Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce

I love hoarding fresh garden tomatoes during the summer time. The last time we had a garden, I planted about 11 tomato plants. I love eating them fresh, but I like to plant so many so I can do some home canning. I love to do spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, salsa and just some stewed tomatoes as well.

It's been several months now that my supply of spaghetti sauce has ended and I can't wait to make more of it by summer's end. In the meantime, I have been trying other recipes but have not found something I like as much.

With that said, however, I did like this sauce. It is simple, easy and pretty tasty, especially if you are a fan of garlic. I like garlic to begin with but I absolutely love the taste that roasted garlic brings to a dish.

This sauce, along with a sprinkle of freshly shaved parmesan cheese, would compliment any pasta. It would also be great on homemade pizza as well.

Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce
1 large onion, chopped
3 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic
1/4 c. tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp dried basil
2 (28 oz) cans whole Italian tomatoes, with juices
3 whole heads roasted garlic, cloves removed from peels

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel off the loose papery skins of each of the heads of garlic. Cut the top 1/4-1/2 off of each of the heads and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap the garlic heads in foil and bake for about 45 minutes.

Allow garlic to cool enough to handle it without getting burned. Either squeeze the garlic cloves out with your hand, or use a small fork to pull them from their skins. Set garlic aside.

In a large saucepan saute onion in oil over med-high head until lightly golden, about 5-7 minutes. Add minced garlic and saute, stirring, for 1 min. Add tomato paste, salt, balsamic vinegar, crushed red pepper, Italian seasoning, and basil, and cook for another minute longer. Add tomatoes, with their juices, crushing with your hands as you place them in the pan. Stir to combine well and bring to boil. Reduce heat to slow simmer and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add roasted garlic cloves and stir to combine. Continue to simmer for 30-45 min. longer or until flavors have come together.

Serve over pasta or use as pizza sauce. Makes about 1 1/2 quarts of sauce.

SOURCE: Perry's Plate

Linked to...
Seasonal Sunday @ Real Sustenance
Savory Sunday @ The Sweet Details
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen

Friday, May 27, 2011

Grilling Favorites

Memorial Day is a time of year where lots of things are just happening. It's the end of school, the start of pool season and warmer weather and when most people break out the grill. I personally love to grill and love to do it all summer and even into fall. For me, there's nothing tastier than meat or veggies that have been grilled on an outdoor grill. I've put together some of our favorite grilling recipes that I hope you enjoy. They are all really tasty! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday weekend.

Lemon Linguini with Grilled Chicken

Chipotle Lime Shrimp

Feta and Sun-dried Tomato Turkey Sliders

Basil Chicken Burgers

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts

Peanuts and cucumbers, who would have thought? I would have never put them together, but they make a surprisingly wonderful combination. I saw a similar recipe one day while blog hopping and remembered seeing this recipe in my Cooking Light cookbook. I've turned past that recipe so many times, without even considering making it. I don't know what flipped the switch this time, but I couldn't get it out of my mind and just had to make it.

Let me tell you, it was a huge hit, even with my kids. We couldn't stop eating it as we prepared it, so when it was actually time to bring it to the dinner table, there was not much left. Needless to say, there were no leftovers.

This is a great salad, perfect for spring or summer. It's got some great combinations going on too: light and fresh, sweet and salty, crispy and crunchy!

Spicy Cucumber Salad with Peanuts
1 1/2 pounds cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced (about 4 cups)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I left these of my kids' portions)
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 tablespoon chopped dry-roasted peanuts

Place the cucumber slices in a colander; sprinkle with salt. Toss well. Drain 1 hour. Place cucumber slices on several layers of paper towels; cover with additional paper towels. Let stand 5 minutes, pressing down occasionally. Rinse and pat dry.

Combine vinegar, water, sugar, and pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook until reduced to 1/3 cup (about 10 minutes). Remove vinegar reduction from heat; cool. Stir in onion. Combine cucumbers and vinegar reduction in a medium bowl; toss well. Sprinkle with peanuts.

Cooking Light

Linked to...
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story
It's a Keeper Thursday @ It's A Keeper
Mangia Mondays @ Delightfully Dowling

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Lemon Poppy Seed Cakes with Raspberry Filling and Lemon Buttercream

Happy Sunday everyone! I've been without a computer for about three days and it feels like it's been forever! Crazy how we've become so attached to technology these days.

I have a special treat for you today. These cakes are absolutely delicious. I first had it as a layer cake that my mom made for a family dinner. As soon as I tasted it, I knew I wanted to make it as well and I had the perfect occasion for it. I was hosting a Mother's Day brunch for our little preschool co-op group so I decided to make them into little cakes to easily serve to everyone. Using a mini bundt pan was great because, first of all, it made just the right portion sizes, and secondly, it created the perfect crevice to hide the surprise filling in.

I loved every part of this dessert. Lemon anything is wonderful and raspberries are just about my favorite fruit ever! However, if I had to pick one component that was my favorite, I would have to say the frosting. I know that may sound strange, and I don't usually like frosting above the actual dessert, but it was truly amazing. When my mom made the cake, she added a little more lemon to intensify the flavor and to lighten it up added some cool whip. I think those two things made it just perfect, absolutely finger-licking good! Frost just the tops or frost the whole thing, you'll love it either way.

Lemon Poppy Seed Cakes with Raspberry Filling and Lemon Buttercream

For the cakes:
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
zest and juice of a lemon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil

For the raspberry filling:
1/2 recipe Berry Coulis, using only raspberries
(Raspberry preserves may be substituted.)

For the lemon buttercream frosting: 
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
zest of one lemon
juice of 2 lemons
1/4-1/2 cup cool whip

Prepare raspberry filling as directed and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Liberally grease a 12 cavity mini-bundt pan.

In a small mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir in poppy seeds. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon juice and zest, and vanilla extract. Whisk in the dry ingredients. Add the vegetable oil to the bowl and fold in to the batter with a rubber spatula until completely incorporated. Spoon batter into the prepared bundt pan and bake for about 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the cakes cool about 10 minutes in the pan then gently slide them out. Wipe out pan and grease about half of the molds again. Spoon remaining batter into prepared molds and bake and cool as directed above.

To prepare lemon buttercream, add butter to a mixer bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth; about 1 minute. Add powdered sugar, lemon zest and juice and mix until incorporated. Then turn the mixer on medium speed and beat for another 1-2 minutes, until frosting is light and fluffy. Add cool whip and mix until just incorporated.

Assembling the cakes: Fill each cavity in the cakes with the raspberry filling. Either dollop lemon buttercream frosting on top of each cake or, using a spatula, frost as desired.

Makes 16-18 mini bundt cakes

My notes:
1)When making the raspberry sauce, I do not strain my seeds as they are small and do not bother me.
2)If you do not have a mini-bundt pan, have no fear. Simply bake them up in a cupcake pan. You can then either hollow them out to create a cavity for the filling (there are tools for this these days, or you could just use a knife) or cut them in half and spread the filling in between.

SOURCE:Adapted from Annie's Eats

Linked to...
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen
Whisking Wednesdays @ Pinch of This, That & the Other
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story
It's a Keeper Thursday @ It's A Keeper
Sweets For A Saturday @ Sweet As Sugar Cookies
These Chicks Cooked Link Party @ This Chick Cooks
Sweet Tooth Friday @ Alli n' Son

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cake Batter Pancakes

I love to celebrate, especially when it comes to my kids and birthdays. I love to make them feel special and make them food that makes them smile. Saturday, however, was my birthday and I got to make these fun pancakes to share with everyone.

Seriously, if you're a fan of birthday cake, cake batter or heck, even pancakes, you're going to love these. My oldest daughter helped me make the batter and was so thrilled that she could dump in all those sprinkles. That just made it for her.

This is such a fun way to celebrate a birthday and it doesn't take much effort. Even if it's not anybody's birthday, these are fun and are sure to put a smile on anyone's face.

Wondering what to do with all that leftover cake mix? May I suggest you make MORE of these pancakes? Or you can even use it to make cake batter ice cream. Keep it in an ziploc bag or an air-tight container and it will keep for months, you don't have to use it right away.

Cake Batter Pancakes
makes about 10 pancakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow or white cake mix
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
1-2 Tbsp. oil
1 1/2 cups milk (dairy, almond, rice, etc.; I used almond)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

assorted sprinkles

Combine flour, cake mix, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and mix. Add egg, oil, milk and vanilla extract and stir until smooth. You want the batter to look like regular pancake batter; not too thin, not too thick. Add more milk, if needed. Let batter sit while griddle heats up.

Preheat griddle or skillet, whichever you are using. Fold desired amount of sprinkles into batter. Pour batter in 1/4 cup measurements onto skillet and let cook until bubbles form on top, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for 1 minute more. Serve with vanilla glaze and extra sprinkles, if desired.

For the glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp. milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix milk, extract and powdered sugar until glaze forms. You may need to add a little more sugar or water/milk to reach desired consistency.

SOURCE:Adapted from How Sweet It Is

Linked to...
Whisking Wednesdays @ Pinch of This, That & The Other
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story
It's a Keeper Thursday @ It's A Keeper
Mangia Mondays @ Delightfully Dowling
Savory Sunday @ The Sweet Details

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Lemon Garlic Shrimp with Orzo

When I made my (half) menu this month, I was looking for lots of quick and easy meals. Although I've been cooking a little more lately, I have still had many nights I've just fed everyone cold cereal. So, when I came across this recipe from Pioneer Woman I knew it would be a keeper. For one, there is minimal prep, I'm talking under 10 minutes and all you have to do is throw this stuff in the oven and put the pasta on. Secondly, everyone here just adores shrimp!

I have actually made this twice recently. The first night I made it I only had a mere 1/2 lb. of shrimp from my freezer to work with and none of us got our fill. So, of course, I had to make it again! It's amazing what a few simple ingredients can to. It may not look much, but this dish has so much flavor. That along with the simplicity of it, it'll be calling your name too!!

Lemon Garlic Shrimp with Orzo
1 pound raw, frozen shrimp, deveined, shells on
1 stick cold butter, cut into pieces
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 cups orzo pasta

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Rinse frozen shrimp to separate and partially thaw them, then arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Fill a pot of water and put it on the stove to bring to a boil.

In the bowl of a food processor, add cold butter, garlic, lemon juice, salt and parsley. Pulse until combined. Sprinkle cold butter crumbles over the shrimp.

Bake until shrimp is opaque and butter is hot and bubbly. Mine was done in under 10 minutes, but times will vary depending on oven and how frozen shrimp is.

While shrimp is cooking, drop orzo into boiling water and cook according to package directions. Drain pasta and pour into serving dish. Pour cooked shrimp and lemon garlic sauce over the pasta and toss gently to coat.

*If you want to add a little extra heat, add a few sprinkles of red pepper flakes to the butter sauce.

SOURCE:Pioneer Woman

Linked to...
Seasonal Sunday @ Real Sustenance
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen
Whisking Wednesdays @ Pinch of This, That & The Other

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tres Leches Cake

Ok, so I know I'm a day late and a dollar short on this Tres Leches Cake, but it is soooooo good! It was definitely the highlight of my weekend. And, I've been eating it since I made it Thursday night-YUM! I've been wanting to try Tres Leches for a long time. Last year I found a coconut Tres Leches Cakes that I thought would be fabulous because I love coconut. However, it wasn't so hot, so it put me off for a while. When we decided to have a Cinco de Mayo celebration, I knew this was my chance to make it again, the REAL thing this time though.

I did a little research on Tres Leches Cake and found out that the basic cake recipe is probably the most important part of it all coming together. Using cake flour and beating the egg whites separately gives the cake the perfect crumb and makes it rise enough to be able to soak up all the milky goodness. Otherwise, you may have a milk moat from a cake that cannot stand up to all that milk.

I wasn't sure how I would like eating a cake that was so moist, but after my first bite, I was blown away! The drizzle of dulce de leche was an extra special treat as well, making this actually a Cuatro Leches Cake! This dessert has lodged a place in my recipe book I'm sure for years to come.

Tres Leches Cake
For the cake:
6 3/4 oz. cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
4 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
8 oz. granulated sugar
5 eggs, separated
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

For the milk mixture:
1 (12-oz) can evaporated milk
1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2-1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

For the whipped topping:
2 cups heavy cream
4 oz. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract

maraschino cherries
dulce de leche

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Liberally spray a 9x13 baking pan with oil until well coated. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Separate eggs. Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in about 1/4 cup of the sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

Beat butter on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and with the mixer still running, gradually add the rest of the sugar over 1 minute. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl, if necessary. Add the egg yolks, 1 at a time, and mix to thoroughly combine. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the flour mixture to the batter in 3 batches and mix just until combined; do not overmix. Add about 1/3 of the egg whites to the batter and mix on low until combined. Remove the paddle/whisk attachment from the mixing bowl and gently fold in the rest of the egg whites with a spatula. (You don't have to get them completely incorporated, it's ok if you still see ribbons of egg white throughout the batter-kind of like a souffle.)

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread to even out surface. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cake it lightly golden. (Remember all ovens are different so be vigilant near the end of baking time to ensure proper doneness.)

Remove cake pan to a cooling rack and allow cake to cool for 30 minutes. Take a fork or skewer and poke holes all over the cake. Allow the cake to completely cool.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the milk mixture. Slowly pour mixture over the cake, cover and refrigerate overnight.

For the whipped topping, place the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk together on low until stiff peaks are formed. Change to medium speed and whisk until thick. Spread the topping over the cake and allow to chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To serve the cake, drizzle some dulce de leche onto a small plate and place a piece of cake on top. Lightly sprinkle cinnamon and top with a maraschino cherry. Keep leftovers refrigerated.

Some notes:
1)As always, you can make your own cake flour. For every cup of all-purpose flour, take out 2 tablespoons and replace with cornstarch. Sift well.

2)A kitchen scale really comes in handy in this recipe. They are a good investment, relatively inexpensive and I have used mine more than I thought I would. With that said, I'll give you an idea of the equivalents: 6 3/4 oz cake flour is just over 1 1/2 cups, 8 oz sugar is about a cup and 4 oz of butter is 1/2 cup or 1 stick.

3)I purchased dulce de leche in the Mexican section at my local grocery store, although you can easily make your own. I also thinned it out with a little milk so that I could drizzle it easily on each plate.

SOURCE:Adapted from Alton Brown and Pioneer Woman

Linked to...
Sweets For A Saturday @ Sweet As Sugar Cookies
Potluck Sunday @ Mommy's Kitchen
Sweet Indulgences Sunday @ A Well-Seasoned Life

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinnamon-Honey Ice Cream

Remember how I told you that last year I made these cupcakes for my birthday/Cinco de Mayo celebration? Well, I also made this Cinnamon-Honey Ice Cream to go with them. My sister asked me to post the recipe ages ago and here I am a year later and I still haven't posted it!!!

I love making ice cream at home and I started doing it lots last summer. This ice cream is great. It's sweet and creamy with all the yuminess of cinnamon and vanilla all swirled together.

If you're planning on celebrating Cinco de Mayo with Mexican fare, this ice cream is the perfect accompaniment either by itself or along side some sopapillas, Mexican Wedding cookies or bunelos.

Cinnamon-Honey Ice Cream
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/4 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
20 cloves
2 sticks cinnamon
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Warm the half-and-half and sugar in a medium saucepan. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Temper the eggs by slowly pouring the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Tie the cloves in a small piece of cheese cloth and add them, along with the 2 sticks of cinnamon, to the saucepan. Stir mixture constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Pour custard through a strainer, or cheesecloth, then stir in the cream, honey, vanilla extract and ground cinnamon. Add the cinnamon sticks and the cloves back to the custard mixture, cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (up to overnight).

Take out the cloves and cinnamon sticks and pour custard into ice cream maker. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions.

Linked to...
Recipe Swap Thursday @ Prairie Story
It's A Keeper Thursday @ It's A Keeper
Sweets For A Saturday @ Sweet As Sugar Cookies
Sweet Indulgences Sunday @ A Well-Seasoned Life

Monday, May 2, 2011

May Menu

Happy days it's May! I'm so glad it's May, not only because I get to celebrate both Mother's day as well as my birthday, but we get to welcome in warmer weather and sunshine!!! After being cooped up inside with two young children all winter, I'm looking forward to spending half our days in the sun at the park with the kids running wild with their friends.

I'm also excited about Cinco de Mayo. We're getting together with some of my extended family to enjoy some good eats and smack down a pinata. On the menu so far we have fajitas, rice and beans, chips, salsa & guacamole. I'm bringing a traditional Tres Leches cake and some horchata, which is a traditional rice milk drink that I absolutely adore!

Last year we had just moved in to our new house around this time so I combined our Cinco de Mayo fiesta with my birthday party and had a great bash. My girls helped my make these Crockpot Tamales, and for dessert I made these Chocolate Chipotle Cupcakes with Chili Chocolate Ganache and Honey Cinnamon Ice Cream.

I have yet to decide what I will make for my birthday celebration. I have just passed my first trimester of pregnancy and am still feeling ill most of the time. I wanted to wait until it passed so I could really enjoy a wonderful meal, especially dessert. Dessert will most likely be something chocolate. I've had my eye on this Chocolate Malt Cake from Bon Appetit for a while, as well as the famous Sweet and Salty Cake from Baked cookbook. We'll just have to see what it comes down to.

And one last thing. Although I didn't make a menu last month and only cooked dinner a handful of times, I'm going to make an effort to do better this month. Yesterday, after looking at an empty fridge, not seeing a fresh fruit or vegetable in sight, I decided to make a menu and go shopping. I only made a menu for 2 weeks, I hope we can get through it, so here it goes....

White Chicken Chili
Lemon Garlic Shrimp w/ orzo and broccoli
Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce over Spaghetti, green beans and garlic bread
Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork Tacos with Spanish rice and beans

Chicken Divan
Mashed potatoes and broccoli
Sesame Noodles w/ snow peas and peppers
Coconut Crusted Tilapia w/ wild rice and green beans
Apple Cheddar Meatballs, egg noodles and veggie
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