Thursday, June 30, 2011

Cranberry, White Chocolate and Pumpkin Muffins...and a Giveaway

I love the taste of pumpkin, I know it's a flavor that is mostly associated with the fall but that doesn't mean that it can't be enjoyed throughout the entire year.  I love muffins, they are so versatile and can be either as either a sweet or savory dish and with any meal of the day.  I love what might considered "traditional" flavored muffins, such as blueberry, strawberry, oat bran and so on but I also enjoy experimenting with different flavor combinations.  I have done exactly that with this recipe.  Most people that heard this flavor combination gave me a funny look at first, but once they tried it they really enjoyed it and even asked for the recipe!  I love this flavor combination; I love pumpkin anyway but paired with the sweetness of the white chocolate and the tartness of the cranberries; it's unique but so delicious! 

Now onto the giveaway.  The giveaway will be for a $15.00 giftcard to Penzey's.  To enter the giveaway please leave a comment telling me what your favorite spice is and even what your favorite recipe is using the specific spice, links welcome!  To gain an additional entry "like me" on Facebook and then come back and leave a comment telling me that you "like me".

Giveaway ends next Friday, July 8th at 11:59P.M.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Daring Baker's June Challenge, Phyllo and Baklava

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love all of the challenges presented by the daring baker's.  Some of the challenges involve recipes that I've already attempted or made but it may offer different techniques to accomplish the end result, while other recipes I've never heard of or are something I've wanted to make but haven't found the appropriate reason to make it.  Well, this challenge was one that I have heard of and wanted to attempt for quite some time but I just haven't gotten around to making it.

Erica of Erica's Edibles was our host for the Daring Baker’s June challenge. Erica challenged us to be truly DARING by making homemade phyllo dough and then to use that homemade dough to make Baklava.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fish Tacos with Fresh Salsa

Fish tacos have been and still are one of the "hottest" and most popular food trends.  Although they are one of the most popular foods around right now, I have yet to have them.  I've had shrimp tacos and scallop tacos but no fish tacos.  Well, all that changed the other night when I made these fish tacos and they were delicious, the only disappointing thing about this is the fact that I waited so long to try these.  The batter wasn't too heavy, it was just enough to coat them without makeing a thick batter.  Frying the fish crisped the batter while leaving the inside nice and light and flakey; and filling the taco with fresh salsa and lettuce was the perfect combination and made the dish complete.

Weekly Meal Plan

Don't forget to enter the first of three giveaways for my blogs 3 year "blogiversary"!  This giveaway ends Friday, July 1 at 11:59P.M.  Good Luck!

Menu for June 26- July 2, 2011

Pizza from The Pizza Joint
Pasta with Bolognese sauce, garlic bread and green salad
Turkey burgers, bbq beans, and french fries
Pork loin, grilled corn, and grilled asparagus

Have a great week!

Check back for this week for 2 more giveaways in honor of my blogs 3 year blogiversary!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grilled Steak with Tapenade...and a giveaway

As I've said before, I'm always looking for quick and easy meals that are delicious and nutricious to prepare during the work week.  My weeknights are very hectic but that doesn't mean I want to feed my family junk or make a habit of driving through a fast food restaurant 5 nights a week, I still like to feed my family delicious food but I just can't spend 5 hours in the kitchen every night.  I have come across quite a few delicious meals that are perfect for week night cooking; they take no time to prepare and they are just as delicious as the meals that take quite a bit of time in the kitchen.

This steak with tapenade was as delicious as it was easy to prepare.  I think it took me all of 30 minutes to prepare and plate it, which is a bonus on a weeknight when I have a thousand other things going on.  This steak and tapenade was full of so much flavor; I loved the flavor combinations of the salty olives, spicey pepper, and the sweetness from the tomatoes, it was the perfect flavor combination.  I loved that the tapenade was used not only as a topping but as a rub for the meat before it was cooked.  It helped incorporate the flavors throughout the entire dish and it was absolutely delicious.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pan Fried Tilapia Over Angel Hair Pasta With Jalapeno Cream Sauce

One of our favorite things from Carinos is their jalapeno garlic tilapia, so I decided to recreate this dish for our meal one weekend.  Spencer and I have always enjoyed preparing our meals together; it's just a way for us to spend some quality time together and hang out.  Since our little man came along our time together in the kitchen has all but faded away; not that we would trade any of what we have now but it is nice to be able to spend some time together and do things that you previously enjoyed.  We waited until Tucker went to bed and then we opened a bottle of wine and got to cooking!  We had so much fun talking, spending time together and just haning out, it's been a while since we've had time to just enjoy each other and it was incredible.  It was a wonderful night and a great way to make a weekend night special, even though we stayed home.

We love the fish and pasta that is topped with the jalapeno sauce; the sauce has a good kick to it but not so much to where you are sweating by the end of the meal.  It's a rather light dish, even with the pasta and pan fried fish, and it leaves you full and satisfied but not feeling heavy when you're finished.  Paired with a glass of white wine and some homemade garlic bread, and you've got a meal to please anyone.

Pan Fried Tilapia, Angel Hair Pasta with Jalapeno Cream Sauce

Monday, June 13, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

Menu for June 12-18, 2011

Taco salad
Cheese stuffed hamburgers, fries and baked beans
Stuffed mushrooms with celery salad
Baked chicken, roasted potatoes and asparagus
Leftovers or eat out

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bacon, Spinach and Goat Cheese Pasta

Are you looking for the perfect meal that is quick to put together and tastes delicious?  Well look no further; this bacon, spinach and goat cheese pasta is the answer to your search.  This pasta was so easy to prepare, it was prepared in absolutely no time and is the perfect crowd pleaser. 

I love the taste of goat cheese but I've never cooked with it.  I don't really have an answer as to why this is the first recipe I've made that involves goat cheese but it is and I'm so happy I came across it.  The combination of flavors is delicious; the goat cheese has a tarteness and sharpness to it that is unlike no others and it's so smooth and creamy it literally melts in your mouth.  Add this to the combination of lemon, pepper, bacon and spinach and it's the finished product is nothing but delicious.  Spencer was a huge fan and even Tucker couldn't get enough; he ate this not only the night I originally cooked it but also for leftovers until he finished the dish.  This is perfect for weeknight meals, as well as a meal that's a little lighter but very filling.  This will be on our menu again very soon.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

White Cake with Apricot Filling

Over the past few weeks I've been keeping my oven and mixer extremely busy.  I've had the privilage to make cookies, cupcakes and cakes for various occasions and have enjoyed every moment.  I look for any excuse to get in the kitchen and bake something and I've had more than my share of opportunities lately.  I'm not the only one who loves it when I bake, Tucker's face lights up when he sees the mixer and he now moves his hand in a spinning motion to tell me to turn it on...absolutely precious.  So back to the topic at hand.  My brother's girlfriend's favorite cake is a white cake with apricot filling and buttercream frosting.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Well it is when it's not a person's absolute favorite dessert that comes from a bakery that makes sweets that are sooooo good that I could only hope to make things that taste half as good theirs, oh and not to mention this is for a person who means the world to my brother.  So it is an easy task except when all of those things are standing in your way.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

Menu for June 5-11, 2011

Roast, herbed mashed potatoes, southern green beans, and rolls
Hotdogs, french fries and coleslaw
Fish tacos with fresh salsa
Cheese and spinach stuffed portabello mushrooms
Leftovers or eat out

Monday, June 6, 2011

Deep Dish Pizza Dough

I am always looking for new ideas to incorporate into pizza dough, I'm always looking for that recipe that makes me think of my favorite pizza place.  No, there's not just one type of dough that goes with just any pizza; pizza dough is kind of like a mood, you have to be in the mood for a particular type of pizza and that pizza has to have just the right crust.  Sometimes there is nothing better than a fluffy crust with a nice crunch on the bottom, other times I want a thin crust to go with whatever pizza I'm making; but when you're making a deep dish pizza you have to have just the right amount of bread to topping ratio. 

Deep dish pizzas are so filling; there's so much more to the toppings/fillings than a regular pizza.  There has to be the perfect balance of bread to toppings, if you have too much bread it takes away from the taste and you can barely enjoy an entire piece of pizza without feeling stuffed.  I think this dough is perfect for a deep dish pizza; it packs a lot of flavor, has just the right amount of that wonderful bread texture (not too much) and then the bottom and sides are perfectly crisp.  Although the toppings and cheese are a huge part of a pizza you have to have the perfect "canvas" to hold them all together.  This dough is perfect for any deep dish pizza your heart desires. 

Friday, June 3, 2011

Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza

I love pizza, I think it's actually a weekness for me.  There just something about pizza that screams comfort and feel good food, and there's no better way to end the week than with a good, hot pizza.  I have a few restaurants in my area that I LOVE, a couple are local and the other is a chain, Old Chicago.  Depending on what I'm craving determines where I get my pizza that night.  When it comes to deep dish pizza, nothing beats Old Chicago's deep dish pepperoni pizza.  It has the perfect amount of crust, and it's not overly breaded and then topped with the delicious tomoato sauce, tons of cheese and pepperoni, both regular and spicy.  The combinations of all those flavors are soooo good, and it's actually double the toppings since it's deep dish.  There's really nothing that can beat that!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake

If you are looking for the perfect chocolate dessert to satisfy that sweet tooth of yours then look no further.  This Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake has everything you could need or want after a wonderful meal, chocolate, espresso and cookies.  I mean, what else is there?  The thin, crisp chocolate chip cookies from Tate's Bake Shop, act as the crust for this wonderful cake and set the stage for the rich, yet light and fluffy filling.  The rich and decadent dessert is made by layering chocolate chip cookies and chocolate whipped filling; the end result is delicious and so pretty.  The combination of the heavy cream and the marscapone cheese whip up so light and fluffy and act as a perfect base for the flavors of chocolate and espresso.  When layered between the multiple layers of the Tate's cookies, it's incredible.  The cookies actually soften after the cake is assembled, so they loose the crunch but still add the texture needed for this simple yet rich cake.

This is the perfect dessert for pretty much any occassion; no matter winter or summer.  This would be a perfect and cool end to a meal on a hot summer day, but it's also great for any other time of the year and would be fabulous with a cup of coffee.  This cake is great for a make ahead dessert; just assemble and refrigerate until set and it takes absolutely no time to assemble.  The most time consuming part of this entire dessert is gathering all of the ingredients
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