Monday, July 15, 2013

Fresh Orange Vinaigrette

This is my go to summer dressing. Its refreshing , bright, and citrusy and goes so well on so many different salads. I love to use it on beets or berry salads, along with green salads.

Fresh Orange Vinaigrette

  • 1/3 c. Olive Oil
  • 1/3 c. Canola Oil
  • 1/3 c. White Sugar(or Stevia in the Raw)
  • 1/3 c. Orange Juice, fresh
  • 2 T. Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 t. Sea Salt
  • 1/2 t. Freshly Ground Pepper
  • 2 T. Sweet Onion(just eyeball a slice)
  • 1 drop Lemon Oil
  • 5 drops Orange Oil
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until everything is completely emulsified. Store in the refrigerator.
           *Use 2 t. Of lemon juice instead if you don't have lemon oil.        
            *do try and find Orange Oil if you can, it adds so much flavor to the dressing that you can't get any other way! I use Wild Orange Oil by doTERRA        
            *If you will be storing the dressing in the refrigerator for more than a few days you will need to add another drop or two of orange oil the next time you serve it. Cold causes the oil's flavor to dissipate.        

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Simple Chocolate Mousse with Chocolate Pearls

Smooth Chocolate mousse with little crisp chocolate pearls. Two different textures that together make me very, very happy.
Serve a little dish of thick whipped cream on the side of the mousse to make this treat exceptional.
Make this mousse a little lighter by subbing Stevia for the sugar and using coconut milk in the custard instead of heavy cream. I would still use heavy cream for the remaining 1 1/4 c. Cream or you will loose the mousse texture and consistency.

  • 2 cups Heavy Cream
  • 4 Egg Yolks
  • 3 T. Sugar
  • pinch of Salt
  • 1 t. Vanilla Extract
  • 7 oz. Semi-sweet Chocolate chips
    4 T. Callebaut chocolate pearls(Verhona makes wonderful chocolate pearls as well)
Heat 3/4 cup of cream in the microwave until hot. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt until well combined. Slowly pour the hot cream into the egg mixture, whisking constantly until well blended. Transfer the mixture to a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens into a custard. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt the chocolate chips and stir until smooth.
Pour the custard through a small sieve into the melted chocolate chips. Stir the custard and chocolate until well blended and smooth. Let cool.
Whip the remaining 1 1/4 cups of heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Add 1/4 of the whipped cream to the chocolate custard and whisk in well to lighten the mixture. Add the remaining whipped cream to the lightened custard and very carefully fold in until the mixture is well combined.

Spoon the mousse into 8 ramekins and smooth the tops. Sprinkle 1/2 T. Of pearls over the top of each dish. Refrigerate the mousse for several hours, until firmly set and chilled.
Serve cold with whipped cream on the side. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Gold & Red Beet Salad with Orange, Chèvre, Mint, & Fresh OrangeVinaigrette

I love beets. LOVE them. You may not be as big a fan, and that's ok. But maybe give this recipe a try. I've seen it turn a few haters into believers. Maybe it's the goats cheese, maybe it's the vinaigrette, I'm not sure. But one thing is for certain and that is that all these ingredients belong together.
*If you can't find golden beets, try a natural foods market like Sprouts or Whole Foods.

4 golden beets
4 red beets
3 oranges, skinned and sectioned
1/4 C. Chèvre(goats cheese), crumbled
4-5 Fresh Mint Leaves, chopped
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh Orange Vinaigrette, to taste

Wrap each beet in tin foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast at 400 degrees for 30-50 minutes depending on size of beets. Remove from oven when beets are tender. Let beets sit for 30 minutes or so(this will allow the skins to steam and 'slip off'). Peel the beets and slice into wedges.

Arrange the beets in rows on a platter, along with the segmented oranges.
Add salt an pepper to taste.
Sprinkle the goats cheese crumbles and mint evenly over the beets.
Drizzle the vinaigrette over the beets(add as much or little as you like) and serve immediately.
If you will not be serving the salad right away keep it in the fridge and pour the vinaigrette over the beets right before service.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Watermelon Basil Lemonade

I have two favorite summertime drinks: Watermelon agua fresca and flavored lemonades. This is a bit of a cross between the two. Fresh Watermelon juice is combined with fresh squeezed lemons, and basil steeped in a simple syrup. I am trying to get away from using processed sugar so I thought this would be a good opportunity to try using something a little more natural. I made the sugar syrup with
Stevia instead of white sugar. I use Stevia in the raw which can be measured cup for cup just like sugar. If you use a pure Stevia you will most likely only need a quarter the amount of Stevia as you would using normal white sugar since the sweetness is so much more concentrated.
*This recipe makes a lot! Consider halving if you don't need a large amount.

Watermelon Basil Lemonade

1/2 large watermelon (or 1 small)
12 large lemons
2 cups Stevia in the raw
12-15 Basil Leaves
1 gallon+ Water

Combine 3 cups of the water and the stevia in a medium saucepan. Bring just to a boil and remove from the heat. Add the basil leaves to the simple syrup and submerge. Set aside to steep for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, sliced the rind off of the watermelon and cut it into large chunks.
Working in batches, purée the watermelon in a blender, adding 1-2 cups of water to each batch. Strain the juice through a large seive into a large pitcher or drink dispenser. Discard solids.
Juice the lemons and add the juice to the watermelon juice. Add in the cooled syrup to the juice along with the remaining water(I leave the basil leaves in for more flavor!)
Taste and add more water as needed.
Chill and serve over ice.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Babies First Birthday

I Really, really, really wanted to use this banner for my moms birthday party, but since that didn't work out, I saved it for my littlest's first birthday dessert table. Here are the pictures of her little party:
The Dessert Table
The Birthday Cake
(Raspberry Vanilla Butter cake with Lemon Curd filling, Raspberry Butter Cream, and a White Chocolate Fondant.)

Close up of the Ombre ruffles, Fondant lace, Fondant Pearls, and the huge Fondant Flower I had SO much fun making!

Little baby smash-cake

Cannolis (to go with the rest of our Italian meal)

Peach Lemonade

Happy Birthday Sweet Little Lady.

Chicken with Orange Tomato Cream and Pesto Vermicelli

This dish was inspired by The Cheesecake Factory's 'Chicken Bellagio'.  Always a favorite dish of mine, I wanted to re-create it but put my own spin on it. Traditionally it is a breaded chicken, served over a pesto spaghetti, drizzled with Alfredo, and topped with prosciutto and arugula.
Here is my version: I started by marinating my chicken overnight before I breaded it. MUCH more flavor is infused that way. Then I breaded it, pan-fried it, and finished it in the oven. Served atop a pesto Vermicelli(I love Costco's pre-made pesto. It's cost-effective and tasty) and then topped with a burst orange tomato cream with basil from my own little herb garden(I have living herbs! Like.....I haven't killed them yet!) this makes the perfect hearty summer meal.
I suppose you could use any color of tomato..yellow would be fun! but I love the orange. I just love anything orange. It's my happy color!

For the Breaded Chicken:

4 Chicken Breasts
1/2 bottle Lawry's Garlic Herb Marinade
1 1/2 C. Flour
2 Eggs, well beaten
1 1/2-2 Cups Italian Breadcrumbs
Kosher Salt
3 T. Butter
3 T. Olive oil

Slice each chicken breast in half horizontally, so you are left with two thin pieces of chicken from each breast. Lay the chicken pieces on a cutting board and cover them with a large piece of saran wrap. Pound each piece of chicken with a mallet until they are about 1/4" thin. Place the chicken in a gallon sized Ziploc bag and then pour the marinade over the top. Seal the bag and let the chicken marinate in the fridge overnight, or at least for 5-6 hours.

When you are ready to cook your chicken, set up your breading station. Place a bowl of flour on the counter with your bowl of eggs next to it(on the right) and your breadcrumbs next to the eggs. 
Have a large frying pan on the stove with 1 T. Butter and 1 T. oil in it set to medium/high heat.(I like to place my breaded chicken straight into the frying pan instead of breading it all and letting it sit.)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have a baking sheet topped with a cooling rack next to your frying pan so that you can transfer the browned chicken directly to it for baking.
Take one piece of chicken and let the marinade drip of for a few seconds. lay it in the flour and turn it to coat. Then dip the floured chicken into the beaten eggs. Let the excess egg drip off. Place the egg coated chicken in the breadcrumbs and toss the crumbs on the side of the bowl over the top of the chicken. Then press the crumbs firmly into the chicken. Gently shake off the excess crumb from the chicken and place directly in the frying pan. Fry over medium-medium high head until the bottom is golden brown. Flip the chicken over and fry the other side until it is also golden brown. Transfer the browned chicken to the cooling rack on the baking sheet(this will ensure that your chicken does not finish cooking in its own juices and will stay nice and crispy, not soggy!).
Finish breading and frying the remaining chicken pieces(I do several at once and bread a chicken piece while another is frying).
Once your chicken is all fried, placed the baking sheet in the oven and finish cooking for another 10-15 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, cook your pasta and make your cream sauce.

For the Pesto Vermicelli:

1 LB. Vermicelli
1/2-1 cup Pesto Sauce

Set a large pot of water to boil. Add 2 T. Olive oil and 1 T. kosher salt to the pasta water. When it has reached a rolling boil, add the dry pasta to the water and stir once. Let the pasta boil for 6-7 minutes just until al-dente. Drain the water from the pasta and place back in the pot. Add the pesto to the pasta and toss to coat. Add more or less pesto depending on your preference.

Serve hot.

For the Orange Tomato Basil Cream Sauce:

4 T. Olive oil
2 Cups Orange cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1 T. Chopped Garlic
2 C. Heavy Cream
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh Ground Pepper, to taste
5-6 Fresh Basil leaves, chopped

Heat a large frying pan to medium/high heat. Pour in the olive oil. When oil is hot, add in the garlic and cherry tomatoes. Saute the tomatoes for 5-6 minutes, until they have burst and started to break down and the garlic has started to caramelize. Pour in the cream and let it boil until it has reduced and is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the fresh basil.

Serve atop the breaded chicken.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Dinner Party for the Birthday Baby!

I love summer birthdays! Birthdays are great on their own, but when you can celebrate that Birthday outside it's even better. And let me tell you, I've been waiting forever to have a family member with a summer birthday, just so I can throw party outside. I have been the only summer birthday for years, but last year I was blessed with a little Love bug and I have been looking forward to celebrating her birthday ever since.

Our dinner table....good thing it's difficult to see all the miss-matched chairs!

I found these cute little lanterns at Jo-Ann's(70%off!)

Peach Lemonade
Baby Green Salad with Raspberries, Brie, and Candied Almonds

I thawed Rhodes rolls and tied them in knots to make these easy rolls.

I think the Birthday Girl was satisfied!
(click on food titles under each picture to be taken to the recipe).

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pinwheel Party

 Welcome to my table scape of shattered dreams. I had such big plans for my Mom's 50th birthday party. I made a big pinwheel backdrop to hang above my white console table which would have held all my desserts and a cute banner underneath that. I had giant pinwheels I had made to stick in the grass on both sides of the dessert table.
Unfortunately I hadn't counted on the dirt being rock hard or the massive winds that ripped down my back drop each time we tried to hang it. So sad. Here is how it turned out anyway:
 Pinwheel Birthday Cake
 Mini Carrot Cakes with Cream Cheese Frosting.
 I found these cute mini forks at Hobby Lobby.

Hand Painted fondant wafers to top the cupcakes.

 Mint Chocolate Cake Pops

I So wish this would have worked out. This bent in half mess of paper would have been really cute hanging above my white dessert table but the wind kept ripping it down.
Please notice the banner that was meant to hang under the desserts. It was supposed to read 'CELEBRATE', but we lost the R somewhere along the way and so now it just says 'CELEBATE'.
Epic Fail.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Baby Strawberry Shortcakes

 Aren't these darling? I feel like such a lady when I have these on my plate. Throw in a cup of tea and call me Kate Middleton. Ha. Just kidding. But really, these are such a dainty little dessert, great for dessert tables or tea parties. I made these for my little sister's bridal shower and they were a hit. And their tiny size is great when you have many other desserts to choose from.
The only problem was that that evening I found myself eating about 10 mini shortcakes clumped together on a plate topped with a tower of strawberries and whipped cream.
Note to self: Mini shortcakes are for parties and not for an 11 pm sugar-fest. I should have just made myself one big shortcake when I was baking.
  • 2 C. All-purpose Flour
  • ¼ C. Granulated Sugar, divided
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • ½ t. salt
  • ½ C. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2/3 C. Heavy Cream or Half and Half
  • 1½ C. Sweetened whipped cream(Stabilized works well for this dessert)
  •  12 Large Strawberries
  • Powdered Sugar, for dusting
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats.
  2. Place flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt in food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
  3. With the processor running, Drop in the cubed butter piece by piece and process until just combined and forming small crumbs.
  4. Drizzle the cream into processor through top while processor is running and process until dough JUST comes together.
  5. Place dough on floured work surface and pat dough to form a rectangle about 1-inch in thickness.
  6. Cut dough into rounds about 1-inch in diameter with a cookie cutter. Reform dough as necessary with scraps being careful not to overwork dough and re-cut into rounds.
  7. Place cut dough onto prepared baking sheet. Bake shortcakes for about 8-12 minutes or until tops are just turning slightly brown. Cool on a wire rack. While the cakes are baking, cut both ends off of each strawberry. Slice each trimmed strawberry horizontally into 3 slices and place in a bowl. Sprinkle the remaining 2 T. sugar over the strawberries and toss to coat. Set aside.
  8. To assemble, cut shortcakes in half horizontally. Pipe a dollop of whipped cream onto bottom round, top with a strawberry slice, pipe with one more mound of whipped cream and cover with the shortcake top. Dust powdered sugar over the tops before serving.
Makes about 36 baby shortcakes.

 Oh, and maybe form yourself one larger shortcake before you bake the dough. It may come in handy.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Lemon Bars, Perfected.

 I love lemon bars, but I don't love the sticky topping that is messy to cut through and doesn't always hold it's shape. So I've been on a quest to bake the perfect lemon bar. Soft but still crisp shortbread like crust and a lemony, firmly set glossy lemon topping that can be cleanly cut through.
Instead of pouring a wet batter on top of a par-baked crust, I make a lemon curd on the stove top and then pour it over the partially baked crust. Then it bakes for a short time to set the top and finish cooking the crust.
I know it's an extra step, but trust me, its worth it.

2 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 C. powdered sugar
1 C. Butter, cut into cubes and semi-soft

7 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 C. + 2 T. sugar
2/3 C. lemon juice (from about 4-5 medium lemons), strained
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 T. unsalted butter, cut in to 4 pieces
3 T. heavy cream

For the crust
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Put the flour and powdered sugar in a food processor and process briefly, about 2 seconds. Add the butter pieces and process to blend, 8 to 10 seconds, then process until the mixture is pale yellow and resembles coarse meal, about three 1-second pulses. Sprinkle the mixture into the prepared cake pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the entire pan bottom. 

  Bake the crust until the edges start to brown, about 23 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

For the filling
In a medium saucepan whisk together the egg yolks, whole eggs and sugar until combined. Add the lemon juice and salt and whisk until well combined, about 30 seconds.

Add the butter pieces and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the curd thickens, about 6 minutes.
  Stir in the heavy cream and then pour the curd into the warm crust.
Bake until the filling is shiny and opaque and the center 3 inches jiggle slightly when shaken, about 10 minutes.  Let the bars cool. Cut into 2 inch squares, wiping the knife blade clean between each cut. Sieve powdered sugar over the bars, if you prefer.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Eggs Benedict with Blender Hollindaise

I can't tell you how many times I've seen a traditional Hollindaise replaced with a mix. And it makes me so very sad. Mixes, while easy, are filled with all sorts of additives and the results are often a far cry from what they claim to be in the title.
Hollindaise can be a tricky sauce, though. And a bit time consuming and sensitive.
Enter: the Blender Hollindaise. I came across this recipe on Epicurious and have modified it to suit my taste. I like mine lemony!
I have made this several times and I would have to think its pretty fail proof!
And takes only a few minutes to whip up.
Real Hollindaise uses clarified butter, and you can do that here if you like, but I've left the milk solids in because it is easier and still comes together perfectly.
Though not completely traditional, this recipe leaves no excuse for using a mix. it's just too easy!
Blender Hollindaise


1 1/4 C. (2 1/2 sticks) Unsalted Butter
2 large Egg Yolks
2 T. fresh Lemon juice, more if you like it lemony!
Kosher salt, to taste
A pinch or two of White Pepper

Fill a blender with hot water and set aside. Melt butter in a bowl in the microwave, or in a saucepan on the stove. Set aside.

Drain the blender and dry well. Put egg yolks and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in blender; cover and blend to combine. Working quickly and with blender running, remove lid insert and slowly pour hot butter into blender in a thin stream of droplets. Blend until creamy sauce forms. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and with more lemon juice. Serve immediately.

Eggs Benedict

I feel silly even posting a recipe for this. So I'll make it simple:
Toast an English Muffin.
Top with a slice of hot ham.
Top ham with a poached egg.
Top egg with a spoonful or two of Hollindaise.
Repeat. Well, unless you're full now. In which case you should just anticipate your next breakfast of Eggs Benedict.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Caramelized Onion Blue Cheese Scalloped Potatoes

If your looking for a variation on traditional scalloped potatoes, consider this dish. Blue cheese and caramelized onions meld together in a creamy Bechamel sauce for a side dish that is hearty and comforting, yet elegant.
These potatoes go great with this Turkey Meatloaf. Assemble it in the morning to save time at dinner. Then pop it in the oven 45 minutes before you eat and you're set!


2 Lbs. Yukon gold potatoes
1 Sweet Onion
2 T. Butter
2 T. Flour
1/2 T. Brown Sugar
1/2 t. White Pepper
1/4 t. Grated Nutmeg
2 T. Butter
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 C. Milk(I use Almond)
1/2 C. Heavy Cream
Salt, to taste
1/3 C. Blue Cheese, crumbled
2 T. Freshly grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 375°F with a rack in upper third of the oven.

Place the cleaned potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Bring the pot to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just barely tender. Drain the potatoes and let cool.
Meanwhile, add 2 T. Of butter to a sauté pan and melt on medium heat. Thinly slice the onion and add to the pan. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes and then add the brown sugar to the pan. Continue to sauté the onion until it develops a deep brown caramel color. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Melt 2 T. of butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the flour to the butter and stir until combined. let cook for 1 minute and then pour in the heavy cream. Turn the heat up to medium and stir continuously until the cream has thickened. Whisk in the milk and let simmer until thickened and smooth. Add in the nutmeg, pepper and salt to taste. Remove from heat.

Thinly slice the cooled potatoes and spread one layer of potatoes in an 8-9" baking dish. Top the potatoes with 1/3 of the caramelized onions. Pour 1/3 of the sauce over the onion and then sprinkle with 1/3 of the blue cheese. Arrange another layer of potatoes in the dish and top with another 3rd of the onions, sauce, and blue cheese. Top with the remaining potatoes, sauce, onions and blue cheese. Sprinkle the grated Parmesan evenly over the top of the dish.

Place dish on a shallow baking pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is a golden brown.

Remove from the oven and serve.