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