish he's game for whatever is thrown his way.  I think it is so neat that he steps out of his comfort zone, and risks being defeated in the challenge, to take on the best of the best.  Enough rambling; when I saw this episode of "Throwdown" it made me really want to try this dish for my self.  This particular recipe is the one that Bobby Flay used and it was delicious, but the next time I make it I am going to try his competitor's recipe...so stay tuned to see which one I like better!

If you've never tried shrimp and grits I strongly urge you to go make some...now!  I promise you won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Chicken Gyros

Every year a Greek church in our area has a Greek Food Festival and during the festival they serve many kinds of Greek dishes, both sweet and savory.  Every year I look forward to the festival but like any festival, the traffic and parking are so chaotic that I have to be in the mood to deal with the crowds and lines of cars.  This past year I just couldn't summon the motivation to get out and deal with all the chaos so I missed having my gyro, baklava and all the other Greek goodies I usually stock up on during the festival.  I tried gyros from some of the local restaurants and while they were delicious they just didn't hit the spot, I don't know if I was just missing the festival atmosphere or what it was but my cravings continued so when I came across this recipe for chicken gyros on Loves To Eat I knew I had to try them.

I was so excited that I came across this recipe and I couldn't wait to try them.  They turned out fabulous!  The flavors of the tzatziki sauce is incredible.  It doesn't get much better than shredded cucumbers and garlic in a creamy yogurt sauce accented with the juice of a lemon...yum, yum!  The only thing that makes the sauce even better is placing it atop the warm, juicy chicken that is nestled in the soft pita.  We absolutely loved everything about them and to make things even better we had enough to have leftovers and they were just as good as the night they were cooked.  I served these with homemade humus and with a green salad.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Now Eat This giveaway winner

Thank you to everyone who entered my "Now Eat This" cookbook giveaway!  Now on to the fun stuff...the winner!  I used Random.org to generate a random number.

True Random Number Generator




Powered by RANDOM.ORG

The number that it generated was #5!  Congratulations Molly Jean of The Rookie Chef

Molly Jean September 29, 2010 2:05 pm 
Yum! Your tuna looks amazing. I didn’t know Outback had a seared tuna app! Might be just the excuse I
need to go out to eat.
I love all appetizers but mostly the bar-type apps – chips and queso, nachos, and fried cheese!


I hope you enjoy this cookbook as much as I do!!! 

Please email me your mailing address so I can get your cookbook in the mail!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jamaican Jerk Chicken with Cauliflower and Asparagus

I always love trying new recipes I come across, and if they are healthy that makes them that much better...not to say that I don't splurge every now and then too!  This recipe comes from the wonderful cookbook I talked about not too long ago,  Now Eat This by Rocco Dispirito.  I absolutely LOVE this cookbook, it has so many woderful recipes to offer but none of the guilt!

This is another recipe from Rocoo Dispirito's cookbook and it is so delicious.  It is packed with so much flavor, and it's basically a one dish meal with all the protien and veggies in one dish all that needs to be added is some bread and maybe a side salad.  The sweet and spicy of the jerk seasoning pairs so nicely with the bright, fresh taste of the cilantro.  It's a quick meal to put together, but could easily be a dish that would impress as well.

Don't forget to ENTER to win a copy of "Now Eat This" by Rocco Dispirito, so you can enjoy this recipe and a multitude of others!  The deadline to enter is Friday, October 8th.

Table of Condiments

From time to time I know we all come across an item in our pantry or refrigerator that has been in there for quite some time and the same thought crosses our minds, "I wonder if this is still good?".  There are a few methods that people use when trying to determine whether to keep food or throw it out; "when in doubt throw it out" is always a popular one, the smell test is another, and there's always the expiration date that is a reliable source, but you can never have too many resources to help you know how long to keep food.  Today I was looking at "StumbleUpon" and I came across  this nifty little chart.  It's a play on the Periodic Table of Elements.

Just thought this was too neat not to share.  It also makes for some fun food facts and a nifty reference guide.  I just had to share it with you!



The source of this chart does not in any way guarantee this information as being accurate. For instance, it was pointed out recently that vegemite is unfit for human consumption upon opening.   However, tests show it is an effective form of reactor shielding.

I, nor my source, made or wrote this chart.  I, nor my source, is taking credit for this chart or any information provided on this table.

This information was recieved from a random net browser:
It appeared in a mock calendar diary for 1997 and was produced by Potlatch (the paper company) under the title "365 Ben Days." The concept and design was by Dana Arnett, Ken Fox, Fletcher Martin and John Naresky of VSA Partners, Chicago.

For some history on this invaluable tool, check here.

Picture source: Stella Starr

Table of Condiments Source: seen on "StumbleUpon"

                                                           originally from: BackTable

Friday, October 1, 2010

Clean Eating Brie and Crab Pizza

 Today is National Clean Eating Day.  I didn't really know about clean eating until I read some information provided on Loves To Eat food blog, and I'm still learning about what it actually is the benefits of it.  She has some great information on her blog and tons of helpful links about clean eating, so head on over and educate yourself!

When I saw this recipe on the Loves To Eat blog I knew I HAD to make it.  I was literally drooling while I was reading the recipe and looking at the picture!  We love pizza at our house and I'm always up for trying new and different toppings on my pizzas.  When I told Spencer about this pizza he didn't know what to think at first, but he said he was willing to try it, he's usually not too fond of fruit on his pizza.  When we tried the pizza Spencer liked it, but shocked me by saying that he would have actually liked more pineapples so the next time I make this I will add quite a few more pineapple chunks.

This pizza was absolutely delicious!  It was unlike any other pizza I've ever had and I just LOVED it.  The crust was perfect; the inside was soft and bready and the outside had a nice crunch.  The pesto was out of this world, I LOVE cilantro so I could eat this stuff by itself.  The toppings were rich and oh so good the sweetness of the pineapple paired perfectly with the salty, richness of the pesto and cheese and the crab topped things off perfectly.  

To me, this was the perfect way to experience clean eating.  There is no sacrifice in taste but it's food you can feel good about!  I can't wait to try some other "clean foods".

Clean Eating Pizza Dough

This pizza dough was absolutely delicious!  If you're worried about losing flavor or taste because it's "clean", don't!  This crust is packed full of all of the flavor that every other crust is.  I definitely encourage you to try this dough, I made it for brie and crab pizza!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Seared Tuna with Green Beans, Lemon, and Wasabi

A refreshing and delicious recipe and...my first giveaway!!!

 In March, Rocco Dispirito released his new cookbook,Now Eat This.  In this cookbook he has a compilation of 150 popular dishes that have been revamped to make them healthier without sacrificing any of the taste.  I saw him demo a couple of the recipes on a few talk shows before the book was released and everything looked so good, I was so excited about the release of this cookbook and I couldn't wait to get it and try some of these recipes myself.  For my birthday, one of my wonderful friends was nice enough to get this for me and I was absolutely extactic, I couldn't wait to get home and make something!

I have a quite a few recipes bookmarked and I can't wait to try them and share them with you.  If they are all as great as this dish then look out, because your taste buds are in for a wonderful ride!  I believe this tuna is a spin on Outback's Seared Ahi Tuna appetizer, it's packed with all of the taste but not the fat and calories.  Outback's dish is sooo good and I couldn't wait to try this to see how it compared.  I absolutely loved this tuna and the wasabi green beans were the perfect side.  Next time I cook this, I will cook the tuna a little less so it will be more like Outback version.  I accidentally left it over the heat a little too long but it was still oh so good, so I can only imagine how good it will be when I have it at the desired wellness.

Friday, September 24, 2010

New York Style Cheesecake

 I absolutely LOVE cheesecake, but who doesn't?!?! I have only made a few but I have had quite a few and I just can't get enough of them.  There's just something about the way the fork glides through the creamy, rich goodness that is cheesecake.  I've been fortunate enough to try some cheesecakes from some places that are known for their incredible cheesecakes but those places don't include Junior's.  I have heard nothing but great things about the cheesecakes that Junior's serves at their restaurant.  After seeing them featured on numerous television shows and reading the rave reviews from blogs and other websites I couldn't help but become curious about the wonderous cheesecakes that Junior's produces.

I have read the history of Junior's and they are beyond proud of their history, and rightfully so, they have an abudance of cheesecakes to choose from.  After looking at the pictures shown on their website you can't help but drool over the cheesecake decadence...I know I did!  After reading up on Junior's and seeing them featured on t.v. I was a bit obsessed with trying their cheesecakes.  Since I haven't had the opportunity to travel to the actual restaurant you can imagine how excited I was when I found the"Junior's Cheesecakes: 40 To-Die-For Recipes for New York-Style Cheesecake" while I was standing in line at The Fresh Market.  I thumbed through it while I was standing in line but there was no question that this cookbook was going home with me!  When I got home I read all the helpful tips and secrets that Junior's has perfected over the years to come up with the perfect cheesecake.

Shortly after I came across this wonderful little book, the perfect occasion presented itself (not that I need an excuse to make any type of sweet) for me to make one of these famous and fabulous cheesecakes.  I was asked to make it for a co-workers birthday and he was so excited when he heard it was a Junior's recipe (he's a huge cheesecake fan)!  This cheesecake did not disappoint at all; it was the hit of the party and everyone went on and on about the taste, texture and how it was absolutely perfect.  It was creamy, heavenly goodness on a plate!  I can't wait to try all of the other recipes...I only have 39 more to go and I know they'll be as fabulous as this one was...stay tuned because I'll be posting all of these wonderful recipes.   

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chocolate Cobbler

Okay, so by now you probably know that I have a huge weakness for pretty much anything chocolate.  Pretty much every chocolate recipe I come across, whether it be brownies, cookies, cake or anything in between, if it has chocolate in it it's pretty much guaranteed I'm going to try it.  When I saw this cobbler on Paula's Best Dishes I knew I had to try it.  It didn't make my attempt to resist temptation any easier since I had a giant hankering (can you tell I'm from the south??) for something chewy, fudgy and chocolate.

I'm so glad I gave into my temptation and made this.  This cobbler was so delish and had an intense chocolate flavor.  I loved the crunchy but fudgy crust that formed over the top and the thick, chocolate sauce that formed underneath.  This was true chocolate decadence and when topped with ice cream and whipped cream it was absolute heaven! 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze

Lately I have felt like I was in a cooking rut; I feel like I cook the same things all the time and have just been getting bored with our meals.  I made a deal with myself, I decided that I would try to start incorporating at least one new dish every week whether it be a recipe from one of my cook books, something from the blogs I read or something that I found from a site on the internet.  I just decided that it was time to jazz things up a little bit and incorporate new recipes into our weekly meals.  It seems like I tend to stick with chicken and beef just becaue it's easy and I always have both on hand but there are so many other good varieties of meats out there that I don't even utilize.  I have decided to step out of my comfort zone and to get away from the same old things.

In my attempt to get out of my rut and to introduce new recipes into our weekly routines I decided to make a salmon dish.  I actually had some salmon at the house that was just waiting to be eaten so I when I came across this recipe by Bobby Flay I knew it would be the perfect dish to serve.  Since the glaze had a lot of flavor I decided to keep the sides simple by serving it on brown rice along with a side salad.  It was delicious and so filling, but it wasn't heavy at all.  This was a great, lighter meal and one that is great for week nights.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Stewed Collard Greens

 I have eaten collard greens before but I've never cooked them and I honestly don't have an answer as to why I've never made them.  I don't have an aversion to them and I'm not intimidated by them so the only reason I can think of as to why I haven't cooked them is because I tend to become a creature of habit and make the same vegetables all the time.  No wonder I feel like I'm in a cooking rut from time to time!  I finally decided to break out of my routine that I so easily fell into and make a new dish using a new ingredient.

I'm so glad I came across this recipe, it was so good and a great way to balance out the richness from the catfish and hushpuppies.  The flavor of the greens was earthy but creamy because of the butter and the bacon gave it that saltiness and crunch and the sweetness of the onion topped it off, these were delicious.  The greens were so easy to prepare and took no time at all to cook down.  They really are an easy way to incorporate a "different" and healthy side dish into your meal plan.  I really enjoyed these and I can't wait to make more recipes using all different types of greens!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Jalapeno Hushpuppies with Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce

I love hushpuppies, I don't know what it is about them but I love them.  There is just something about the crunchy and crispy outside followed by the soft, bread texture inside; it's just the perfect combination.  I've had many different kinds of hushpuppies; some spicy, some sweet with corn inside and the some that are seasoned to perfection with just a hint of sweetness, no matter how they are cooked I love them all. 

I have never attempted to make hushpuppies, for some reason or another, I guess I was always a little intimidated by them or maybe it was just a fear of the unknown and trying something new.  After I watched the entire process of them being made, it didn't look too hard and I decided step out of my comfort zone and give them a try.  I'm so glad I did, they were incredibly easy to make and they were absolutely delicious.  Now that I have attempted and succeeded I will be trying some other variations.  I made this to go along with the  saucy catfish I saw on Paula's Best Dishes and they complimented the fish wonderfully.  The spiciness of the huspuppies paired with the sweetness and tartness of the fish.   The sweet and spicy chili sauce was a nice addition to the hushpuppies, it was the perfect amount of heat followed by sweetness to calm the spice.  If you've never tried to make hushpuppies before and were intimidated by them please overcome your fears and try them, these are so worth it!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Saucy Catfish

Although I watch Food Network quite often, I always see things that I want to make and eventually I do.  It is very rare that I watch an episode and decide that I need/want to make everything that was made; that being said usually when I want to make everything from an episode I don't make it all at once.  I guess there is a first time for everything!  I was watching Paula's Best Dishes and she and Trisha Yearwood were making true southern dishes; saucy catfish, jalapeno hushpuppies with a sweet and spicy chili sauce, stewed collard greens and chocolate pecan cobbler with caramel topping.  Everything they made looked absolutely delicious and I knew I had to make everything and I decided to make it all together.  I'm so glad I did, the meal was incredible!

This fish was so good, it was the perfect texture and so flakey and the sauce was really good as well.  The sauce that it is baked in is like Thousand Island Dressing with a little sweetness.  When the fish is served with the spicey hushpuppies and the salty greens it compliments each other wonderfully.  This meal really does have all the flavors and ingredients of a true southern meal and having all the tastes of the south brings a level of comfort to the table.  The next time you want a home cooked, southern style meal I would definitely suggest this and don't forget the chocolate cobbler!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tiramisu Pound Cake

Tiramisu is one of my favorite desserts ever!  Any time I go to a restaraunt that has tiramisu it's guaranteed that is what I'll have for dessert, I never pass up an opportunity to have tiramisu.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with the original tiramisu in it's original form but when I came across this recipe on Taste & See for a Tiramisu Pound Cake I knew I HAD to try it. 

This cake was delicious!  It was also a show stopper, everyone was so impressed with the way the liquor and coffee batter swirled into the regular batter.  This cake was super moist and the perfect consistency and the icing was amazing and sent the cake over the top!  I got so many compliments on this cake; not only on the taste but also on the presentation.  This was definitely a show stopper and a cake that I'll make many more times!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Daring Bakers-Swiss Roll Ice Cream Cake

 The July 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Sunita of  Sunita’s world- life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that’s then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home .

I was so excited when I saw this month's challenge.  I had actually seen one of these cakes in a bakery a few weeks ago and thought it looked so neat and I knew I would love to try to make a cake like that at some point in time.  Well, that time came sooner than later since Sunita decided to make that our challenge this month for the Daring Bakers.  When I saw the cake in the bakery I was curious as to what process they had used to accomplish the finished product, but I couldn't really figure it out but this challenge took me through the step by step process.  I followed this recipe step by step because I wanted to make sure everything turned out properly and it did, but I want to make this again and try out some different ice cream flavors and some different fillings. 

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sugar Cookies

These cookies were deemed, and I quote, "The best sugar cookies ever" by Spencer.  He loves the way the sugar cookies taste and he likes the texture and chewiness of them when they come out of the oven, but who doesn't love a cookie fresh from the oven:) ?  This recipe, however, kept that same consistency and chewiness even after they had cooled and were stored for a few days.  He had some that were iced, rolled in sugar and plain and he said they were all good but thought the plains ones were the best!

Everything about them was absolutely incredible.  I have had some sugar cookies that were very good but after you finished eating them they left a not so good after taste, others were great right when they came out of the oven but then became kind of hard or crunchy after they cooled, but these were perfect.  They were great right after they came of the oven; they were soft, chewy and moist but even after they had cooled and been stored for a day or so they were still the perfect!  This is definitely my "go to" recipe from now on! 

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Daring Bakers June Challenge-Chocolate Meringue

The June 2010 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Dawn of  Doable and Delicious. Dawn challenged the Daring Bakers’ to make Chocolate Pavlovas and Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse. The challenge recipe is based on a recipe from the book Chocolate Epiphany by Francois Payard.

I was so excited when I saw what the challenge was for June for two reasons; it's been a while since we've done anything with chocolate so I was happy and I've never made anything like this.  After reading about this recipe and looking at the pictures she posted, I couldn't wait to attempt this challenge.  I always look forward to the challenges; some are variations of recipes I've tried before while others are things that either I hadn't thought about/heard of or things I thought I just couldn't even begin to attempt.  I always learn things from these challenges and they encourage me to step out of my comfort zone from time to time.  This challenge was no different; I made something that I would not have otherwise made and I learned some new recipes and techniques to incorporate into my cooking. 

This challenge had a few steps but the end result was incredible.  This would make for a wonderful and impressive dessert and with fruit added to it, it would serve as the perfect, light dessert for the hot summer time! 

Friday, June 18, 2010

Sweet Potato Wedges

 Sweet potatoes have recently become one of my favorite vegetables.  I love finding new flavor combinations using them and cooking them new ways.  One of my favorite recipes I've tried is a basic sweet potato fry with a basil garlic mayonnaise.  I love the combination of the sweetness of the fries with the sharpness of the maynnaise dip.  As much as I love that recipe I really like this one too, the combination of seasonings and flavors is so different from the other.  The other recipe with the dip has more of a savory taste while this one has the cinnamon butter drizzled on top, so you get a hint of the same flavor that you would get in a sweet potato casserole.  We really enjoyed these wedges, they are the perfect compliment to many things.  I love having a variety of recipes for potatoes, and having the option of using sweet potatoes rather than regular potatoes gives us that many more options!     

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Black Bean Salsa

The first time I had this one of my friends brought it to my house and I was instantly addicted, even after I was full I was still eating it because I just couldn't get enough!  Any time she asks me what she can bring to a gathering I always ask her to bring this dip and it's always a huge hit!  It has so much flavor and it's a good, light dip that can be enjoyed any time but is perfect for something refreshing in the spring and summer.  I love the flavor of cilantro and this dip is packed full of cilantro and it's complimented by the flavor of lime juice; there are a lot of bold flavors in this dip but they all go together so well.  

Spencer loves this dip also and he and some friends were going hunting one weekend and they asked if I would make a few things for them to take so they could have some snacks.  Along with this dip I also made sausage and cream cheese dip, which is always a hit, and since I always make something sweet, I made brownie cookies.  Everything was a hit, and I think this dip is going to be making a regular appearance on these trips.  I was so excited about making this; and it did not disappoint!  I was a little nervous about making it at first because I wasn't able to get the recipe from my friend before I needed it so I hunted and found one on-line that I thought was similar; I don't think it was exactly like hers but it was very close and turned out great!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Chocolate Spiced Pork Chops

When I saw these pork chops on Paula's Best Dishes; she was doing a chocolate episode so I was already interested since I'm a huge chocoholic but when she said she was making chocolate spiced pork chops I was glued to the t.v. because it sounded very interesting.  After I saw her make these I knew I had to try them, there isn't a lot of chocolate in the recipe so don't be worried about them being over chocolatey, but there is just enough to add a different depth of flavor.  The rub itself was incredible, it had all the different flavor elements; sweet, salty and spicy and they blended together perfectly and created a wonderful flavor.  The rub would be great not only on pork, but we inted to try it on some red meat as well as chicken.  This has quickly become one of our favorite recipes; it's easy and the ingredients are ones that most people usually have on hand at all times.  

Everyone was very intrigued by the recipe when I first told them about it, mainly because of the chocolate.  Spencer was very skeptical, and at first he wanted me to omit the chocolate from the rub but when I started mixing it up he had a change of heart and decided it would venture out of his comfort zone and give it a try.  He was very pleasantly surprised with the end result, and he couldn't get enough.  My parents were over at our house the night I made these and my dad tried a little bite of mine because his curiosity got the best of him since there was chocolate in it and he loved them.  A few days later they asked if we could eat together and asked if I would make the pork chops again, and I gladly did so!  Needless to say these are definitely a crowd pleaser and they are also wonderful for week night meals since there isn't a lot of prep time.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Daring Bakers April Challenge-Toffee Apple Pudding

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

I love being part of the Daring Bakers because I always learn something from the challenge and there are a lot of time it pushes me outside my comfort zone when it comes to cooking and trying new things in the kitchen.  This month was no exception, I was really excited when I read about this months challenge and what it entailed, not only were we challenged to work with an ingredient that is not common in the states but we were also challenged to make a dish that is not common here.  We were challenged to use suet to make a British pudding dish which could be either savory or sweet.  The options were endless as far as the combinations and varieties of puddings that could be made, and there were multiple ways this dish could be cooked.  I really enjoyed this challenge but I was kind of disappointed because I wasn't able to find any suet so I used Crisco, which was one of the alternative ingredients that was suggested in case suet wasn't available.  Not being able to find the suet was the only problem I ran into; everything else went well and I was really happy with the outcome.  I made a sweet pudding this time, but I'm still going to be on the look out for suet and once I come across some I want to make a savory pudding.  The toffee apple pudding I made this time was great; the apple filling was so delicious and the crust had a great flavor! 

Monday, April 26, 2010

Brownie Cookies

I absolutely love brownies and I love cookies, so what could be better than combining the two and making brownie cookies?  Cookies are a dessert that is so easy to eat; it is so easy to pick on up and nibble on it while continuing with other tasks.  Brownies are incredible too, but they aren't necassarily as easy to eat on the go but the ooey gooey goodness of them makes it worth while to stop whatever is going on and savor every bite.  Combining the two gives you the best of both worlds; the convenience of a cookie and the gooey chocolately goodness of a brownie, plus these are the perfect solution when sending brownie goodies on a road trip or camping trip where utensils aren't readily available. 

I've made brownie cookies a few times in the past and they've always been a hit but I've never made them from scratch.  Since I had a little bit more time this time I decided to attempt a scratch version and I'm so happy I did, these were so good.  Of course they were great fresh out of the oven but even after they had been sitting around for a couple of days they were still very good and ooey gooey.   

Monday, April 19, 2010

Kielbasa Reubens with Sauerkraut

I came across this recipe quite some time ago, I've made it several times and Spencer still gets excited when I make it.  I don't know why I haven't blogged about it before now, but since this has been a recurring meal at our house I thought I would share it.  These sandwiches are so good and very hearty.  I love the flavor combinations; the tanginess of the mustard, sweetness of the red pepper relish and the saltiness of the kielbasa compliment one another perfectly and the melted cheese just puts it over the top. I love trying new flavor combinations; the ingredients of this sandwich are not out of the ordinary but they aren't really anything I would have thought about pairing together myself but they work together so well.  Another great thing about this is it's very quick to prepare and assemble so it makes for a quick and easy week night meqal.  This is a pretty big sandwich and pretty filling by itself so I usually just make something light to go with it.  Spencer can usually eat the entire thing; but most of the time I end up halving one for myself.  These quickly grew to be one of our favorites, hopefully it will become one of your family favorites too!

Keilbasa Reubens with Sauerkraut

Thursday, April 8, 2010

BLT'S With Roasted Onion Mayonnaise

 BLT's are one of my all time favorite sandwiches and although there is nothing wrong with a plain BLT it doesn't hurt to add a twist to it from time to time.  I love making BLT's at home because I'm able to be creative with what I add and I can I can pile on as much bacon, lettuce and tomato as I want.  When I was on maternity leave I was the queen of sandwiches; there were days where I would have plain turkey sandwiches but there were other days where I wanted a change so I would get creative with what I put on them.  I had already had BLT's a few days one week and it still sounded good but I decided to change it up a little bit by making a roasted onion mayonnaise.  The flavor of the roasted onions added another element of flavor to this sandwich and it was absolutley delicious.  

I ended up having to make these again for supper one night, because when Spencer got home I told him about the sandwich and showed him the picture and his mouth was watering.  When I made these for us to have one night, he went on and on about them and said we would definitely have to have them again.  Another reason he loved them is because there was tons of bacon on the sandwich.  He really likes these sandwiches but they never seem to fill him up when he orders one from somewhere, so when I made his I was sure to load it with a lot of everything!  He's now a huge fan of homemade BLT's.

BLT's with Roasted Onion Mayonnaise

Monday, March 29, 2010

Hot Dogs Stuffed with Cheese and Roasted Vegetables


I love hot dogs and lately I have been making them quite a bit.  I love the taste of hot dogs off the grill but during the winter months one of the last things I want to do is stand in the cold and grill, so during the cooler months I just use the stove and oven to make my dogs and that's how I prepared these.  Although I love hot dogs with just a little mayo and mustard, I do like thinking of new and different ways to prepare them just to have a little change from time to time.  These dogs were awesome; the hot dog itself had a great flavor and topping them with cheese, roasted onions and peppers, and spicey relish put them over the top.  The way these were prepared wasn't too out of the ordinary but I personally have never topped a plain hotdog with cheese so it was a little different to me.  I kept these pretty simple, just using a good sharp cheddar, but the next time I make them I am going to find a different type of cheese and see what I can do with it to give the standard hot dog a twist.  Now that summer is just around the corner I hope to have quite a few variations of hot dogs to blog about!

Hot Dogs Stuffed with cheese and roasted veggies



1/4 small onion, cut in long slices

1/4 medium bell pepper, cut in long slices

1 1/2 Teaspoons olive oil

1/4 Cup sweet and hot pickle relish

6 Slices sharp cheddar cheese

4 Beef hot dogs

4 Hot dog buns, buttered and toasted (if desired)


Spicey mustard




Pre-heat oven to 350.

Fill a sauce pan half way with water and bring water to a boil.  Slice the hot dogs, long ways, down the center leaving them in tact at the bottom.  Once water has come to a boil, place the hot dogs in the water and boil for about 4-5 minutes, until they have plumped and opened up.  Remove from water, place on a jelly-roll pan and put in the oven for 3-5 minutes, just until the sides begin to crisp.  Once hot dogs are cooked, remove from oven and place 1 1/2 slices of cheese in each one and put back in oven long enough to melt the cheese. 

While hot dogs are boiling, toss onion and pepper slices in olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Spread evenly on baking sheet and place in oven for 5-7 minutes, until onions begin to turn translucent.  Remove from oven and set aside.

To assemble; mayonnaise and mustard on the bun, place hot dog with melted cheese in the bun and then top with roasted onions and peppers and the sweet and hot pickle relish.

***for the relish I just bought Tony Packo's sweet hots and diced them into a relish form.

Recipe Source: Lynsey

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Raspberry Chocolate Cake

Yum, yum yum...this conclusion to our Valentine's meal was pure deliciousness.  While I had no problem deciding what I wanted to make for our meal I did have a delima when it came to choosing what our dessert would be.  I have so many desserts that I want to try bookmarked, then I found a lot more around Valentine's day it was extremely tough trying to decide which on I should make.  I narrowed it down to 3 and told Spencer it was his duty to choose what we would have for dessert and that's when he chose this Raspberry Chocolate Cake.  This was the perfect Valentine's dessert; chocolate plus the flavor of raspberries equals pure heaven on a plate.  If you are a fan of chocolate and raspberries then this cake is a must try!

Raspberry Chocolate Cake


For the cake-

3 Cups sugar

2 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour

1 Cup baking cocoa

2 Tsp baking soda

1 1/2 Tsp salt

3/4 Tsp baking powder

1 1/4 Cups buttermilk

3/4 Cup canola oil

3 Tsp vanilla extract

3 Eggs

1 1/2 Cups strong brewed coffee, room temperature

For the filling-

3 Tbsp all-purpose flour

6 Tbsp milk

6 Tbsp shortening

3 Tbsp butter, softened

3 Cups confectioners' sugar

2 Tbsp raspberry liqueur

1/4 Tsp salt

2 Drops red food coloring, optional

4 Tbsp seedless raspberry jam, melted

For the frosting-

1 8oz Package cream cheese, cold

1/3 Cup butter, softened

1/2 Cup baking cocoa

1 Tbsp raspberry liqueur

4 Cups confectioners' sugar


For the cake-

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Line three greased 9 inch cake pans with waxed paper, grease paper and set aside.  In a large bowl combine the first six ingredients.  In a separate bowl, combine oil, buttermilk and vanilla and add to the dry ingredients.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, beat for 2 minutes.  Gradually add coffee (batter will be thin).  

Pour batter into prepared pans, bake for 35-45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted close to the center comes out clean.  Cool the cakes for 10 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks to cool completely, discard waxed paper.  

For the filling-

In a small saucepan, whisk together the flour and milk until smooth.  Cook over medium heat for 1 minute or until thickened, stir constantly.  Remove from heat and let stand until cool.

In a large bowl, cream shortening and butter until light and fluffy.  Gradually add confectioners' sugar and mix well.  Gradually add cooled milk mixture; beat for 4 minutes or until light and fluffy.  Beat in liqueur, salt and food coloring if desired.  

If necassary, level tops of cake.  Place one layer on a serving plate, place about 2 tablespoons on the cake layer.  Place remaining layers on waxed paper and top one of the layers with the remaining jam.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  

Spread 1/2 cup filling over the cake on the serving plate to within 1/4 inch of the edges.  Top with jam covered cake, then spread with remaining filling and top with last layer.  

For the frosting-

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter until smooth and fluffy.  Add the cocoa and liquer and beat.  Gradually add in the confectioners' sugar until fluffy.  Frost top and sides of cake and refrigerate for storage.

Recipe Source:  Taste of Home

Thursday, March 4, 2010

February Daring Baker's Challenge

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

When I read that the The Daring Bakers' February challenge was tiramisu I was so excited!  Tiramisu is one of my all time favorite desserts, anytime we eat at an Italian restaurant ordering this for dessert is a must.  I have always wanted to make this dessert but for some reason I just never got around to it; I'm not sure if I was intimidated by it or if I was just waiting for the perfect time (whenever that might be???).  It seems like the perfect time presented itself so I really had no other choice but to make this wonderful dessert.  This challenge called for us to make our own ladyfingers, marscapone cheese, and we were given the option to make our own pastry cream and zabaglione; although I probably would not have gone to this extent if I were making this for any other occassion I was excited about the challenge of making ingredients that I had never made before and probably would not have attempted otherwise.  It was a really fun challenge but very time consuming as well!

For the zabaglione:
2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup/60ml Marsala wine (or port or coffee)-I used coffee
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

For the vanilla pastry cream:
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup whole milk

For the whipped cream:
1 cup chilled heavy cream (we used 25%)
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To assemble the tiramisu:
2 cups brewed espresso, warmed
1 teaspoon rum extract (optional)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
36 savoiardi/ ladyfinger biscuits (you may use less)
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

For the zabaglione:
Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the pastry cream:
Mix together the sugar, flour, lemon zest and vanilla extract in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. To this add the egg yolk and half the milk. Whisk until smooth.
Now place the saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly to prevent the mixture from curdling.
Add the remaining milk a little at a time, still stirring constantly. After about 12 minutes the mixture will be thick, free of lumps and beginning to bubble. (If you have a few lumps, don’t worry. You can push the cream through a fine-mesh strainer.)
Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic film and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

For the whipped cream:
Combine the cream, sugar and vanilla extract in a mixing bowl. Beat with an electric hand mixer or immersion blender until the mixture holds stiff peaks. Set aside.

To assemble the tiramisu:
Have ready a rectangular serving dish (about 8" by 8" should do) or one of your choice.
Mix together the warm espresso, rum extract and sugar in a shallow dish, whisking to mix well. Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, beat the mascarpone cheese with a spoon to break down the lumps and make it smooth. This will make it easier to fold. Add the prepared and chilled zabaglione and pastry cream, blending until just combined. Gently fold in the whipped cream. Set this cream mixture aside.

Now to start assembling the tiramisu.
Workings quickly, dip 12 of the ladyfingers in the sweetened espresso, about 1 second per side. They should be moist but not soggy. Immediately transfer each ladyfinger to the platter, placing them side by side in a single row. You may break a lady finger into two, if necessary, to ensure the base of your dish is completely covered.
Spoon one-third of the cream mixture on top of the ladyfingers, then use a rubber spatula or spreading knife to cover the top evenly, all the way to the edges.
Repeat to create 2 more layers, using 12 ladyfingers and the cream mixture for each layer. Clean any spilled cream mixture; cover carefully with plastic wrap and refrigerate the tiramisu overnight.
To serve, carefully remove the plastic wrap and sprinkle the tiramisu with cocoa powder using a fine-mesh strainer or decorate as you please. Cut into individual portions and serve.


(Source: Vera’s Recipe for Homemade Mascarpone Cheese)
This recipe makes 12oz of mascarpone cheese

 2 cups whipping (36 %) pasteurized (not ultra-pasteurized), preferably organic cream (between 25% to 36% cream will do)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a wide skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the water is barely simmering. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl into the skillet. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. If you do not have a thermometer, wait until small bubbles keep trying to push up to the surface.
It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
Vera’s notes: The first time I made mascarpone I had all doubts if it’d been cooked enough, because of its custard-like texture. Have no fear, it will firm up beautifully in the fridge, and will yet remain lusciously creamy.
Keep refrigerated and use within 3 to 4 days.

(Source: Recipe from
Cordon Bleu At Home)
This recipe makes approximately 24 big ladyfingers or 45 small (2 1/2" to 3" long) ladyfingers.

3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 cup cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons confectioner's sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 F degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.


Site Links:
Step by step pictures for Tiramisu including zabaglione & pastry cream
Gluten Free Ladyfingers:
1000 gluten-free recipes by Carol Fenster (ladyfingers pg 436, Tiramisu pg 651)
Gluten free Ladyfingers and Tiramisu
Diary Free Tiramisu: Levana Cooks Diary-Free by Lévana Kirschenbaum, Menachem Adelman, Meir Pliskin (pg 86)

Video links for making tiramisu:
These are not for the recipe given for this challenge, but the procedure in the video would be a helpful guide.
Gordon Ramsay - Video for dipping savioardi - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HlqQqP6Mcw

Sauteed Wild Mushrooms

 I made these mushrooms to go with the steakhouse steaks we had on Valentine's.  These mushrooms are so good, and they pair perfectly with steaks.  This recipe is another by Ina Garten, I'm such a huge fan of hers and I've been making quite a few of her recipes lately and I haven't been disappointed yet.  The mushrooms were absolutely incredible; they were earthy, creamy and just flat out delicious.  These were not difficult to put otgether and they would be a great side to many meals; they are wasy enough to make with the simplest meals but elegant enough to accompany fancier meals as well.   

Sauteed Wild Mushrooms


2 Pounds mixed wild mushrooms

1/2 Cup good olive oil

1 Cup chopped shallots (about 4 shallots)

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 Tsp Kosher salt

1/2 Tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp chopped garlic (about 6 cloves)

1 Cup chopped flat leaf parsely


Clean the caps of the mushrooms by wiping with a damp paper towel.  Remove and discard the stems.  Slice the mushrooms into thick slices. 

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven or sauce pan.  Add the shallots and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, or until the shallots are translucent.  Add the butter, mushrooms, salt and pepper and cook over a medium heat for about 8 minutes, just until they become tender and the juices are released from them, stirring the mixture often.  Stir in the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Toss in the parsely and salt and serve warm. 

Recipe Source: Food Network, Barefoot Contessa

Friday, February 26, 2010

Steakhouse Steaks

Sometime last year I saw Ina Garten making what she called a "steakhouse meal" and it looked absolutely incredible.  She made onion rings, sauteed mushrooms and filets; everything about that entire episode had me drooling.  I always love a good steak, but when you go out to a restaurant sometimes you're left still craving that good steak you went there to get.  I had a feeling this meal wouldn't leave me wishing or wanting for anything, other than more, and boy was I right.  Spencer and I spent the evening in the kitchen cooking this meal together, we had so much fun, and the end product was amazing.  The steaks were cooked to perfection; they were tender and juicy and I have never had a better tasting steak.  To top the steak she made a Roquefort chive sauce, and that was pure heaven in my mouth.  The sauce added a lot of flavor to the steak, and in my opinion, it complimented it perfectly.  We enjoyed these steaks so much when we made them last year, we decided that they would also make the perfect Valentine's meal this year! 

I don't know why I waited so long to make them again but I was hoped that our expectations wouldn't leave us wanting more once we had this meal again.  These steaks turned out just as good, if not better, than they did the first time.  They were just as tender and juicy as we remembered and it was a perfect selection for our Valentine's meal.  It is a really simple recipe that really makes a great meal.  I love the minimal amount of seasoning that is used on the steak, it doesn't cover up the natural flavor of the steak but just accentuates it.  These steaks would be just as good without the sauce as they are with it; but I will always opt for the sauce just because it is so good!

Steakhouse Steaks


2 (10 oz) filet mignon

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp fleur de sel (I used Kosher salt)

1 Tbsp coarsely cracked black peppercorns

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature, optional

Roquefort chive sauce, recipe below


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat, around 5 to 7 minutes. 

Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel, brush them lightly with the vegetable oil.  Combine the salt and pepper on a plate and roll the steaks in the mixture. 

Once the skillet is ready, sear steaks evenly on all sides, about two minutes on each side, for a total of 10 minutes.

Top each steak with butter, if using, and place the skillet in the oven.  Cooks steaks to desired wellness; 120 degrees for rare, 125 for medium-rare in an instant read thermometer.

Once steaks are done, remove to a serving platter and cover tightly with foil and allow them to rest at room temperature for about 10 minutes.  Serve hot with Roquefort chive sauce.

Roquefort Chive Sauce


1 1/2 Cups heavy cream

2 oz French Roquefort cheese, crumbled

1/2 Tsp Kosher salt

1/4 Tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives


In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring heavy cream to a boil.  Cook at a low boil, occasionally stirring, until the mixture has become thick and creamy, about 20 minutes.  Remove the pan from heat, add the cheese, salt, pepper and chives and whisk rapidly until the cheese melts.

Recipe Source: Food Network ,Barefoot Contessa

Hot Buttered Rum Pancakes

 There were many different recipes that went through my mind when I was deciding what to make for our Valentine's Day breakfast; I thought about something hearty, then something sweet, then savory and the options were definitely endless but I finally decided on something sweet...since it was for Valentine's day!  These pancakes were absolutely incredible; they were light and fluffy and the perfect breakfast to start out such a wonderful day.  To top these wonderful pancakes I used whipped cream and a few chocolate chips, we usually wouldn't top them with the extras like we did but since it was a special occasion we splurged.  The pancakes themselves had a great flavor, the hint of cloves was awesome!  This recipe definitely didn't dissapoint and I'm sure we will be having them many more times!  These would be soemthing fun to make for a weekend breakfast, and with the cloves added to the batter it makes them feel like a special occasion meal!

Hot Buttered Rum Pancakes


1 1/3 Cups flour

2 Tbsp sugar

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/4 Tsp ground cloves

Salt to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon)

2 Eggs

1 Cup milk

1/4 (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled

1 Tbsp dark rum, or 1 tsp rum extract

1 Tsp vanilla extract


In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, cloves and salt.  Mix well and set aside.  In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and then add milk, butter, rum and vanilla and whisk together.  Add to the flour mixture and mix until smooth. 

Ladle onto an oiled medium-hot griddle.  Cook until bubbles appear and being to pop.  Turn and cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer or until golden brown. 

Serve with additional melted butter.  Also, 1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate chips if desired and serve with whipped cream.

Recipe source: Beach Appetit by the Junior League of the Emerald Coast

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Country French Omelet

There are quite a few people on Food Network that I enjoy watching and one of them is Barefoot Contessa.  Anytime I see that her show is on I have to see what she's making, everything she makes looks incredible and so delicious.  She really just has a way of drawing people in and making them want to go in the kitchen and cook along with her, at least that is the affect she has on me!  She is so calm and seems so down to earth and that makes her so enjoyable to watch.  She has so much knowledge and so many experiences from her travels and she wants to share them with everyone, and she does that all through her cooking.   I always learn something from her, no matter what it is she is cooking, but when she started doing the "Back to Basics" series I was intrigued because she was cooking with ingredients that most everyone has in their home at all times.  To me it seems like she wants to people to have the passion and joy for cooking she does so she has dedicated this series to cooking with everyday ingredients but pairs them in a way to make exceptional meals that appeals to everyone. 

When Barefoot Contessa started her  "Back to Basics" series she also introduced a cookbook, "Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics", to go along with her show.  When I saw this cookbook I knew I wanted it, I had seen her cook too many good things from it to not have it in my collection and I had also read where it was full of tips and pointers to get the best out of every ingredient used.  For my birthday last year, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law got this for me and I was so excited, but I was pregnant and still in the early stages of my pregnancy so cooking wasn't really that appealing to me.  Although I couldn't really stomach cooking at the time I got it, I read through it and found tons of recipes I couldn't wait to make. 

The Country French Omelet was the first recipe I made from this cookbook, and I have to say it was very good.  Spencer could have eaten the entire thing himself, so if you have a big eater in your house you may want to make them their own, or have something else to serve along with it.  I add a couple of things to this omelet but it would be just as delicious if it were made without my additions.  This was so good and now I can't wait to make my next recipe from this cookbook!


Country French Omelet


1 Tbsp good olive oil

3 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 Cup unpeeled Yukon Gold potatoes

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

5 Extra large eggs

3 Tbsp milk

1 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 Tbsp fresh chopped chives

1/2 Small onion, diced

1/4 Cup cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil in an ovenproof omelet pan over medium heat.  Add the bacon and cook, once fat begins to appear translucent add onions.  Let cook until bacon becomes crisp and onions are tender.  Remove onions and bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and set on a plate lined with a paper towel.  Leave bacon grease in pan.

Place the potatoes in the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook over medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes, until very tender and browned, tossing occasionally to brown evenly.  Remove with a slotted spoon to the same plate with the bacon.

Meanwhile, in a medium bow, beat the eggs, milk, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together with a fork.  AFter the potatoes are cooked remove from the pan.  Pour the fat out of the pan and discard.  Add the butter, lower the heat to low, and pour the eggs into the hot pan.  Sprinkle the bacon, potatoes and chives evenly over the eggs and put in oven  for about 8 minutes, just until eggs are set.  Sprinkle cheese over the top right when it's removed from the oven.  Slide onto a plate and cut in half, serve while hot.

Recipe Source: adapted from Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics

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