Thursday, December 15, 2011

Raspberry Almond Thumbprints



Some people like to experiment with a recipe, I am not one of them.  I have a concept, idea, or recipe in my mind and I expect it to work the first time.   If at first I don't succeed with a recipe, it goes in the trash and I wont attempt it again.  This could be due to my creative process.  I get so excited over my fantastic idea that when it doesn't work, I move on to something I already know is phenomenal. I enjoy the baking and cooking process but if I spend hours making something, I want it to taste more than "okay."

Needless to say, when I was baking a new recipe for a cookie exchange at work and the result turned out flat-as-pancakes, I dumped the whole batch in the garbage and sought something new.  Utilizing the same raspberry lemon jam compote I had just made, I found this almond thumbprint recipe.  If these didn't work, I was first going to scream and then whip up some brownies. May I was just having an off day.

As you can see, these shortbread gems turned out pretty and delicious.  Thank goodness! Mr .F suggested store-bought cookies...store-bought!!! I do have a reputation to uphold at work. So if your looking for something easy or simply need a recipe for a cookie exchange, here it is. 

Hope you enjoy!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Golden Rugelach


Let's face it, Hanukah gets the shaft during the holiday season.  The most a store will dedicate to the Jewish holiday is half an aisle, if lucky.  So,  in between our Christmas tree decorating, I have to find ways to incorporate some Hanukah traditions.  And my family traditions revolve around food. Other than lighting the menorah and eating some brisket, mandel bread, latkes, noodle kugel and rugelach, I'm out of ideas. But if you can find a fantastic rugelach recipe, you will be a fan for life.

Flaky and buttery, this recipe is melt-in-your-mouth...even with the golden raisins.  Raisins? This is another personal sharing moment when I want to convey to you my absolute disgust with red raisins.  YUCK! I will pick them out of everything: bread, carrrot cake, cookies, you get the idea.  BUT golden raisins taste a little different. And baked into this pastry and mixed with cinnamon sugar and pecans, they are delicious. 

Try something different and broaden your cultural knowledge with this traditionally Jewish pastry. Even more interesting are the variety of filling you can try.  May I suggest Chocolate?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gingerbread Christmas Bites


No Thanksgiving post, sorry.  My job at this years feast was the stuffing and cranberry sauce. When it comes to the stuffing, or "dressing" as it may be incorrectly referred, everyone has their own recipe. A unique, family recipe that done any differently would disrupt the perfection of the meal.  My family prefers a southern cornbread stuffing mixed with pecans, mushrooms, and sausage. And I know that my brothers would second the notion to any alteration.  So, yea, I skipped the Thanksgiving post and opted to  give you something more holiday-ish.

When asked if these bites were delicious, Mr. F described them as "Christmas in your mouth."  And I would have to agree.  Warm gingerbread cookie dough filled with a sweet cream cheese frosting...yum! Did I mention how amazing my house smelled?!  Too bad Mr. F only got to eat one, the rest of these morsels went to a holiday crafting party at work. They were easy enough to make after work and heated well in the microwave before serving.  If you need a party dessert dish, this is it.

On a side note, I keep telling myself that I am going to bake more this holiday season.  Maybe it's because I keep thinking there is so much time left before Hannukah and Christmas and how fun it would be.  Then I think of my poor refrigerator filled to capacity and my body still trying to work off the linzer torte from Thanksgiving.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Southwestern Chicken Chowder


I must have the sweetest blood on the planet because I have no explanation for the attack of mosquito's that occurs every time I walk outside.  I could be in a crowd of people, yet I would be eaten alive if I didn't have bug spray.  Five minutes is all is takes and I go from perfectly fine to red polka dotted and itchy.  Ridiculous, I tell you...freakin ridiculous!

You would think that the vampirous appetites of mosqutios would be non-existent due to the cooler weather.  And you would be right, except in the swamp and breeding grounds that are Florida, cooler weather lasts about week.  That said time frame occured last week...now, its over! Yay, wasnt winter fun!  Back to the humidity and bugs.

So during the winter blizzard of 2011, Mr. F was craving a filling chowder.  I'm usually not a huge soup fan unless cream, pasta, or something rich and hearty is an ingredient. And for all of the above reasons, I can sometimes crave a chowder. I came across this simple spicy Southwestern Chicken Chowder and knew it would hit the spot. I found that the heat of the chowder was based on the heat level of the salsa added. We chose a spicy salsa and weren't disappointed. Adding some chopped cilantro, squeeze of fresh lime, and sour cream made the dish and cooled down the spiciness.  At least, Mr. F agreed after polishing off two bowls.

Definitely a "keeper" recipe!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Southwest Cumin Salad


Does it feel like Halloween lasted FOREVER this year, or was it just me?  Maybe it was because it fell on a Monday so the weekend was crammed-packed with Halloween everything. Astonishingly enough, I think I might have already overdosed on baked goods and dessert parties.  I know, I feel terrible just admitting this.  Don't worry, I feel a second wind coming on soon.

To take my mind off all the chocolate and refined sugar coursing through my veins, I have started making this addictive salad. Of course the salad components are extremely important; however, the creme-de-la-creme is the cumin vinaigrette. Cumin?! ...may not sound appealing but wait till you taste it!  Side note: This is the same message I gave to a co-worker who told me that my pumpkin cookies looked like crap...but tasted soo good! 

The Southwest part is a little of this and a little of that: Teriyaki & Ginger chicken, black beans, corn, red onion, avocado, tomato, dollop of sour cream, and crushed Tostitos Black Bean Chips.  Mix it all together and just start inhaling.  You won't be sorry.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Lasagna


For better or worse, I decided that I was going to start being more health conscience: nutrition and exercise.  This was capped off this past weekend by my INSANE idea to begin doing the P90X Ab Ripper workout.   So off Mr. F and I went, completed the entire thing fairly painlessly and even thought perhaps I could have pushed myself a little harder. Fast forward to the next morning, whereby I couldn't move.  I am not talking muscle pain, stretch it out, and go on about your day. I am talking, cant laugh or sneeze or any sudden movements that might involve my ab muscles, and you can forget walking at any speed faster than a snail's pace. Needless to say, I have been running fairly regularly...and yes, today I will again attempt the ab ripper from hell workout. No pain, no gain, right?   *eye roll*

Food-wise, I came across this recipe for a fall lasagna. Fresh butternut squash, pumpkin, white sauce and egg noodles were the main ingredients in this find.  I was hoping to show Mr.F that not every meal needs to contain meat.  Vegetables can be filling and delicious...amazing! A little time consuming and a week's worth of leftovers later, this lasagna will go into my seasonal recipes. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Spinach Parmesan Turkey Meatballs


Fall: not simply a season for weather but the start of new TV shows!

In my wise, old mid-twenties, I do see myself as a television connoisseur of sorts. Mr. F and I  have a particularly fond taste in the mini-series and documentary categories. However this unique interest, more so with documentaries, has to led to some ridicule by some friends (you know who you are)... we prefer to call this interest a quest for knowledge and the ability to form intelligent conversations :p  That being said, we also enjoy some shows that insist on using the always-awful laugh-track. Most recently and non laugh-track related, we have discovered the seasoned show, Breaking Bad. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a new TV addiction.

So what does any of this have to do with my posted recipe?  Besides a general statement regarding my viewing  preferences, nothing goes better with an evening of marathon television viewing than a hearty, comfort food. Spinach Parmesan Turkey meatballs take 45 minutes from start to finish. Easy enough  for anyone to make after a day's work.  While the baked spinach and turkey mixture seems healthy enough, the cheese, breadcrumbs and white sauce negates most healthy factors BUT still better than the traditional beef and sausage meatball combo. These meatballs would still be delicious without the sauce and served with a parmesan coucous.

Most importantly, when Mr.F  was craving spaghetti and meatballs, this recipe more than sufficed. Let me put it this way, when I can interchange healthier ingredients into a recipe and Mr. F doesn't notice the difference, I call it a success! Word of advice to those looking to secretly sub recipe ingredients: spinach is green so it will be noticed. It's not as easy to pass off as a traditional meatball but they sure do taste just as good.

Monday, September 26, 2011

French Vanilla Cream Puffs


Twenty-seven cream puffs were shared with co-workers, and it only took about 20 minutes for them to disappear. I do not usually make note of the amount of time it takes people to consume my food but I would definitely call this recipe a success.

Luckily, I stored away these three lone puffs for photographic purposes or else they would have been devoured with the rest...and no, I did not eat them all myself. Although, these cream puffs were so delicious that I easily could have hoarded them away for selfish reasons.

Light and airy pastry shells, filled with a french vanilla custard and topped with a chocolate ganache. They may look and sound a bit difficult but you will be surprised by the ingredients and ease of directions. The only consideration should be to the time-span in which you are looking to serve these little puppies. Due to a short fridge-life, I would serve the cream puffs within 1-2 days of baking.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Peach Pie


EEK! Its officially the beginning of Fall and I have waited too long on this post.  Now, my peach pie is out of season. Although if you lived in the warm, humid climate that I do, the stores are still bountiful with peaches and nectarines.

I would argue that the pie crust is the  most important element in a pie.  I understand the the filling is crucial to actually calling the dessert a "pie", however, I usually eat my way around the crust anyway.  When I'm finished with dessert, extra filling may be present on the plate but crust (if delicious) never is. I have used this same pie crust recipe in the strawberry-rhubarb pie posted. However the filling consisted of fresh Georgia peaches, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla, and some cornstarch. Next time, I would add more sugar which will be noted in the recipe. 

Maybe this pie will keep the feeling of summer alive a little longer. Or since Fall is officially upon us, apples in lieu of peaches will also work for a deep dish apple pie.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Banana Bread


I had to bake this banana bread recipe in mini loaves or else I might have eaten the whole batch in a single sitting. And, anything "mini" is just plain adorable. Whenever I have bananas at my disposal that have reached their ripe peak, I will whip up some banana bread. Incredibly simple and amazingly delicious, this recipe couldn't be any better.  In fact, letting the bread sit overnight in a air-tight container only enhances the flavor.

This is one of my favorite recipes that I hope will become of yours as well.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fresh Yeast


No recipe just an observation on the amazing powers of fresh yeast.  Ever heard of it? Well, if you have the mindset to bake anything with yeast and the whereabouts to find the product, go for it!

I feel the need to summarize my past bread-making adventures in three words: Hunk-of-brick. I don't know if I use too hot of water to dissolve the yeast or just stink at the overall process. However, I was recently bestowed a pound of fresh or "wet" yeast to experiment with. I was told that this magical ingredient would help me overcome my fears of bread making...that, or I should just give up on such endeavors. If wet yeast didn't produce a successful product than I am truly a lost cause.  OK, they didn't quite put it in such terms but that was the general drift. And these bakers should know, they own Franklin Street Pizza and Pasta in Chapel Hill, NC.  Which if you ever have the chance to try, I HIGHLY suggest the spinach pizza (although Mr. F would argue that the Florentine is the best). SIMPLY Mouthwatering... but I digress.  They were nice enough to notice my bread failures and offered some help in the form of wet yeast.

Fresh yeast has a much shorter life span than dry yeast, about a week in the fridge.  Keeping it tightly wrapped isn't necessarily a requirement but more of suggestion as the product smells like wet feet *yum*. Another concern I had were the directions on how to incorporate into a recipe that traditionally uses dry yeast. As none were included, I set out researching and discovered that the same "feeding" procedures were to be used. Some warm liquid and sugar would liven up the yeast to use in bread. 

The picture is worth a thousand words. I could scream from the rooftops "I CAN BAKE BREAD!" All is not lost. Not only did my brioche loaves turn a beautiful golden brown, they were light and fluffy inside.
If you can find the fresh yeast, I highly recommend using it.

Thanks Pizza and Pasta for helping me overcome my yeast- baking hurdle. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Chocolate Cake in a Cup


Two posts in one day?!?! I know I have been a post slacker the past few weeks so I couldn't just post a recipe on corn and call it a day. That would just be cruel. So I have decided to share one of my newest discoveries. Chocolate cake in a cup...is this cupful of deliciousness for real?

This cake is so rich, I usually cut this recipe in half and even in the best cases can I even finish that. However, I must share with you that I have discovered a coconut ice cream that only makes this dessert more sinful. A few tablespoons of this, teaspoons of that, 3 minutes in the microwave and this can all be yours.

Is that your stomach rumbling I hear?

Creamed Corn with Spinach


On the rare occasions that I eat a steak, a starchy, creamy, and/or cheesy side dish is a must with the meal. This usually translates into some variation on the potato. In fact, this same meal contained both but I could have easily done without the baked potato. This creamed corn can stand its own with a steak.

It may be hard to tell based on the photo but this corn and spinach combo is creamy and full of fresh cut flavor. In this case, a steak is the perfect pairing.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Shrimp N' Grits


I like to call this dish "food that deserves stretchy pants." I dare you to put your fork down before your plate is wiped clean. Once inhaled, all you can think is the couch looks amaaazing and stretchy pants would be awesome.  Occasionally, everyone deserves a comfort dish and this is definitely on my top 10. 

Boursin grits, andouille sausage, and spicy shrimp all soaked in a cajun-style roux. I even take the dish a step further and sear the grit cakes so a nice crunch is added. If you don't feel like waiting for the grits to set for a few hours, the traditional hot-off-the-stove version is perfectly delicious. 

While this is a southern dish, even non-southerners will fall in love and will most likely appreciate the experience of new ingredients. It is always a pleasure to introduce someone to andouille sausage and the life changing side dish...grits.  Grits in any form are delicious, not to mention those covered in cheese.

Yes, even in this extreme heat a great comfort dish is necessary.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Honeydew Sorbet


Heat wave 2011! Oddly enough, Florida is one of the cooler states in the country right now. 98 degrees with 100% humidity is nothing new for our summers but hearing the Northern states complain is getting old, fast. Here are my fast tips for battling the heat: wear short sleeves, drink water, wear sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat, and if you get so hot that you can't stand it anymore, buy a fan! So in an effort to suppress the extreme dehydration that might be setting in, I have created a refreshing honeydew sorbet.

With hardly any sugar, this sorbet tastes like a frozen honeydew in your mouth. Simplistic but definitely perfect for a picnic or dessert.  I could have eaten this entire container in one night...you won't want to stop!
Try out the recipe with different fruits, combine them, mix 'em up, experiement.  Maybe by the time you have filled yourself with sorbet the  heatwave will be over.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Spinach Stuffed Portobellos


While I may not have posted in the last two weeks, I have been doing a lot of cooking/baking, photography of food, and eating.  I would have to admit that of everything made, these spinach stuffed portobello mushrooms have become my new favorite.  Out of the last 14 days, I would have to say 10 have included this dish (not exaggerating).  

Healthy, cheesy, super simple, and reheats great, the only thing that is keeping them from my dinner plate this evening is the lack of mushrooms in my fridge.  I have even changed up the original recipe a tad and added panko bread crumbs, cayenne pepper, different cheeses, you name it.  

Don't worry, not everything that I have been making is healthy... not unless you count sugar, cream, and butter as food groups.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie


Dessert and my father do not mix.  He does enjoy them occasionally; however, a piece of cheese sounds  like a better last course than a piece of cake. Obviously, I did not inherit his taste in food.  But over many Halloweens, I have discovered his weakness... peanut butter cups! So for this past Father's Day, I made this chocolate peanut butter pie.  Wouldn't you know, for the first time in my life, Dad got a second helping of dessert. 

An Oreo crust, cream cheese peanut butter center, and topped with a dark chocolate ganache. I could have done a little more with the presentation but I was too eager to inhale the pie instead.  So roasted peanuts served as a wonderful garnish.  And any dessert that can overcome my Dad's resistance to sweets is definitely a keeper; especially on Father's Day. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Raspberry Clafouti


Doesn't this picture make you think of a Sunday Brunch? Well, I hate to ruin the imagery but this was taken on a Tuesday after work.  I know, it's a weeknight, what am I thinking?

Sorting through some recipes, I came across a picture of this souffle, custard-like dessert.  I had no clue what a clafouti was but I knew I had to have it. I did the in-depth research. *Think Ina Garten and Wikipedia. Only top notch sources for knowledge. Come to find out, it's origin is French.  Pronounced Cla-Foo-Tee, I really thought it might be a deeply southern dessert.  Say it out loud and add a twang...yea, you can hear it. 

I also found that traditionally this dish is made with cherries (I will eat them but not as a first choice in fruit.) Instead, I found that raspberries and chambord might make for an even better take on the traditional version.  Boy was I right! Light like a souffle but rich like a lightly sweetened custard, the raspberries went perfectly.  Simple ingredients make the clafouti easy and quick to prepare.

Go ahead and surprise your family or guests with this dessert.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Blueberry Polenta Pancakes


Picture this...
The cool breeze of summer, sun shining, surrounded by mountains, crisp air, and blueberry bushes are filled with plump berries. Where does such a place of perfection exist?  Why, the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. 

For me, summertime is reminiscent of past summers and college years spent in the western NC mountains. In July and August, blueberry picking is in full swing and even hiking on the parkway can reveal some wild bushes.  These are the perfect berries.  Slightly sweet and sour, they can be eaten straight off the bush or baked into goodies.  Can you tell I am craving a vacation? While the berries available for purchase in the produce section are good, hand-picked mountain berries are where my heart lies. So when I came upon this recipe for Blueberry Polenta Pancakes, I just had to recreate them.

They are not as sweet as say a ricotta or traditional pancake but they are superb with a side of bacon.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Passion Fruit Sponge Cakes


I love finding new and unique products.  While strolling through a new Super Wally World in my area, I was drawn to the international aisle.  So many fun ingredients and foods! My eyes and stomach are screaming at the chance to partake in all the variety.  To me, the real test of any international aisle excellence is the  presence of peanut butter flavored "Bamba" from Israel.  In a blue bag with a cartoon boy on the front, these morsels of puffed peanut butter will leave you craving for more. SOOO GOOD! This store had everything...including passion fruit pulp.  So exotic, I just had to try. No idea what to do with it but no worries, the inspiration would come.

Adapted from a ricotta pound cake, I topped these individual cakes with a slightly sweetened passion fruit puree.  Once the warm cakes had been covered, they transformed into more of sponge cake.  Not heavy in the slightest, I could eat all of these in a sitting...but I wont, for now at least.

An experiment in baking = successful

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Key Lime Tarts


Outside my window: Not a cloud in the sky. Temperature is in the high 70's.   Turtles are sunning themselves while an otter swims around playing.  Yes, I live in Florida. These are the days that I learn to appreciate. In between the windy, wet winter and before the hot-as-blazes, I-need-a-shower summer, there exists a week of perfection.  And if the perfection of this Floridian week could be baked in a pie, it would be key lime. 

I have definitely had my share of key lime pies but this recipe is among my top favorites. Including the crust, these tarts consist of a total of 6 ingredients.  Yes, I did say tarts.  Why would I go to the trouble to bake individual tarts when I could easy fit everything into one simple pie? Good question. Mr. F was nice enough to purchase these tart pans that I just HAD to have... and after 6 months of sitting in my cabinet, I finally put them to good use :) And they are cute.

As a gift from me to you, please enjoy some Florida sunshine. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala

Would you believe that this is the first Indian dish I have ever made? When it comes to certain international cuisines, I am lucky to be able to pronounce the ingredients.  I could not tell you what garam masala is but I can say that it sure does make this dish taste delicious.

Funny enough, this version is the lightened recipe of a traditional tikka masala.  The original contains butter and cream but , frankly, you will not even miss it.  By itself, the chicken is simply a-m-a-z-i-n-g!  I advise making an extra few pieces for a future salad, YUM.  Thrown into the sauce, the chicken does not lose any flavor but rather gains a new level of complexity. 

Served with a side of brown rice and steamed green beans, this dish was healthy and mouth-watering. And if you are lucky enough to have leftovers the next night, the dish doesn't lose any flavor.

Simply. Wow.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Almond Apple Crisp



Like so many, I did my part for Passover.  I bought a box a matzo. Because nothing says understanding the plight of the Jewish people like a box of Matzo.  *OK, so that same box is still in the pantry half full but it was the thought of the purchase that counts. To top off Passover, I also attended the family Seder. 

During the course of the evening, I discovered that I have no taste for Tzimmas , brisket cooked with prunes, go figure. But I did discover that while the holiday limits the range of desserts that can be included, almond flour makes an excellent and nutritious substitute. In this almond apple crisp, not only are ingredients parve for Pesach, they are also gluten-free. *A dessert that is so healthy is not usually my thing; however, I also brought a flourless chocolate cake that balanced the usage of calories. Apples, almond flour, spices, honey, oil and salt...that's it!

Serve with ice cream and the dessert is complete.

Monday, April 18, 2011

S'more Ice Cream



A childhood favorite in the form of an ice cream...oh yeah!  I have always loved the combination of a S'more.  I think back on all the charred marshmallows that I inhaled during those summer campfires. As you can imagine I was very particular in my S'more construction. There is a precise ratio of marshmallow to chocolate to graham cracker that must be established or the taste of the marshmallow is lost. Oh the stomach aches...

Beside eating out the jar *don't judge, there are so many things that one can do with marshmallow fluff.
And what a better way to celebrate the S'more flavor combination than through a homemade ice cream. A marshmallow base mixed with morsels of chocolate and soft graham crackers.

This recipe did make it into the hands of some taste-testers.  Yes, it defintely earned their approval.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Turkey Burger Sliders



Occasionally, I stumble upon recipes that I am immediately drawn too...Ok, this happens ALOT. I erupt into a cooking frenzy and have five completed dishes by days end. The best part are my taste testers usually chosen at random by whomever is within reaching distance. I wish I could say that the result of these turkey sliders lasted long enough to go to testers outside of myself and Mr. F.

They were consumed so quickly that I immediately set a plan to make more sliders for the week ahead.  An easy, microwavable burger that we could eat for lunch or snack.  To be paired with these herb stuffed turkey burgers I decided that some warm goat cheese would go perfectly. I was also drawn to the addition of drizzling some greek vingerette over the top of the burger.  And the creme de la creme was my carefully chosen roll choice...Hawaiian Sweet Rolls!
Perfect for a party, do yourself a favor and make these sliders. 

P.S I did also make these as full-size burgers on toasted onion rolls. YUM

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Matzo Toffee Brittle


For once I am ahead of the holiday in posting a recipe, instead of three weeks late. With matzo in the title, can anyone guess what holiday I am refering too? Why, Passover of course!

For those not familiar with Passover, it is the one time of year that the grocery store stockpiles all the kosher food and parades them in the front of store. It's almost as if they are saying "yes, we support this holiday with this minimal selection of matzo and and gefilte fish." *For those that have never tried the congealed, fish-in-a-bottle called gifilte fish, I dare you to try it.  You'll love it...and yes, I am being sarcastic.

Regardless of whether you look forward to Passover every year or simply eat a piece of matzo to satisfy your Jewish spouse *cough, cough Mr. F, everyone will enjoy Matzo Toffee Brittle. A little messy to make but delicious to eat, this confection is carmelized sugar spread over plain matzo sheets and topped with melted chocolate and almonds. 

This is especially perfect for introducing others to the holiday. The mention of matzo is usually a conversation starter.

Happy Passover!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Guest Post Tostones with Mojito


* Ever wondered how to make perfectly fried plantains? As one of my favorite snacks, I was excited to learn from the plantain master, LD.  Please enjoy this guest post and I'll be back later this week.
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In America, most kids grew up taking a cookie or two from the cookie jar before dinner. Well that wasn’t exactly the case where I grew up. In Puerto Rico, most kids (including myself) skipped the cookies and went straight for the first batch of tostones (Spanish for fried plantains) to come out of the frying pan. Why is this? It’s simple…they’re amazing!! And guess what? You don’t have to wait in line at Pollo Tropical or Bahama Breeze to have your next batch.  

Let me share with you the art of making tostones in 10 “easy” steps.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Perfect Bruschetta


Make no mistake, the title "The Perfect Bruschetta" is not a typo.  I'm am willing to bet this recipe against any restaurant version.  Yes, I am that confident.

Let me paint a picture of perfection for you.  French bread toasted till golden with a little olive oil, covered with melt-in-your-mouth fresh mozzarella, and topped with a sweet and salty tomato/basil roasted combo.  In other words, tomato-hating Mr. F has consumed these morsels of deliciousness three consecutive nights in row.  By any household standards, I would say that three nights of eating the same dish that was followed by moans of satisfaction would have to deemed...perfection. Ok, that may sound a little too graphic but you catch my drift.

Do yourself a favor and don't skimp on the fresh mozzarella. It makes a world of difference. A few minutes of prep work and nice glass of wine turn this meal utterly irresistible.

Enjoy

Monday, March 21, 2011

Marshmallow Coffee Sponge Cake



Let the cookouts begin!  In the Florida springtime, or before the humidity and heat are intolerable, the grills are being lit and potlucks are coming into full swing.  Besides combining the most delicious ingredients, this recipe is quick, easy, and a perfect crowd pleaser.  

Once again, I have chosen to recreate a recipe from my great-grandmothers cookbook.  The end result is reminiscent of a Tirasmisu. I can list on one hand the number of ingredients involved in assembly. Ultimately, the most time consuming part of this cake is letting it sit in the fridge. If you have fresh strawberries or raspberries on hand as a garnish...even better.  I'm futher curious to see the effect of the cake with the middle layer of lady fingers dipped in coffee or drizzled with almond or ameretto flavoring. 

YUM

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Beets with Orange Sauce



Time may change some things but good recipes will survive forever.  

This weekend, I was privileged enough to inherit some of my grandmother's cookbooks.  Among this collection was one of my great-grandmother's books.  However, I should probably clarify this last statement.  My great-grandmother "owned" this cookbook and the family had their favorites BUT my great -grandmother never stepped foot in a kitchen. She was simply fantastic at planning the menu not actually making it.

 So while flipping through the 1930's cookbook, I was reminded of one of my personal favorites: Beets in Orange Sauce.  It may sound strange and , yes, you must like beets; however, this side dish is fantastic with chicken.  In fact, I can eat these as a main dish.  I've adapted the recipe slightly to fit our "modern" conveniences, such as cooked beets in a can or taking out the mess of a double boiler. 

For now, I highly recommend taking the 2 minutes to mix together these beets. I hope you enjoy!

Just a side note: Interestingly enough, I'm finding that a large majority of desserts from this era include marshmallows as base for frostings and pies.  I will explore further and report back.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Crab Cakes


I don't know about the rest of you but I go through food phases. What can I say... One day I can crave a particular food and the next day completely detest it.  For example, last week, I made three dinners that starred red meat.  As of last night, as I was sitting with what I was hoping to be a purely delicious BBQ meatloaf and provolone hoagie, turned out in the trash can 30 seconds after my first bite.  So now, I am onto another main food ingredient, seafood.

Surprisingly, I have NEVER made a crab cake before; however, I have eaten my fair share.  I expect a crab cake to be mainly lump crabmeat and not breading. Side note: Yes, I splurged on REAL, local crabmeat and not crab flavored whatever-you-call those sticks.  I even followed the recipe and used red peppers.  For those that know me can attest to the fact that there are very few things that I usually will not eat. Sadly to say, cilantro and bell peppers make that list.  However, I do love hot peppers and sweet peppers.  I'm guessing with bell peppers being so expensive right now, they are not in season. Hey, I just spent a small fortune on crabmeat, I was not going to spend another $3 for a pepper that I do not like anyway. So sweet peppers it is! A few other ingredients, shape into patties, sear, and serve! Voila

The leftovers also work well in sandwich form.  How does a toasted Hoagie roll with a smear of tartar sauce and a crab cake sound?  I know, life is hard.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara


Have you ever had one of those dishes that you can't get out of your mind? That no matter where you turn, you see the dish or recipe on every menu, billboard, or cooking show?  

For the past few weeks, I have been seeing pasta carbonara everywhere I have gone.  Maybe it's the angel on my shoulder telling me that I shouldn't be ordering pasta so instead I lust over a dish that is out of my reach.  I can smell the pasta, pancetta and warm parmesan all melding together in a simplistic yet mouth-watering pasta dish.  This is a true comfort food.  So needless to say, I had to give into my craving.  

From start to finish, Spaghetti Alla Carbonara takes a mere 15 minutes.  Unlike most pasta dishes, this recipe does not include a sauce.  Instead, a mound of parmesan cheese and egg are whipped together and combined with the hot pasta.  While coating the pan, the egg cooks and the cheese melts.  The result is a creamy dish with hints of pancetta (or in my case, bacon), garlic, and peas.

Simply Outstanding!

Monday, February 14, 2011

In Honor of Valentines Day



Because I feel the need to post something red and Valentine's day-ish and because, once again, I have been slacking on the posting (I do have legitimate excuses, I promise), please accept this repost of one of my favorite recipes...Red Velvet Sandwich Cookies.  Soon to post is my most recent creation, Raspberry Pate de Fruits.  In the meantime, HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!
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There is just something unexplainable about this colorful cake of deliciousness that makes you go mmmmmmm. So you can naturally guess what happened when Fork2 and I found the original cookie recipe from Bakerella. Our only problem was with the cream center, which was a cream cheese frosting.


Now, while we do enjoy cream cheese frosting, its usually very sweet, WAY too sweet for our taste buds. But, before we get into how we altered the cream center, let us give the secret to forming perfectly sized cookies every time. wait for it...wait for it.... it's a melon baller! A 1.5 inch melon baller to be exact. Just make sure you scoop an even number of cookies or else who will be missing the other half of this delectable sandwich.
Please note, these are red velvet cookies, not whoopie pies so a little flatter and crispier than a cake. These cookies are so easy to make, we almost feel like we've cheated. You'll see why in the recipe.
So now that the cookie part is covered, how did we find the perfect variation on a cream cheese frosting that would pair with the red velvet? First thought: cut down on the amount of sugar. Done. Easy. Secondly, we found that the cream cheese was now soo overpowering that the center wasn't so much of a "fluff" as a paste. This would not do. Solution: Marshmallow fluff.


Now do we have your attention??? Enough talking, bet you are ready for the recipe.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Chocolate Wafer Icebox Cake


I've just finished watching "Eat, Pray, Love" with Julia Roberts.  Besides the unbelievable relationship with  James Franco (with whom I can never get past his role in "Pineapple Express") and the intense Hari Krishna mediation, I LOVED the Italian culinary exploration.  I could have watched the "Eat" part all night and done without the "Pray, Love".  Still, I had the overwhelming desire to pour myself a glass of wine at the end. And what goes better with wine than chocolate.

Simplicity at its best, a Chocolate Wafer Icebox Cake is one of those lost desserts that still beats out any high-maintenance chocolate recipe.  It is reminiscent of an oreo but in cake form.  Best of all, it stores well in the freezer. So when you have a chocolate craving that must be satisfied, this is a go-to recipe. 

Friday, January 7, 2011

Garlic Cheddar Biscuits



Its such a shame that this picture doesn't fully convey the deliciousness of these biscuits.  Seriously, this picture is down-right ulgy! I almost threw out this post entirely. However, this recipe is so amazing, I can't keep it a secret any longer. 

I've been told that I need to make regular batches of these biscuits to fully satisfy my tastetester. During those crazy worknights that I do not feel like cooking a 5- course meal, I can easily whip up these biscuits, serve with leftovers, and trick Mr.F into believing that I have slaved away all day. Sounds perfect, except that I quickly realized these biscuits send him into a cheese,butter, and garlic euphoria which translates into the need for me to bake more. Oh well, life could be worse.  These biscuits could be made from scratch....oops, I've let the secret out.

You heard correctly, this recipe calls for a biscuit mix, cheese, water, and a garlic butter.  I've considered another delicious addition...bacon.  How can that be terrible?  My mouth is watering just thinking about these biscuits hot out the oven, covered in butter.
YUM

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cranberry Salad


Im Back!

After a crazy few months, I finally have 3 additional letters to add to my title and more time to spend in the kitchen.  I can cook and bake till my heart is content... or I collapse from utter exhaustion.  Either way, time in the kitchen translates into time spent here on the blog.

Anyone have big plans for 2011? For myself and Mr. F, 2011 will be a big year.  For the hubs, the end of law school is in sight! Additionally, Fork 2 has opted for a year of International travel and learning.  Anyone know what "Good Luck" or "Bon Voyage" is in Spanish?

For a fresh start to the New Year,  there is nothing better than this crisp, fresh, and slightly sweet cranberry salad.  This is a family favorite year round but especially during the fall and winter months when cranberries are in season. Mr. F eats this stuff as candy. He's not big into sweets but he LOVES a bowl as a snack or for dessert.

This fruit salad is extremely simple to prepare; yet, the hardest part is to let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours. Otherwise, the cranberries are too tart to eat right after preparation.
Enjoy!

 
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