Monday, June 29, 2009

TWD: Perfect Party Cake

I'm Late, I'm LATE! Can you beleive I started this last night....but it was during The Bachelorette and I lost all control at the rose ceremony. Let's get to the real business, shall we?

Welcome to another week of TWD!

This week was hosted by Carol of Mix, Mix…Stir, Stir. Be sure to run over to her blog for the recipe of this fabulous cake!

I must say, I have had my eye on this cake since I bought Baking From My Home to Yours. And I was super excited it was on the June baking roster.

I made this for our Father’s Day BBQ. When I brought it out, my brother in law asked “Did you really make that?” When I told him “YES!” He didn’t believe me. That is how utterly impressive this cake is.

I can’t say the cake was polished off by the guests that day, but those that did try it said it was literally the best cake they have ever had!

I didn’t make any changes to the cake batter itself. I had no problems with sinking or rising that some of the other bakers have complained about.

For the filling and frosting: I used very good quality red raspberry preserves from the Farmer’s Market for in between the layers. I had to whip 2 cups of Chantilly cream for in between the layers because the frosting recipe on the book was NOT enough. Next time I would probably double the recipe.
I loved the frosting, although I didn’t add the lemon juice to it. I also didn’t think it was too buttery like a few of the other bakers mentioned. I happen to love butter and thought it was rich and much better than a traditional American Buttercream with confectioners’ sugar, which I’m not a fan of.
I think the Chantilly cream did keep the flavor light so I would recommend using that for the inside layers. I omitted the coconut, and instead decorated it with raspberries to compliment the raspberry preserves.

To make frosting the cake easier, I froze the layers overnight, and then froze each layer for 10-20 minutes before I added another layer. That seemed to keep it together nicely.
I really enjoyed this cake and would definitely make it again!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Coconut Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise: No TWD Today

Sorry Folks....just couldn't fit in TWD today! I will be back in business next week for sure!

But that doesn't mean you have to miss out....check out our lovely host this week, Andrea, from Andrea in the Kitchen for the Coconut Roasted Pineapple Dacquoise for the recipe. Don't forget to check out what the other bakers were up to this week by checking out the TWD blogroll.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mediterranean Salad with Beef Tenderloin and Couscous Cakes

Last week, I found myself with an entire half of beef tenderloin. For some reason, my husband and I thought an entire tenderloin would barely feed 6. What were we thinking?

So there I was trying to rack my brain of all the recipes I could make with the leftovers to free my conscience of wasting food. I came up with a Mediterranean salad with tenderloin slices and couscous cakes.

I happen to love Mediterranean food, but now that I’m home full time, we don’t go out to dinner much. So I have been teaching myself how to make it at home. Had I known how easy it was….I would have started this a long time ago!

The couscous cakes remind me of a falafel. If you don’t know what that is, it’s like a fried chickpea cake (sorry I don’t know the exact ingredients) but these cakes are crispy on the outside and tender and moist on the inside plus full of great proteins from the chickpeas.

This is such a hearty salad with the feta, olives, cucumber, couscous cakes, and tenderloin that I may find myself eating more of this. It comes together quickly and it’s great for a weeknight meal or for a lazy weekend meal---all on the patio of course!

Tip: If you want to dip your couscous cakes in hummus, check out my homemade recipe here!

Mediterranean Mix Green Salad
1 bag mix greens
1 cup arugula
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
½ English cucumber, chopped
½ cup feta cheese
¼ cup kalamata olives
1 filet sliced

Greek Yogurt Dressing
1 tablespoon Greek yogurt (I used 0% Fage)
½ cup olive oil (I used Chef’s Choice Katz and Co.)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I used Katz and Co.)
2 teaspoons honey
1 tablespoon chopped mint
Kosher salt/freshly ground black pepper

Directions: In a small bowl wisk all the ingredients together until fully combined

Couscous Cakes
¾ cup couscous
¾ cup water
¾ cup canned chickpeas, drained (garbanzo beans)
¼ cup parsley, fresh, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 eggs
Zest of 1 lemon

In a medium saucepan boil water. Add couscous and stir quickly, then cover and remove from heat. Let sit about 4 minutes and then fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, add chickpeas, parsley and garlic. Give it a rough chop. You don’t want to puree this you want to have some chunks.

In a large bowl combine couscous, chickpea mixture, eggs and zest. Stir until combined.

With a ¼ measuring cup, pack the couscous mixture inside, and invert it to remove the cake. Set aside and continue with the rest of the mixture. You should get about 8 or 9.

In a medium sized skillet, add a few tablespoons of olive oil on medium high heat. Once pan is HOT, then add your couscous cakes and cook on each side until golden brown (about a couple of minutes).

Remove and set on paper towels.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Healthy Meal Alert: Spinach Granola Salad with Raspberry Yogurt Vinaigrette

Isn’t this salad beautiful? I just love the colors.

What’s more than just the colorful hue of the salad, is the flavor. In the summer months, I really like to pump up the volume on my salad intake. I eat salad year round…but when summer rolls around I typically have a lot more in good quality produce choices.

I actually saw the idea for this salad in Cuisine at Home Magazine. I had never even heard of it until I was staying at my sister’s in Chicago and her husband showed it to me. It’s a fabulous magazine and great for those who are starting out cooking. It has great step by step photos and explains everything….but has fabulous inventive recipes, too! (And no…they aren’t paying me for this free PR)

I made this salad with my homemade granola. I ALWAYS have it in the house because my husband takes it to work to eat with fruit and yogurt daily. If you want the chunks in the granola, just don’t stir the granola when it comes out of the oven. Let it cool, and then you can break up the chunks into desired pieces. I hear laying a cookie sheet on top while it cools works great too, but I’ve had good luck with the former instructions without dirtying another cookie sheet.

What I love about this salad that it’s FULL of good for you ingredients. If you look at a nutrition guide…all of these items will be listed. It’s full of omega 3’s, calcium, anti-oxidants, and folic acid. You won’t even know while eating it….it’s that amazing. Use a good olive oil, the flavor really makes a difference. Don’t fret too much about the fat in the olive oil, it’s got more of the ‘good for you’ fats, plus you need a bit of fat in the food to actually absorb these vitamins anyway.


Spinach Granola Salad with Raspberry Yogurt Vinaigrette
Recipe derived from: Cuisine at Home Magazine, June 2009

1 bag spinach
½ -2/3 cup granola chunks (see my homemade granola recipe)
½ cup fresh raspberries
½ sliced peach or mango
½ cup shelled edamame, steamed

Raspberry Yogurt Vinaigrette
½ cup olive oil (I used Storm Ranch)
2 tablespoons raspberry vinegar (Alessi makes a decent one that’s easy to find at most grocers)
1 teaspoon non-fat vanilla yogurt (you can use plain if you would like and any ‘fat’ content you wish is up to you)
Freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste

Directions: Assemble the salad ingredients into the bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, raspberry vinegar and yogurt. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the desired amount of dressing on the salad and toss. Serve immediately.

Tip: If you plan on serving this later in the day, just save the dressing until you are about to serve it. The dressing should be stored in the refrigerator, but bring it down to room temp to mix back together.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

TWD: Honey Peach Ice Cream

There is just something about ice cream that makes me happy. It just reminds me of the summers I spent in Northern Michigan with my family.

Each summer we would make the 3 hour trek to the lake…me and my two sisters crammed into the back seat. Typically we would fight about who was leaning on whom, who was breathing on whom, and who was ignoring who. I always got the middle seat because I was the youngest.
But after the one hundred questions to our mom and dad including “Are we there yet?” we would arrive at our destination, take in the smell of pine and evergreen trees and ….the smell of the lake. I love that smell.

Our vacation was never complete without a trip to our favorite candy and ice cream store, Ka-Jac’s (really it was a convenient store but to us….all we noticed was the ice cream and candy). I always got blue moon or superman. (What flavor is blue moon anyway? I’ve never been able to really figure that out?)

Even though I still love superman and blue moon ice cream, I have broadened my horizons to try a new ice cream when I go back to that party store. I don’t make it up to our family vacation spot as much anymore which is why I make a ton of ice cream at home.

I have never made peach ice cream, let alone honey peach; however it was a nice change! I left out the peach chunks because sometimes biting into ice fruit hurts my teeth. The ice cream was easy to make, and was very smooth. I used my handy Cuisinart ice cream maker. If you don’t have one—you really need to run out and get one. Homemade ice cream is so much better than store bought! The honey undertone flavor really makes the ice cream.

Thanks Tommi of Brown Interior for hosting TWD this week. If you would like the recipe—head on over to her page! You can also check out what the other bakers of TWD were up to this week by clicking on the blogroll.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Rosemary Chicken Burgers

I’ve been looking for some ‘healthier’ recipes for the summer season so when I saw Giada on the Food Network make these chicken rosemary burgers I was all over it like jam on toast.

I will say I ran into a bit of a problem-these are meant to be sticky—really sticky. But, when I halved the recipe, I failed to half the olive oil. Oops! So these were a sloppy mess and they didn’t quite stay together on the grill pan. Regardless, they were absolutely phenomenal and I will make these again. So if you are trying to cut out beef (did I really just say that??) these are the perfect alternative. I also used Smart Balance mayonnaise to cut back on some of the fat.

I paired these up with homemade buns (recipe from King Arthur). I make the dough in my breadmaker, then I pulled it out to shape the rolls, let I them rise, and then in the oven they go. From start to finish about 2 ½ -3 hours with about 10 minutes hands on time. Who knew making homemade rolls would be so amazing? Seriously…try these. You will never buy rolls again from the store!I added sliced peaches to the tops of the burgers for some added taste—amazing!!!

For the buns recipe, click here!

For the burger recipe, click here!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

TWD: Peach Tartlet

It’s TWD and a big thanks to Jessica from My Baking Heart for hosting this week!!

I decided to follow the ‘playing around’ section of this recipe because I bought a ton of peaches for the honey and peach ice cream (stay tuned it’s coming up next Tuesday!). I thought I would serve the two together but my hunger got the best of me mid-afternoon (before the ice cream was frozen) and I ate the tart. Before dinner.

I saved the other tart (as I only made two) for my husband to have after dinner anticipating that I would get to eat that one too as he usually eats one bite unless it’s a huge piece of chocolate something or other. So when I wandered into the kitchen late in the evening, he still had not eaten it. So I took a bite. When he saw me, he swooped into the kitchen and said “I thought that one was for me?” “Oh sorry”, I say with a mouth full of peachy tart. When I turned around….the tart was gone. GONE!

So needless to say, he loved it. I loved it.

Now a few things about this tart. First, it’s obvious that I used peaches and not apples. But you could use any similar fruit (pears, plums, apricots). And I would. I also added cinnamon sugar to the top. Because that is what I do.

Second, per request of Dorie, I bought ‘full butter’ pastry dough instead of Pepperidge Farm. I found mine at Trader Joe for $4.99 per the advice of the other bakers. I’m telling you—I shop Trader Joe weekly and have never noticed it. So I’m so thankful for our Q&A section on TWD—I always learn something. I will be buying this pastry dough from now on. It’s amazing. (Sorry guys, I was not motivated to try the pastry dough from scratch. Maybe next time. Because there WILL be a next time.)

The only thing I noticed about my tart that didn’t seem right was that it didn’t seem to rise as much as the picture in the book. I’m going to blame this on human error. I thought I was supposed to cut out rings to top the circle of pastry as I have seen this on a cooking show but I couldn’t get my geometry skills in tact to make sense of it. Since I had remaining dough—I just made cinnamon swirls ;)

If you would like the recipe, check out Jessica’s page! OR you can buy the book that all us Tuesday with Dorie bakers bake with!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Orange Sherbet

When I was a little girl, I was absolutely CRAZY about the ice cream man. My ears were conditioned like a hawk and I was able to pick up the lowest decibel of that “ice cream man music”….I can still hear it in my head…

For some reason, my dad had a soft spot for me, his youngest. And whenever I could hear the faint noise coming closer, I would dart into the house and ask if I could get an ice cream. He usually gave in, mainly because I think he loved the ice cream man as much as I did.

I can remember one time sitting at the end of my driveway-waiting. Brown hair, pig tails, my yellow cotton dress, oxford shoes, and my luggage colored, suede western purse with fringes hanging off the bottom. I just sat there. For two hours. What 6 year old do you know has that sort of dedication--to anything?

The ice cream man didn’t come that day, and when I went back into the house, my dad asked me if I got my ice cream (he had been watching me from our front bay window and knew he hadn’t). With my head to the floor, I shook my head. Barely able to keep it together. He laughed with his signature head thrown back laughter and took me into the kitchen and gave me an orange cream push up pop. It may or may not have been what I would have picked from the ice cream man (I usually got some mickey mouse or superman concoction) but I still remember that.

I still love push up pops….

So when I was on a library trip before my trip to Europe, I wandered over to the cookbook section and grabbed Williams Sonoma Ice Cream book….and the first thing I saw was Orange Sherbet. I knew I had to make it!

You won’t believe how much it reminded me of those push ups..and the day the ice cream man didn't show up.

(Twilight zone…the ice cream man just passed my house….gotta jet….I need to catch that man (or lady)!)

Orange Sherbet

Recipe derived from: Williams Sonoma Ice Cream

1 cup low fat milk
1 cup half-half
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Pour orange juice into a fine mesh sieve to get the pulp out. Then combine orange juice and sugar with a whisk until the sugar completely dissolves. Add milk and vanilla extract, whisk together until fully combined.

Run the mixture through a ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. I use a Cuisinart and I put mine in for about 20 minutes.

Remove sherbet from ice cream maker and store in an airtight container in the freezer for 2 hours before serving.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Arugula Goat Cheese Pizza with Roasted Garlic and Truffle Oil

After 10 days of living the good life in Europe, it was hard to come back! I can’t believe I have been back for over a week. Everyone keeps asking me “What was your favorite part?”

The Duomo in Como, Italy

Considering I loved nearly every second of my vacation, it’s hard to pin point just ONE thing. It’s Italy. What’s NOT to love??? The wine, the food, the sun, the people, the lake, the coffee, the sites, the crazy drivers, the trains, the shops, the leather….did I mention food and wine???

I will say, that life is completely different in Europe. Life is simple. There is something I admire about that. Shops close mid-afternoon (and while I grumbled at the fact that I was limited to 20 minutes one afternoon because they were about to close) I still envied that way of life. Life moves at such a quick pace that sometimes we forget to just stop, look around and drink the moment we are living in.

Lake Como, Italy

Snow capped mountains--mind you its 80 degreess at the lake!

Street Market, Como, Italy

Enjoying wine at Clandestino in Stresa, Lake Maggiore, Italy

Just before my wedding nearly two years ago a good friend of mine told me to do this. She said “If I could give you one piece of advice for your wedding day it would be to at some point, stop, look around and realize the moment you are living in.” I never forgot that. And to this day it’s probably the only moment of that day that I remember clearly.

I still try to live my life this way, even when life seems to move at lighting speed.

So if I had to name ONE thing that I loved about my trip, it was the small moments, of ducking into a pub or wine bar, getting a pizza or plate of prosciutto and cheese, and sipping our wine or beer along “The Piazza” watching the towns people enjoy their afternoon as I listened eagerly to their Italian conversations (of course not understanding a lick of it….but I still enjoyed it nonetheless).

Trying to show my husband a beer mustache

So here is my version of leisure….Arugula Pizza with Truffle Oil.

I have a way to go as I don’t have an official pizza oven…but if I closed my eyes…I may be able to hear the faint noise of an Italian afternoon.

Arugula Goat Cheese with Roasted Garlic and Truffle Oil

1 store bought pizza crust (I used garlic and herb from Trader Joe)
6-8 oz. goat cheese (or chevre)
4 tablespoons black truffle oil
2 cups arugula
½ cup parmigiano reggiano, shaved
1 roasted garlic head, recipe to follow
1 tomato, sliced
½ cup corn meal

Pull pizza dough out of refrigerator and let it come to room temp. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Preheat pizza stone in the oven for about 5 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, roll out pizza dough. Sprinkle board with corn meal, put pizza dough on top. Drizzle top of dough with olive oil. Put in oven and cook for about 10 minutes or so (or according to package instructions). The dough should be billowy and lightly browned.

Pull out of oven and let cool a bit. Spread top with goat cheese, arugula, parmigiano reggiano, and tomato slices. Squeeze the garlic heads to get the roasted garlic out, add that to the top. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and truffle oil. Serve.

To roast garlic:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut about ¼ inch of the garlic head off to expose the garlic pulp. Put in a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle top of garlic with olive oil and salt and pepper. Seal foil and put on a sheet pan or muffin pan for 30-35 minutes or until soft. Open foil once cool enough to handle. To remove the garlic, all you have to do is squeeze each clove and it should come out really easily.

Residence in Lucarno, Switzerland--its from 980!!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

TWD: Cinnamon Squares

I’m so happy to be back on the TWD Wagon again! This week was hosted by Tracey from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures . Be sure to run over to her page for the recipe!

I was running somewhat short on time this week between catching up on housework and dealing with new landscaping and a new fence going on at my house so I was quite pleased at how quickly this cake came together. It reminds me of a cinnamon spice cake my mom used to make. I liked the added twist of putting the cinnamon and sugar with the chocolate in the center.

The cake was moist and tender and very flavorful. The chocolate topping, although good, I think over powered the cake. Plus, once refrigerated it hardens, so I would recommend popping it in the microwave for 15 seconds to heat it up. Warm cinnamon cake=heaven.

I think next time I would either use a softer chocolate frosting or even a cream cheese frosting. I used a 10x6 pan since I didn't have an 8x8 (out of ALL my pans...I had a 9x9...but no 8x8??). I also mixed my chocolate to 50% bittersweet 50% semi-sweet since I was trying to use up random packages of chocolate in my pantry. The only thing I had to change was the baking time—I had to add about 5 minutes.

Thanks for hosting this week! If you would like to see how the other bakers did, check out TWD’s blogroll.