Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Recipe Swap: Sweet Beginnings' Summer Pasta Salad

The theme for this week's swap was foods you'd bring to a Memorial Day picnic.  I submitted the uber fabulous and easy Firecracker Shrimp and received Jaida (jaire30) from Sweet Beginnings original pasta salad recipe.  As always, you can see the full blog roundup post in A Taste of Homecooking's blog.

Once again I was thrilled to be able to use up some of my pasta stash and was pleased with the way this recipe tasted.  Very light and refreshing.  The perfect complement to our burgers and dogs!  I wasn't sure about the use of zucchini or the lack of salad dressing "sauce" in this recipe but I have to say, it really worked.  It's not super flavorful (like the salad dressing types) but my-oh-my do those veggies really shine in this dish.  It'll be nice to have an alternative to my standby pasta salad recipe from my mother-in-law when I want to mix things up a bit :).

Please pardon the yellow tint to this photo.  I forgot my camera and so the iPhone was pulling double duty!  But, it's actually not half bad for a camera-phone picture, in my opinion...

Sweet Beginnings' Summer Pasta Salad
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  • 2 cups tri-color Rotini or Fusilli Noodles, cooked according to package directions
  • 2  Zucchini, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups Cherry or Plum Tomatoes, halved
  • ½ cup Red Onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Olive Oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • ½ Lemon (optional)
  1. Lightly sauté zucchini using 1 tsp of olive oil or cooking spray and season with salt & pepper, then cut each round into halves or quarters.
  2. Mix olive oil & vinegar together in a small bowl.
  3. Toss pasta, zucchini, tomatoes, and onion in a large bowl with the olive oil mixture. Season with salt & pepper, add basil and stir.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes, squeeze lemon over pasta (if desired), toss and serve! 
Source: Sweet Beginnings

Monday, May 30, 2011

SweetFire Chicken

Have you tried this yet?  I know I was hooked from the moment these sweet and spicy chicken morsels hit my tongue.  I used to knock Panda Express because I figured it was just another bad Americanized Chinese food joint but this is truly another example where you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.

Yes, it's cheap.  Yes, it's not authentic.  But YES, it is DELICIOUS!  As I savored every bite and realized it would be quite a drive for us to get this food often, I thought surely this couldn't be difficult to make at home.  A quick internet search yielded some recipes and a place to begin.  The recipe I ended up finding was precisely what I concocted in my mind when I thought I'd try to DIY.  The only thing I did differently was to add some cornstarch to the flour mix so that it'd help thicken the "sauce" and also some spices for flavoring the chicken.  I also added more pineapple and veggies.  Yum!  You could deep fry the chicken like they do in the restaurant but this offers a slightly healthier option and frankly, we didn't miss the deep-friedness.

Chris was totally delighted by this recipe and asked that it be added to our weekly rotation (which, we don't have a weekly rotation because I rarely ever repeat recipes!).  With much enthusiasm as he wolfed down his portion and went for seconds he boldly declared this dish my "best Chinese dish yet".  In my opinion, it was dead on and it was soooo easy!

With its pineapple, red bell pepper, onions, and chicken in a sweet chili sauce, it's a modern day spicy spin on your regular run of the mill sweet and sour chicken.  But 10 million times better.  An "exotic fusion of flavors" as they call it.  Best Chinese yet.

Two Years Ago:  Quick and Easy Alfredo Sauce - I may not have a weekly menu but this is actually one of them that does make it on my menu often.  Especially on lazy days ;).

SweetFire Chicken

  • 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" chunks
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3/4 of a red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 1/2 of a small onion, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple, chopped (can substitute drained canned pineapple chunks)
  • 1/2 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
  • Vegetable oil
  1. Chop and prepare all ingredients before starting. 
  2. Heat oil in pan on stovetop. Mix flour, cornstarch, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper in a gallon ziplock bag. Add chicken pieces and coat evenly. Once pan has heated, add the chicken pieces. Throw out the leftover flour mixture. Cook 4-5 minutes, stirring several times to cook chicken. If the pan surface gets dry, add a little bit more oil.  Once the chicken has browned and cooked, remove and set aside.
  3. Add the bell pepper and onions to the pan and stir fry about 3-4 minutes. Add the sweet chili sauce and stir. Then immediately add the cooked chicken and pineapple. Allow to cook for 2-3 minutes. Serve over rice immediately.

Source: Modified from So I Married a Triathlete

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Recipe Swap Rewind: Roasted Sweet Potato Coins with Pancetta and Chives

I think I've figured out why May is like a recipe desert (yes, desert, not dessert...which has 2 s because you always want seconds of those!) around here.  May historically is a time of madness in my household:
  • For the past few years we've gone to Europe for 2 weeks in May
  • My Sister and Father-in-Law's birthdays are in May
  • Our Anniversary is in May (today is our 3rd Anniversary, actually!)
  • We "adopted" our dog Toby in May, AND 
  • My birthday is at the beginning of June so the preparation is in...you guessed it, MAY.
It's no wonder that I've kept with previous years' trends and sort of dropped off the face of the Earth and not blogged much.  

I'm still trying to keep up with the recipe swaps and my last one was another from Jey of Cooking.  With the theme being Vegetarian I knew it'd be a gamble but I went for it anyway.  She sent me her Pineapple Fried Quinoa with Honey Ginger Soy Marinated Tofu.  I felt horrible because when I read the ingredients, I knew there was no way in heck that my husband would eat it as written and I had already skipped a recipe from her blog last time due to lack of time to cook..  He doesn't eat tofu (or "estrogen cakes" as he calls them), eggs (that look/small like eggs), and would have no idea what quinoa is.  I thought about modifying it to meet our needs but then it would in no way resemble her original recipe.  So, I simply just did not participate this round.  If that recipe sounds like your thing, feel free to try it thought and let me know what you thought!

To help my conscience feel better, today, I'd do a recipe rewind for you.  Since I missed making Jey's Sweet Potato Coins with Pancetta and Chives before vacation in April, I got the opportunity to do so when we got home and am sharing it now.  They were really delicious but honestly, I would have preferred to skip the sour cream (which, I did on some in order to make them Chris-consumable...are you noticing a trend here?).  Of course, then I'm not sure that the other delicious toppings would really stay on...minor detail.  The real star was the roasted sweet potatoes anyway.  I loved the way they tasted and should roast them more often!

One Year Ago: Buckeyes
Two Years Ago: Garlic Cheddar Chicken

Sweet Potato Coins with Pancetta and Chives
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  • 2 Sweet Potatoes
  • 6 Clementines, juiced (or other citrus juice equivalent to about 1 cup)
  • 2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
  • 2 Slices Pancetta (I used bacon)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 Cup Sour Cream
  • 4-5 Chives, snipped (I used green onions)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cut sweet potatoes into thick rounds.  Toss with clementine juice and brown sugar. Transfer potato coins to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for one hour, flipping once halfway through.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pancetta over medium low heat until cooked.  Crumble and set aside.
  4. Remove potatoes from oven and let cool 5 minutes.  Transfer to a serving platter.
  5. Put sour cream into a piping bag with a decorative tip (or a plastic baggie with a corner snipped.)  Pipe onto coins and top with pancetta and chives.
Source: Jey of Cooking

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Lemon-Rosemary Turkey Meatballs

This recipe was a wonderful change from traditional Italian meatballs.  The flavor was really delicious and the lemon gave it a great Spring-like brightness.  It had a gravy-esque sauce which is also a nice change from traditional tomato or cream sauces.  I'd say it most resembles Swedish Meatballs but even that is a distant cousin.  I'm not a huge fan of rosemary but I have to say that it works in this recipe.  Eating Well also suggests that you can use thyme instead, if you please.  I served mine over noodles.  Because...as we previously discussed, I have a crazy stockpile of pasta right now.

Two Years Ago: Mexican Chicken and Rice Casserole

Lemon-Rosemary Turkey Meatballs
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Cook Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 4 Servings (each with 3 meatballs and ~1/4 cup sauce)

  • 1 medium onion, cut into chunks
  • 2 large cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary or 1 1/4 teaspoons dried, divided
  • 1 pound 93%-lean ground turkey
  • 3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine (or substitute more chicken broth)
  • 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter

  1. Place onion, garlic and lemon zest in a food processor. Add 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (or 1 teaspoon dried) and pulse just until the mixture is finely and evenly chopped (but not mushy).
  2. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and gently mix in turkey, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper until combined. Use a generous 2 tablespoons each to shape the mixture into 12 meatballs (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter). Place flour in a shallow dish and roll the meatballs in it to lightly coat. (Reserve the remaining flour.)
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add meatballs and cook, turning once, until brown, 3 to 5 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Add wine (or 1/2 cup broth) to the pan, increase heat to medium-high and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until almost evaporated, 1 to 3 minutes. Add the can of broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer and return the meatballs to the pan along with the remaining 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary (or 1/4 teaspoon dried). Cover and cook until the meatballs are cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the meatballs to a serving bowl.
  5. Bring the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until reduced to 1 cup, 4 to 8 minutes. Whisk lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of the reserved flour in a small bowl (discard any remaining flour); whisking constantly, add the flour mixture to the sauce along with butter and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Simmer, whisking, until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve. Serve the sauce over the meatballs on top of noodles or mashed potatoes.

Source: Eating Well , January/February 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Recipe Swap: Croque Monsieur

This week's recipe swap comes all the way from France.  Am I weird to say that I *didn't* like the food in France as much as I thought it would?  Being what is the arguably the culinary capital of the world, I had expected better.  I'm happy to say that this simple sandwich helped redeem the French in my eyes.

I had to make some modifications for Chris to eat it.  He claims the smell of mustard makes him vomit and he won't touch white cream stuff (sour cream, mayo, cream cheese, cottage cheese, etc.) unless it's baked into something sweet and no longer resembles its original form.  So, his sandwich was naked.  Just bread, meat, cheese, and tomato.  I made mine as written except that I had to swap sour cream for the crème fraiche and I just used wheat sandwich bread.  I know, how un-French of me.  But, I wasn't about to go out and buy/make something special for a single spoonful knowing I already had leftover sour cream from Cinco de Mayo in the fridge!  It was still just as sinfully delicious...even if I did slightly burn mine.  Oops.  That's what you get when you're impatient and turn up the heat to get dinner done more quickly!

Thank you Jill of JBean Cuisine for sharing this deliciously simple sandwich.  It must have been fate that gave me her swap since I submitted French Dip Sandwiches this week.  And, thanks as always to Sarah at Taste of Home Cooking for hosting.  She's begun to do swap round-ups in her blog so check it out if you want more burger/sandwich ideas!

One Year Ago: We already established that I was a slacker for the entire month of May last year...
Two Years Ago: Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas

Croque Monsieur
Printer-Friendly Version

Yields: 1 Serving

  • 2 thick slices white bread (used wheat sandwich bread)
  • 1 spoonful crème fraiche (used reduced fat sour cream)
  • 1 spoonful Dijon mustard
  • grated gruyere cheese or comté
  • 2 or 3 thin slices of tomato (JBean addition)
  • Ground black Pepper
  • Paprika
  • 1 Slice very thin deli ham
  • Clarified butter for frying
  1. If using thick cut bread, cut the bread so that the two slices are still attached at the bottom, like a man’s wallet.  Otherwise, skip this step.
  2. Mix the crème fraîche and mustard together with cheese and paprika.  Then spread it generously on both insides of the "wallet" or on both slices of bread. Season with pepper.  Add ham and tomato between the prepared sandwich halves.
  3. Press the sandwich together with your hand. Fry in clarified butter in a frying pan, a few minutes per side until it’s golden on the outside, and melting in the middle. Serve hot.

Source: Laura Calder from French Food at Home as passed along by JBean Cuisine

Friday, May 6, 2011

Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake

Are you still searching for that perfect cake to wow Mom this Sunday?  Look no further, I've got your solution right here.

I had made this cake for my mother-in-law's birthday.  Those of you that are fans of mine on facebook got a sneak peek at this cake.  There's something about the month of April when the weather starts turning a bit warmer and the first flowers bloom that make me crave light, citrus and fruit flavors.  This cake delivered in taste and is pretty to look at.  Just like Mom :).

I'll warn you it is a bit time consuming but not too bad if you take it in steps and do it over a couple days like any multi-step recipe.  For me, I made the raspberry curd one night, the cake the next, and then assembled it on the third day.  Fresh as a daisy.  The only issue I had was in cutting the cake halves.  I've never done that before and one layer ended up in many pieces when I went to transfer it for assembly.  Not wanting to waste all my hardwork, I carried on but it showed on the inside as the raspberry curd seeped through the layers in some spots.  At least it was structurally sound and tasted great!

The original recipe called for a lemon buttercream frosting but I wanted to keep in the spirit of lightness.  The thought of using 5 sticks of butter really grossed me out.  So, I halved the frosting recipe then made up a batch of fresh whipped cream and folded that into the lemon buttercream.  You can do the same if you want to cut the sweetness but I'll leave the original recipe intact for those with a sweet tooth (like my husband...who objected to my change).

Two Years Ago: Sloppy Joes...maybe make these for Dad so he doesn't feel left out.  This seems to be a masculine polar opposite to this dainty cake recipe!

Lemon Raspberry Layer Cake
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For the Cake
  • 1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon (preferably organic)
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting the pans
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature
  • 6 large egg whites (3/4 cup), at room temperature
  • 2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened but still cool
For the Raspberry Curd
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • Two 1/2-pints ripe raspberries or one 12-ounce package frozen raspberries, thawed
  • 5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 to 3 tsp fresh lemon juice 
For the Lemon Buttercream Frosting
  • 2 1/2 cups (5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tablespoons table salt
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream

To Prepare the Raspberry Curd
  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the raspberries, egg yolks, sugar, and salt and cook, mashing the berries and stirring frequently at first and them constantly at the end, until thickened, about 10 minutes.
  2. Pour the mixture through a coarse strainer set over a bowl, pressing hard on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Cool to room temperature; the curd will continue to thicken as it cools. Stir in lemon juice to taste. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve, or for up to 1 month
To Prepare the Cake
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 9-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray; line the bottoms with parchment or waxed paper rounds. Spray the paper rounds, dust the pans with flour, and invert pans and rap sharply to remove excess flour.
  2. Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.
  3. Put the sugar and lemon zest in a mixer bowl and rub them together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and fragrant. Add cake flour, baking powder, and salt to mixer bowl and mix at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.
  4. Add all but 1/2 cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium speed and beat 20 seconds longer.
  5. Divide batter evenly between two prepared cake pans; using rubber spatula, spread batter to pan walls and smooth tops. Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes.
  6. Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes. Loosen from sides of pans with a knife, if necessary, and invert onto wire racks. Reinvert onto additional wire racks. Let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours. 
To Prepare the Lemon Buttercream Frosting
  1. In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds.
  2. Add confectioners’ sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds. 
  3. Scrape bowl, add extracts and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.
To Assemble the Cake
  1. Once cake layers have completely cooled, use a large serated knife to slice each layer in half horizontally.
  2. Scoop about a cup of frosting into a piping bag with a large round tip (you can also use a ziplock bag and snip off the corner).  Place strips of waxes paper around the plate or cake disk that you will be using for the cake. Pipe a small amount of frosting onto the center of your cake disk. This will serve as glue to hold the cake in place.
  3. Place your first layer of cake, cut side up, on the disk. Pipe a thick ring around the edge of the cake. This will serve as a dam to keep the filling in the cake and prevent the layers from sliding around.  Spread ~1/3 to 1/2 cup of raspberry curd onto the cake. Add the top half of that cake and repeat. Add the bottom half of the other cake, cut side up again, and repeat. Place the top layer on the cake.
  4. Apply a very thin layer of frosting on the cake. This will serve as a crumb coat and will help the final frosting to be smooth. Chill the cake for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  5. Next, coat the cake with frosting and decorate with frosting and fresh raspberries as desired.
Source: Beantown Baker

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco Recipes to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Feliz Cinco de Mayo everybody!  
Today it's finally stopped raining (as it apparently has been doing the past 3 weeks...thank goodness we were gone for 2 of those!) and so we're making Grilled Chicken Fajitas from Annie's Eats.  Though I'd like to invite everybody over to our personal fiesta I simply can't.  And so, here's a round-up of my recent Mexican food posts that you can make yourself to have your own fiesta!


Still need more inspiration for your fine fiesta?  Because I love you, I'm giving you some bonus recipes to consider adding to your spread.  Why not try...

Cha Cha's White Chicken Chili
The Easiest White Bean Chicken Chili
Avocado, Tomato, and Mango Salsa
Corn and Avocado Salsa

Chicken and Spinach Quesadillas
Copycat Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bols
Fish Tacos
Grands! Taco Melts (AKA Homemade Hot Pockets)
Mexican Casserole
Mexican Chicken Spaghetti 
Mexican Chicken and Rice Casserole
Roasted Tomatillo Enchiladas
Slow Cooker Carnitas
Tacos in Pasta Shells

And remember your trusty friend to the rescue if you happen to over-fiesta ;)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Tres Leches Cake

And since no meal is complete without dessert, I bring you this Tres Leches Cake to round out my Cinco Recipes for Cinco de Mayo series!

Let's just say that this is one sweet treat and hey, you get your calcium from all the milk ;).  I have a love/hate relationship with the milk-soaked texture of the cake.  On one hand its super moist because it's drowned with three milks.  On the other hand, it's a little mushy...almost like it's...regurgitated.

I'd hate to leave you with that lovely thought so how about a fun picture of Pepto-Bismol with a sombrero on its head riding its trusty rainbow colored pinata and a crunchy taco by its side in case hunger strikes.  Am I the only one that is amused by Pepto-Bismol's ever changing profile pictures?  Love!

Two Years Ago: Avocado, Tomato, and Mango Salsa - Another perfect accompaniment to tortilla chips or use to top tacos, fish, or chicken.

Tres Leches Cake

Yes, that's an Argentina flag and not Mexico but I'm recycling a recipe that I made for our Olympics Themed Dinner Club last fall in which I was representing South America :).


For the cake
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can evaporated milk
 For the frosting
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cinnamon (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9x13 inch baking pan.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder together and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter or margarine and the 1 cup sugar together until fluffy. Add eggs and the 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat well.  Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture 2 tablespoons at a time; mix until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.  
  5. Once cake is cooked, pierce cake several times with a fork.  Combine the whole milk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk together. Pour over the top of the cooled cake.
  6. Whip whipping cream, the remaining 1 cup of the sugar, and the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla together until stiff peaks form.  Be careful not to overbeat.  Spread over the top of cake.  If desired, sprinkle with cinnamon.  Be sure and keep cake refrigerated until ready to enjoy! 
Source: All Recipes

Bloggers Bake for Hope: Let the Bidding Begin!

Hi friends!  In the spirit of paying things forward, I decided at the 11th hour to participate in a virtual bake sale fundraiser.  It's called Blogger's Bake for HopeBake for Hope is a week long, nation-wide, 100% volunteer-run, bake sale event happening, the week leading up to Mother's Day. Proceeds donated to local Susan G. Komen for the Cure affiliates.

Bloggers Bake for Hope is a virtual bake sale. Bloggers donate their time, ingredients, and shipping costs so there are no expenses associated with this virtual bake sale. All proceeds from the bake sale will be sent to the Massachusetts Komen for the Cure.

Jen and Cara, two Boston area food bloggers and fellow What's Cooking Nesties have teamed up for a project called Bloggers Bake for Hope, a virtual bake sale as part of Bake for Hope. Jen serves up sweets at Beantown Baker, while Cara shares healthy, creative dinners at Cara’s Cravings.

The virtual bake sale will take place on May 4-6, 2011. Bloggers and bakers from across the country will agree in advance to donate baked goods. Buyers will make virtual pledges on the Bloggers Bake for Hope site, and at the close of the bake sale the highest bidders will be awarded the donated baked goods. They will make their donations via PayPal, and the bakers will then bake and ship their goods. Because the bakers are donating their ingredients, time, and shipping costs, there are no expenses associated with the virtual bake sale. 100% of the proceeds will be donated to the Massachusetts Komen for the Cure. Jen and Cara are challenging their fellow bakers and bloggers to help them raise $2000 through Bloggers Bake for Hope.

I wasn't sure what to contribute to the bake sale or if I should even participate.  I mean, how embarrassing would it be if nobody bid on my item?   And, I've never shipped cookies before so what if they all arrive broken or something?  The latter was easier to grasp.  There are so many resources on how to ship cookies it's a bit overwhelming but I'll figure it out.  As for whether I should join in the sale and what to bake.  Well, that was taken care of by polling my fans on my blog facebook page.  The answer of what to bake was clear by a 2-to-1 margin!  Grasshopper Cookie Bars.

Unfortunately after reading elsewhere on the website my assumption that as long as I submitted before the sale began was wrong and I realized that I missed the submission deadline (4/30) :(.  So, you won't be able to bid on these babies in this virtual bake sale.  Still, please visit Blogger's Bake for Hope and bid on the MANY delicious baked goods for sale!  I have my eye on the truffles and Cara's rice crispies.  What about you?

PS: I'll still take orders on those Grasshopper Cookie Bars and anything else if anyone's interested. ;)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Shrimpo de Gallo

It's recipe numero quatro of the Cinco Recipes for Cinco de Mayo series.  We're nearly done but don't worry, the fiesta has yet to begin!  The title of this particular recipe makes me laugh...as does Ree's (AKA Pioneer Woman) struggle to determine what it should be named... 

Shrimp Pico de Gallo
Shrimpy Pico de Gallo
Pico de Shrimpo
Shrimpo de Gallo
Shrimp Salsa

No matter what the name, this dip is a nice change from the traditional salsa and will win your heart over.  (And then give you some heartburn if you can't take the heat and/or you over-fiesta!).  It can be thrown together quickly for those last minute fiestas if you get your slicing and dicing on.

This recipe is Tapas Themed Dinner Club approved and once again, I suck and forgot to take a picture so thank you Emily for the photo!  The dip is in the center and NO, you don't dip the churros into the Shrimpo de Gallo.  Use tortilla chips, silly!  (The items were plated this way for ease of transport.)

One Year Ago: Hm yeah seriously...apparently I took the entire month of May off so...nothing.  I blame being on vacation and then trying to catch up from vacation.  Sorry!
Two Years Ago: Blonde Brownies...because blondes have more fun?

Shrimpo de Gallo
Printer-Friendly Version

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Yields: 12 servings 

  • 1 pound Cooked Cocktail Shrimp (tails removed), Chopped
  • ½ whole Red Onion, Diced Finely
  • ½ cups Green Or Black Olives, Chopped (I omitted...I hate olives, yuck!)
  • 2 whole Tomatoes, Diced
  • 2 whole Fresh Jalapeno Peppers, Minced (I used about 15 slices from a jar)
  • 2 whole Avocados, Chopped
  • 2 whole Limes, Juiced
  • Kosher Salt To Taste
  • 2 cups Cilantro, Chopped

  1. Combine shrimp, red onion, olives, tomatoes, and jalapenos in a large bowl. Add lime juice to taste, then a dash of kosher salt. Add cilantro. Stir gently with a spoon, then taste on a tortilla chip so you’ll have an accurate gauge of the salt content. Add more salt and/or lemon juice if needed.
  2. Chill until serving. Note that the avocado will brown if too much time passes, so if you want to make this ahead of time, leave out the avocado until just before serving.
  3. Serve with tortilla chips!

Source: Pioneer Woman

Monday, May 2, 2011

Spicy Lime and Honey Wings

Here we are on Day 3 of Cinco Recipes for Cinco de Mayo!  If you've missed Days 1 or 2, no worries, I'll be posting a recap recipe roundup on Thursday which is the day of celebration :).

I'm not sure that chicken wings are exactly Mexican but it does have some Mexican-inspired flavors.  Besides, with the culinary melting pot that is America, everything's a bit fusion nowadays anyway.  The adobo sauce gives it great heat (omit it if you can't handle it) while the lime provides a good sour note (can you say Margaritas?!).  Finally, the honey balances the tartness but watch it on the grill because it will burn more easily.  Oh and don't do like my husband did and throw away the marinade before serving...otherwise you'll have to be flexible and glaze yours with bottled BBQ sauce in a hurry like I did.  Or end up with dry, unappetizing looking wings.  Oops.  Live and learn.

This was the first time that I ever dissected chicken wings.  It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be so that was a pleasant surprise.  Just cut where the joints are and with a good sharp knife, it cuts almost like butter.  I made these as part of my Dinner Club's Tapas themed dinner club.  To be honest, that particular dinner club is the only reason that I have enough recipes to have "planned ahead" and share with you!  Pfft like I'm ever that organized and ahead of the game haha :).  Thank you Emily for taking a picture of my wings since I clearly forgot to take one of my own in my panic to find a quick makeshift glaze.

One Year Ago: Summer Corn and Vegetable Soup
Two Years Ago: Szechwan Chicken...I can't get enough of spicy foods!

Spicy Lime and Honey Wings
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For the chicken
  • 3 pounds chicken wings/chicken drummettes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the sauce
  • 1 teaspoon grated lime zest (preferably organic)
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce - optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
  1. To prepare the wings in the oven: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toss the wings in a bowl with salt, pepper, minced garlic and olive oil. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer. Cook until just cooked through, about 30 minutes. 
  2. Make the sauce: Combine the lime zest and juice, honey, cumin, adobo sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 tablespoon pepper in a bowl. Pour over the warm wings and let marinate at least 30 minutes.
  3. To prepare the wings on the grill: Preheat a grill to high. Grill the wings until marked, 10 to 15 minutes, turning as needed. Transfer the marinade to a saucepan and cook until slightly thick, about 8 minutes (you can do this on the grill as well). Drizzle or brush the wings with the sauce and top with cilantro, if desired.  Note: If you don't have a grill, you can use a grill pan indoors, bake them in the oven or saute in a little butter in a skillet until warmed through. 
Source: Joelen's Culinary Adventures as adapted from Guy Fieri

Sunday, May 1, 2011


I'm baaack!  We had a wonderful time in Italy, Greece, and Turkey these past couple of weeks.  I saw many ancient World Wonders, took a dip in the (freezing cold) Mediterranean (stupid idea!) off the coast of Capri, and was inspired by lots and lots of food.  I'm also delighted to announce that despite all my fear (and not to mention previous track records on cruises), I gained ZERO weight over the course of the past couple weeks.  It's truly a miracle!

Anyway, remember how before I left for vacation I left you with these Churro Bites as a Cinco Recipes for Cinco de Mayo teaser?  Well, here comes the rest of the series since Cinco de Mayo is rapidly approaching.  No Mexican Fiesta is complete without everyone's favorite (and relatively healthy) dip, Guacamole!  Personally, I think that Chipotle has the best guac but at the crazy caloric content of those burritos and the extra they charge to add guac, it's only good as an occasional treat.  This homemade version is a very close second in my mind and was ridiculously easy to make.  Take that, Chipotle!

By the way, to add more to your fiesta or in case you "over-fiesta", check out the Build Your Own Pinata Smash video on Pepto-Bismol's YouTube page!  //End shameless plug//

One Year Ago: Slow Cooker Carnitas are also an easy Cinco de Mayo crowd pleaser
Two Years Ago: Focaccia Bread (I had THE most delicious Focaccia EVER this past trip at Babbo's in Rome!)

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Yields: 2.5 cups

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3 ripe avocados, peeled and halved
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 2 green onions, white plus 3-inches of green chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1.5 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • Tortilla chips
  1. Put garlic and jalapeno into your food processor with the motor running. Process until finely chopped. Add half of the avocado and all of the lemon juice. Process until smooth.
  2. Transfer to a mixing bowl, and add remaining avocado. Mash with a spoon, leaving as chunky or smooth as desired.  Add the remaining ingredients (tomatoes through cilantro). Mix thoroughly with a fork.
  3. Serve at room temperature within 1-2 hours. If you're going to store it, press plastic wrap all over the top to prevent it from browning.  Enjoy with tortilla chips.
Source: The Piggly-Wiggly as passed along by her co-worker Sharon's sister