Valentine's Day is coming up. Are you wanting to stay home and cook something special? I have some ideas for you!
I consider Beef Wellington to be very romantic - it's decadent and it takes a lot of work, so it's definitely a special occasion food. Check out this post for the recipe.
Steak is a quintessential Valentine's dish. I have long used a method of quick aging with salt to tenderize and season even cheaper cuts. Find the method in this post, along with recipes for Spinach and Gruyere Souffle and Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Mixed Berry Compote. I used a compound butter to top the steak in that post, but since then have more often made a pan sauce by deglazing with sherry, then adding butter.
For one of our earliest Valentine's, I made an herb crusted standing rib roast; along with a chopped salad, heart shaped roasted potatoes, roasted asparagus, and Yorkshire pudding. All of the recipes are in this post, along with some pretty decorations.
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!
It's time for a seasonal post from the Secret Recipe Club! Our theme was Fall Dishes and I was assigned Things I Make (For Dinner). This blog is written by Sarah who, in addition to my name, shares my love of cooking, travel, and sleeping.
Fall means pumpkin for a lot of people, myself included, and I found a Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting that looked yummy. For me, it also means apple; like this Apple Crisp or Apple Fritter Cake. But what about something a little different, like Nutella Ice Cream? Or something savory like Tex-Mex Stuffed Butternut Squash?
In the end, there was one dish that caught my eye the most: Pumpkin Maple Custards.
These custards are made with pumpkin, cream, milk, maple syrup, egg yolks, and spices. Simple and delicious. After the base is made, it is poured into ramekins and baked in a water bath, much like creme brulee.
I've joined a group called Improv Cooking Challenge, where each month 2 ingredients are chosen for us to make dishes with. This month was peaches and cream - yum! I scrolled through my saved recipes on Pinterest and found this Peach Cobbler Trifle that looked perfect for the challenge!
Pound cake is layered with a pudding mixture, peaches, and a crumble topping. My trifle dish is actually a punch bowl, so I only made 2 layers. But with a taller, narrower dish - you could make 3 layers.
I really liked that the pudding mixture used orange zest and sour cream to take it out of too sweet territory. I added a pinch of salt to the crumble mixture and the peaches to help in this regard, too.
It's Secret Recipe Club time! And this month I was assigned the blog I've been waiting for - Smells Like Brownies by my best friend, Melissa! Yay! You may recognize the name, because we cook lunch together every week, and I often blog about it. Melissa is a stay-at-home mommy to a very active little boy, and a precious baby girl. She is devoted to her family and God in a way that is truly inspirational, as well as being a phenomenal baker and photographer. She's just the best and I am so excited to share her blog with you!
Eliminating SRC posts and dishes that we made together narrowed down the field quite a bit, but I still had no trouble finding a ton of things I wanted to make. I actually intended to make several dishes and blog about each of them, but I kept getting sick and injured this month and had to narrow it down to the number one thing I wanted make - this gorgeous Golden Nectarine Cake. Which is kind of hilarious because Melissa hates fruit, so I doubt she even got to try this cake.
The rest of my top "to-try" dishes (which are all vegetarian, because Melissa is a vegetarian) are Debby's famous Mac and Cauliflower with Ritz Crust (because I've heard her talk about it so many times), this Broccoli and Purple Potato Gribiche (that I've been drooling over since she posted it), Monster Green Pea Burgers, Lemongrass Coconut Noodles, and Couscous-Stuffed Eggplant with Tahini Sauce.
Let's get back to that cake! I loved this recipe because it was easy for a non-baker like me to follow. Start with two nectarines and slice them into wedges. Is there anything more summery than stone fruit?
May has five Mondays this year, which means - themed Secret Recipe Club post! Falling on Memorial Day, the theme for this reveal is Picnic/BBQ and my assigned blog was A Day in the Life on the Farm. Wendy and her husband are former police officers who moved out to the country and became farmers. They treat their animals humanely, are part of an organic CSA, trade with other farmers, and live sustainably as much as possible - I am so jealous! I dream of being a radical homemaker, but don't have the commitment. I was on a specific mission this month, but I look forward to perusing the blog more thoroughly.
I actually made three recipes from Wendy's blog this weekend, in order to have a full meal for the holiday. She had tons of recipes that are appropriate for the challenge, and I chose BBQ Beef Sandwiches, BLT Pasta Salad, and Black Forest Trifle. Each of these was easy to make with the help of store-bought ingredients, so that I didn't have to spend a full day in the kitchen. And each of them was a big hit!
It was recently the birthday of my friend Melissa's blog, Smell's Like Brownies. And by recently, I mean a couple of months ago... She wanted to make the famous Milk Bar Funfetti Birthday Cake to celebrate and asked if I wanted to help. Heck, yes, I did!
This cake is supposed to taste like the classic boxed version, but elevated. And the presentation is striking with naked cake layered between stark white frosting and topped with funfetti crumble. It takes a lot of steps to achieve those things (I think this is the longest recipe I've ever posted), but the end result is gorgeous and tastes amazing. Let's dive into the process!
In my last post, I mentioned that one of the recipes that I wanted to make from my blog assignment, Pale Yellow, was Vanilla Pudding Shots. Well, guess what? I made them! And they were awesome (and STRONG). I didn't have little shot cups to put them in, so I just split the pudding among four cups for my friends. I wasn't able to finish mine, so be warned that they are strong! You can mix more whipped cream in to dilute it.
Just mix instant pudding mix with milk and flavored vodka, then fold in Cool Whip. That's it - so easy! There is something about Cool Whip that helps stabilize things like this in a way that whipped cream can't. But feel free to whip your own cream and use that instead. Top with more whipped cream and sprinkles and party on!
It's time for another Secret Recipe Club reveal! This month, I was assigned Pale Yellow - written by a science teacher (informal science educator/curriculum specialist?) and avid baker with two adorable turtles.
She has a TON of great dessert recipes - Brown Butter Biscoff Rice Krispie Treats, Brown Butter Banana Bourbon and Bacon Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting (someone call Elvis), and Tres Leches Cupcakes with Dulce de Leche Buttercream. She also has some yummy looking boozy recipes - Banana Leche y Cafe con Chocolate y Rum, Boozy Nutella Milkshake, Painkiller Cocktail, and Vanilla Pudding Shots. There are also some tasty sounding savory baked goods - Roasted Strawberry Blue Cheese and Walnut Biscuits, and Caramelized Onion Bacon and Smoked Gouda Biscuits.
I ended up settling on these Blueberry Rhubarb Streusel Muffins, except that my store didn't have any rhubarb (not even frozen!) so I used raspberries instead. I thought the color and tartness would be similar to rhubarb. They came out great! Tender and sweet, but with a little tang.