Monday, March 31, 2008

Daring Baker’s Party Cup Cakes

I took a little liberty with this month’s bakers challenge. I made the cake batter exactly as it was written but I opted to make cup cakes for our Easter dinner instead of a big cake.

Cup cakes always go over much better in our house than a big cake does and this recipe was really really good! The cake itself was so delicate and just like the Morven from Food Art and Random Thoughts said the light lemony flavor went over big with a fruit filling.

I live in Florida and one of my favorite jams or jellies is Guava. I opted to use my pastry bag and fill the center of the cupcakes with a little guava surprise. Yum Yum Yum!!!
Florida strawberries are always in season around Easter and I can’t remember a Easter dinner when some sort of strawberry dessert wasn’t served, so I took some of the best looking Florida Strawberries I could find and fanned them out as a decoration on top. I love the way the red strawberries looked against the stark white of the cake and the icing.
Check out some of the other cakes from this month’s challenge over at the Daring Baker’s, it’s a party for your eyes!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Braised Spinach and Red Peppers

One of my favorite veggies in the world is spinach. I have always liked it even when I was a kid. My mom made canned spinach and I even liked that. She would always fix it with bacon and scrambled eggs and then we would measure vinegar in the cap to sprinkle on top.

I always get 3 or 4 bags of spinach from the Farmer’s Market and we eat it all week in a number of different ways. Today’s pre washed spinach is just too easy to use and I find that it keeps surprisingly well in the refrigerator. Now that spring is here, summer is not to far away and for us that means a lot of dinner salads and more than likely fresh baby spinach will be the base.

This braised spinach and red peppers is one of my favorite ways to serve a quick and hot side dish. The red peppers ad a wonderful contrast to the deep green color of the spinach. We often have this during the holidays for obvious reasons.
Braised Spinach and Red Peppers

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1 10 oz. Bag triple washed baby spinach
2 large cloves fresh garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon fresh lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the bell pepper strips and saute 4 to 5 minutes or until the peppers begin to soften. Add the spinach, garlic and lemon zest turning with tongs to incorporate. Continue turning the spinach until it has wilted and the water begins to evaporate, about 3 - 4 minutes. Add the lemon juice and turn until well combined. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Good Friday Egg Sandwiches with Avocado Mayonnaise

Holiday weekends are really busy around our house. Especially since my Mother In-law moved in with us. Holidays were usually spent at her house and even though I still did most of the cooking things didn’t seem nearly as frantic.

Since we are going to have a full weekend of eating, light seemed just right for Friday dinner. Since my husband and his Mom are catholic good Friday means no meat ( which I sometimes forget, then spend the rest of the evening waiting for the lightning bolt). I had a lot of boiled eggs, (go figure---boiled eggs at Easter), so egg sandwiches were the fare of the evening. I think they are best when I serve them on toasted English Muffins (Bay’s of course!), but any kind of bread is good really.

Just in case any one is wondering, the Corn bread people didn’t call, (well, they called, they just didn’t call me), dagnabit! Maybe I was a little too optimistic. I just figured that since the first contest I entered (Ultimate Recipe Showdown) I was a semi-finalist and the second contest I entered (Bay’s English Muffins) I won, I really expected to be selected for the cornbread cook-off. How silly! Maybe next year

Anyway, here is the recipe for the sandwiches

Good Friday Egg Sandwiches

1 ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup Hellman’s Mayonnaise
4 Bay’s English Muffins, lightly toasted
8 crisp leaves of iceburg lettuce
8 slices ripe tomato
salt and fresh ground black pepper
4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
(with the egg slicer you got with your gift card from William’s and Sanoma)

In a small bowl, mash the avocado and mix with the lemon juice and the mayonnaise. Spread 1 tablespoon of the avocado mayonnaise onto the cut sides of each of the english muffins. Layer with 2 leaves of crisp iceburg lettuce, 2 slices of tomato seasoned with salt and fresh ground pepper, the sliced egg and the top muffin. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 20, 2008


So I was incredibly bored today, the laundry was all done , dinner was made and nothing much on the television except Judge Judy and Basketball. (Now if Judge Judy was playing basketball we’d have a different story.

We went to dinner at our good friends Tony and Maria (inventors of the 20 minute sauce), and Tony made some Kalamata olive bread to go along with the Pasta Fagioli he made for dinner.

Well since I had some time on my hands (the cornbread people will be calling tomorrow), I decided to remake the daring baker challenge French Bread and take a cue from Tony and put some olives in it. I used regular pitted black olives cause I didn’t have any Kalamata Olives and I would definitely suggest using them next time. The Kalamata Olives are really much better and there flavor is much nicer in this bread.

If you want to make it just follow the French Bread recipe and mix in a couple cups of olives into the dough for the final rising. Then I would suggest putting the butter in a really high place so you have to work to get to it or you’ll end up big as a house.
What kind of hair style do you wear with a cast iron tiara? Any suggestions?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ring Ring: Cornbread Calling

I have also been visualizing "THE" call from the cornbread people asking me to come and make one of my "faboulous" recipes at their little festival. Then, (after I stop screaming), I graciously accept and begin making my plans to attend. Once there everything goes smoothly. We are having a great time and I am slightly surprised at how well the cast iron tiara fits my head!

It's been quite a while since my last post. I've been working on some recipes to enter in the next Ultimate Recipe Showdown. I think I've finally gotten them done and one thing I've learned is that you could drive yourself crazy writing and rewriting recipes. I think the trick is like everything else in life: Keep it simple, stupid!

This is one of my weekly experiments that didn't turn out 1/2 bad even if I do say so myself. I don't really have a name for them yet, I've been calling them apple pie egg rolls.I'm not sure if you can tell by this picture, but I mixed apples, brown sugar, butter and brie cheese. Wrapped it in an egg roll wrapper and deep fried until golden brown. Then I sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and served with some warm apple butter. We thought they were really good!

Apple Pie Egg Rolls

4 tablespoons butter, softened
4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon apple pie spice
4 prepared egg roll wrappers
4 slices brie cheese
1 Granny Smith Apple, sliced
Canola Oil for frying
Cinnamon sugar
Apple Butter

Cream together butter, sugar and spice.

Lay the egg roll wrappers out with the point facing you. (Looks like a diamond) Spread the sugar mixture onto the wrappers leaving a 1 inch border. Place one piece of brie cheese in the center top with 3 or 4 slices of apple. Pull the point of the wrapper over the apple, fold the left point over then the right point and roll tightly to the end. Wet the edge to seal.

Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches in a deep fry pan. Heat to 350 degrees. Fry the egg rolls, carefully turning to brown all sides, about 4 - 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar while they are hot and serve with the apple butter for dipping. Yum!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Winning Recipe: Muffaletta Muffin Salad

So here it is. The Bay's English Muffin Contest Winning Recipe
Muffaletta Muffin Salad

My new favorite salad!

This one really is easy and it is great to take to party's. Everyone seems to love it. But what's not to like. Crusty bread soaked in tangy vinagrette, that only gets better the longer it sits! Yum!!

Now I'm trying to figure out the best way to spend the $500 Williams and Sanoma Gift Card.

So here is the recipe. Try making this with a little Harry Conick Jr. or Louis Armstrong playing. Even if the salad doesn't come out better you'll have more fun making it!

Muffaletta Muffin Salad

4 Bays Honey Wheat English Muffins, split and lightly toasted
1 8-ounce jar large pimento-stuffed green olives, drained
1 8-ounce jar giardiniera salad, drained
2 whole roasted red peppers, from a 12-ounce jar, not marinated in oil
4 ounces thinly sliced Genoa salami
4 ounces thinly sliced mortadella
6 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese
1/2 cup prepared "zesty" Italian dressing
1/4 cup hand-torn fresh basil, packed
Salt, pepper

Cut each muffin half into six wedges and place into a large salad bowl. Coarsely chop olives and giardiniera salad and add to bowl. Slice the red pepper into strips and add to the bowl. Cut the salami, mortadella and provolone cheese into thin strips and add to the bowl. Pour Italian dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Just before serving, add the basil and toss to coat, seasoning to taste.

I was recently "tagged" by one of my first blogger friends. Jenny from The Picky Palate tagged me. Some of you may recognize her. She was just on the Ultimate Recipe Showdown Comfort Food show. She made Pepita Crusted Southwest Chicken Mac. She didn't win but if you asked me she was robbed!! So here we go...........5 things about myself

1) I grew up in Sarasota Florida, the 3 child of 4. I have 2 older brothers so to say I grew up a bit of a tom boy goes without saying. Everything they wanted to do I wanted to do, even trying out for little league. (and this was before girls did such things) I think that is where my competitive spirit comes from.

2) I have been playing musical instruments for as long as I can remember. Music is one of my greatest passions. I was a music major in college and had grand dreams of concert stages and ampitheaters. In college I played with some of the greatest jazz ledgends in history. Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, and Maynord Ferguson. Sadly, I developed arthrits in my hands that put an end to my dreams of great solo preformances. Music still is one of my greatest sources of joy and even now my dishes always come out better when I make them to music.

3) My husband and I have been together almost since the day we met. We love to fly fish and camp. One of our favorite things to do is spend the weekend on a lake or river, just the two of us, fishing and reading. Our friends always ask how we can spend so much time alone and our response is always the same: "We like each other"!

4) I am a big movie buff and have been known to lock the doors and spend entire weekends renting movies and watching 4 and 5 a day. The only time we go out is to get more movies. Then we have to draw straws to see who has to go.

5) We were not lucky enough to have kids of our own so we are known as the Aunt and Uncle who will spoil you rotten. We donate alot of time and money to kids. One of our favorite organizations is Take Stock in Children. They help at risk kids get college educations. They require the kids to sign contracts in which they agree to get good grades, stay out of trouble and get involved in community activities. If the kids fulfill all the requirements they recieve 4 year scholarships. Pretty cool! I just found the Mama Mary's Pizza Contest, so if I win that one I'll donate the 2500 to Take Stock in Children and send another kid to college.