It’s the 3rd day of a brand new year and of course, we’re all thinking about goals for the upcoming year. One of the most popular resolutions out there is to get in shape & eat healthy. On that note, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite salads that I made this past year. Of course, you can add your own twist on them but here are a few ideas to spice up your meal!
Photo 1: Spinach strawberry salad with candied pecans, feta, and strawberry poppyseed dressing
Photo 2:Baby green with pomegranate seeds, gorgonzola, and pecans (sometimes I use almonds or walnuts)
Photo 3:Classic cob with red wine lemon vinaigrette.
Photo 4:Arugula, edamame, english cucumber and turkey bacon
My dear. Who doesn’t love anything that mixes gooey chocolate chip cookies, quaint little ramekins and vanilla icecream? I saw this recipe on one of my favorite blogs and just knew that this would be the dessert I would be exciting my taste buds with this evening. It’s called the “Pizookie” and is a combination of chocolate chunk cookie baked in a Chicago Pizza-like style. You can find the recipe, here. Not only is this going to be so yummy and delicious, but my kitchen is going to smell like a domestic goddess lives there.
I’ve had a hankering for cinnamon buns for the past week…I don’t know if it’s the ooey gooey goodness that i’m craving or the way the entire house smells when they’re in the oven. Either way, I’m heading to the grocery store this morning and picking up the ingredients for this recipe. The secret ingredient is cottage cheese…don’t they look heavenly?!
My friends, I’m not sure if you read the blog, Bakerella, but if you don’t, you must “bookmark it” & visit it on a daily basis. It’s my eye candy when I wake up in the morning…no pun intended. The writer and baker, Angie Dudley, creates to-die-for sweet treats and documents the steps by photographs. Being a Southerner, this 12 layer cake caught my eye this morning. The cake is a Southern tradition & a favorite at Southern parties. I’ve posted the photos taken by Angie on my blog, but if you go here, you’ll be able to read the recipe and steps to make this fabulous yum-yum.
The first time I popped a chess bar in my mouth was in 5th grade & poof… it was love at first bite. I remember going to Sami Orange’s house after school one day and her mother had just taken a hot pan of these out of the oven. We were instructed to wait 20 minutes until they cooled and then we could dive into the pan. Waiting 20 minutes for chess cookies to cool was like taking a flight to Hawaii (and back)…we just starred at them and when her mother wasn’t looking, we’d pick off little bits of the over-baked crusty pieces. A few weeks ago, I had a jewelry show in Charlotte and my husband’s cousin’s wife made these for the show. I fell back in love instantly. They are ooey, gooey, goodness & I strongly recommend making them one of your holiday staples.
1 box yellow cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
Mix with a fork until smooth. Pat and press with palms of hand into 9x13 pan- I use a pyrex
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 box of powdered sugar
Beat until smooth. The cream cheese may be a little lumpy- keep beating until as smooth as you can get. Pour over crust. Bake at 325 for 40-45 minutes.
I’m currently sitting at Caribou Coffee shop in Charlotte, NC and sipping on the most delightful latte…an Amy’s tea latte fusion. For the 15th year, Caribou Coffee is supporting breast cancer awareness with its line of Amy’s Blend to support Susan G. Komen for the Cure and to honor former Caribou roastmaster Amy Erickson. I’ve always been a fan of Chai Tea & Amy’s bend is even better..caffeine-free red tea from South Africa blended with spicy cardamom and warm cinnamon (plus its high in antioxidants.) You must try it!
Pan seared jumbo scallops served with baby arugula and tossed with a champagne-truffle vinaigrette? Any takers? Umm, yes please, sign me up! Last night, Melissa Lamkin invited my friends and I to sample 15 different dishes at the new Roadside Kitchen on Montford Drive in Charlotte, NC…15 North. Chef Brett McKee and Steve Palmer (the masterminds behind 17 North Roadside Kitchen & Mckee’s poplular Oak Steakhouse & Ok-U restaurant in Charleston) decided to spread the goodness to Charlotte and open a new hotspot. The ingredients are exciting, tasty & fresh from local farmers. Opening night is tonight, so cap off the evening with a Brooklyn Style Soda Shop Float & a red velvet cupcake.
I’m heading to Virginia this morning…a weekend full of meetings, designing 2 wedding bands, and selling jewelry at the Charlottesville Farmers Market on Saturday morning (come visit me in space 5 if you’re in town.)
Hopefully, I’ll be coming home with oodles of fresh vegetables from the Farmer’s Market to make gazpacho soup on Monday.
6 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 purple onion, finely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, chopped
1 sweet red bell pepper (or green) seeded and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1-2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
6 or more drops of Tabasco sauce to taste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce (omit for vegetarian option)
I try to get as many recommendations as possible when I travel. More than anything, when I have a good recommendation, I have a goal & and mystery…the fun part isn’t getting to the actual destination but running into the unexpected on your way. While I was selling jewelry at the Charlottesville Farmer’s market last summer, I mentioned to one of my friends, Courtney Newman (the sweetest little vegan & world-traveler you’ll ever meet) that I was on my way to NYC for a buying trip the following morning. Courtney told me that I had to check out the bakery, Babycakes. Loving the name & (of course) anything that has to do with bakeries, I figured I’d stroll by on my & pick up a warm yummy fresh out of the oven. Little did I know that on my way to Babycakes, I’d pick up a paper lantern in Chinatown & a small cactus with hot pink flowers from a street vendor on the Lower East Side (ahhh, the unexpected). Finally, I arrived at this little hole-in-the-wall (honestly, hole-in-the-wall bakeries are always the best…simply put, They. Have. Heart.) I didn’t even realize it, but this bakery is completely vegan, organic & mostly, gluten free. I ordered a few brownie bites & then and there, my mission was complete.
A few nights ago, we had friends over for dinner & was of them was vegan…I’d say this brownie bite recipe from Babycakes was a hit.
Vegetable oil spray
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free, all-purpose baking flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup applesauce
1/4 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup dairy-free mini chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325°. Spray 2 mini muffin pans with vegetable oil spray. In a bowl, whisk the baking flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and xanthan gum. In another bowl, whisk the applesauce, oil and vanilla; stir into the dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips. Spoon the batter into the muffin pans, filling them three-quarters full. Bake for 15 minutes, or until set. Let the brownies cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.
One of my favorite foods to eat on hot days are Vietamese summer rolls….paired with a peanut sauce or a spicy hoisin dipping sauce, they are simply divine. Although, they take a bit of time preparation, the result is a refreshing summer dish & a good mix of textures and flavors. The other night, I decided to pair up the summer rolls with a fresh seafood stir fry.
To make summer rolls:
1. Use “spring roll skin” (usually found on the international isle in the grocery store). I’ve included a photograph of the skin…it looks translucent & is made with rice paper. When you’re about to use the skin, soak each piece in water for about 20 seconds…it becomes soft and easy to work with.
2. Boil vermicelli rice noodles in water for about 10 minutes – drain & rinse.
3. Place fillings (I usually use rice noodles, steamed shrimp, carrots, basil, cucumber & avacado) in soft spring roll skin & wrap up like a burrito.
Hands down…this recipe is just yummy-in-my- tummy goodness. Yesterday, my (soon-to-be) sister in law hosted a jewelry trunk show for me in Athens, Ga at UGA & I just knew I had to bring a fabulous taste-bud awakening treat to share.
Have you ever been in this situation? Major problem #1: going to the bakery and choosing between a cookie or a brownie. Major problem #2: choosing a cookie, eating the cookie, and wishing you were eating the chocolate brownie instead. Final result: you end up going back to the bakery, eat the brownie (after you’ve already finished the unfulfilling cookie), and happily top off the brownie with a cold glass of milk.
So, this recipe eliminates those two problems and allows you to have both at once (including the heavenly chocolate ganache on top). Plus, it’s a big messy and gooey dessert and you end up licking your fingers for about an hour…savoring each flavor. Plus, the recipe is super easy! I’ve taken photos throughout the process just so you can see if you’re on the right path.
Not gonna lie…this recipe is straight from Betty Crocker and can be found here. The ganache is straight from (one of my faves) bakerella and can be found here. The photos and the promise that this dessert is “just. one. more. brownie. and. then. i’ll. stop….” that good is from me.
scooping the cookie dough in the brownie mixture
pushing down each cookie dough ball into the brownie mixure
hot out of the oven….this is a point that requires patience.
making the ganache…watching the morsels slowly melt into the butter and cream.
I’d like to say that I enjoy baking, but it’s not really my speciality. A little too precise orderly for me. You actually have to take exact measurements of flour, sugar, eggs, salt, baking soda, and vanilla & if you’re off by even a teaspoon, the entire recipe can fall apart. Cooking, on the other hand, I love. I think it’s because I’ve never really followed a recipe when I cook. I love to add my own spices and concoctions to meats, fish, vegetables, and stews. I taste as I go (which can be a problem because i’m usually full by the time I sit down to eat), but I love inventing my own recipes and altering others. A pinch of this and splash of that and viola, you’ve got the perfect meal. I actually took a month long culinary course in NYC one summer and fell in love with the creative process of cooking. Each day, we’d work with a different type of food…one day we’d work with eggs and another day we’d switch to figs. I learned that cooking (like jewelry design) has no rules or boudaries. My mother is the sort of person that travels to other countries with a separate suitcase and fills the suitcase up with exotic spices and salts. She’ll come home with a variety of fabulous dried herbs, curries, and cultural delicacies to be used for rubs on fish and magic flavors to be brought out in dishes. Many months ago, I started my own recipe book. Everytime I cook something new, I’ll write down the recipe and take a photo of the food and the company we shared during the meal. In a way, it’s a sort of like a cooking journal…a photo album and personal journey in the kitchen.
Love at first taste = granola from Baked Bakery in Brooklyn, NY. This granola is awesome & I finally made it last night. The granola is baked (and let me tell you, the smells that come out of the oven while it is baking are heavenly). I made a few twists to the recipe and added pine nuts, pecans, wheat germ, a pinch of cinnamon and a handful of coconut. It turned out really well & pairs perfectly with yogurt and fruit. Idea: wrap it up in cute packaging and give it away as a Happy New Year treat.
I love great packaging. It’s not uncommon for me to be roaming the isles of Dean & Deluca just to look at the way the food is packaged. It’s also not rare if I come home with some random food item I purchased just because I like the packaging. Bryan will look at me and say, “Erin, I never new you liked artichoke & chili flavored crackers?” I’ll typically respond, “I don’t, but aren’t you just crazy about the packaging?” Packaging my jewelry in some unique way is definitely something I’d like to work on in the new year.
I love the hand-written tags and packaging of Jamie Oliver’s food. Something yummy to try: Mix the rosemary sea salt with a little mustard, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar, brush it on salmon & bake.
Alright…go ahead, twist my arm…I guess it wouldn’t be too difficult to take a relaxing bath in this sweet wooden tub…sit in this worn-out leather chair full of memories and contemplate what i’d like to cook for dinner. I found this recipe for a pretty amazing chocolate steak marinade…I mean, seriously, can you resist??
Chocolate, Chili Mole Marinade
18 ounce Mexican beer
3/4 cup Aztec Elixir Cocoa – or any spicy chocolate
1 1/2 tablespoon soy sauce
.1 tablespoon Worcestershire
splash of sake
Marinade for 1 pound of flank steak or up to 8 pork chops
Prepare an ice bath in a large metal bowl, set aside.
In a small sauce pan heat the 1 1/2 bottles of beer. Once the beer is warmed add the cocoa mixture. Stir to combine. Once the cocoa is completely melted pour into a bowl, add the other ingredients and place the bowl in the ice bath. Cool to room temperature place the marinade and the meat in a large bowl or large ziplock bag and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Heat grill to hot!
Salt (sea salt) and grind green peppercorns (or whatever you have available) on both sides of the meat and cook on grill until desired pinkness. Salt lightly on both sides after having taken the meat off the grill and be sure to let the meat rest for 10 minutes, 5 minutes on each side before slicing. Bon Appetit!
I love stopping by Chelsea Market in NYC and checking out the latest cookie design from Elenis’ cookies.The cookies are always intricately designed and make the perfect gift.I wanted to share a few of my favorite collections with you…