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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