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Showing posts from May, 2008

L'Opera Cake!

It's that time again...Daring Baker's time, that is! This month's challenge was a complicated French dessert called L'Opera Cake. I'd like to give a big "thank you!" to our 4 hosts at: Cream Puffs in Venice , La Mia Cucina , Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie , and Whiskful . You can find the recipe in its entirety HERE . I was a little intimidated when I saw the first photos of an Opera Cake...it's such an elegant dessert, and I was unsure if I could pull it off. But, I'm always up for a challenge...especially when it's something I've never even heard of. The recipe looks long and daunting, but if you approach each section of the cake separately, it's really not that bad. I broke the process up over 2 days. I made the buttercream, joconde, and syrup on the first day...and then the glaze and mousse on the second day. Assembling the cake definitely took some patience and attention to detail, but I think it came out pretty good...at least for

Citrus Fish with Bell Pepper Couscous

*** Brad and I celebrated our 2 year wedding anniversary a few days ago on May 20th. I can't believe it's been 2 years already...I guess time flies when you're having fun! We decided to have a nice dinner here at home instead of fighting the crowds at a restaurant. Sometimes that's just better anyway, you know? I found this recipe in a recent issue of Rachael Ray's magazine. It looked and sounded wonderful, so I decided to give it a try. Let me just tell you...this dish is packed with flavor! The fish is marinated in a mixture of lemon, lime, orange zest, and several other things. In the words of Rachael...YUM-O!*** Ingredients: 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) 1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley (a generous handful) Juice of 1 lemon, plus 2 teaspoons grated peel Juice of 1 lime, plus 2 teaspoons grated peel Segments of 1 orange, chopped, plus 2 teaspoons grated peel 1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce (eyeball it) 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme Sa

Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake - Paula Deen

***There are no words that describe how absolutely delicious this cake is! Paula Deen seriously got this one right...but then again, when has she ever made something that wasn't good?? Please do yourself a favor and make it as soon as you get the chance. This is probably one of my favorite...if not my very favorite...cakes that I've ever made. In fact, I already know what cake I want for my birthday this year...haha. Surely I can think of another reason to make this cake before October. =)   "Simply Delicious Strawberry Cake" - Paula Deen 1 (18.25-ounce) box white cake mix 1 (3-ounce) box strawberry flavored instant gelatin 1 (10-ounce) package frozen strawberries in syrup, thawed and pureed 4 large eggs 1/2 cup vegetable oil 1/4 cup water Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows) Garnish: sliced fresh strawberries Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour 2 round 9-inch cake pans. In a l

Sauteed Spinach with Pecans & Feta

***If you like spinach, you will love this! It has tons of flavor and would even be a great addition to holiday dinners. I could definitely see this on my table around Thanksgiving or Christmas. It just has that something extra that makes it a special dish.*** Ingredients: 3 (6oz) bags baby spinach (about 16 cups) 1/4 cup water 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus 2 tsp. for drizzling 3 large shallots, slice thin crosswise(about1 cup) Table salt 2 tsp. red wine vinegar 1/3 cup chopped pecans (toasted) 1 1/2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (about 1/4c) Directions: 1. Place spinach and water in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover bowl with large microwave-safe dinner plate (plate should completely cover bowl and not rest on spinach). Microwave on high power until spinach is wilted and decreased in volume by half, 3-4 minutes. Using potholders, remove bowl from the microwave and keep covered for 1 minute. Carefully remove plate and transfer spinach to a colander set in the sink. Using b

Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli

***We all have our favorite and delicious go-to meals...this one is definitely a new go-to meal for me. It's simply wonderful! The very best part of it is, it's healthy! I found it in the "Light Recipes" special edition by Cook's Illustrated . I also went one step further by using whole wheat pasta. M'mm, m'mm good!*** Ingredients: 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts Table salt & ground black pepper 4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) 1 medium onion, minced 1 (8 ounce) jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed, patted dry, and sliced into 1/4 inch strips 12 medium garlic cloves, minced 5 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and minced to paste (I left these out!) 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth 1 1/2 lbs. broccoli, florets cut into 1-inch pieces, stalks peeled, halved and lengthwise, and sliced into 1/4 inch thick (I used 1 bag frozen broccoli florets) 1 lb. rotini pasta (I used whole wheat pasta) 1/4 cup minced

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

***I got this recipe from Monica's food blog, "Buon Appetito: Meals by Monica." Thanks Monica!!! It is so delicious and yet, it's extremely easy. In fact, I had my wisdom teeth pulled last year, and I came home and made this for dinner that same night. I was even able to eat a little bit (very carefully and without the bun, of course!). This recipe is unique because it uses root beer. It adds a nice, sweet flavor to the BBQ.*** Ingredients: Pork Tenderloin (I used 1.5 lb) 1 Onion, sliced Root Beer (enough to cover about half way) Your favorite BBQ sauce Directions: Cook the tenderloin, root beer, and onion on Low in the crock pot for about 6 hours. Drain out the juices and rinse out crock pot. Shred the pork. Put the pork and onion back in the crockpot and pour your favorite sauce on it. Stir and cook on Low about another hour. Source: http://mealsbymonica.blogspot.com/

Carolina Crab Cakes - Biltmore Estate

***Recently, Brad and I were able to visit the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. That was the second time that I've visited the estate, but it was the first time Brad has ever been. It was just as beautiful as I remember it...one word - Incredible! I can't even imagine living in a house that size. It has everything from a bowling alley to a swimming pool...wow! Is it any surprise that my favorite part of the whole tour was the kitchen??? Anyway, we were browsing through the gift shop and I spotted this cookbook. I was so excited. It's really got some wonderful recipes, and I'll certainly post them here as I work my way through the cookbook. These crab cakes were a great place to start...enjoy!*** Ingredients: 2 pounds crab meat 2 eggs 1/4 cup Japanese-style bread crumbs 2 tbsp. minced chives Juice of 1/2 lemon 1/3 C mayonnaise 1 1/2 tbsp. Dijon mustard 1 1/2 tbsp. whole grain mustard 1 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning Salt and pepper to taste 2 tbsp. mild olive oil or

Penne with Steak, Chicken & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

***This was one of those dinners that I did not want to end! It combined all of my favorites...sun-dried tomatoes, chicken, steak, and pasta! I had 1/2 of a left-over rib-eye steak from Longhorn Steakhouse that I was able to incorporate into this dish. I was glad that it didn't go to waste. As you can probably tell by reading my blog, pasta is probably my favorite thing to cook. After being away from home last week, I was especially inspired to get in the kitchen this week. This pasta dish is one of those that I got a little creative with...no recipe required!*** Ingredients: 1 pkg. penne pasta (I only used 1/2 of the package) 10 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sliced into thin strips 1 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 1 rib-eye steak, grilled or cooked to your liking 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 4 white boiler onions, chopped (these look like small, miniature onions...you could substitute with 1 regular-sized onion, instead) 2 tbsp. extra virgin

Pan-Seared Grouper with Cherry Tomatoes & Asparagus

Okay, I have seriously been having withdrawals...cooking withdrawals, that is. Brad and I were traveling for business last week, so I haven't really been able to cook or blog about anything. However, we did get to see 7 states in 4 days...a total of 23 hours round-trip...talk about exhausting! We managed to have a ton of fun though. We made it from Alabama to Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, and finally back home to Alabama. I'll add more about our trip later...hopefully. Now that we're back, my posting should get back to normal after a quick grocery run this week. But now on to the topic at-hand...FOOD! Since we've been on the road so much, I was determined to cook tonight. I need to go grocery shopping, but I was able to throw together something pretty yummy. Brad mentioned that this dish had a Cajun feel to it, without being spicy...perfect! I am proud to say that this recipe is completely from my own noggin'. I didn'