nutella braid

Can you guess why I decided I needed to make this recipe? It was love at first sight. It’s sooo pretty and it made my house smell like heaven as it was baking. I won’t lie, this recipe is a little involved. It is really, truly from scratch (well, besides picking your own hazelnuts to make the nutella, but I bet someone has a recipe for that too!). As a reformed perfectionist, undertaking this recipe was both exciting and nerve wrecking. I wanted it to come out just like the picture, and of course that is almost impossible. So if you decide to go for it, embrace the messiness and know that it is bread stuffed with nutella and that it will taste delicious no matter what. And if it goes really wrong, promise me you will post it on pinterestfail.com (and yes, if you haven’t gone on this site, you need to go right now).  Continue reading “nutella braid”

peanut butter perfection

There is something particularly dangerous about a dessert that is quick, easy, and insanely delicious. Rice krispie treats of any flavor are a great last minute dessert that can impress, especially now that the world of pinterest has made it all too easy to thumb through hundreds of different twists on this classic treat. I stumbled upon this recipe and knew I had to make it. My husband’s favorite candy is a Reese’s peanut butter cup, and I *might* have drooled over how pretty they looked. It’s kind of brilliant that these are basically plain rice krispies with peanut butter cup bits stirred in, which turn into melty swirls of peanut butter and chocolate. And the topping makes them look gourmet with minimal effort. The most difficult step in this very short recipe is unwrapping the candies, which you can totally get help with if you promise your volunteer that it’s okay if a few Reese’s go missing in the process. Since making these, I have been asked to make them on several occasions and they are always a hit. I double the recipe for a big gathering (I might have this unnecessarily HUGE brownie pan I fell in love with) which makes a sheet of rice krispies big enough to use as a pillow. Or inspiration for poetry. Or for sharing. Yes, lots of sharing. I actually mis-read the original recipe which calls for cocoa krispies, but I am so glad I did! These are perfect the way they are, with just the right amount of chocolate and peanut butter. Enjoy!

*note: Omit the Reese’s and the drizzle on top and you have the perfect basic Rice Krispie treat recipe. Keep it simple or experiment with other add ins! Continue reading “peanut butter perfection”

cauliflower power

You’ll have to forgive me, it’s literally been almost a year since I last posted on here. Really, I post mostly for my own ability to find good recipes we’ve had when I am scrambling for dinner ideas at 5:05pm on a weekday after work. So maybe I will apologize to myself. I have a lot of great recipes we’ve discovered this past year that need to find their way on to this site. I am hoping to play some serious catch up. My second apology is for some of the pictures I am going to post (i.e. the one for this recipe) as the sun sets at like 4:30 these days, so lovely, naturally lit pictures are out until the next time change. Oh well.

This recipe is one I found in my real simple magazine after we spent New Year’s Eve cleaning out our pantry (no lie, it was 10pm and being the crazy party animals we are, we were chucking half our pantry to rid ourselves of expired and unhealthy items). Hidden in the depths of the third shelf was a glorious stash of quinoa that I had no idea was back there, so I have been using the opportunity to try out new recipes using what we already have. This was a really simple, delicious dinner that looks so pretty with out all the effort. In our house it was even easier as a team effort–hubby out on his new birthday grill using his deeply ingrained man-tuition to grill the steaks to perfection (he’s surprisingly good for not having had a grill until a few months ago). Now, the real jewel in this recipe is the pureed cauliflower. I always hear about people trying to replace potatoes with cauliflower and I have never been convinced–until now. It was just like mashed potatoes, it was kind of amazing. I cheated with this recipe a little—I used a bag of “steam fresh” frozen lightly seasoned garlic cauliflower, and it was so flavorful. I also cooked the quinoa my traditional way, as the first time I followed the recipe it was a little crunchy and under done. A few other minor tweaks and this is now a go-to meal for us. It really only takes about 15-20 mins to make, and it’s a good healthy meal for two (multiply the recipe as needed to fit your family size). Continue reading “cauliflower power”

supremely minestrone

I saw this recipe across a crowded room and it was love at first sight. We had finally made it across town to try out this new barbecue place. We were chowing down on some seriously delicious pulled pork sandwiches when Ina Garten caught my eye on the television. After trying to figure out why in the world they would be playing the Food Network at a restaurant, I found myself caught in that very trap– drooling over food on tv while subsequently stuffing my stomach full of another delicious food (because America!). I scribbled down the name of the recipe and ‘barefoot contessa’ so I could look the recipe up later. I think it was the allure of the giant pot, full to the brim with chunks of veggies. And the most brilliant and delicious little tip I learned while watching Ina work her magic—-I saw her RUB a garlic clove across the tops of the toasted french bread. The heck with garlic salt. It half grated, half melted itself into what I would soon learn is the most delicious main course topping for a hot soup on a cold day. You know, those cold cold, snowy Florida days.

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better than bakery buttercream

There is something you need to know. It’s a secret way to make almost any butter cream icing better. It’s the magic little trick that you need to bring your sweets to the next level. And once you know, there’s no turning back. Are you ready?? Are you sure?

Cream cheese.

I don’t care if it’s vanilla, chocolate, cookie butter (yes, this IS an icing flavor and go—make it now), as long as it’s a butter cream it will be better with cream cheese. The magic is, it won’t mess up your recipe and it will improve the texture to help make it creamy and thick. Just 4 ounces of cream cheese isn’t noticeable enough to make it “cream cheese icing”, but adds the extra ‘mmm…’ to keep people wondering.

This is a wonderful vanilla butter cream recipe that is perfect for piping that perfect bakery swirl. It isn’t overly sweet and is easy to adjust for different occasions. Add a little peanut butter, nutella, or cookie butter (yeah, I’m bringing that up again!) in at the end for your own special twist. 

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spectacular salmon

So… I never liked salmon. And by that, I mean that I am pretty sure I never even tried salmon until about a year ago under the assumption that I wouldn’t like it. It’s easy enough to avoid. With a swift “Oh, no thanks, I don’t like salmon” a lifetime can fly by (because I am so old ; ) where you have never even taken a bite. I don’t know why, I guess it’s the pink color that reminds me of under cooked chicken. So about a year ago I took the plunge. I like fish. People like salmon. I like most people. And it was good! And I was happy. And I was a little sad for all the times I had turned it away. But I assure you, we have probably made up lost times times two. The best part is that this salmon recipe takes 8 minutes and four ingredients. And to top it off, paired up with whole wheat cous cous and steamed green beans, the entire meal is easily multi-tasked together in 10 minutes (or see the above variation of brussel sprouts and quinoa-brown rice). It’s my new, healthy go-to meal when I hit the 5 o’clock meal panic after work. Enjoy!

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when life gives you lemons

This was my first pinterest fail. Normally I can sort the good from the bad for the most part by looking through the recipe, but for some reason I followed this recipe blindly and didn’t think to edit it. So when I went to make this lemon blueberry bread, I took it’s lemony, berry goodness from the oven and was impressed at first. Then I poked holes in it and brushed what I can only remember as an endless supply of lemon-sugar syrup onto it (reassured by the recipe to make sure to use it ALL). Then, I made the lemon glaze. And lemon lemon lemon later, I tried a piece. My husband got a good kick out of watching me bite into it and literally shiver. I shoved it all into the garbage, regretting the time it took to make when I could have been sleeping cleaning the house in high heels. Yeah. But I remembered how happy that little loaf looked before I drowned it in lemon, so I gave it another shot. I followed the recipe, omitted the syrup, and made a vanilla glaze. It is a great balance of flavors and perfectly moist. I recommend a slice with a big cup of coffee. Because it’s bread. Not cake. So it counts as breakfast. And don’t let anyone tell you otherwise : )

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THE white cake

 


photo courtesy of Linda Bainter at lovinthelight.com

Okay, so this is probably my dearest baking recipe. This is my “fancy white cake” recipe, if you will. This is the recipe I use for wedding cakes and special occasions. It is more work than any other cake recipe and it is infinitely more perfect in flavor and texture because of it. Call me shallow, but I DO judge books (and movies) by their covers (and rightfully so, or else there wouldn’t be people out there being paid to try and make them look appealing, thank you very much) and therefore it is super important to me that when I cut into a cake I’ve made, it makes this perfect, flat, clean cut and doesn’t crumble into a hot mess all over the place. So this cake really is perfect (see above). My favorite pairing with this light vanilla-almond white cake isfrom a raspberry jam (with seeds if people don’t mind—yum!).  The original recipe pairs it with a white chocolate buttercream (used in the picture above to create rosettes), which is delicious, light, and sweet and I will post as well. It isn’t my normal crusting buttercream that I use for wedding cakes, but I will post that another day. So if you are feeling ambitious or have a special event coming up, give it a go! Or call me and I will make you something special ; )

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my first meatball

 

So somehow I have gone my whole cooking “life” without ever making a meatball. It has literally never even crossed my mind. Strange, huh? I’ve had loads of delicious bbq meatballs at parties on toothpicks and loved them and never thought to ask for the recipe. And if I ever wanted spaghetti and meatball(s) I’d call up the road for some take out with a big bowl of garlic knots (yum! and I put the ‘s’ in parentheses because that wonderful place does one BIG meatball….mmm…). So after 3 days of having a fever and eating ‘cup of noodle’ 3 meals a day (ironically while watching a marathon of Worst Cooks in America BTW…woops…) I decided it was the time to treat my sweet hubs and myself to some real food courtesy of my own personal chef  slow cooker.

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my, oh my, apple apple pie

I got a special request to make these. My Uncle saw it and posted the link on my wall for Thanksgiving, which we wouldn’t be home for. I thought it was cute and forgot about them, but as Christmas got closer my mother informed me that my Uncle had hinted that he sure would love to try one of those apple pie apples….wink wink, nudge nudge. Of course, after looking them up to find the directions, the first thing that pulled up was a link to a “pinterest fail” with a picture of how it looked on pinterest (perfect little apples, browned and round) next to the “my attempt” picture, which looked more like the poor girl put mini bombs inside of each apple because they had literally exploded into a big mushy mess. Needless to say, I was a little worried as I embarked on making these myself. Luckily, they came out beautifully and were delicious (plan to put a scoop of vanilla on top if you have the chance!) although they don’t keep well so cook them accordingly so they can be eaten within a few hours of being out of the oven. Rumor is you need to keep an eye on them and don’t over bake, I believe that’s when the explosions occur, as the apples get too soft and you’ll end up with apple sauce.

The recipe is per apple, which gives you the flexibility of picking the number of apples you want to do. We did 8, 4 granny smiths and 4 fuji apples. The best types of apples for pies are granny smiths, braeburn, fuji, and pink lady apples. Some less easily available but delicious choices if you can find them are jonathan, jonagold, pippin, and gravenstein apples. Some to avoid are red delicious and golden delicious, gala, and cortland, since they tend to become mealy in pie fillings.

I baked these right after flying in to my mom’s house the night before Christmas Eve, so I opted for a premade pie dough in the refrigerated section and it made this recipe even easier and was delicious. If you have the time, try out making your own dough which I will post below as well.

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