Saturday, July 23, 2011

Chicken Pesto Pizza

So as you have probably noticed after reading my blog for awhile, I really love pizza. But not just any pizza.  I don't care much for chain pizza, none of that stuffed crust and I cannot stand grease dripping off of my slice. Give me some fresh veggies, grilled meats and a thin crust and I'm all yours.

This year, I started a small herb garden and had some lush basil I needed to use. I didn't have quite enough to make a traditional pesto, so I improvised with a few other ingredients. Well, my improvisation was magical and the flavor of the pesto was just perfect for this light summer pizza.

Oh - and if you don't have a pizza stone, YOU NEED ONE!

Pizza crust - I make mine from a dry mix I buy from my local grocery store, it's like .99, so totally worth it
Halved grape tomatoes
Chopped red onion
Grilled chicken
Fresh mozzarella
Red pepper flakes
Pesto sauce (see recipe below)

Pesto Sauce:
Handful of fresh basil
3 tablespoons EVOO
Salt and pepper
chopped red onion
3 halved grape tomatoes

1. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
2. Bake crust for about 7 minutes
3. Pull the crust out and add your pesto sauce, pile on your cheese and other yummies
4. Bake for about 20 minutes or until your crust is nice and golden brown


Cheese and Melon Crostini

This was the perfect little appetizer to my Tuesday dinner this week. It was so easy and delicious, I am just about ready to head out to the store right now to get some more bread so I can snack all day on this little yummy crostini's of goodness. The herbed goat cheese melted into the toasted bread and the crisp freshness of the cucumber paired with the sweetness of the melon was absolutely to die for. An absolutely wonderful starter for a summer grill-out!

1 baguette
Herbed goat cheese
1 sliced cucumber
1 cantaloupe cubed/sliced, however you would like it

1. Slice and toast your baguette
2. Spread the goat cheese over the baguette
3. Add the sliced cucumber and cantaloupe
4. I added a little salt to the top of my snacks to really pull the flavor out of the melon


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Red Velvet Cake Balls

Mmmmmm another 4th of July favorite, so celebratory! This year, to celebrate our great nation's birthday, I headed back to my hometown to spend the weekend with my wonderful parents. Mom and I of course had all of these yummies planned, and we had already made these delicious cake balls a couple of weeks earlier for the birthday of one of my coworkers. They were so good, we knew we had to make them again.

So, Happy Birthday, once again to America! Enjoy these red velvet cake balls!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Flag Cupcakes

I hope you all had a wonderful time celebrating our nation's birthday! As I look back and reflect on my weekend, I remember why we all are able to celebrate, we live in a nation that cares about its people, their freedoms and their rights. Thanks to all of those who fought in the past and who are still fighting today. USA!!

I really wanted to make a few things for my family to commemorate the weekend, and because chocolate is my usual go-to, I thought I would switch it up a little bit and try out some carrot cake cupcakes decorated like the American flag. I went a little Semi-homemade Sandra Lee style on you guys and added some great flavor to a carrot cake box mix. These were super easy to make and were enjoyed immensely!

Happy Fourth of July!

1. One box of carrot cake mix
2. 3 eggs
3. 1/2 cup oil
4. 1 cup water
5. 1 cup grated carrots
6. 1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Fresh blueberries
2. Sliced strawberries or other red fruit, raspberries would be delicious!
3. Cream cheese frosting - homemade or store-bought

1. Follow the box - I believe it's pretty complicated...mix up all the ingredients.
2. Fill your cupcake papers about 2/3 full and bake at 350 for about 16 minutes. Once you can pull out a toothpick clean, they're done!


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Grilled Chicken with Mandarin glaze

My Summer Solstice dinner was a success!! So much so that I'm pretty stoked I made extra so I can have the rest tonight. I was planning on doing a little Panko breadcrumb dip and baking the chicken in the oven, but after I got home from my 3 mile run (Yes! Day 1 of marathon training done!) I was hungry and figured grilling on my livesaver George Foreman would be the fastest way to fill my growling stomach.

The picture of my summer celebration cocktail didn't turn out delicious looking, but trust me when I say it was a party in my mouth and pretty much everyone was invited. Looks like I need to bust out my passion fruit vodka a little more often. I'm granita? Yes, please.

1. Chicken tenders (I seasoned mine with Weber's Mango Lime seafood seasoning and it was perfect)
2. 1 small can of mandarin oranges
3. 1 tablespoon sweet and hot grainy mustard
4. Less than 1/4 sugar
5. Golden Yukon potatoes
6. Frozen green beans

1. Boil the potatoes over high heat in salted water for about 30 minutes or until you can easily poke them with a fork and they are tender
2. Season your chicken and place it on your in-house grill or if you can, grill it outside!
3. Add the mandarin glaze, see instructions below
4. Plate and enjoy!

Mandarin glaze:
1. In a small pan on medium heat, add half of the mandarin juice from the can, the sugar and mustard.
2. Add 1/4 cup of the oranges and let simmer.
3. Spoon over chicken and green beans for an extra kick!

Mandarin Orange Vodka Cocktail

1. Shot of mandarin juice from can
2. Shot of passion fruit vodka
3. 3 mandarin slices
4. Hint of lime juice
5. Stir and enjoy!!

Enjoy this delicious summer meal!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Solstice!

Happy Summer Solstice bloggers!! June 21st is most definitely one of my favorite days of the entire year. Why? Sunlight!!! Now, unfortunately, this year in "The Good Life" that is Nebraska, we are experiencing some torrential downpours, thunderstorms, straight 80 mph winds and tornadoes. Whah whah....But, alas! I will not let a little thing like that get me down on this longest day of the year. I had hoped to wake up early this morning to officially start my half marathon training with a 3 mile run, but after taking a magical little Tylenol PM last night, waking up early was just not in the cards for me. I'll get that run in after work instead ;) Although I want to seize the day and be outdoors, a quick 45 minutes at the gym won't kill my spirits - especially since I would probably look like a wet dog after spending any time outside. Boo, rain.

Now, onto my Summer Solstice menu! Tonight, I plan on baking up some "fried" chicken aka, not fried at all but covered in Panko breadcrumbs and baked in the oven. Then, I'm going to whip up a mandarin orange glaze for the chicken and have a side of boiled small potatoes and some green beans! Sounds pretty summery to me. But you know what would make it better? You guessed it, a cocktail! I happen to have some passion fruit vodka chilling in my freezer (wow, I've had that for a long time...shows you how much liquor this girl consumes) that I think I will mix with a little OJ and mandarin slices. Yum Yum!

Happy Summer 2011, everyone! I hope you seize the day and make the most out of the longest day of the year!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Wait. Am I in Sweden or America?

A few things about food in Sweden: they have a lot of American foods. Let's recap what I ate in one day. Pizza Hut and McDonalds. That's right, you heard me. How hilarious is that? I will say that the Pizza Hut is much different than in America and I don't even remember the last time I actually ate there. I had a prosciutto pizza and it was quite tastey. Then, after we were out and about enjoying a few beverages at...wait for it....wait for it....T.G.I. Friday's, we had to stop at Micky D's for a cheeseburger and fries!

The next day I insisted on eating lunch somewhere that I couldn't go back home. Wayne's Coffee was the place of choice and I had a yummy yummy chicken salad with quinoa, edamame, tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, avocado and lettuce. It was so good. Like, so good.


Enjoying a lyxshake chocolate from Max. A yummy chocolate milkshake with chunks of chocolate - holler.

Prosciutto pizza from Pizza Hut.

The order board at McDonald's. Cheeseburger and fries, please.

Delicious salad from Wayne's Coffee.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Pinterest....Eats

Do you love Tastespotting? Me too. Here's another hot site to look at. Pinterest. I just discovered it through one of my besties, L. And I am completely immersed and obsessed. Here's the deal. You create all of these boards on your personal page and then you "pin" different things on the corresponding board. So, if you have a Sweet Treats board, you would pin on your favorite cupcake recipe that you could on or a really pretty cake you found on your favorite cake maker's web site. Pretty cool, huh?

I just created my own Pinterest page yesterday and at every break I have at work I've been pinning my little heart out. I assume by the end of this holiday weekend, (Happy Memorial Day, everyone and thank you to our veterans!!) my pinboards will be overflowing. Oh, wait, it will never overflow!! You can pin as many things as you want! Convinced you need one yet? If not get this:

So my best, L, who introduced me to Pinterest does not blog, does not plan on blogging, but loves reading blogs. She uses Pinterest and can "repin" all of the cool things she finds on blogs, especially all of the yummy delights she knows she needs to whip up in her kitchen. And when she pins them on her board, the link to the blog and recipe is just a click away!

Alright you little blogging beauties, happy pinning!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Wheat Berry Salad - a la Giada

As I continue through my Giada episode journey, I am introduced to an ingredient I have never used, wheat berries. What a fantastic little berry! They are high in fiber, low in calories and packed with vitamins. If you haven't already, you need to go out and buy some and experiment. I purchased a bag of Bob's Red Mill and they were great.

This salad is so healthy and delicious. The flavors of the chewy wheatberries, crisp and sweet strawberries and hearty cheese mix so well together that I am going to have to speed up this blog post so I can eat some for lunch!!

1. 1 cup wheatberries
2. 2 cups water
3. 1 cup chicken broth
4. A bunch of strawberries cut in fourths
5. an ounce of goat cheese ( I didn't have any on hand so I used a block of Laughing Cow Swiss and it was creamy and delicious)
6. Fresh chopped mint

Dressing Ingredients:
1. Juice of 1 orange
2. Zest of 1 orange
3. A tablespoon or so of EVOO
4. Salt and pepper

1. Boil wheatberries for about 25 minutes or until they are chewy and al dente. Note: they will NOT soak up all of the liquid and that's OK!!
2. Drain the berries and let them cool
3. Mix up the dressing
4. crumble the cheese or but it in little pieces
5. Combine all of the ingredients and enjoy!!

Easy, right? Gosh, I love fast and easy recipes.

Broiled Tilapia with Dijon cream sauce - Giada

Alrighty, onto part 2 of my adventure with Giada. This broiled tilapia was absolutely perfect over the carrot and sweet potato mash. It was delicately flavored and flaky just as a simple white fish should be.

1. Tilapia fillets
2. Extra virgin olive oil
3. Salt and pepper
Yep, that's it.

1. Season fish on both sides with EVOO and S&P
2. Broil for about 6 to 8 minutes or until outsides of fish are nice and golden

Now, the cream sauce. This sauce takes a delicate fish and boots the flavor to put a kick in your pants.

1. 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
2. 2 tsp agave
3. 1 tsp dijon mustard
4. juice of 2 lemons
5. chopped chives, about 2 tablespoons

1. Mix it all up!! Easy, huh?

Carrot and Sweet Potato Mash - Giada

As I settled into onto my couch after an exhausting yoga class yesterday I popped on over to the Food Network for a little of my favorite relaxation pastime - finding new things to cook. And Giada did not disappoint. I watched one episode and then raced to the grocery store. I had a mission, a list  and a hungry belly.

Ok, this post will be in a few different parts so I can adequately describe all of the components of this dish. Up first, the mash.

Seriously, so good. I have never been a huge fan of cooked carrots, but mashed with some sweet potatoes (ps. obsessed with sweet potatoes) garlic and onion, how could I not love these cooked carrots? This is a great substitute for mashed potatoes and gives you tons and tons of vitamins for a healthy day!

4 to 6 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 large white onion, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves
4 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large pot, cook the carrots and onions in about 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil for about 5 minutes on medium heat, be careful not to burn the onions
2. Add the sweet potato and garlic cloves
3. Pour in your chicken broth. You could use water instead but the chicken broth gives the mash a hearty flavor
4. Season with salt (I use sea salt) and pepper
5. Let cook for about 25 minutes to half an hour. Pierce a carrot and sweet potato with a fork and if it goes through easily, remove from heat
6. Remove about 3/4 of the broth and with either a hand blender or a food processor, mash up your mixture


Friday, March 25, 2011

Camera Blues

Well, friends, my camera has gone missing. I made the fabulous Irish Soda bread and did not have the means to capture it. Dangit. Don't worry, I will make it again soon. I was able to share it with one of my very good friends and her Irish mom who was sick over her favorite holiday! I like to think it gave her a little lift out of her blues and into the green :)

I got a fun surprise from my mom and dad yesterday...they are giving me a new camera! Aren't parents just the best? My grandma actually bought this brand new camera and then decided she didn't want it and gave it to my mom. And, luckily, mom already had one, making me the recipient of a new camera! Yay!!!

Ok, more to come soon...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Top 'O the Mornin!!

Top 'o the morning to ye all!! And Happy St. Patrick's Day! Now, I will reveal upfront that unfortunately, I have absolutely not one ounce of Irish in my blood. Luckily, the Irish pumps strongly in me soul. That's right, this orange lass is most definitely an orange and not a green, except on this loveliest of days. This lady is all English and Dutch with a hint of German. Dang. But, I do have a little sparkle of green in my big brown eyes, so I've got that going for me, which is nice.

As my family and friends can attest to, I have always been a little Irish-obsessed. I admit it, I even hunted for leprechauns when I was but a wee one. I never found me one, but then again, I also never found a unicorn so maybe the leprechauns never made it on the boat with Noah either. I may or may not have planned an Irish wedding (to whom? you may question. Eh, don't ask me I haven't met him yet) that includes a step-dancing flower girl and a wedding couple dance where I rip off the bottom half of my dress and do a jig. Too much? Not for this girl. I lovemesomeIrishmen. opportunity may finally be upon me this June when I venture off to Sweden to visit our dear friend David. He asked me recently what I would like to do while on my vaca, afterall, it is my first time going over there. I do have a lot of things I want to see in Sweden including, but not limited to: the countryside, lakes, maybe some castles, a may pole, soccer players. But, one other thing I threw on the list...a 2 day trip over to Ireland!! This is pretty feasible since travel in European countries is common and relatively low cost. Oh, how I long to see the lush green links, some blarney stones and a fine Irish pub filled with whiskey to the brim! Wish me luck in my qwest for I'm sure it will be difficult to return to the rolling prairies of Nebraska after seeing the stunning green hillsides of  The Land.And who knows, maybe I'll finally find me a leprechaun!!

Although I am simply a follower of the hearty holiday, one of my colleagues is a true Irishman and in such accustomed fashion, he brought homemade Irish Soda Bread to work today!! I love Irish Soda Bread not only because it is unlike most breads you are used to but because it is so pretty. Bread, pretty? Yes, it is. It has a crackly, floury golden crust that entices your taste buds and sends this "eat me, I'm yummy" message to your stomach which is usually covered in green on this most auspicious of days and automatically you think, "I want to eat that bread." So cut yourself a slice, top it with some sweet cream butter and maybe a little honey and enjoy.

I am planning on making some bread tonight once I finish celebrating my "Happy Hair Cut Day" with my favorite stylist. I am going to use this recipe from Simply Recipes and am excited to use my cast iron skillet. Wish me luck as I attempt my first go 'round at this traditional dish!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Limone Shrimp Pasta

Last night, before I started the baking extravaganza weekend, I was feeling a little saucy, a little saucy and a little, Italian? Eh, whatever, I may be fully English and Dutch but my thought is that Italy is in Europe, my kinfolks are from Europe, can't we all just get along and make each other's food?

This weekend, yes. Yes, we can. I made this absolutely deliciously creamy pasta dish that I am currently eating...again. I definitely made enough for leftovers. I think my English and Dutch roots would be proud of this succulent pasta sitting on my plate, and honestly, I think they would ask for a bite. It is delicious, after all.

If you are looking for a light dinner with a lot of richness and flavor, try this one out.

Makes enough for about 4
1 pound whole wheat penne
1/2 pound fresh (or thawed) large shrimp
1/2 red onion diced
3 garlic cloves diced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil for sauté
2 more tablespoons EVOO for pasta toss
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil or 2 teaspoons dried basil
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 lemon zested
Lemon juice (one whole lemon)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil
2. In a separate skillet, sauté the onion and garlic in the EVOO. About 3 minutes.
3. Add 1/4 cup pasta water to onion and garlic and whisk in the cream. Add the shrimp and bring to a simmer. Cover, cook for about 4 minutes.
4. Drain pasta, reserve another 1/2 cup pasta water.
5. Add pasta to skillet along with lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper. If you need to thin this out, use the reserved pasta water.
6. When all ingredients are combined; stir in the basil.
Salt and Pepper to taste.


Thursday, March 3, 2011

Happy National Cupcake Day!

In honor of this most prestigious of holidays, I will be making a few different kinds of cupcakes this weekend. The other night, I was watching Cupcake Wars, it was the Valentine's Day episode that I had DVR'd because Jones Bros. Cupcakes of Omaha was on. They came in a strong second, but a huge congrats to them, their shop is awesome! Anyway, while I was watching, I came up with 17 original cupcake ideas and wrote them on my favorite green "recipe-thinking" paper. I know I can't try all 17 this weekend, although I sooooooooooo wish I could. I will also be doing a test run of cupcakes that I am baking next weekend for a wedding shower!! Champagne cupcakes with raspberry champagne buttercream? Any takers??? How about dark chocolate cupcake dipped in chocolate ganache? It's a good thing my parents, brother and sister-in-law and nephew are coming to visit me on Sunday, otherwise my pants may not fit by Monday! I was talking to my brother the other night and I could hear Kelly, my sister-in-law, asking what tasty treats from A Scrumptious aFare we were having on Sunday, I think she will be quite pleased with these little delights. Even if we are planning a stop at Ivanna Cone after lunch. If you haven't heard of Ivanna Cone, and happen to be making a stop through Lincoln, NE you NEED to check this place out. And I'm using the word need in a mandatory, necessary, can't-live-without-it kind of way.

And now on to the fun cupcake recap!

A favorite of my co workers, these will be making their way back into my kitchen two weeks from today in celebration of St. Patty's Day!!

Probably my favorite cupcake so far, this one is a crowd pleaser and incorporates so many different flavors and ingredients, one to try for sure!

Do I tend to cook a lot with alcohol? Whoopsies, whatever, I think it makes the cupcakes taste better.

Raspberry Valentine's Cupcakes!

Ok, you'll have to hold on tight for this recipe, I'll be back later.....

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Personal Pan Frittata

Doesn't this just look like the perfect personal brunch or in my case, dinner? It was super easy and extremely delicious, especially when I added a little salsa on top for a fun kick in your mouth. I truly love breakfast food and am totally on the same page as Bobby Flay who just luurrrvs brunch. I mean, who doesn't love a good brunch? Mimosas, eggs benedict, biscuits and gravy, fruit, croissants, quiche, omelets, muffins, coffee, spice cake, pancakes, egg casserole, bloody Mary's....someone stop me, I'm hot for brunch.

Since it has been awhile since I have had friends staying in town with me, where I always have the chance to make my most favorite brunch casserole, Spinach and Tomato Strata, I decided to hell with it, I wanted brunch and I wanted it now, who cares if it's 7:30 p.m.! Well, here is what came to fruition and man was it yummy. I used a lot of ingredients that I already had, but was glad that I had a lot of veggies to add, they made it very filling and gave me my vitamins for the day.

1 egg
1 egg white
1/4 cup milk
1/2 can diced tomatoes with green chilies
1/2 cup diced bell peppers
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 oz diced goat cheese
Salt, pepper, crushed red pepper

1. Heat cooking spray in a small cast iron skillet and add the red onions and bell peppers; cook for 3 minutes
2. In a bowl, combine and whisk the eggs, milk, goat cheese and spices
3. Add the tomatoes to the skillet and heat through; about 2 minutes
4. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and cook on stovetop for 1 minute
5. Move the skillet under your broiler and let puff; about 5 to 7 minutes depending on your oven
Top with salsa, cheese, hot sauce, fresh herbs


Sunday, February 27, 2011

Eggplant Cannelloni

Do you ever just feel like you need something filling, maybe Italian and maybe meatless? Well, lucky you! I have just the recipe, and is it ever delish. I was perusing the Self website and came across this little hottie recipe that I simply could not pass up. It was extremely easy to make and even kept well for leftovers at work!

I think the kicker that really sets this apart is the homemade sauce. It has this rich, smoky but sweet flavor that sticks with you...just not on your things, which is always a plus ;)

Ingredients: Serves 4
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large shallots, sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 jars (12 oz each) roasted red peppers, drained
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (juice of 1 orange)

2 medium eggplants, cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices
olive oil cooking spray

4 oz goat cheese
kalamata olives, pitted and minced (use as many as you like, I did about 8)
1 teaspoon capers, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

For the sauce
1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Cook shallots and garlic until soft, about 1 minute. Reduce heat. Cook until golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
2. Add peppers and juice; bring to a boil.
3. Lower heat; simmer until peppers are soft, about 5 minutes. Cool.
4. Puree in a blender. Pour into a 9" x 13" baking dish.

For the eggplant
1. Coat eggpants with cooking spray and broil on a baking sheet until golden on both sides, about 15 minutes.
2. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

For the filling
1. Mash cheese, olives, capers and 1 tsp of the parsley into a bowl.
2. Place 1 tablespoon of the filling a the end of each eggplant slice; roll up. Lay seem side down in dish.
3. Bake 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Top with remaining parsley

Enjoy and feel good about it!!

Lola in Seattle

The Best Thing I Ever Ate. Truly one of my favorite shows on the Food Network. I watch episodes, DVR them if I won't be home, write down the places I HAVE TO VISIT and luckily, since I travel so much with my job, I was able to visit one on my list while I was in Seattle. Lola. The made-to-order doughnuts are the only thing you need to remember and even think about ordering. Giada de Laurentiis really knew what she was talking about when she brought these little pillows of Heaven into my life. They are served with seasonal jam and vanilla mascarpone that are swoon-worthy on their own, but then, when lightly smeared onto one of the doughnuts...oh em gee I just got a little hot and tingly.

So excited to get down to doughnut business.

I'm being so serious right now. If you are in Seattle, visit Lola. You will not regret it.

Cappuccino Parfaits

Holy great after-dinner treat, or let's face it...Sunday afternoon snack?? This cappuccino parfait is so creamy and delicious, it will literally melt on your tongue in espresso caffeine jolting goodness :) I had to try these out first for myself, but are going to be so fun to serve to my girlfriends for brunch or my fabulous neighbor girls for one of our tea parties. After all, at these tea parties, we only wear tutus, tiaras and eat and drink fabulous things. Seriously, these girls are the most wonderful pint-size treats in my life, love every minute with them.

Have fun and serve these parfaits in different juice glasses to add some whimsy to your party. One of my favorite things is to explore antique shops and thrift stores in search of fun juice glasses. My dear mother started me on this and neither one of us ever passes up a fun and unique addition for my collection!

Recipe courtesy of Everyday Cookbook of Martha Stewart Living.

1 container part-skim ricotta (15 oz)
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder

1. Puree ricotta, sugar and espresso powder until very smooth
2. Divide evenly in glasses
3. Add a little something special by sprinkling espresso powder on top and maybe a coffee beans or chocolate chips for good measure ;)


Golden Granola

I am a big granola fan. I kind of wish I still had my pom pons from high school (dance team, specifically...I didn't quite have the enthusiasm for cheerleading) so that I could adequately celebrate my enthusiasm for granola. Think of all the ways you can use this stuff. Granola pancakes, yogurt topping, granola muffins, granola break, breakfast parfaits, frozen yogurt topping...endless, right? Well, it's even better when you make your own granola. It's a huge money-saver and you can tailor it to add anything you want!

I was first inspired to make granola from my best friend, and chef/baker/domestic goddess/blogger extraordinaire, Courtney of The Granola Chronicles. Check this girl out, she's amazing.

3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup flax seed
1 cup California golden raisins
6 tablespoons agave
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.
2. Stir until all the oats, pecans and walnuts have been coated.
3. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and pour the mixture onto the pan.
4. Place in the oven, then set it to 300 degrees. No need to pre-heat!
5. Stir the granola ever 10 minutes or so until it is browned. Timing depends on your oven, mine was done in about 25 minutes.

Go Granola Cazy!! Enjoy!

Red Velvet Ruffle Cake

Ok friends, seriously now, how good does this cake look? I have been dying to try this frosting technique after a friend sent me this to-die-for picture of a pink ruffle cake made for a 5 year-old's princess birthday party. If I were that little girl, I think I would have squealed, screamed and jumped up and down, as I'm sure this special little princess did.

Instead of making my ruffle cake for a delightful little darling, I made mine for my wonderful coworkers. Really, I just like to give them sugar to keep everyone on a high throughout the day ;)

This cake is so fun and elegant and red velvet, can do no wrong with that choice, use this frosting technique for any occasion and wow everyone. I have also included an easy how-to video,  courtesy of sweetandsaucyshop to help you get started!

2 1/2 cups AP flour
2 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 tsp vanilla
2 oz red food coloring

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Butter and flour two 8 inch cake pans
3. Lightly whisk eggs in a bowl. Add remaining liquid ingredients and stir with whisk until mixed well.
4. Place all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and combine really well.
5. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix on medium-high for about a minute, or until completely combined.
6. Pour cake mix into both pans and drop the pans on the counter a few times to release air bubbles.
7. Bake for approx. 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
8. Let cakes slightly cool, then, remove them from the pans, cover in plastic wrap and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

I used store-bought cream cheese frosting for this cake, and honestly, no one even knew!

Have so much fun making this cake!! Enjoy!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Treats for the Weekend...Red Velvet Ruffle Cake and Homemade Granola!

Red Velvet - click for recipe!

Granola - click for recipe!


Should be a good weekend....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Nom Nom Naan

A three day weekend. Oh it held so much promise. Starting with a fabulous staff holiday party complete with me winning a gift card for some delish food at the Embassy Suites hotel and some dancing at a new lounge downtown, but ending with a runny nose and phlemmy cough. Boo. After spending much of Sunday lounging on the couch watching movies and tv, I decided some comfort food would do just the trick to make me feel better. Well, along with my strict regimen of cold pills, allergy pills, humidifier refills, medicinal tea (No, Carrie, I am not drinking"pot-tea") I do believe some homemade Naan should do the trick.

Indian food is something that I find very comforting. It fills you up with this warm, savory and spicy feeling that can be washed down with a glass of red wine and a dollop of hummus on some naan. Naan is an Indian bread that somewhat resembles a pita and can be made to encompass any flavor you may choose. For my first attempt at homemade naan, I played it safe and only topped the bread with flavors. I used garlic powder, curry, cumin, butter and some pesto. Next time, I plan on incorporating raisins in some of my dough balls, adding pine nuts to the dough and maybe even trying a sweet naan with honey and cinnamon. 

Have you ever taken a bite of something and just closed your eyes and savored the texture, flavor, chewy goodness and warm feeling it brought to your senses? Well, good Lord, you need to and you can do it with this bread. This was seriously a very simple process and totally worth the outcome. Dip it in a little Olive Oil or hummus and share this starter with friends and family, they will be sure to thank you for the experience....and compliment you on your brilliance in the kitchen ;)
Enjoy, friends!

Ingredients:   Makes 8 loaves of Naan
2 cups all purpose flour or wheat flour
1/2 cup of warm milk
1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tbsp oil

1. Mix all the dry ingredients together and make a well in the center of flour.
2. Combine milk and yogurt and pour half of it into the well and with your hands, slowly mix it together.
3. Add the rest of the liquid slowly and combine it all together slowly until a soft dough is made. The dough should be soft enough for you to be able to dig your finger into it without applying any pressure. If dough sticks to hand too much then use little bit of oil on hand and then punch into the dough.
4. Cover with damp cloth and let it sit in a warm place for at least 2 hours. I pre-heated my oven to 175°, turned it off and then set the dough inside.

5. After a few hours, dust your working board, take out the dough and knead it for about 2-3 minutes. 
6. Divide the dough into smaller balls (in this case you should get about 8 balls to make naans).
7. Dust the board again and flatten the balls to make bread which is a little thick and elongated. Roll these balls out flatter than what you think may be necessary, they will puff up!

8. Sprinkle one side of the dough with whichever flavor you want.
9. Brush the other side with water.

Heat a thick bottom skillet or a wok or any heavy bottom pan with a lid. Once its nicely hot place the naan wet side down which would stick and cover it with a lid. I used a cast iron skillet and it worked perfectly.
Let it cook for about 30 secs or until you see bubbles on it. Flip the naan and cook it on the other side for a couple of minutes until you see a few charred brown spots, then you will know it's ready!