Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chocolate Mousse (CWF) - Foodie Friday

When Moogie sent me her choice for this month's Chocolate With Francois, she suggested everyone find a creative way to present their mousse. Sounds easy enough! I can do this! Or so I thought!

Earlier this week I read over the recipe to make sure I had all of the ingredients. I was thrilled to find that Payard had given the measurements for a half recipe. Since we have WAY too many sweets in the house, I usually cut the recipes in half. That can present some challenges, like how do you cut an egg in half? Perfect, the measurements for half a recipe are in the book, this is going to be so easy! Or so I thought!

Last weekend while we were in Kansas City, I stopped by one of my favorite stores, Crate & Barrel. Crate & Barrel has been one of my fav's for years. I used to travel to Chicago and always made a stop at their store on Michigan Avenue. This was before carryon's were limited, so I could easily bring those goodies home with me!! I found the cutest pink silicone flower shaped cupcake liners, butterfly and daisy cookie cutters. I suppose about now you're asking what that has to do with this Chocolate Mousse? My plan was to pipe the chocolate mousse into the pink cupcake liners. How cute and easy would that be? Or so I thought!

I did the mis en place thing and arranged all of my ingredients. Or so I thought! I used the 1/4 cup water from the FULL recipe instead of the 2 tablespoons from the half recipe. The mousse was too thin to pipe into the cute cupcake liners.

So sorry Moggie, no creative presentation for me! This mousse reminded me a lot of the Chocolate Mousse we made a few weeks ago for Sweet Melissa Sunday's. Just like the the SMS mousse, I ended up with little chocolate pieces in the mousse. This recipe is easy to put together and has a wonderful chocolate flavor!

Stop by Chocolate With Francois to find the links to all of the creative CWF members!!

I am linking this to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.

In My Garden

When your daffodils and tulips are done blooming, you know how you're not supposed to cut them off until they have turned brown? This puts more nutrients back into the soil. I don't know about you but I really don't like how unsightly they look while waiting and waiting for them to turn brown. When visiting Lauritzen Gardens, Omaha's beautiful botanical garden, a couple of years ago I noticed how their gardeners took the daffodil and tulip leaves and bent them over and put a rubber band around them. Great idea and so much nicer looking!!!

This week's In My Garden is my lilac bush. Lilacs remind me of my grandma. She had beautiful lilac bushes in her yard. I think maybe she even wore lilac scented perfume. Or maybe it was called toilet water? I love the scent of flowers, not perfume.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Big News in the Big O!!

Since moving to Omaha from Kansas City 4 years ago, I've watched my favorite stores close their Omaha locations. First Stein Mart and then World Market. Omaha had three World Market locations, I still can't believe they didn't leave one location open.

While I don't expect Omaha to have the same retail landscape as much larger Kansas City, I keep hoping for some bright spots in that landscape. Today my wish was granted!! Later this year, Trader Joe's is opening a 13,000 square foot store in Omaha. No longer will I have to be envious of those of you who blog about this item or that item from Trader Joe's.

Besides the famous Two Buck Chuck wines, I am looking forward to trying some of the other, often publicized, Trader Joe's items!

Maybe not big news by news standards but big news in my world!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Picnic Cole Slaw

Last week I posted my recipe for Baby Back Ribs. It's one of my go to recipes when I am entertaining a large group for dinner. One of my favorite sides for a large group is this what I call my Picnic Cole Slaw. This is one of those recipes that I am not even sure where it came from. It's on a piece of paper showing the stains from years of preparation. What are your tried and true recipes? You know the ones that will turn out perfectly and everyone will enjoy?

Picnic Cole Slaw

1 bag of slaw mix
2 packages of Chicken flavored Ramen Soup
10 Green Onions, finely chopped

1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 sugar
2 chicken flavor packets from soup

Mix together slaw and green onions. Crush noodles and add to slaw mixture. Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over slaw. Mix well. Refrigerate for a minimum of 6 hours. Add sunflower seeds just before serving.

I am linking this recipe to Tuesday's at the Table at All The Small Stuff and Tempt My Tummy Tuesday's at Blessed With Grace.

One Year Ago Dr. Pepper Flank Steak.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Happy Monday - Cake Decorating

Happy Monday!! Knowing we would return from KC late yesterday, I decided to take today off. I have a list of things I would like to accomplish. The list is longer than the hours in the day, go through Spring clothes in the closet, split my seedlings, sort recipes for meals and blog posts, bake a cake and maybe just maybe take a short nap. Sounds like a busy day but when you normally work Monday through Friday, it's a great day!!

The cake I am baking is for tonight's final class in my Wilton Cake Decorating Course #1. We need to make a rose to "pass" this class. EEEKKKKKKK! So far in class, we've only made the first two parts of the rose and it's hard. I am sure it gets much easier with practice. Note to self, add to today's list...practice the rose!

Here's my cake from last week's class. I love making these flowers. They're so easy!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

No SMS - Strawberry Trifle

We're in Kansas City this weekend. I wanted to do some shopping and Tim wanted to see the Twins play the Royals. A perfect weekend away! I didn't have time to bake SMS before we left. Stop by and check out this week's SMS recipe, Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler Pie, chosen by the very talented baker, Tracey at Tracey's Culinary Adventures. In addition to being a great baker, she takes amazing photographs.

I do have a delicious recipe to share with you. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I posted my first trifle recipe? The Chocolate Banana Trifle was wonderful, except for one thing. It is way too big of a dessert unless you are serving a group. Last weekend, Tim's family was here for Tim's son Michael's confirmation. This was the perfect dessert. Strawberries are plentiful and inexpensive right now. This dessert was delicious and the perfect compliment to our dinner. It was just sweet enough but not too filling.

Strawberry Trifle

2 pint baskets strawberries, washed and hulled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups water - divided use
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 (3.5-ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups whipping or heavy cream, whipped
1 angel food cake, cubed

Slice berries, reserving 6 for garnish. Place 1 cup of the sliced berries in saucepan with sugar and 1/4 cup water. Bring to boil. Cook 3 minutes; remove from heat. Mix cornstarch and 1/4 cup cold water. Stir into strawberry mixture. Cook and stir until thick (about 2 minutes). Add lemon juice. Cool to room temperature.
Combine sweetened condensed milk and remaining 1 1/2 cups cold water in a bowl. Add instant vanilla pudding mix and beat well. Chill for 5 minutes.
Cut cake into bite-size cubes.
Meanwhile, beat cream until stiff. Fold into the pudding mixture.
Layer pudding, cake, sliced strawberries, and strawberry mixture. Repeat the layers; garnish with reserved strawberries.
Makes 12 servings.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pink Saturday!

Happy Pink Saturday! We're in Kansas City for the weekend. I will come visiting when I return. Today I am sharing with you the pinks in our yard!!!

This week I'd like to introduce you to Ann of Tin and Sparkle. Ann's lives in my hometown of Kansas City. She has a really fun blog. If you haven't visited Ann before, stop by and say hello.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Baby Back Ribs - Foodie Friday

Since I began blogging, I've made this recipe at least three times. It's always for a group. I am in rush to get the food out and forget to take pictures. This time, I remembered to take the picture while they were cooking.

I've made this recipe with Baby Back or Featherbone Ribs. A couple of years ago when I made these, there was a chance of rain. I wanted to come up with a way to make these even if it rained. We decided to brown them first and then let them cook 4 -6 hours in the electric roaster. Everyone always says these are some of the best ribs they have ever eaten.

Rib Rub
Recipe courtesy of Steven Raichlen

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sweet paprika
3 tablespoons black pepper
3 tablespoons coarse salt
1 tablespooon hickory smoked salt or more coarse salt
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons celery seeds
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir to mix. Use your fingers to break up any lumps of brown sugar. Store the rub in an airtight jar away from heat or light. It will keep for at least 6 months.

Sprinkle each side of the ribs generously with the rib rub. Allow to sit at least 30 minutes.

Braising Liquid
Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown

1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 cloves garlic, chopped

In a microwavable container, combine all ingredients for the braising liquid. Microwave on high for 1 minute.

Brown ribs on both sides on the grill. Place the ribs in the roaster. Pour braising liquid in the roaster. Cook in the roaster at 250 degrees for 4 -5 hours.

Serve with your favorite barbeque sauce.

Note: These could also be baked in the oven at 250 degrees. Place ribs on baking pan, cover with braising liquid and wrap in alumnimum foil.

I am linking this to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.

Earth Day - In My Garden

In honor of Earth Day, here's the premier of my new weekly post, In My Garden. Every week, I am going to feature something growing in my yard or my garden. I never used to be much of a garden person. My husband Tim is so into being outside in the yard. It's infectious and while I am not as into it as he is, I am having fun.

I even started some of my flowers, veggies and herbs from seed. When they began to sprout, I was so excited. I've never had much of a green thumb. I figured they wouldn't grow. I will be featuring my seedlings from the beginning to fully grown.

I would love to start composting. I hate how much I throw away. Anything I can put to use instead of in the garbage is such a bonus. I am still researching composting. I don't want to start composting until I am sure I know how.

This week's In My Garden features the beautiful flowering trees in our yard.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Canadian Bacon and Potato Quiche

When I mentioned to my husband I was making this recipe for dinner, he said shouldn't that be for breakfast? I convinced him this would be a fine dinner and he agreed to step out of his dinner box and try this one.

This recipe was another example of a "Use It Up" recipe. I had the aspargus, some slices of canadian bacon, the pie crust and of course, the eggs. The only ingredient I had to purchase was the cheese. The use of a frozen pie crust makes this recipe an easy one to put together for a weeknight dinner.

Tim gave this a thumbs up. I think he really liked it, the only thing that prevented him from giving it a two thumbs up is he didn't want to encourage me to make breakfast for dinner.

Canadian Bacon and Potato Quiche

1 refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box
1 cup frozen southern-style diced hash-brown potatoes (from 32-oz bag), thawed
1 cup cut (1/2-inch) fresh asparagus spears
1 cup diced Canadian bacon
1 1/2 cups shredded Havarti cheese (6 oz)
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Make pie crust as directed on box for One-Crust Baked Shell using 9-inch glass pie pan. Prick crust generously with fork. Bake about 8 minutes or until very lightly browned.
2. Remove partially baked crust from oven. Layer potatoes, asparagus, bacon and cheese in crust. In medium bowl, beat eggs, milk, marjoram and salt with wire whisk or fork until well blended. Pour over cheese.
3. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand 5 minutes before serving. Cut into wedges.

I am linking this to Tasty Tuesday's at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tuesday's at the Table at All the Small Stuff, and Tempt my Tummy Tuesday's at Blessed With Grace. Check out these blog sites, they're a great place to find some wonderful new recipes.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sweet Potato Bread - SMS

A few months ago, I was struggling with blogging. I questioned whether or not I had what it took to blog on a regular basis. Lately I feel like I am in a rhythm with posting and cooking. It feels so good! When I first began participating in Sweet Melissa Sunday's, Sunday would come around and I would be rushing to bake and post by a reasonable hour. The past few weeks, I've had my post finished before Sunday. It feels so good!

When I read Melissa's comments on this recipe, I had a feeling I was going to like this bread. I love pumpkin bread and this reminded me of my pumpkin bread recipe. This was an easy recipe to put together. The only change I made was to the glaze. I didn't have rum, I substituted additional orange juice and a teaspoon of vanilla.

I don't own a full size bundt pan. Mine is a smaller bundt pan and is too small for a standard bundt pan recipe. I used 4 mini bundts, a mini and medium size loaf pans. The mini loaf and bundts were done in 45 minutes. The larger loaf pan took about 55 minutes.

I ate one of the mini bundts after it's first glazing. It didn't come out of the pan very well, so it was just begging to be eaten. How do you grease and flour those mini bundts? I didn't just like this recipe, I loved it.

Thanks to Lorelei of Mermaid Sweets for choosing such a wonderful recipe. Stop by SMS to check out all of the the other bakers creations.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Cake Class - Pink Saturday

Happy Pink Saturday!! This is my third week participating in Pink Saturday. It's so fun, what a great group of women. Thanks to Beverly of How Sweet the Sound for hosting!!!

I am taking Course #1 of Wilton's Cake Decorating Series. Taking a cake decorating class was one of my 2010 bloggin resolutions. It's so much fun and not as hard as I thought it would be (so far, anyway).

My cake this week is a perfect Pink Saturday post! I love this color of pink frosting!

This week I'd like to introduce you to Birgit of Swapping Howdies. She's a blogger from Munich who I met on last week's Pink Saturday.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cake Top Cake - Foodie Friday

I am taking the Wilton Course 1 in cake decorating. This week we decorated our first cake. We are learning to make those beautiful roses you see on decorated cakes.

When I made my cake for class, I had the two leftover cake tops. I decided to make a little cake top cake for us.

Kinda cute, huh?

I am linking this to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.

Chocolate Filled Cupcakes - MSC

Happy Birthday, Dad! Although he will never read this, my Dad turns 91 today. Amazing, 91!! Cake and ice cream, with heavy emphasis on the ice cream are Dad's favorites. Black Walnut ice cream to be exact. I've never liked it but it was always in the freezer when I was a kid. Usually there was another carton of a kind I liked because I remember getting a bowl of ice cream many nights before I went to bed. I think I can thank my Dad for this sweet tooth I have today!!!

Okay on to this month's MSC recipe, Chocolate Filled Cupcakes, chosen by Jess of Cookbook Habit. I love filled cupcakes. We've had way too many sweets in the house these days, so I made a half recipe. The recipe is an easy one to put together. Chances are you'll have the ingredients in the pantry. The batter had a delicious chocolate flavor. I thought this batter was really thick. My cupcakes cracked on top. What makes them do that?

I checked these cupcakes at 20 minutes and didn't appear anywhere close to done. I set the timer for five more minutes. When I checked them, they were done, possibly overdone. After they cooled, I noticed they had these light brown dots on the tops of them. What's up with these cupcakes?

I followed the directions and used my melon baller to scoop out the middle for the filling. This didn't go well. Now I knew these were overdone. As I scooped out the middle, it just fell apart in crumbles. I tried to fill one. I cut it in half and it didn't look filled. So what the heck, let's just eat this one. I took one bite and threw it away. They were so dry and crumbly. Now what do I do with these really dry cupcakes?

The filling was my favorite part. A nice creamy marshmallow flavor. Filled cupcakes are on My 50. I don't think I can cross these off the list, you have to complete the recipe successfully for it to count!!!

Maybe it's my cupcake baking skills but I've yet to find a recipe in this book that I love. Maybe next month? Have you found a favorite?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Asparagus Soup

If you were to ask me to choose my favorite vegetable, it would be a hard decision. I like almost all vegetables. If I had to choose just one, it would be asparagus. Have you ever been to an asparagus farm to pick asparagus? It's fun to pick but a little hard on the back as you bend and cut the asapargus off at the ground. I have an asparagus cookbook I purchased at the farm where I picked aspargus. This cookbook contains all types of recipes using aspargus, including aspargus ice cream. I haven't tried that one yet.

We're starting to see aspargus prices drop and soon it will time for aspargus at the Farmer's Market. Springtime and the Farmer's Market, I can't wait!!

Asparagus Soup
Recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

3 pounds fresh asparagus, rinsed
8 cups chicken stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup minced shallots
1 cup minced leeks, whites only, well rinsed
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan, garnish
Trim the attractive top tips from the asparagus, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in length. Cut the woody stem ends from each spear and reserve. Cut the remaining tender stalks into 1/2-inch pieces.

In a medium pot, bring the stock to a boil. Add the tough woody stems, lower the heat and simmer to infuse with asparagus flavor, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and discard, reserving the stock.

Add the decorative tips to the stock and blanch until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Remove with a strainer and refresh in an ice water bath. Drain on paper towels and reserve for the garnish. Reserve the stock.

In a medium stockpot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. When foamy, add the shallots and leeks and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chopped asparagus stalks, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the reserved broth and simmer until the asparagus are very tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.

With a hand-immersion blender or in batches in a food processor, puree the soup until smooth. Adjust the seasoning, to taste. If serving right away, return to medium heat and add the cream and reserved asparagus tips. Cook, stirring, until the soup is warmed through, about 3 minutes.

Alternatively, if serving the soup later, do not add the cream and let cool at room temperature (or in an ice water bath). Cover and refrigerate. Before serving, add the cream and asparagus tips, and warm the soup gently over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

To serve, place the soup in a soup tureen and sprinkle with cheese. Ladle into demi-tasse cups or small coffee or tea cups, and serve.

I am linking to Tasty Tuesday's at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Adopt A Blogger #4

When I first began blogging I read about this great blogging event, Adopt A Blogger. Adopt A Blogger pairs experienced bloggers with newbie bloggers. I thought it sounded like a lot of fun and kept hoping there would be another round. Adopt A Blogger is the brain child of Kristen at Dine and Dish. Stop by Kristen's blog, she posts great recipes and awesome photography.

Late last year when I read Kristen's post about Adopt A Blogger #4, I knew I wanted to participate. I signed up and continued to check Kristen's blog until the match ups were revealed. My mentor is Hope of Hopie's Kitchen. Hope is a native of the northeastern US. She's an actress who moved to Paris three and a half years ago. It's amazing, her blog is in French and English. I can't imagine! I struggle sometimes to do a post in one language, let alone two!!

I decided to do a Q & A with Hope, so we could all get to know her a little better.

When did you begin blogging?
My very first post on Hopie's Kitchen was February 1st, 2008. It was one of my New Year's resolutions that year, which only goes to show that sometimes one actually follows through on them.

What do you like and dislike about blogging?
I love the community aspect of blogging, sharing recipes and meeting other people as passionate about food as I am. I also like the fact that my favorite recipes are being united all in one place where I don't have to dig through my entire cookbook collection or find the random paper I wrote one down on.

What I dislike most is the time and energy it takes, especially blogging in two languages. If only I had an infinite amount of time at my disposal...

What are some of your favorite posts from your blog?
Hm, good question. I think my favorite posts are ones where I really took time on the writing and not just the recipes like Autumn, More Proust and a Zucchini-Feta Tart or Morning and Apple-Strawberry Pie .

But those aren't necessarily my favorite recipes. Favorite recipes change frequently, but for now I'll say: Brown Sugar Muffins . I can make these a million different ways depending on my mood and the ingredients available - and Lamb (or chicken) Masala .

Do you have a favorite chef?
Not really. Although probably the best meal I've ever had was the tasting menu at Joel Robuchon's l'Atélier.

Thing you miss the most about the US?
Customer service. Seriously, the amount of trouble it takes to get a package delivered here or an extra glass of water at a café or to return an unwanted item, it's hardly worth it.

Thing you like the most about France?
The food. There are a lot of things I love about France, but being a foodie, this is an obvious one. Specifically the wine and the cheese. I would miss those terribly if I left France.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I have no idea. I'm not one of those people who has their life planned out. I take it one step at a time and when something feels right, I go after it. I guess that's how I ended up an actress in Paris.

Thanks Hope for being my blogging mentor. It's been fun getting to know someone who lives in Paris!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Malted Milk Cupcakes (Almost) - SMS

When I read the recipe for this week's Sweet Melissa Sunday's, it brought back childhood memories. As a kid my Dad used to make me malts using malted milk powder. There was always a jar in the cupboard. One summer I spent two weeks with my favorite Aunt and Uncle in Denver. I remember my Aunt Mary and I buying one of those milk cartons of malted milk balls. I think I ate the whole carton.

Normally I bake Sweet Melissa Sunday's on the weekend or the day of the post. This week, I needed cupcakes for one of my staff members at work. Perfect, I can bake these! Even better, we won't be eating another batch of baked goodies.

I went to the store to pick up the malted milk powder and the malted milk balls. I purchased the malted milk balls. The malted milk powder, not so much. A jar of this was just under $4.00. As I looked at it on the shelf, I could hear my Dad saying, $4.00???!!!

Half of this recipe made 16 cupcakes. Of course, I had to try one of these. I love the deep chocolate flavor of these cupcakes. This is the same receipe we made for this Devils Food Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting. The Devils Food Cake was much denser than these cupcakes. I always struggle determining half of 3 eggs, so I used 2 eggs in this recipe. Wonder if that's why?

I searched to see if there was a substitution for the malted milk powder. The only one I found was Ovaltine, which I didn't have either. I took the lazy way out on this and used a can of white frosting I had on hand.

Thanks to Nicole of Sweet Tooth for choosing a recipe that brought back wonderful childhood memories. I am anxious to see what the other SMS bakers thought of this recipe and the malted milk frosting.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wine Country Flowers - Pink Saturday

Happy Pink Saturday. My post is linked to Pink Saturday at How Sweet The Sound.

Just about a year ago my husband and I took a vacation to the wine country in Sonoma. I'd never been to this part of the country. Being a wine and food lover, I was so excited about our trip. The trip didn't dissapoint. It was a relaxing vacation to a beautiful part of the country where we toured some great wineries and sampled some wonderful wines. I can't wait to go again!

The flower in the header on my blog is one we photographed while in Sonoma. For your Pink Saturday viewing pleasure, here are a few others.

I'd like to introduce you to Sarah of The Open Cupboard. She's my "next door" neighbor in Iowa and just one of many new Pink Saturday friends.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Chocolate Banana Trifle - Foodie Friday

I've wanted a Trifle dish for years! I was thrilled when I found this one at Wal Mart for around $6.50. I couldn't resist. Making a trifle is on My Top 50. Cross one more off the list. 3 down, 47 to go!

The original recipe called from vanilla pudding. I subsituted chocolate pudding because that was what I had on hand. You know, Use It Up!!

Did you know those little bottles of liquor, like the ones you get on the airplane, are exactly 1/4 cup? Perfect!

This dessert was awesome!! The texture of the pudding mixture is just thick enough so the angel food cake doesn't get soggy. The bananas and chocolate are a wonderful combination. The only downside to this type of dessert is the size!! I think now I need individual trifles so I can make smaller portions.

Chocolate-Banana Trifle
Adapted from Cooking Light
16 Servings

2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup evaporated fat-free milk
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup Kahlúa (coffee-flavored liqueur)
1 (16-ounce) angel food cake, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup toffee chips
3 cups fat-free milk
3 (3.4-ounce) packages chocolate instant pudding mix (not sugar-free)
2 cups sliced banana, divided
1 (12-ounce) container frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed and divided

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until sugar is dissolved and mixture is thick (about 3 minutes), stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in Kahlúa. Cool.

Combine chocolate mixture and cake in a large bowl; stir in toffee chips, reserving 1tablespoon for topping. Set aside.

Beat 3 cups milk and pudding mix at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended. Stir in cake mixture. Cover; chill 15 minutes.

Spoon half of cake mixture into a trifle dish or bowl. Arrange 1 cup bananas evenly over cake mixture; top with half of whipped topping. Repeat layers; end with whipped topping. Sprinkle with reserved 1 tablespoon toffee chips. Chill one hour.

I am linking this to Foodie Friday at Designs by Gollum.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak.

After our long cold winter, we've begun getting some beautiful Spring weather. Temperatures were in the low 80's for the first time since the end of September. Spring brings so many great things; flowers, Spring vegetables, Robin's singing and grilling out.

Flank steak is a great inexpensive cut of meat to grill. There's a couple of keys to tender flank steak. Don't overcook it and marinate it overnight before cooking. I am always looking for new marinades for flank steak. I found this one on Simply Recipes. It's easy and uses ingredients you may have on hand.

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak

1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Other ingredients
2 pounds flank steak
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper

1 Score the surface of the steak with 1/4 inch deep knife cuts, about an inch apart, across the grain of the meat. Combine the marinade ingredients. Place steak and marinade ingredients in a large freezer bag. Coat the steak well with the marinade. Seal the bag and place in a bowl. Chill and marinate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

2 Using olive oil soaked onto a paper towel, coat the grill rack of your grill with olive oil. Preheat the grill with high, direct heat. The grill is hot enough when you hold your hand about an inch over it and you can only hold it there for about a second.

3 Take the steak out of the marinade bag and sprinkle generously on all sides with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. The salt and pepper will help form a savory crust on the steak. Place steak on the hot grill. If you are using a gas grill, cover the grill. Grill for 4-6 minutes on each side. Half way through grilling on each side, turn the steak 90° so that you get more grill marks.

4 Flank steak is best eaten medium rare; well done will make it too tough. When the steak has cooked to your preferred level of doneness, remove from the grill and place on a cutting board. Cover with aluminum foil to hold in the heat and to keep the steak from drying out, and let rest for 10 minutes.

5 Make very thin slices, against the grain, and at a slight diagonal so that the slices are wide.

I am linking today's post to Tasty Tuesday's at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday's at Blessed With Grace. Thanks to these ladies for hosting such fun events.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Pecan Shortbread Cookies-SMS

Happy Easter!! I hope everyone is having a wonderful day!!

Something I've always wanted to make but never have, is shortbread. When I saw this week's recipe was Pecan Shortbread Cookies, I was excited. I was hoping this would be my first time making shortbread. While I thought these cookies were deeeeeeeeeeelicious, they remind me of Russian Teacakes or Italian Wedding Cookies.

This was an easy recipe to put together. My only challenge was my butter wasn't cold enough. I didn't end up with balls as the recipe describes. I really am enjoying this cookbook but wish there were more pictures. I don't know about you but I really like seeing a picture of what the finished dish should look like.

Laura of The Lab chose this week's recipe. Check out the other talented Sweet Melissa bakers here.

One Year Ago Baby Carrots with Dill.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Pink Saturday - Happy Easter!

I participated in my first Pink Saturday last weekend. Pink is a bright, wonderful color and my favorite color. I should have known this would be an amazing group of bloggers. Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome I received!!

I love to color Easter eggs! Eventhough I don't have any kids at home, I bought the Paas Easter Egg kit and colored eggs. It was so much fun!

Peeps....either you love them or hate them. I don't like them but my husband does. He was thrilled when I said I need pink Peeps for Pink Saturday! Are you a Peep fan?

Happy Easter!!

I am linking this to Pink Saturday at How Sweet the Sound.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Foodie Friday - Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers are such a beautiful dish. I love the vibrant red and yellow of these peppers. Traditionally stuffed peppers use meat and rice. I am trying to make more meatless dishes. Did you know a cup of quinoa has 9 grams of protein?

A few weeks ago, I purchased a rice cooker. I don't know about you but I can never cook rice quite right. It's either raw or overdone. I love this rice cooker. The rice comes out perfectly every time. Although quinoa is easy to cook on the stovetop, I decided to give it a try in the rice cooker. The quinoa came out perfectly.

I liked these stuffed peppers but thought they needed a little something. Maybe some cheese? Cheese makes everything taste better.

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Recipe from Taste of Home
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) vegetable broth
1/4 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 each medium sweet red, yellow and orange peppers
4 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoons sunflower kernels
2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
Dash cayenne pepper
In a small saucepan, bring the broth, water and bay leaf to a boil. Add quinoa. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Discard bay leaf.
Cut peppers in half lengthwise and discard seeds. In a large kettle, cook peppers in boiling water for 3-5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse in cold water; invert onto paper towels.
In a large nonstick skillet, saute the carrots and onions in oil until tender. Add the quinoa, sunflower kernels and seasonings; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until heated through. Spoon into pepper halves. Place in a 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until peppers are tender. Yield: 6 servings.

I am linking this Foodie Friday over at Designs by Gollum.