Usually I stick very closely to recipes and am envious of friends who can just whip things up with the ingredients in their pantry! I am trying to get better about improvising on my meals. Last week I really wanted to make a pasta with sausage and bell peppers so I set my mind to it without a recipe! I picked up some Archer Farms chicken sausage which happened to be a sun-dried tomato and asiago cheese mixture (delicious on its own) and I got some red, yellow, and green bell peppers and cut them up. I put a little olive oil in a skillet and put in the sausage and peppers and let them cook. After a little bit I cut up the sausage into smaller sections and continued to let it cook, overall it was about 10 minutes in the skillet. Then, I made some spaghetti noodles and when that was done I put a little olive oil on it with the sausage and pepper mixture on top. Add a little salt and pepper as desired, if you wish to add a little garlic powder to the pasta it is a great addition to the meal as well! It is just a simple recipe but it is a great weeknight dinner or leftovers for lunch!
I was so excited for my fall themed meal for bunco I just couldn't wait to serve it! And I think it was a big hit with everyone. The menu for the night was Strombolis with Orange Pretzel Salad and for dessert, Carrot Cake!
A tradition for my family is to make Strombolis while we decorate the Christmas tree so the fact that I was making Strombolis in October was shocking to my sister but no matter the time of year Strombolis are always appropriate! I hope as we enter into the holiday season maybe you can start serving Strombolis while you decorate the Christmas tree. Unfortunately, we were all so eager to dig into the Strombolis I didn't get to take a picture of them but I am going to include the recipe, again this one came from my mom's cookbook. The second dish for our meal was orange pretzel salad, now usually this is strawberry pretzel salad but for Halloween I trade in the strawberry jello for orange jello! This recipe also came from my mom's cookbook. I finish with a carrot cake shaped like a pumpkin using to bundt cakes and putting them together to get a full circle with the perfect ridges of a pumpkin. Color the frosting orange and color just a little bit green for the stem. For my stem I just used a paper cup and frosted it with the green frosting! You can also use an ice cream cone as an option for the stem! I think I included the carrot cake recipe in a previous post so I won't re-post it here.
I made this meal back in October right before Halloween I'm just a little behind in posting the blog! I apologize for the delay.
Stromboli Meat Mixture 1 pound ground beef 1 tablespoon fine chopped onion 1/2 cup tomato sauce 1/2 cup ketchup 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon fennel seed 1/8 teaspoon oregano 6 slices mozzarella cheese 6 slices of hard salami
In a skillet brown beef and onion. Add tomato sauce, ketchup, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and spices. Cook for 20 minutes.
Cream the sugar and cream cheese. Fold in whipped topping. Spread the mixture over the cooled crust making sure the crust is sealed well with the mixture.
Top Layer 6 ounces orange gelatin (substitute strawberry is you'd like) 2 cups boiling water 10 ounces mandarin oranges (frozen strawberries if you are making strawberry pretzel salad)
Dissolve gelatin in water while still warm. Add oranges, stirring slightly. Cool in refrigerator until mixture begins to set. When the gelatin begins to set pour it over the middle layer. Chill until firm and serve.
Happy Halloween! And to include some of the decorations I had up, here is a picture of the flowers displayed in a pumpkin vase! A great idea from my mom!
You might say I'm crazy for attempting a 12 layer cake and I have to agree with you but I have a slight competitive side so after my sister baked a 12 layer cake I decided I just had to try. What occasion screams the need for a 12 layer cake? An Alabama football party of course! I decided to alternate the layers between a red velvet and white cake (also known as Crimson and White)! I should have made one more layer to complete 13 for the national championships, oh well next time (hopefully next time it can be 14 layers!) As I mentioned previously my sister had made a 12 layer cake a few weeks before I made mine and it had a little trouble standing. She was shooting for 29 layers for a friend's birthday but when layer 4 caved on her it was a new plan and 12 seemed doable, it was edible. Hearing her during the cake process made me want to try a 12 layer cake myself, I tend to have a bit of a competitive side. I just wanted to see if my cake could stand on its own. It did! My friends were all a little nervous when I cut into the cake, they had bets that it was going to collapse to the ground! Good news is it didn't and we went on to enjoy all 12 layers!! Of course cake wasn't the only item served for the football party I also fixed a 7 layer taco appetizer and some pizzas. Both of these were easy to fix and serve. The taco dip came from my mom's cookbook, "Going to Carole's", and is always a hit! Loree also made some cherry tomatoes with mozzarella balls in the middle, they were delicious (and also happened to fit the Crimson and White theme). Here is the taco appetizer recipe, Enjoy! Taco Appetizer Mix each layer separately and then place on a serving plate(or a disposable cake pan works great to keep it all in!) in layers and serve with Fritos or your choice of chips. Layer 1 2 cans bean dip Layer 2 3 avocados, over ripe 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1/4 teaspoon salt Or you can get guacamole already made up for this layer! Layer 3 1 cup sour cream 1 cup mayonnaise 1 package of Taco Seasoning mix Mix these together before spreading Layer 4 Do not mix these layers, just layer them. Green onions, chopped, as desired 3 tomatoes, chopped 1 can ripe black olives, sliced or chopped Cheddar cheese, as desired
Now one more thing before I leave you with some pictures, ROLL TIDE
The whole spread with the taco dip and pizzas!
Now for what you've really been waiting for the twelve layer red velvet cake....
To have a comparison my sister's cake on top mine on the bottom.
About to cut it, will it still be standing after I make the first slice?? Let's see!
Success! I love this picture because it really shows the different layer colors! - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
It has been a while since I have updated my blog and figured it was time to add a few more recipes! About a month ago I had Caitlin and her mama over for dinner as a break from moving Caitlin into her apartment. I love time with both of them and enjoying hours of laughter and chatter with them! Our menu for the night included Brushetta for appetizers, pork tenderloin with lentil salad, and for dessert...red velvet cake! Brushetta is one of my favorite recipes to make and either serve as an appetizer or I serve the tomato mixture over pasta and serve as a meal! The Brushetta recipe I use comes from Simply Recipes. Ingredients: 6 or 7 ripe plum tomatoes 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar 6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped Salt and pepper for taste
1 French baguette 1/4 cup olive oil
Steps 1. Preheat oven to 450. 2. Chop tomatoes finely. Put the tomatoes, garlic, 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, vinegar in a bowl and mix. Add chopped fresh basil, add salt and pepper if needed for taste. 3. Slice the baguette on a diagonal into 1/2 inch thick slices. Coat one side of each slice with olive oil. Place the bread (olive oil side down)on a baking sheet and bake for 5-6 minutes. 4. Align the bread on a platter (olive oil side up) and scoop the tomato mixture on each slice of bread. If you choose to serve it over pasta as a meal, skip steps 3 & 4 and scoop the tomato mixture over pasta! 5. Enjoy!
Balsamic Glazed Pork and Lentils Recipe from Real Simple Ingredients 1 cup green lentils, rinsed kosher salt and black pepper 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 2 tablespoons brown sugar 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 1 1/4-pound pork tenderloin 1 red apple, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice Steps 1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Bring 4 cups water to a boil. 2. Add lentils and 1 tsp salt, stir occasionally until tender, 20 - 30 minutes. Drain under cold water. 3. Combine balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. 4. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Cook until browned, 6-8 minutes, turning ocassionally. 5. Transfer the pork to the oven. Roast until cooked through, 10-12 minutes, basting with the glaze twice during the last 5 minutes. Wait a little bit before slicing. 6. Toss cooked lentils with the apple, celery, parsley, lemon juice, 2 tbsp oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Serve with the pork and any pan drippings.
Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe from Real Simple Ingredients: Ingredients 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans 2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for the pans 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 1 1/2 cups sugar 2 large eggs 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar 1 tablespoon red food coloring 1 cup buttermilk Cream Cheese Frosting Steps 1. Preheat oven to 350. 2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; set aside. 3. With an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar on medium-high until fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, vanilla, vinegar, and food coloring. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. 4. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions and buttermilk in 2 additions (start and end with the flour mixture). Mix on a low speed until combined, don't over mix. 5. Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake 40-45 minutes. Let the cakes cool in the pans for about 15 minutes then transfer to racks to cool completely. 6. Top with frosting (directions below) and refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe from Real Simple Ingredients 2 8-ounce bars cream cheese, at room temperature 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature 3 cups confectioners’ sugar 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract pinch kosher salt Steps 1. Beat cream cheese and butter on high until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low and add sugar gradually, then the vanilla and salt. Beat until smooth and scrape down the bowl as needed. 2. Frost each layer of the cake and the sides and Enjoy! Picture time! Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of the red velvet cake but do have pictures of the Brushetta and Pork. Thank you to Mrs. Schmidt for photographing our main course! We were all too excited for dessert to pause and take that picture but next time I'll make sure I document it.
I've mentioned before that RealSimple is currently doing a challenge called "Take Back Dinnertime" and each day they will send you e-mails of fresh, healthy recipes for you to try that provide a healthier option and get you eating in more than going out at night. A couple of weeks ago I got one of my daily e-mails and it suggested changing your Friday night order of pizza for a healthier, homemade, fresher pizza. I decided that night I was going to accept the challenge and after work I would get all of the ingredients to make my pizza. Not to mention I have been wanting to make a caprese salad lately and this recipe HAD everything I wanted. :) It was simple and healthy and the perfect summer pizza. You get a whole wheat pizza crust and top with tomato slices and fresh mozzerella slices, bake at 425 for 12 to 15 minutes until the cheese is melted. Top with fresh basil and enjoy! You don't need any sauce on the pizza the tomatoes will give plenty of juice. I probably should have cut up the basil but I didn't this time, next time I will try that for the pizza!
I came home from church this afternoon and started thinking about what I could fix for lunch, I finally settled on pasta but didn't want the same ole same ole pasta with some Italian dressing as the sauce. So I turned to RealSimple.com for a suggestion. I settled on a pasta recipe that I had found a few weeks ago on the website. Surprisingly, I had almost all of the ingredients in my kitchen and improvised on what I did have.
OK, so I won't withhold the recipe from you any longer! I made Pasta with Tuna and Black Olive Vinaigrette. It was delicious and SO easy to make. I was happy that I didn't have to run to the grocery store before satisfying my hungry stomach! I made a few changes to the recipe and I think it turned out great, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Happy Sunday cooking! Pasta with Tuna and Black Olive Vinaigrette (from RealSimple.Com)
12 ounces regular or whole-wheat rigatoni or penne
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon capers
1/2 cup of kalmatta olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
2 6-ounce cans tuna, drained
1. Cook pasta and drain and rinse under cold water.
2. Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in large skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the capers and olives and cook about 3 minutes. Stir in parsley and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.
4. Remove from the heat. Add the lemon juice, pepper, and the remaining oil.
5. Divide the pasta into individual bowls. Top with the tuna and olive vinaigrette.
OK, my variations! First, I used angel hair instead of rigatoni or penne. Second, I didn't have parsley or lemon juice so I didn't use that and it was fine. Third, I used minced garlic instead of chopped. Fourth, I used canned black olives, and Finally, I used Starkist tuna in the individual packets not canned. I'm slowly learning it is okay to stray from the exact recipe and I feel that I finally did that tonight and the meal turned out great!
Before I leave you I want to encourage everyone to try the RealSimple "Taking Back Dinner Challenge", it begins tomorrow (Monday) and sends daily emails with recipes to enjoy and tips for how to get dinner on the table without the stress. Here is more information on the Taking Back Dinner Challenge https://lifestyle.timeinc.net/realsimple/challenge/register/.
And I don't mean mean left over pizza served cold in the morning! Even though that is delicious as well. This recipe comes from my mom's cookbook, "Going to Carole's", I live by it! It has a great deal of the recipes that I grew up enjoying from my mom's kitchen. My mom created this cookbook at the request of my cousins (her nieces) but as I've grown up I have realized just how important this cookbook is, always providing a taste of home. As I mentioned in a previous post, we had a lot of family gatherings at our house growing up and that is where she got the title, "Going to Carole's" and she continued that theme with each section "Going for Eggs", "Going for Salads", "Going for Meats", "Going for Desserts",etc.- you get the picture! With each recipe my mom would add a few notes about why this was one of the family's favorites or if it was passed down from a friend. One anecdote that my mom included with the breakfast pizza was, "Brittany had me make this for her sixth grade math team that met at 6:15 in the morning. It was loved so much that Mrs. Nelson almost let her join the sixth grade math team the next year just to get breakfast pizza!" If it can get me on the sixth grade math team in the seventh grade it must be true that this breakfast pizza really is loved by everyone! I have made it most recently for an office breakfast and again for the Pi Phis during their recruitment practice. A Few Helpful Tips * It usually spills over while baking so if you put a baking sheet under the pizza pan or even on the shelf below to catch any of the spills.
* When putting the crescent rolls down you won't be able to lay them right next to each other. You will have to space them out and spread the dough so it covers the entire pan. Make sure there are no holes in the dough!
* I get the disposable round pizza pans that way you can cook it and serve it and then throw it away!
* If you are taking it to an early breakfast (for example a 6:15 math team meeting) you can do a few things the night before- brown the sausage, spread the rolls (and cover with saran wrap and place in the refrigerator), and mix the eggs and milk (again cover them and place in the fridge) On to the Recipe
1 package of original crescent rolls
1 pound ground sausage, browned
1 cup frozen hash browns, uncooked
1/2 cup milk
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups grated cheese
1) Spread crescent rolls on pizza pan for the crust.
2) Spread browned sausage on crust.
3) Spread hash browns.
4) Beat eggs together and add milk, salt and pepper.
5) Pour eggs over hash browns.
6) Sprinkle cheese on top.
7) Bake at 425 for 30 minutes.
The photo doesn't really show you much of the pizza but it is ready to eat!
Salmon. Healthy and delicious. Simple as that, so I went searching for some good salmon recipes. Several weeks ago I had salmon with balsamic shallot sauce at a friends house and when they told me they had gotten the shallot recipe from Real Simple I went to the website right away. It is official to say I love realsimple.com :) Best part is you can create your profile and save the recipes that you find which means you don't have to print the recipe out right away and I don't have to remember which recipes I thought looked good when it comes time to fix dinner! I highly suggest everyone checks out www.realsimple.com or the magazine they have some terrific recipes. A lot of the recipes they have can be fixed in less than 30 minutes, also you can search for recipes by ingredients if you have something particular in mind or something in your pantry that you are ready to mix into a delicious meal. Also, each recipe includes the nutritional value of the entire meal. So I selected a salmon recipe from RealSimple and 3 friends to join me for dinner and the night was officially planned! I was nervous about overcooking the salmon because that is what everyone warned me about but it didn't seem too dry. I selected a salmon with brown butter and almonds (along with a few capers!) served with green beans on the side. This meal only took 20 minutes to make. For dessert I made a walnut bundt cake, another recipe from RealSimple! The perfect thing about the cake was that I prepared it and put it in the oven before I started dinner since it needed to cook longer and it was done in perfect time! My first time using my bundt pan but it certainly won't be the last time! Time to include pictures and recipes! First the salmon with brown butter and almonds! (Again both recipes come from RealSimple.com) Total Time: 20 minutes. Ingredients: 4 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 1/4 pounds skinless salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces kosher salt and black pepper 1 pound green beans, trimmed and halved crosswise 1/4 cup sliced almonds 2 tablespoons capers Directions 1. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in large skillet over medium heat. Season the salmon with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. 2. Cook the fish until opaque throughout, 3-5 minutes per side (I cut the salmon in half during cooking and checked the center for pinkness which helped me determine when it was cooked thoroughly.) 3. Fill a second skillet with 1/2 inch of water, bring to a boil, and add 1/4 tsp salt. 4. Add the green beans to the second skillet, cover, and steam until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to the plates. 5. After draining the green beans heat the 3 tbsp of butter over medium heat. 6. Add almonds and cook, stirring frequently, until almonds and butter are golden brown (not burned) 2-3 minutes. Stir in capers and spoon over fish and beans.
I also prepared Texas Toast to go with our meal.
Walnut Bundt Cake! Prep time: 15 minutes Total time: 1 hour and 20 minutes
2. In a small bowl, combine half the sugar, the melted butter, and 2 1/2 cups of walnuts to make the topping. Spread the mixture evenly in the pan, covering the bottom evenly.
3. To make the filling, cream the remaining sugar and the softened butter in a medium bowl. Stir in the flour and the remaining walnuts. Set aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs and oil and the amount of water the box mixture calls for. Beat until well combined. Pour half the batter into the pan. Spoon the filling mixture evenly over the batter, then pour the remaining batter on top.
5. Place in oven and bake until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then unmold bottom-side up onto a cake plate. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!
For my birthday this year I received a creme brulee set complete with a miniature blow torch! My aunt and uncle came to visit in the middle of May and we made a Crystallized Ginger Creme Brulee! Delicious, although I still need some practice on crystallizing the top. Here is the recipe for anyone wanting to try it out!
2 cups heavy (whipping) cream
3 tbsp chopped peeled fresh ginger
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 275. Combine cream and fresh ginger over medium heat until small bubbles form around pan. Remove from heat letting it get to room temperature and strain through a sieve, discarding the ginger. Whisk egg yolks until pale, whisk in granulated sugar until dissolved, and whisk in flavored cream and stir in the crystallized ginger and vanilla extract. Place six standard-size flan dishes in a baking pan, divide the custard among the dishes. Pour warm water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of dishes. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center of each custard still jiggles slightly (yes this would be the words from the cookbook) Remove from the oven and lift the dishes from the hot water. Let cool briefly, refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days. When ready to serve plan the dishes on a baking sheet and evenly sprinkle 1 tbsp brown sugar over each custard. Using a hand-held blowtorch, caramelize the sugar.
One of my favorite things to do is make birthday cakes for friends. This year I have made German Chocolate Cake, Red Velvet, and Carrot Cake. This particular picture is a carrot cake I made for Amy’s birthday. I have to say when you are putting candles on a cake always make a full size cake not a small rectangle one and try to fit 22 candles on there! ha! So if you have a cake request for your birthday let me know because I truly enjoy baking any kind of cake!
This past Christmas, I hosted several dessert evenings. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures of the desserts but have several pictures of friends and decorations that I will post. I had some friends from BSC over one night to enjoy an assortment of desserts (Icebox fruitcake -nothing like real fruitcake, jello balls, butterscotch squares,and a failed attempt at Cranberry bliss bars). I also had some co-workers over one day for another dessert party and then my final Christmas dessert party was for all my neighbors. I had been in my apartment since August and hadn’t really met any of my neighbors so I thought this would be a great way to get to know some people in my building. Unfortunately only 2 neighbors came but we had a great time meeting and getting to know each other and enjoying desserts. I chose to do desserts at each of these events because they are easy to do in large quantities and easy for people to come and go since the holidays are always a busy time. As Christmas approaches this year I will try to post the recipes of some desserts that I love making around Christmastime for you to try on your own!
Also, this next thing is so silly but for me I was so excited. I learned to REALLY gift wrap this year. With that lesson I learned I should not be allowed to buy wrapping paper with designs on it because then I stress about getting everything centered. My mom also taught me how to make my own bows, so needless to say I get very excited about wrapping presents now! I will post a picture of me in the midst of wrapping along with some of the other Christmas photos I have from around my apartment.
Loree and I taking a break from Christmas desserts.
Awful picture but I was so excited to learn to actually wrap gifts!
Christmas tree and village!
All the Santas in the center! This even became part of my decoration!
Yes, I know a few months late or just getting prepared a few months early. This past year was my first year as a college graduate and working full time! With that came a very different schedule throughout the year when than I had been use to for the past 17 years. I had to work the day after Thanksgiving which meant I would not be able to go home for the holiday. So I hosted Thanksgiving here, another sign of grown up life! My mom came up for the week, my aunt came up for the day, and one of my friends from work joined us for the meal. It was a terrific first Thanksgiving in my apartment. Small glitch in the day was when my power went out for about an hour that morning! But in the spirit of Thanksgiving, "thankfully" I have a gas stove and oven so the turkey was able to continue cooking and didn't set us back too much. We had turkey, creamed corn, dressing, sweet potato casserole, deviled eggs, Watergate salad, Hummingbird cake, and pecan pie! I loved everything about it. After our Thanksgiving meal we went to pick out my Christmas tree and my mom stayed and helped me decorate my apartment! That will come in another post! A few pictures to share from my Thanksgiving!
The table setting
Working away in the kitchen!
The Dessert Table!
Taking the turkey out of the oven, almost time to eat!
Here we go! Growing up with a huge extended family always meant some sort of family gathering. A lot of these gatherings took place at my house, mom loves entertaining. Now that I'm growing up and starting to host my friends here and there I truly rely on her entertaining advice! From the simplest things of which plates fit best to exactly how to replicate some of her best recipes! This past year I have really started trying to cook new recipes and with each experience I learn something new. As I start this blog up I will be doing a lot of back blogging in order to catch up to today. I love trying new recipes and sharing the ones I've made with friends so I decided it was time to blog about my cooking, decorating, and entertaining adventures! If anyone has favorite recipes that you want to share, please send them my way!