Time for another Improv Cooking Challenge! I haven't done one in a couple months due to the holidays and not being super interested in the ingredients. But this month the challenge was Rosemary and Lemon, and that pairing sounded great to me! I was torn between a cocktail and a cake recipe, so I decided - why not do both?
The cake is light and fluffy from whipped egg whites, dotted with rosemary, and iced with a lemon cream cheese frosting. Delicious.
The martini is sweet (but not too much) and tangy, with a base not of rosemary. Dreamy.
Together they are absolutely perfect. I don't like overly sweet anything, and these were so well balanced. I brought them to my book club and they were a huge hit (not an exaggeration, they were the most popular items I've ever brought). Some of you may roll your eyes at the mention of a book club, but don't worry - we aren't the pretentious kind where everyone hates the books. We are sci-fi, horror, and fantasy only and we have a great time!
The Secret Recipe Club may be over, but the Fantastical Food Fight is just beginning! Instead of being assigned a blog, secret Santa style, we are given a theme (similar to the Improv Cooking Challenge that I also participate in). For our first month, the theme was deviled eggs - yum!
I knew that I wanted to do a fun take, and while I looked at Caesar Salad, Curry, Mexican Street Corn, and Crab Rangoon variations, I was really drawn to a Smoked Salmon idea. Filled with the flavors of a traditional Lox bagel, this twist is as delicious as it is pretty.
I have been saving Tasty (Buzzfeed Food) videos on Facebook like crazy. They always look so good! So this week, I declared that I must make one thing from a saved link; and I chose these decadent Chicken Bacon Alfredo Lasagna Roll-ups.
Start by cooking lasagna noodles and filling them with a mixture of cooked chicken, bacon, and Alfredo sauce (made with butter, garlic, cream, cream cheese, and Parmesan). I made some changes to the original, using 12 noodles instead of 8 and more filling per noodle to use up all the filling. I didn't like how, in the video, there was chicken and bacon on the top instead of all contained.
I'm gonna be honest with you guys - I totally messed up this pie, in three different steps. Ugh. More on that later. But as it turns out, it didn't even matter - it still came out super delicious! So I definitely call that a win.
We are doing a special Holiday Treats edition of the Secret Recipe Club! My assigned blog was I am a Honey Bee written by Nicole. We both live on the East coast and share a love of Buffy, tattoos, Greece, eggs bene, and a fear of open water and having to open gifts in front of others. I like that her blog includes reviews in addition to recipes, just like mine!
Anyway, I went to look for desserts on her blog and noticed a page called The Year of Pies, where she posted a pie recipes every week for a year. A year! I didn't to look at any other category, ladies and gentlemen, I was home. But would it be caramel pie? One of four different kinds of chess pie? Maybe Reese's or Thin Mint pie? So many to choose from! It was around this time that I began to feel woefully inadequate for my own dessert selection, and sorry for whoever drew my blog... I hope you were able to find something!
I scrolled down to the end of the year to look for holiday dessert and saw this No Bake Eggnog Pudding Pie. I love eggnog! And easy recipes! I wanted to make this right away.
This month for Food 'n Flix our movie is Bridesmaids, hosted by Cheap Ethnic Eatz. This movie is hysterical, with a lot of heart. I've seen it multiple times and I still lose it during the scene where the main character drives back and forth in her car doing various illegal things to get her cop friend's attention.
Kristen Wiig plays a woman whose bakery fails because of the economy crash. There is a very memorable scene of her making a gorgeous single cupcake and then chowing down on it. So I knew that I definitely wanted to do a cupcake for this post. There is also a lot of drinking in the movie, so I thought - what about a boozy cupcake? Perfect.
I ended up making Moscato Cupcakes with sweet wine in both the cake and the frosting - so good. Though I made a lot of changes to my inspiration recipe - subbing half melted butter and half coconut oil for vegetable oil, subbing vanilla sugar for regular sugar, and subbing whey (from all that cheesemaking) for buttermilk. I also made a simple syrup from equal parts moscato and vanilla sugar to brush over the warm cakes to boost the flavor. And I used half cream cheese and half butter in the frosting (I'm not a big fan of too sweet frosting).
Well, Folks - it's been a great year! I look forward to keep sharing delicious and (sometimes) healthy recipes with you in the years to come. Until then - here are my most pinned recipes of 2013!
#1 - This healthy version of Shepard's Pie with Sweet Potato and Turkey. I find this funny because the photos from this post are so bad!
#2 - Homemade Meat Ravioli - yum!
#3 - Homemade Spinach Ravioli. The raviolis are popular!
Merry Christmas, y'all! We went on a bit of a crazy roadtrip (which I will tell you about later, because there are restaurants involved) and didn't get back til late on the 22nd, which left us in a bit of a scramble to get ready for Christmas. We managed to get some outdoor decorations up (check out the wreath I made!), but no tree or anything indoors.
We also spent all our holiday money on travel, so no presents this year. But we did have a nice Christmas dinner (I mean, come on - how could I not, right?). Honey Baked Ham (going store bought on the main let me focus on sides); Spinach and Gruyere Strata; Sweet Potato Gratin with Caramelized Onions; and Bacon Popovers.
And a Cranberry Raisin Tart with orange zest and spices for dessert.
Oh yeah, and breakfast! Can't forget Christmas morning sweets! I made these Cranberry Orange Rolls by Smitten Kitchen - yum!
I actually made this the same day as the shrimp galette. Two galettes in one day? Girl. Get a hold of yourself. I can't though, I have a problem.
No seriously, I have a problem. The second pie crust in that package needed a home, though! Right? Bad foodie, using store-bought. I don't care, don't judge me! Oh lordy, somebody please help me.
Fresh blueberries tucked inside pie crust with a smear of sweetened cream cheese - heaven (even if it springs a leak and starts bleeding purple juice)
Here's a simple one - 6 ingredients, 1 crockpot, 4 hours, 1 amazing and addictive soup. So easy, so delicious and creamy, and pretty healthy if you use low-fat cream cheese and turkey sausage. Try to get bulk sausage from your butcher, if you can. The big name/pre-packaged stuff (Jimmy Dean, I'm looking at you) has high fructose corn syrup - yuck! Jasper is not a big fan of soups, unfortunately - which means that I got to eat this every day for lunch for a week and never got sick of it. In fact, I was still craving it after it was gone!
Creamy Tortellini Soup
You can thank Pinterest for this one. You need frozen tortellini to stand up to the long cooking time. If you can't find it, reduce the cooking time by half for dried and even more for refrigerated. Also, if you are not using "Italian Style" tomatoes, you will need to add some spices.
adapted from Little Fellows
1 lb ground sausage, preferably turkey
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese or neufchatel (less fat), I use cream cheese made from Greek yogurt which is as low fat as neufchatel but has more protein
1 (19oz) bag frozen cheese tortellini
1 bag fresh spinach (5 oz is common, but use as much as you want)
2 (14.5 oz) cans Italian style diced tomatoes
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
Brown the sausage and put into the crockpot with the cream cheese. Stir around a bit to break up the cream cheese and get it to start melting (this will help prevent lumps). Add in the rest of the ingredients. Set temp to low and cook for 3-4 hours (check pasta texture at 3 hours).