July 11, 2014

Orange Cinnamon Roll Cake

Hey, look at me, I made something sweet!  To be fair, I used prepared ingredients and only made the orange glaze from "scratch", but it was delicious and very, very simple - which is the best part!  It only took a few ingredients and about 15 minutes plus cooking time.  If you are looking for an easy dessert for a fun night with friends, or a treat for a sweet morning with the kiddies, this is it!  Also, feel free to add different items to the glaze; I used orange zest, but I'm thinking lime zest with a hint of coconut could take this simple dessert to the next level.  Enjoy!

Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction; Giant Cinnamon Roll Cake

What You'll Need:
  • 2 cans Pillsbury Place 'N Bake Crescent Rounds
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups 10x powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
  • Zest of 1 small orange

1.  Begin by opening your crescent rounds and separating them in to 16 rolls.  Unroll so you have 16 long pieces of dough.  Brush each with melted butter and generously cover the dough with the cinnamon and sugar.

2.  Roll one piece of dough back to the original shape and place in the center of a greased pie pan.  With the remaining dough, wrap each piece around the center over and over, until you have one large cinnamon bun.  Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15-18 minutes, making sure the outside is golden brown and the middle is cooked through and not doughy.  Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

3.  In a small mixing bowl, whisk 10x sugar and milk until smooth.  Whisk in the orange zest and vanilla until incorporated.   Finish the cinnamon bun cake by pouring the glaze on the middle of the cake and letting it run over the sides and all around.  Finish with a little extra zest and viola!  Enjoy!

July 8, 2014

Broccoli and Cheddar Bites with Quinoa

Whenever Bucky says, "You can make ______ anytime!" is a win in my book!  Especially when it involves a green vegetable and quinoa.  But actually, Bucky loves broccoli, and these little bites are our favorite takeout appetizer.  The broccoli and cheese bites (that are ultimately guaranteed frozen and fried) that come to our door are pretty tough to replicate. And truthfully, why would I want that? Takeout is for ordering food I cannot otherwise get at home.  Exactly the reason I won't order a grilled cheese.  Anywho, my broccoli bites are less battered with a crust, and more dusted and flash fried. They're perfect to roll into bite-sized balls and take to a party, or make them into nice patties and use as a burger! Serve with a warm honey mustard sauce, for best results ;-)


What You'll Need:
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 small-medium heads broccoli
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 3 eggs
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
  • Garlic powder and onion powder
  • 1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumb (bland breadcrumb will result in bland broccoli bites, so season well if it isn't already!)
  • Large skillet full of frying oil (5 cups, approximately)

1.  Finely dice the yellow onion and sauté in 2 tbsp. butter with salt and pepper until translucent. While that is cooking, start two pots of boiling water.  Boil the broccoli heads for about 5 minutes and then shock in ice cold water.  Cook the quinoa according to package directions in the other pot. 

2.  Drain the onions and set aside.  Finely chop the steamed broccoli and drain the quinoa of any excess water.  In a large mixing bowl, mix broccoli, quinoa, and onions and let cool completely.  When completely cooled, mix in eggs, cheese, and 3/4 cup of breadcrumb. Add your spices (and additional salt and pepper as needed). With your hands, get in that mixing bowl and incorporate all the ingredients until you can form sturdy balls.  

3.  Use the remaining breadcrumb to lightly dredge the balls.  Making sure your oil is hot, drop about 4-5 balls in at one time, depending on the size of the bites.  Don't drop too many, so they don't lower the temperature of the oil too fast.  When the broccoli bites brown all the way around, transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain oil, then put on a cooling rack and in a 200-degree oven to keep warm while frying the rest. Repeat until finished, and enjoy!


Swiss Chard and Rosemary Cheesecake with Pancetta

Usually, I'm not a big sweets person. My philosophy on Thanksgiving has always been, "when it's time for pie, I'd rather just have more mashed potatoes." I would rather have chips or crackers than donuts and pastries, and for breakfast, it's always eggs and bacon instead of pancakes and waffles. With that being said, I am a sucker for a good cheesecake. Cheesecake is my favorite dessert on the planet - simple, plain, creamy cheesecake. (No need for any "red crap" - Friends reference!!) Mixing my love for all things savory with my love for cheesecake, I came up with this savory pie, complete with sautéed pancetta and Swiss chard, rosemary straight from the bush, and five different kinds of cheese - goat being the favorite! Read on to find out how to make it!
What You'll Need:
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tbsp. garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large rosemary sprig
  • 4 oz. pancetta, chopped
  • 1 bunch Swiss chard, stems trimmed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 4 oz. ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz. goat cheese
  • 4 oz. mascarpone
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 12 mini pie crusts**
  • 3 tbsp. Parmesan cheese

1. Heat 3 tbsp. of olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic, chopped rosemary leaves, and chopped pancetta. Sauté until pancetta cooks through, but doesn't crisp up. Add Swiss chard to the pan and cook down until wilted. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a food processor and pulse until ingredients are finely minced. Set aside to let cool.

2. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, add cream cheese, ricotta, goat cheese, mascarpone, and honey. Fold in Swiss chard and pancetta mixture with a spatula. With a hand mixer, beat in 3 eggs, one at a time, careful not to over-mix.

3. Fill your mini pie crusts with mixture and place on baking sheet. Sprinkle tops with Parmesan cheese. Bake in a 325-degree oven for 45-55 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. You can serve still warm, or cool in fridge - enjoy!!

**Here's the thing about the pie crust situation. I didn't feel like/want to figure out how to make pie crust. Now that I've done some research, I found it really isn't that hard to accomplish, but I also wanted the little mini crusts, and so I used store-bought. They have a sweet taste to them that I think worked well with the savory pie, but if you'd like to make your own savory pie crust, I've seen crushed bagel crisps, Parmesan, and breadcrumb mix, which seemed like it would be great!

July 5, 2014

Jersey Tomato Salad

While living in Baltimore for the past 7 years or so, I've learned a lot of things about how Marylanders feels about certain food items.  The top two things you'll hear about when crossing the border from Delaware into Maryland is crab cakes and Old Bay.  A more subtle food item that Marylanders are obsessed with are their tomatoes.  But this home-grown Jersey girl knows where the best tomatoes come from - and it's not Maryland.  Sorry, guys, there is nothing like a crab cake from a Baltimore restaurant, but... there's nothing like a Jersey tomato, cut straight from the vine and mixed with fresh basil.  Try this recipe this summer, whether it be at your next cookout, or for a bright salad for a simple dinner one night - either way, you'll fall in love with the flavors -- and don't forget a nice piece of crusty bread to dunk in the end!

What You'll Need:
  • 10 Jersey tomatoes, medium-sized, on-the-vine
  • 1 red onion
  • 6 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10 large fresh basil leaves

1.  Chop tomatoes into about 1-inch pieces, and thinly slice red onion and drop in mixing bowl.  Mince garlic cloves and mix in bowl.  Chiffonade 3/4 of the basil and mix in bowl as well. 

2.  In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, both vinegars, sugar, salt and pepper.  Pour vinaigrette over tomato mix.  Use the other few leaves of basil and tear to garnish on top.  Enjoy!

June 8, 2014

Berry Sangria Granita!

In two days, the kids at Garrison will be graduating, which means a lot less craze at school, and a lot more summer fun.  And what's a better way to kick-start the summer than with a light, refreshing glass of Sangria?   How about a cool glass of Sangria-shaved ice?  Yes, yes, and more yes!  This granita is made with four different kinds of fresh berries, fresh-squeezed orange juice, a touch of sugar, and your favorite vodka.  I used plain, but feel free to use blueberry, raspberry, cherry, etc.  (Pinnacle Vodka now has up to 40 flavors you can choose from, too, which makes for fun experimenting!)  Think of this tasty treat as a deconstructed grown-up Popsicle!

What You'll Need:
  • 1lb. berry medley (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries)
  • 1 large orange: zest of whole, juice of half
  • 1/4 cup vodka
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 2/3 cup red wine

  • In a blender, mix the first five ingredients, while streaming in the red wine, until smooth.  
  • Transfer to a 9"x13" pyrex dish and put in the freezer
  • After 4 hours, remove from freezer and scrape with a fork until it is shaved ice
  • Transfer back to the freezer for another 2 hours, then remove and scrap again
  • Repeat the process until frozen firmly
  • Scoop into a martini glass, wine glass, etc.  Garnish with fruit slice