Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Pasta Salad!

My husband has a deep love of pasta salad. I love to make a big batch of it and just let him chip away at it all week long :) Perfect for those training days when he's gone from the house for 10 hours - he can just pack it in a cooler and go!

Pasta Salad

  • One package fusilini (spiral) pasta - whole wheat or regular is fine!

  • 3 cups of cherry tomatoes - cut in half

  • 1/2 lb. of provolone cheese, cubed

  • 10 ounce can of black olives, drained

  • 8 ounces of Italian dressing

  • 1/2lb of salami, cubed

  • 1/2lb pepperoni - sliced and halved

  • 1 jar, roasted red bell peppers (drained and chopped)

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package until just al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water and set aside to let it cool off. Combine all remaining ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine. Add pasta and toss until coated with dressing and mixed with ingredients. It's ready to serve but it only gets better with time to hang out and let the flavors meld!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Homemade Lemonade

Lemonade is easier than you think. No creepy Crystal Light packets - just sugar and deliciousness. That being said - this drink has 3 ingredients and 1 of them is pure sugar. Don't let your kids have 10 cups or you'll be sending me hate mail.

Summertime Lemonade

- 8 cups water

- 1 3/4 cups white sugar

- 1 1/2 cups lemon juice

If you have ten minutes before your party - here's the super fast way to do it. Put the sugar and 1 cup of the water into a large microwave-safe bowl. Stir together and nuke it in the microwave for 1 minute. Pour into pitcher, adding lots of ice, the rest of the water and the lemon juice. Stir like mad. Lemonade.

If you want to make 100% sure it's perfect: Mix 1 cup of the water and the sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it boils and the sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool. When cooled off, mix with the rest of the water and the lemon juice and serve over ice!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Super Special Post Today

Today's a wonderful day in Austin, Texas. My lovely friend and former co-worker Sharon (of Sharonlovesthis blogger fame) is tying the knot with her wonderful beau, Kyle. In celebration of this momentous event - let them eat cake!

Sharon & Kyle's Chocolate Cake (formerly world's best chocolate cake)

- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups white sugar
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup strong brewed coffee
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Using a baking spray or butter/flour, grease 2 - 9 inch cake pans and line the bottom of them with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Dig out a "well" in the center of the dry mixture and add the eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract. Mix together well. (Your batter should be soupy and thin!).

Pour the batter evenly into both pans and bake for 30-40 minutes or until you insert a toothpick in the middle of the cakes and it comes out clean. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

This is the hard part. I shamelessly admit that I use Betty Crocker Whipped Milk Chocolate Frosting for this. That's right. Not from scratch but I swear, it's DELICIOUS.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Green Goddess

If you've eaten so many salads, you're starting to feel like a bunny - change up your dressings and toppings. It's an amazing way to get a few more green meals before you head for the pizza place. Green goddess dressing is a bit of a throw back to my parents' age but as always, they were right. (To make it truly authentic - you need to add two teaspoons of anchovy paste...but I just can't do it!)

Green Goddess Dressing

- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1 cup chopped scallions, white and green parts (6 to 7 scallions)
- 1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 cloves minced chopped garlic
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup sour cream

Place the mayonnaise, scallions, basil, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Next, add the sour cream and process just until blended. Refrigerate for 15 minutes and serve. (You can also store this in your fridge cold, and it should last up to two weeks)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


I believe I've mentioned that it's hotter than Cristiano Ronaldo in spandex in Texas at the moment. Times like these, it's hard for even me to want to get into the kitchen and cook anything. We're eating a lot of BBQ and salads at the moment. Here's a new salad recipe to add to your rotation!

Cranberry-Pear Salad (feeds 6-8)

- 12 cups torn spring salad lettuce mix
- 1/2 cup, chopped walnuts
- 3 medium pears, sliced
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup blue cheese crumbles
- 1/3 cup apricot nectar
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 2 tablespoons sugar

In a small skillet, melt the sugar over medium heat, stirring constantly. When sugar liquefies, add the walnuts and toss to coat. Immediately pour the walnuts out on a plate to cool and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the nectar, vinegar, oil, mustard, salt and pepper until combined and set aside. In a large bowl, toss together the cooled walnuts, salad greens, pears, dried cranberries, and blue cheese. Drizzle with half the dressing and toss together. Set the dressing out so your guests can add more - it's ready to serve!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Apologies again for the blog break. They're not intentional. Life just catches up with me! Onto the recipes!

Living in Texas gives me a new appreciation for sweat. Summer here is like living on the surface of the sun, perhaps next to a lake, or really, in Florida. Being a SoCal girl at heart, humidity slays me. Short of spending my life's fortune at my favorite yogurt shop, Tomunchi - I make sorbet.

God-It's-Hot Orange Sorbet

- 2.5 cups of water

- 1 cup granulated sugar

- 2 orange rind pieces

- 2 2/3 cups of fresh orange juice (no pulp!)

- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat until it boils. Add the orange strips to the pan and stir. Reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. Retrieve orange pieces with a spoon and discard. (You can also strain this in a sieve if you're an overachiever). Set the mixture aside to cool.

Add orange juice and lemon juice to cooled sugar mixture and mix WELL. Add the mixture to either a) the ice cream container of the ice cream maker you registered for when you got married and never use or b) a small glass pan (you need something freezer safe!). Put in freezer for one extremely-long hour and then serve!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Kitchen Tip #2

A second kitchen tip for your cooking pleasure! I bake a lot of cookies, but my chocolate chip cookies have been infamous among my friends for well, almost 15 years. One of my cookie tips-

Keep everything cold. Start by placing your cookie sheets in the freezer. Once your dough is prepared, place the entire bowl of dough into the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.

In between batches, keep your cookie dough in the refrigerator. This will keep the edges from overcooking and burning. This happens because your cookie dough starts spreading and baking the moment it hits the hot pan - by cooling your dough and your cookie sheets, you'll avoid this.

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A celebration!

Happy Birthday to my lovely sister, who we will say is 25 again today :) Since my sister would probably carjack a nun for some cheesecake, in celebration of her birthday - that's today's recipe.

Cheesecake Tips:

1. Beat in all the ingredients on LOW speed. You do not want to incorporate air - it will make the cake crack when baking.
2. Do not overbeat the mixture. This will also cause cracking.
3. When checking during baking, you want the cheesecake to look "wet" and wobble a little bit if you shake the pan. Don't overbake!

Cheesecake for Courtney

  • 2 cups of Graham Cracker crumbs (place the crackers in the food processor and process until tiny crumbs)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar


  • 4 - 8 ounce packages of cream cheese, room temperature (use full fat! not a spot for shortcuts!)
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons, all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then , grease (or use Pam Baking Spray) a 9" Springform pan and place the pan on a cookie sheet and set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, add the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter for the crust. Mix together with a spatula, until combined. Turn the mixture out into the bottom of the Springform pan and press firmly into the bottom of the pan. Cover and refrigerate.

In a large bowl, add the cream cheese, sugar and flour and beat on low speed until just combined. Make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl and incorporate all the ingredients! Next, add the lemon zest, whipping cream, and vanilla and beat on low until incorporated. Take the chilled crust from the refrigerator and pour the cream cheese mixture on top. Place the Springform pan on the cookie sheet and place it into the oven.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, and then lower the temperature to 250 degrees and bake for another 90 minutes until the cheesecake is mostly firm - but still wobbly. Remove from the oven and place on wire rack. After cooling, place in refrigerator for at least 8 hours (or overnight is best!). When you're ready to serve, slide a spatula around the edge of the pan to loosen the crust from the sides of the pan. :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

No Orange Powder

I am a firm believer that food is love. You can show your love for your family, your friends, your coworkers, neighbors, etc - all through the art of food. It doesn't have to be Five Star cuisine, anything you put your time and effort into is showing your love. If you do want to go a little crazy with the effort - this just might be the dish for you.

Macaroni and Cheese
  • Kosher salt
  • 10 cups of water
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 3 cups grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Cheddar cheese
  • freshly ground pepper (black or white - either works!)
  • 3 cups of elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worchestire sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1/2 cup toasted plain bread crumbs

In a large pot, boil ten cups of water. When water is boiling, add a handful of kosher salt. Next, add the elbow macaroni and let it cook until al dente (the pasta shouldn't crunch, but should feel firm when you bite into it). Save 1 cup of the cooking water, strain the pasta and set aside.

In a large saucepan, add the cream, garlic cloves, and the 1 cup of cooking water and bring to a simmer over low-medium heat. Once at a simmer, add salt, pepper, mustard, and Gruyere cheese. Stir together the cheese and cream mixture constantly until combined together. Next, add both the Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses, again stirring until combined and the cheeses are melted and the mixture is at a simmer. Add in the Worchestire sauce and hot sauce, and stir until combined.

Next, remove the cloves of garlic and add in the cooled macaroni and stir carefully until the macaroni is coated with the cream and cheese mixture. Turn off the stove and let the mixture sit so the flavors meld together. Butter the sides of a baking dish (at least 9x13") and pour the macaroni mixture into the buttered dish and top with the toasted bread crumbs. (and any extra Parmesan that you might want to grate on top..)

Place the dish into a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Let it cool for 5 minutes and then serve!