Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Margarita Cake

The first time I had margarita cake was at the senior picnic sponsored by my college -- a cake inspired by my favorite alcoholic beverage to me meant a match made in heaven so when I found this recipe online I had to try it.


-1-1/2 cups coarsely crushed pretzels
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/3 cup butter, melted
-2 tablespoons bottled nonalcoholic margarita mix

-1 box white cake mix
-1-1/4 cups bottled nonalcoholic margarita mix
-2 tablespoons tequila (optional)
-1/3 cup oil
-1 tablespoon grated lime peel (about 1 lime)
-3 eggs
-1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease the bottom of a 13x9 pan.

In a medium bowl mix all of the ingredients for the crust.

Then spread evenly into the 13x9 pan.

Now mix all of the cake ingredients together and beat with an electric mixer -- pour the batter over the pretzel crust.

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.

Cover with the whipped topping and store in the refrigerator.

The margarita cake that inspired me to try this recipe had only a hint of lime -- this cake has a really strong lime flavor -- however mixed with the saltiness of the pretzels the lime flavor isn't necessarily a bad thing. When I make this again, I think I use less margarita mix in the cake.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Grilled Fontina and Blueberry Basil Sandwiches

The inspiration for this recipe came from the blog How Sweet It Is -- she made Fontina + Blackberry Basil Smash Sandwiches and you can find that recipe here.

-Multigrain bread
-Fresh Basil
-Fontina cheese

This is a great recipe because you can really use any combination of cheese and fruit and there isn't a set amount of ingredients, you can use enough to make one sandwich or enough to make five. It also allows you to balance the ingredients to our liking -- if you don't like fresh basil use less, if you love it use more.

Chop some basil and add to a bowl of blueberries.

                                        I used a handful of blueberries and about ten basil leaves.

Poke the blueberries with a fork to make them easier to mash and then flatten them with the fork.

Spread butter on slices of the multigrain bread (these slices are for one half of the sandwiches you plan on making).

Place these pieces of bread butter side down in a hot skillet. Top with cheese and the blueberry basil spread.

                              Top with more slices of multigrain bread, spread butter on those too.

These sandwiches are made just like grilled cheese -- flip until the desired golden brown color is achieved.

Serve with any desired sides. As I mentioned before this is a great lunch meal that can be tailored to one person or to multiple people. The sweetness of the blueberries paired well with the basil and they were both a nice addition to a standard grilled cheese sandwich.

I would definitely make this again and will work on pairing different fruit with different cheeses to find the perfect pairing.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Chocolate-Covered Cherry Cupcakes

- 1 package plain devil's food cake.
- 1 can cherry pie filling (21 ounces)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon almond extract

This recipe comes from Anne Bryn's book The Cake Mix Doctor and can be found on page fifty. The original recipe made a full sized cake with chocolate glaze --  I opted for cupcakes because they're easier to eat.

Preheat oven to 350.

Mix the cake mix, cherry pie filling, eggs and almond extract in a bowl. Blend.

Bake the cupcakes according to the package directions.

Frost and serve.

This is such a great and inexpensive way to dress up a simple box of cake mix. As someone who doesn't always enjoy cherries I didn't find the cherry flavor to be overwhelming, but rather a nice compliment to the chocolate cake. Everyone should add this to their to make list!

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits Copy Recipe


For the biscuits:
-2 1/2 cups Bisquick baking mix
-4 tablespoons cold butter (1/2 stick)
-1 cup cheddar cheese
-3/4 cup cold whole milk
-1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

-2 tablespoons butter, melted
-1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
-1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
- pinch of salt

This recipe came out of Todd Wilbur's  book Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 and can be found on page 327.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Combine Bisquick with cold butter in a medium bowl using a large fork. There should be small chunks of butter about the size of a pea.

Add cheddar cheese, milk and 1/4 teaspoon garlic. Mix until combined.

Drop the dough onto an ungreased cooking sheet and bake for 15-17 minutes.

Add topping.

This biscuits were prefect! They were light and fluffy, the combination of the cheese and garlic would be a delicious edition to any meal. Very much like the Red Lobster biscuits.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Eclair Cake

Eclair cake has been my favorite sorority dessert for years now so when I came upon this variation of the recipe, I had to try it.

Due to the ingredients I had on hand I decided to make some changes rather than use the recipe that I originally found -- you can find that basic recipe here.

-1 package instant vanilla pudding mix
-1 package instant chocolate pudding mix
-1 (8 ounce) container whipped topping
-3 cups milk
-1 (16 ounce) package graham cracker squares

Mix the packages of pudding in two separate bowls.

Arrange a single layer of graham crackers into the bottom of a 13x9 pan. Spread the vanilla pudding on top of the graham crackers.

Add a second layer of crackers on top of the vanilla pudding. Top this layer with the chocolate pudding.

Add one more layer of graham crackers and then top with the whipped topping.

Refrigerate for several hours before serving (I had mine in the fridge for twenty-four hours).

I can't say that this dessert lived up to the eclair cake I've previously had (I will find a recipe for that and make it some time), but it was tasty. It was also inexpensive and easy to make and would serve a large crowd -- be aware that it is messy to eat.

Mac-And-Cheese Style Cauliflower

-1 large head of cauliflower
-2 TBS butter
-3 TBS flour
-2 cups milk
-1 clove garlic
-2 cups grated, extra sharp cheddar
-1/2 cup nutritional yeast
-1 pinch cayenne pepper
-2 egg yolks
-1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs

This recipe was originally published by Vegetarian Times magazine in the January/February 2012 issue. For mine I omitted the nutritional yeast and cut the recipe in half.

Preheat oven to 350 and bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the cauliflower in the water for 5-7 minutes (until tender) Drain, but reserve 1 cup (or in my case half of the cooking liquid).

Set aside the cauliflower.

Melt butter in the same pot, whisk in flour and stir for one minute. Then whisk in milk, garlic and cooking liquid -- cook the mixture for 5-7 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove the pot from heat and add cheese, cayenne and egg yolk, stir.

Add in cauliflower to the cheese mixture and stir.

Spray a baking dish (13x9 for full recipe, 9x9 for half) with cooking spray and then pour the cauliflower cheese mixture into the pan.

At this point I added some extra sharp cheddar on top.

Then add the breadcrumbs and spray the top with more cooking spray.

Bake for 30 minutes. The cheese should be bubbly and the breadcrumbs browned when finished.

I really liked this recipe! The pieces with the breadcrumb topping were especially good. This made a great side dish for my dinner, however, you could easily mix-in a small pasta such as penne or gemelli to make this a more substantive main dish.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Avocado, Cream Cheese and Salsa-Stuffed Puff Pastries

-1 large sheet puffed pastry, thawed
-1 ripe avocado, halved and mashed (approximately 1 tablespoon of avocado per pastry square)
-1/3 cup cream cheese (approximately 1 teaspoon of cream cheese per pastry square)
-1/3 cup salsa (approximately 1 teaspoon of salsa per pastry square, I used a combination of pineapple salsa and salsa verde)
-salt and pepper, sprinkled to taste
-1 egg, beaten
I found this recipe on Pintrest and the original recipe can be found here, she also offers an option to make this a vegan food.

Preheat the oven to 400 F and spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Flour the counter top and roll out one square of puffed pastry as thin as possible.

Slice into pieces. I used a pizza cutter and was able to make twenty slices. However, I ended up only making  nine pastries so some were used together.

Assemble the filling -- avocado, cream cheese, salsa.

Add the additional pieces of puffed pastry and crimp the edges closed with a fork.

Apply the egg wash to all of the pastries.

I personally wasn't a big fan of the pastries and the received mixed reviews from my family. If I made this again I would mix the salsa verde with a sweeter salsa. The pineapple salsa that we had barely had any sweetness to it and I think the dish needed just a little bit more sweet.

Also, make sure to use a ripe avocado ours wasn't fully ripened and was difficult to mash. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Vegetarian Carbonara

Basic Vegetarian Carbonara Recipe:

-1 lb linguine
-1 tablespoon olive oil
-3 shallots
-2 -3 garlic cloves
-1/4 cup cream (room temp)
-4 egg yolks (room temp)
-3/4 cup parmesan cheese or 3/4 cup romano cheese

Read more:

For this recipe I cut all of the amounts in half and used a combination of macaroni and gemeli pasta that I had leftover -- it's fine to use any pasta.

Boil a large pot of salted water and begin cooking the pasta.

                           While the pasta is cooking, cook the shallots and garlic in the olive oil.

Drain the pasta and reserve a mug full of the pasta water to be used later.

Add the pasta to the pan of shallots and garlic and stir.

Then turn off the heat and stir the pasta for two minutes.

Add the cream and stir, then add the egg yolks and stir. If the sauce needs to be loosened as some of the reserved pasta water.

At this point I added some spinach leaves and let them wilt a little bit -- just to add a little color in the pasta.

Spoon into bowls and then serve topped with cheese.
This carbonara was really easy to make and you could easily add any vegetables to the pasta to make the dish healthier and more colorful. This would be a good dish to make for an easy summer dinner especially since the serving size can easily be cut in half or doubled.

Fruit Salsa and Cinnamon Chips


-1 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries
-1 medium orange peeled and finely chopped
-3 medium kiwis peeled and finely chopped
-1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple, drained
-1TBS lemon juice
-1 ½ tsp sugar

Cinnamon Chips:
-10 (8 inch) flour tortillas
-¼ cup butter melted
-1/3 cup sugar-1 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine the first six ingredients.
Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Cut tortillas into wedges and brush with melted butter. Sprinkle combined cinnamon and sugar over the tortillas.

Bake at 350 for for 5-10 minutes until crispy.


This is a family recipe from my friend Rachael -- really easy to make and very colorful and tasty for a summer party.