Archives for May 2011

Meatless Monday






Happy Monday,
I am starting my week off fresh with a new and exciting job interview. Hopefully I will get the position. We. Will. See. Anyhow, this weekend I spent much time relaxing and surfing the web, mostly gazing at various food blogs and keeping up with my Tasty Kitchen community I have joined. If you didn’t already know, I am a member of Tasty Kitchen, which is a community of food bloggers from all over the world that create profiles and share recipes with one another. I discovered this site shortly after I became a fan of The Pioneer Woman’s blog (she is the founder of Tasty Kitchen). I absolutely love Ree Drummond’s (The Pioneer Woman) blog, she is such a hoot! I suggest that you follow her blog, she is a one woman show! Moving on, over the weekend I was browsing through the Tasty Kitchen blog and I stumbled upon this post from fellow blogger Georgia Pellegrini. Immediately, I knew I had to try this recipe, or at least create my own version, and create I did. First off, I love chickpeas, and rather than create another fave of mine, hummus, I decided to whip up a yummy chickpea snack using my own spice mix creation. Basically, I looked for whatever I had on hand in my spice cabinet and put it all together. Bam! Who knew chickpeas could be this good? I mean, really, the spice mix is so fragrant and smoky, covering the chickpeas like a blanket. To top it all off, the chickpeas get toasted in the oven, giving them a crispy exterior. Needless to say, this weekend I did quite a bit of movie watching and this is my new “popcorn-ish” snack. I am telling you, these chickpeas take meatless to a whole notha’ level. I would suggest taking them along with you to work or school for a quick snack, or serving them in individual popcorn containers at your next movie night. Don’t tell anyone my secret, but I put a little Parmesan over the top of these babies when I snack on em’. Guess I have to add a bit of Italian zest to just about anything that I make. Hey, that’s the way the cannoli crumbles! Bada bing, bada boom!

Spiced Oven-Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

15 oz. can chickpeas
2 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp. sweet smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tsp. fresh grated ginger (I used pureed ginger in a small little jar)
2 tsp. sea salt

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. Place the chickpeas in a mixing bowl and toss them with the olive oil.
3. Combine all the spices in a separate bowl for your spice blend.
4. Give the spices a good mix, then sprinkle the blend over the chickpeas, and toss to coat evenly.
5. Place the chickpeas on a baking sheet or pie plate and into the oven for about 30 minutes.
6. About halfway through, give them a bit of a shake.
7. At the end of the 30 minutes, taste! If they are still soft, back in they go! You want them to have just a little bit of a soft center. When they cool, they will crisp up more.

MANGIA!!!

Meatless Monday







Happy Monday!
I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend as much as I did! For the most part, I spent my weekend relaxing and cooking, cooking and relaxing, cooking some more…baking a little here and there. (Sigh) definitely a hard-knock life. Anyways, I think you get the gist…I thoroughly enjoyed doing nothing, well maybe I did a little job and apartment hunting. By the way if you know anyone who is hiring for health and fitness positions in the Austin area feel free to let me know. Just saying. In addition to my lazy weekend, I surprisingly found myself creating easy and effortless dishes. So, today I thought I would share with you my easy, yet scrumptious recipe for stuffed baby portabella mushrooms. This is truly a great meatless recipe that would turn a meat lover’s world upside down, leaving them flabbergasted as to how great a vegetarian recipe can actually be. I myself am a lover of veggies so I expected my skills to shine through. Not to mention, the ingredients are sinful, as I combined tangy sun dried tomatoes and sweet, fragrant basil to create a pesto. I then simply stuffed the sun dried tomato basil pesto into the ittty-bitty baby portabella mushrooms and baked them off in the oven. The nutty texture of the pesto combined with the smooth and buttery taste of the mushrooms is absolutely to die for! I would suggest serving these little bites of awesomeness as an appetizer at your next party. I can assure you that your guests will be impressed with the amazing flavor, leaving you looking like a four star chef. Little do they know that you whipped these babies up in a jiffy!

Stuffed Baby Portabella Mushrooms

Ingredients:

bunch of basil
1/2 c. sun dried tomatoes
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
1 whole clove of garlic
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 c. olive oil
1 8 oz. package baby portabella mushrooms

Instructions:

1. Place basil in a food processor or blender and pulse briefly.
2. Add the sun dried tomatoes, walnuts, garlic, lemon, and sea salt and pulse until almost smooth (you want a slightly chunky texture for the pesto).
3. Drizzle in the olive oil and pulse again briefly to incorporate.
4. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and stuff with the pesto.
5. Bake in the oven at 350 F for 30-45 minutes.
6. Serve (I sprinkle mine with a bit of Parmesan cheese).

MANGIA!!!

Lemon Cornmeal Breakfast Cake for Mother’s Day

Me and My Wonderful Momma









Happy Mother’s Day!
Allow me to take this moment to honor my mother and everything she does and has done for me for the past 23 years of my life. My mom is soooooo special that she deserves a blog dedicated to her awesomeness. Here goes nothing: My dearest Mother, today marks the annual celebration where I get to spend the day praising the woman who is dearest to my heart, who spent hours in labor giving birth to me, who taught me to dance without a care in the world as to who is watching, who drove myself and eight of my basketball teammates to games (not to mention, she bought all of us Whataburger afterwards…now that is impressive), who volunteered her time to be my eighth grade cheerleading coach, who held me in her arms as I cried over my first broken heart, and most of all, who taught me to love unconditionally with my whole heart. Mom, this woman is YOU! As a mother and a friend, you have always been my rock and my cornerstone which I have been able to lean on in times of distress or when I need advice, a listening ear, or just a helping hand. As an individual I have learned so much about myself, most importantly, that throughout my upbringing you have taught me to be a strong, brave, confident, spiritual, loving, and graceful woman. Without a doubt Mom, I have learned to model myself after you, only praying that I can one day be as selfless as you, the woman who will give up anything and everything for her family before even considering herself. Slowly, but surely, I find myself one step closer to achieving that goal. Mom, you are a beautiful (inside and out), courageous, brave, loving, graceful, talented, woman of faith. Words can truly never express the amount of love I feel for you. I can only aspire to love my future husband and children as much as you love Dad, Les, and I. I LOVE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK MOM! HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Now, here is a little side note about the recipe. When I think about Mother’s Day, the first thing that comes to mind is serving my mom breakfast in bed. When we were younger, my sister and I used to get up every morning on Mother’s Day and help my dad make my mom breakfast in bed. Sometimes mom would get lucky and we would actually make homemade pancakes, other years it was a bowl of lucky charms cereal…it’s the thought that counts right? Nevertheless, my mom was always overjoyed to eat whatever we made her, and we had so much fun making her breakfast…and helping her eat it too! It was a way for us to say I love you with a bottle of Aunt Jemima pancake syrup and maybe some sticky kisses to match. Unfortunately, this is the first year I am not able to spend Mother’s Day with my mom, so I thought I would make her breakfast in bed via blog post. Sorry mom, I don’t think this cake would have made it on overnight shipping. This cake is sinfully sweet (just like her), and just what any mother needs to start her Mother’s Day off the right way. I would suggest serving this moist lemon cake with a glass of milk, a good cup of coffee, or if you want to get fancy, a mimosa! Whatever it may be, I hope that you all take this day to show your mother how much you truly love her. Once again, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to my mother and all the mother’s out there!

Lemon Cornmeal Breakfast Cake with Lemon Glaze

Ingredients:

For the Cake:
1 1/2 c. almond meal
1/3 c. stone ground cornmeal
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. brown sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk
2 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 c. olive oil

For the Lemon Glaze:
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

Instructions:

For the Cake:
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
2. Place parchment paper in a 9-in. spring form pan or butter and flour a 9-in. round cake pan.
3. Using an electric mixer, whisk together almond meal, cornmeal, sugars, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, lemon zest and olive oil.
5. Add the wet ingredient to the dry ingredients and fold together with a spatula.
6. Fold until very few lumps remain.
7. Pour batter into the prepared pan and place in the oven.
8. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
9. Allow the cake to cool for 10 minutes.
10. Using the tines of a fork, poke holes in the cake.
11. Pour the glaze over the cake, spread evenly and allow the cake to rest for about 30 minutes before serving.

For the Lemon Glaze:
1. While the cake bakes, whisk together powdered sugar and lemon juice.
2. See above for remainder of directions.

MANGIA!!!









Wordless Wednesday



Almond Meal/Parmesan Dredging Mixture

Catfish Brushed with Dijon Mustard

Catfish Dredged in Almond Meal/Parmesan Mixture



Almond-Crusted Catfish

Ingredients:
1/4 c. almond meal or whole natural almonds, ground in a food processor
2 Tbs. Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs. Italian salad dressing mix
1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2 catfish fillets

Directions:
1. Place first 5 ingredients on a plate or a shallow dish, mix together lightly using a spoon.
2. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.
3. Brush mustard over both sides of the fillets; dredge in almond/Parmesan mixture.
4. Add fish to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.

MANGIA!!!

A Royal Wedding Shower and One Awesome Cake

Mrs. Janet, Mother of the Bride, Mother of the Maid of Honor

Lovely Bridesmaids

Maid of Honor and Bride

The Beautiful Bride

One of the many gorgeous tablescapes

Close-ups of my Italian Cream Cake



Happy Monday everyone!
I am happy to be blogging after a week-long hiatus. Needless to say it has been a very very busy week for me. I had work until Wednesday and then I drove my sister’s car into Houston so that the VW dealership could diagnose it. If you didn’t already know my sister has a cream colored Volkswagen bug that she has given the name “Ringo” (let’s see if we can guess the Beetle she named it after). Anyways, Ringo was in worse shape than we thought he was and his stay at the VW dealership is still in progress. So, Sunday morning I found myself driving my mother’s rental vehicle back to Austin (seeing as my mother’s car is also in the shop for minor repairs due to a collision earlier in the week)…apparently a woman in a Lexus rammed the back of my mom’s VW wagon after reaching down to pick something off of the floor of her car. Of course the first thing that my mom praises is VW’s awesome impact rating, which left her car with a few scratches, while the Lexus was in need of costly repairs. To top things off, my sister called me in the wee hours of the morning over the weekend explaining that she had some sort of terrible virus. She is currently hopped up on Pedialite, gluten-free toast, and unsweetened applesauce. Despite the car madness and my sister’s ability to become sick at any possible moment in time, my weekend was very enjoyable. You see, on Saturday I gave a wedding shower for my best friend Sanna at her family friends house. The theme of the shower was a garden party so you can imagine the details that went into making this the most beautiful shower ever! I volunteered to make the cake for the shower, in addition to my tasty Almond Basil Chicken Salad, and my Walnut Pumpkin bread. It was my first time making a huge cake for a party so I decided to stick with a recipe I know and love, Italian Cream Cake. I have been using this recipe forever and it only gets better every time I make it. After a few minor breakdowns and anxiety attacks at the grocery store, I managed to pull the cake together after enlisting the skills of my father, who I have dubbed the “master-froster” of cakes, and my mother, whose mad cleaning skills helped turn her kitchen back into an immaculate masterpiece after I spilt powdered sugar all over her kitchen rug. Oops! While I thought the cake could have been a tad bit moister, I figured I did a pretty awesome job for my first try…the cake was gorgeous. I also went overboard making a double layer cake, but hey you know what they say, “Everything’s Bigger in Texas.” The shower was absolutely spectacular, with tons of yummy food, good friends, and awesome memories to last a lifetime. Might I add…Will and Kate only wish they could of had a cake as good as this one! I hope ya’ll enjoy my Italian Cream Cake recipe and serve it at your next big occasion, it sure is a crowd pleaser!

Italian Cream Cake:

Ingredients:

For the cake:
2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. butter
2 egg yolks
2 c. cake flour or all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. low-fat buttermilk
1 c. chopped pecans
1 c. shredded coconut
1 tsp. Mexican vanilla extract
6 egg whites (at room temperature)
chopped pecans and shredded coconut (for decorating)

For the cream cheese icing:
1 Tbs. butter
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese
1 (1-pound) package powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp. Mexican vanilla extract

Directions:

For the cake:
1. Coat bottoms of 3 (9-in.) round cake pans with cooking spray; line bottoms of pans with wax paper. Coat wax paper with cooking spray, and dust with flour; set aside. (I made two sets of batter and poured each set into two large rectangular baking pans).
2. Combine sugar and butter in an electric mixer; beat at medium speed until well-blended.
3. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and baking soda; stir well.
5. Add flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
6. Stir in pecans, coconut, and vanilla extract.
7. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites at high speed until stiff peaks form (do not over beat).
8. Fold egg whites into batter; pour batter into prepared pans.
9. Bake at 350 for 23 minutes.
10. Let cool in pans 5 minutes.
11. Loosen cake layers from sides of pans using a narrow metal spatula, and turn out onto wire racks.
12. Peel off wax paper, and let cool completely.
13. Place one cake layer on a cake plate, and spread with 2/3 c. cream cheese icing, top with another cake layer and 2/3 c. icing, then top with remaining layer and spread the remaining icing over the cake.
14. Coat the sides of the cake with chopped pecans and shredded coconut.

For the cream cheese icing:
1. Cream butter and cream cheese at high speed using an electric mixer until fluffy.
2. Add sugar; beat at low speed until well-blended.
3. Add vanilla; beat well.

Note: I would suggest serving this cake with fresh sliced strawberries and a good cup of coffee.

MANGIA!!!