Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Weekly Nightcap - Mint Julep

for those of you who don't know, northern baltimore county is horse country. more specifically, it is steeple chase country. yes, maryland is the home of the preakness, but in my neck of the woods, cross country racing involving the terrain, fences, bushes, water traps, etc. is the sport de jour.

today happens to be my favorite steeplechase race - the maryland hunt cup. put aside the fact that i don't really like horse races in general, i have been going to hunt cup my entire life. it's a fun day of eating, drinking, and socializing before the race followed by celebrating, eating, drinking, and socializing after the race.

mint juleps have always been linked to hunt cup in my memory. the annual after race party at the colhouns house always involves mint juleps passed around in a large silver trophy. mr. colhoun hand chips the ice from an ice block and mixes up the good stuff with freshly picked mint in his hunt cup trophy. it literally gets passed around and everyone imbibes from the same trophy. luckily the elixir is strong enough to kill any lingering germs.

in kentucky, mint juleps are made with burbon. however, i am a whiskey girl so i make mine with jameson. traditionally, mint juleps are made in silver cups. i happen to have several silver cups (old family horse race trophys) to mix mine in. i suppose the silver keeps the drink cold. the only problem with the silver? i couldn't hold the drink, it was too frosty and cold!

cold hands aside, in honor of the 115th running of the maryland hunt cup, i present you with the mint julep. cheers!

Mint Julep
makes 2 servings

10-12 large mint leaves
4 oz whiskey
3 oz simple syrup (i make mine with agave nectar 1/2 cup agave and 1 cup water)
lots of crushed ice

divide mint leaves between to glasses and bruise mint with the back of a spoon. add some crushed ice to each glass and stir mint and ice. add 2 oz of whiskey and 1 1/2 oz simple syrup to each glass and fill to the brim with crushed ice. garnish with mint sprig and enjoy!

Friday, April 29, 2011

The It List - April 29, 2011


Happy Friday!  I can't believe April is over... hopefully all this rain and storms are as well.
I am ready for some May flowers!
  • lady M is celebrating her birthday... stop by and wish her a happy day and also check out her fun wardrobe inspiration for the big day!
  • rose a la mode is sporting an adorable new floral dress... even on a chilly spring day she perfectly accessorizes it! (find rose a la mode on twitter!)
  • mama loves papa hosts a simply adorable little blog party for your stylish little ones - stop by to play along or just 'oooh' and 'aaah.' (find mama loves papa on twitter!)
  • meet virginia design layers gorgeous neutral pieces for an ethereal feel to this casual outfit.  These colors are so on trend right now too! (find meet virginia design on twitter!)
  • a little dash of ash has a delicious looking smoothie recipe to share with us. I always love to see what others' smoothie concoctions are - this one looks yummy and healthy! (find a little dash of ash on twitter!)
  • rebecca with an R is definitely beach ready in this gorgeous maxi dress and oversized hat - I am seriously loving this outfit! (find rebecca with an R on twitter!)
  • sweetie pie style is looking gorgeous in this drapey feather printed dress - it's just her style! (find sweetie pie style on twitter!)
  • baby shopaholic had this super sweet little doll custom made for her daughter for Easter.  What a fun keepsake and toy for a little one, my daughter would love this!
  • the capital barbie is giving away sassy shoe themed note cards on her blog this week - you must stop by and enter quickly! (find the capital barbie on twitter!)
  • good tots features the artwork of modern pops - these bold graphic prints make for great nursery artwork!
  • the stylish housewife sports a floppy sun hat and a chevron dress, quite possibly the most perfect summer combo ever. I am in love with this look! (find the stylish housewife on twitter!)
  • good clean fun made these margarita flavored cupcakes for Easter - but I think they would be perfect for any summer day! Yum! (find good clean fun on twitter!)
  • a spot of whimsy is sick of the rain... and quite frankly, aren't we all!?!? But rain never looked this good before... I promise! (find a spot of whimsy on twitter!)
  • good life for less has a casual but chic outfit for Easter.  Check it out! (find good life for less on twitter!)
the IT list is produced weekly by jill of good life for less - check out how you can be involved here!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Five Layer Tortellini Pie

i think it's about time for a savory dish, don't you? GCF has been a little heavy on the sweets lately. margarita cupcakes, angel food cupcakes, and double chocolate cupcakes. whew! at least there was a dish with bacon thrown in there.

so, tonight i made a pasta dish. and guess what? it even has vegetables in it! it's actually a hearty vegetarian dish. for some reason (i.e. too many sweets) i have been craving veggies this week. i guess i should get them in while i want them:)

so about this 5 layer tortellini pie - it's kind of amazing. i got the inspiration from lasagna but switched up some of the ingredients. i basically just layered a bunch of wonderful ingredients in a pie dish, baked it all together and served it up.

here are the five layers:
1. spinach and cheese tortellini
2. cream cheese, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, and garlic
3. roasted zucchini, mushrooms, and shallots
4. crushed tomatoes with herbs
5. italian shredded cheese

this one pot wonder turned out really well and will be finding its way into my regular rotation. i imagine it would also be good with angel hair as the base layer and some ground meat (perhaps turkey or bison) mixed in the layers.

see this little tab on my pie pan? it works wonders! just circle it around the pan and it loosens up the bottom of the pan. this helped my pasta come out easily (a little pam sprayed in the bottom didn't hurt either). if you see one of these pans, i highly recommend snatching it up. i got this one from my grandmother and it works wonders on getting a slice to come out cleanly.

for those of you die hard sweets fans, don't worry too much, another dessert is coming up. hint, it has chocolate and (wait for it) peanut butter! hooray!

Five Layer Tortellini Pie
serves 4-6

1 cup barilla tortellini (i used cheese and spinach)
1 medium zucchini, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup 2% cottage cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 cup crushed tomatoes (or your favorite tomato sauce)
3/4 cup shredded cheese (i used a mix of provolone, parmesan, and asiago)

preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

on a foil lined baking sheet, spread out chopped zucchini, mushrooms, and shallot. sprinkle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast for 15 minutes. reduce heat to 375 degrees F.

meanwhile, cook tortellini in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. drain. in a deep, greased pie pan, spread tortellini in even layer.

in a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, garlic, and pepper. spread mixture evenly over tortellini in pie pan. spread roasted vegetables in an even layer over cream cheese mixture. then spoon tomato sauce over roasted veggies. sprinkle evenly with shredded cheese and bake 15-20 minutes until cheese is bubbly.

remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes. cut into slices and serve.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things . . .

due to a quite empty fridge, i decided to share a few of my favorite things instead. my last favorite things list seemed to garner good feedback so hopefully you all won't mind a recipe-free day.

spring flowers
ahh the promise of warmers weather and better days that spring flowers bring. i cannot get enough of them!

palmers cocoa butter
i have been using this fabulous substance on my lips since the sixth grade (gulp! that's almost 20 years!) yes, it looks like a glue stick but inside it has the most fabulous, soft, long-lasting, cocoa butter goodness. i cannot live without this stuff and have too many containers stashed various places to count. i keep one by my bed, one in each purse, one in each car, etc. i am addicted and i don't care. this is literally the only thing that goes on my lips. i am not now, nor have i ever been much of a lipstick or lip gloss girl. it's probably pretty safe to say i will still be using plamers 20 years from now too.

flip flops
it's not really spring to me until i can wear flip flops. i practically live in the from april to october. yes, i know they are horrible for your feet, legs, and back. perhaps i won't be able to walk past age 60, but they are truly the most comfortable shoes i own. luckily my wonderful husband also lives in flip flops so at least we will be unable to walk in our old age together. plus, have my toes exposed gives me a good excuse to keep up with regular pedicures:)

trader joes garlic naan
have you tried this stuff? it is seriously the best garlic naan i have ever had. it's so garlicy and it's frozen and super easy to pop in the oven and warm up. this garlic naan is wonderful with baingan bharta, as pizza crust, or all by itself. you. must. try. it.

dulce de leche
wow, i could (and it's entirely possible i do) eat this by the spoonful. it is to caramel what nutella is to chocolate. i can't wait to try this swirled into cookie dough. it makes for amazing filling in thumbprint cookies. try it smathered on a shortbread cookie with a sprinkling of sea salt. life changing.

my current workout buddy
roxy has decided she has a new favorite place in the basement. she can still keep me company while i am working out but she is out of the way. i love that yellow, furry schmoopie.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Margarita Cupcakes

if you like margaritas, these cupcakes are right up your alley. these margarita cupcakes are a party in your mouth! the lime tequila flavor really comes through in these fun, festive cupcakes. these would be perfect for a cinco de mayo celebration next week.

you could decorate these plainly, but i thought i would celebrate easter and spring with a fun birds nest design. a couple egg shaped malted milk balls made for eggs about ready to hatch. you could also use jelly beans and add green coconut if so desired to make these look even more like nests.

if you are baking for youngsters, simply omit the step of brushing the baked cupcakes with tequila. you can leave the tequila in the icing since there is only 2 tbs in the whole batch.

Margarita Cupcakes
(makes 24 cupcakes)
adapted from annies eats

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tbs baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
3 limes, zested and juiced (approximately 1/3 cup juice)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

tequila lime frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3-4 cups powdered sugar, sifter
1 tbs lime juice
2 tbs tequila
3-4 drops green food coloring (optional)
lime zest

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

in a medium bowl, mix together flours, baking powder, and salt.

in the bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light a fluffy. add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. add lime juice, zest, and vanilla extract. with the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  beat each addition just until incorporated.

scoop cake batter into paper-lined muffin tins, filling them about two thirds full. bake for 20-22 minutes, turning tins halfway through baking time. remove from oven a let cool on a wire rack.

meanwhile, make icing. beat butter in electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. start adding powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. after about half the sugar has been added, add lime juice, tequila, and food coloring (if using). continue adding sugar 1/4 cup at a time making sure to beat well after each addition.

when cupcakes are cooled, brush each with additional tequila (if desired). pipe frosting onto cupcakes and sprinkle with additional lime zest.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

good clean fun wishes you and your family a blessed easter and a wonderful rest of spring!

thanks so much for reading my lil 'ol blog:)

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Weekly Nightcap - The Classic Gin Martini

i am pleased to introduce a guest blogger for this week's weekly nightcap. this particular blogger happens to be near and dear to my heart and he also makes a mean martini - a gin martini that is, shaken, not stirred.

hop on over to your perfect antidote and check out his blog. he writes about changing the perceptions of success, about procrastinating, saying ‘no’, lowering expectations, doing just enough to make it (and no more!), and being happy about it.

so, without further foolishness, here's ian:

So don’t read in to the fact that after several years my first guest post happens to be the weekly nightcap. I mean why worry about how to cook when I’m married to such an amazing one in the first place, right?

When P asked me to guest blog a weekly nightcap drink my first thought was “is Miller Lite really that interesting?” but after thinking for a few minutes it hit me. What drink is my go-to, classy, out-on-the-town drink? It’s a gin martini. 

(P says: yes that's E and another friends bf chugging a beer before the ceremony. ahh to be young again:)

My affinity for gin martinis is a rather new one. Recently, at a wedding of one of p’s friends, I went to the bar with another of her friend’s boyfriends, D. I was lamenting that I wanted a gin and tonic but it just seemed so pedestrian. D asked the bartender if she had a suggestion for a classic, manly drink. Without missing a beat she said matter-of-factly, “a gin martini”. I was sold. Maybe it was the drink making me feel like James Bond, or maybe it was just the atmosphere, either way, it was one of the best drinks I’ve ever had.

The drink is definitely not an “at home on a Tuesday night” kind of drink, but I’ll make an exception for my wife. I will also claim ignorance if any of you part-time bartenders feel this is not the way to make a real gin martini.

Here’s what you’ll need:

To me the key is making sure it’s cold enough. I fill about half of a cocktail shaker with ice then I add gin and vermouth in a 4:1 ratio respectively. Shake vigorously in a circular motion, pour into a martini glass, garnish with a lemon twist, and enjoy.

So there you go. Martini…gin martini. Thanks P!

The It List - April 22, 2011


Happy Friday ladies... I hope you all have a fabulous Easter weekend, whatever it brings to you.  
"Hop" on over to these fab blogs for plenty of spring inspiration!

  • strong sense of style gives color blocking a try... it's so fun and easy!  And really? What feels more properly spring than pink and green together?
  • a spot of whimsy has some fabulous eye-candy from the movie Water for Elephants.  Please tell me you have read this book... if not, do it stat, the movie opens this weekend and it looks to be amazing! (find a spot of whimsy on twitter!)
  • thought and musing wears a simple and elegant maxi skirt for some wine tasting... a perfect outfit for what looked to be the perfect day!
  • good clean fun shares her favorite childhood cupcake recipe... angel food cake with strawberry frosting.  These look SO good and definitely what childhood memories are made of! (find good clean fun on twitter!)
  • the capital barbie finds some fun accessories with bold angles... this bracelet stood out as a favorite for me.  Pop on over and see her other finds! (find the capital barbie on twitter!)
  • good tots rounds up maternity poolside looks for summer, including this adorable peach polka dotted maternity swimsuit!
  • rose a la mode sports this fun yellow and white striped dress and seriously has me craving more stripes. Is that possible? (find rose a la mode on twitter!)
  • a spoonful of dish reminds me that flowers never disappoint in the inspiration department. Just looking at them I can feel that summer is closer!
  • a little dash of ash will brighten your day with some good old fashion gorgeous guys.  Good looks never get old (sigh). (find a little dash of ash on twitter!)
  • lady m says what we are all thinking lately: we can't get enough of Zara.  Check out the inspiration and some of their (very interesting) backstory over at her blog!
  • meet virginia design is sure to put some spring pep in your step with this fun mix of bold colors and florals.  This outfit just screams sunshine! (find meet virginia design on twitter!)
  • mama loves papa's daughter is quite the fashion prodigy!  Just look at these adorable items she (or her mama, either/or) picked out for herself! (find mama loves papa on twitter!)
  • rebecca with an r proves that blazers never, ever get old... at least in my book!  I just love the simple sophistication of this look! (find rebecca with an r on twitter!)
  • good life for less is color crushing on purple + blue + white for spring. It's such a simple color combo - check out her looks! (find good life for less on twitter!)
the it list is produced each week by jill of good life for less... click here for information on how you can be involved!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Caramelized Onion and Chicken Sausage Pizza

tonight, i poured myself a glass of sauvingnon blanc and channeled my inner sandra lee. that's right, this pizza is semi-homemade yet full of flavor.

although i didn't technically make anything from scratch, it still tasted amazing and only required a bit of assembly. i couldn't resist this garlic & herb pizza dough at trader joe's yesterday.

after a quick roll out of the dough, i took some pre-made pizza sauce and stirred in some spices, roasted garlic, and parmesan cheese.  i added some browned chicken sausage and caramelized onions on the sauce. then, the whole thing was topped off with some italian cheese and baked till brown and bubbly.

the end result was specality gourmet pizza worthy. seriously good stuff here folks. seriously.

Caramelized Onion and Chicken Sausage Pizza

1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic chicken sausage links
1 prepared pizza dough
10 oz pizza sauce
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/8 tsp onion power
1 tbs grated parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp roasted minced garlic
shredded italian cheese

preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

in a large skillet, warm oil over medium heat. add sliced onions and season with salt and pepper. cook for 2 minutes, stirring often then reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until caramelized.

in another skillet, add thinly sliced chicken sausage and cook until browned on both sides.

stir oregano, parsley, onion powder, parmesan, and garlic into pizza sauce. roll out pizza dough and place on parchment lined baking sheet. spoon sauce onto dough and spread around evenly. layer caramelized onions and chicken sausage over sauce and sprinkle liberally with cheese.

bake for 15-20 minutes until brown and bubbly. remove from oven and let sit 5 minutes. slice and enjoy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Egg Salad Sandwiches with Bacon

why have i never thought about doing this until now?! after all, bacon and eggs go together like strawberries and cream, cookies and milk, or meat and potatoes. truth be told, adding crumbled bacon to egg salad kind of changed my life.

i have always loved eggs. i'll eat them any way - fried, scrambled, poached, hard-boiled, deviled eggs, and egg salad. did i miss any?

perhaps you are dying hard boiled eggs for easter and need a way to use up all those eggs next week. run out, get some bacon and you will not be sorry. the cripsy, crunchy bacon adds a little something extra to egg salad sandwiches. the salty crunch pairs perfectly with the creamy, fluffy eggs.

one bite and you may just find yourself asking the sandwich the same question i did. "where have you been all my life?"

Egg Salad with Bacon
makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices of your favorite bread
4 hard boiled eggs, shells removed
4 slices bacon
2 tbs olive oil mayonnaise
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground pepper

preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. lay bacon out onto foil and bake for 25-30 minutes until bacon is super crisp and dark brown. remove from foil and let bacon drain on a paper towel lined plate.

meanwhile, chop hard boiled eggs and in a medium bowl stir together eggs, mayo, dijon, salt and pepper. if the mixture seems a little dry, add a tsp more mayo.

when bacon has cooled, crumble into bits and stir into egg salad mixture. spread onto bread slices and enjoy!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Angel Food Cucpakes with Strawberry Icing

growing up my brother and i always had two birthday cakes. one was for the family birthday party that my aunt phyllis made. she graciously made all five armacost cousins a cake each birthday in the design and flavor of their choosing. my choices over the years included cookie monster, strawberry shortcake, and ballet pointe shoes. looking back i realize how talented she really is and how under-appreciated she was by us kids. a much overdue, sincere thank you aunt phyllis.

the other birthday cake was always an angel food cake with strawberry icing lovingly made by my mother. for that reason, i always think of birthdays when i eat angel food cake. the strawberry icing she made was, of course, my favorite part. something about the light fluffy angel food cake combined with pink, sweet, icing flecked with strawberries just takes me back to my childhood and one of the best days of the year, my birthday! i am blessed to say my childhood is full of wonderful memories.

the past couple days haven't really felt like my birthday, but i have been up to my eyeballs in cupcakes and icing. I have made nearly 300 cupcakes for my nephews little league opening day. good clean fun is a sponsor this year and as a sponsor, i get a table on opening day. i passed out blog cards and cupcakes. (hello to any first time york, pa readers!)

you've seen my gluten-free double chocolate cupcakes on this blog before. (click here for the recipe.) the hint of coffee in these cupcakes really takes the chocolate flavor to the next level. you wouldn't even know they are gluten-free.

on a side note, i discovered egg cartons are a fabulous way to transport mini cupcakes.

Angel Food Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes or 48 mini cupcakes

1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp salt
12 large egg whites (2 1/4 cups liquid egg whites)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Make sure oven racks are in bottom third of oven. line cupcake tins with paper liners.

in a mixing bowl, sift together flour, salt, and 3/4 cup sugar. set aside.

in the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tartar together on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. slowly add remaining 3/4 cup sugar while mixer is running. continue on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form then gently fold in dry ingredients with a spatula in three batches. be careful not to deflate batter.

divide among prepared cupcake tins. bake for 15-18 minutes until tops are light brown, rotating halfway through to ensure even baking. let cool completely on wire racks. ice with strawberry frosting.

Strawberry Frosting

2 sticks softened butter
3 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup strawberry preserves

in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat butter on medium speed until light a fluffy - approximately 2-3 minutes. slowly add sugar 1/4 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. add strawberry preserves 1 tbs at a time.

spread onto cupcakes with a knife or pipe onto cupcakes.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Weekly Nightcap - Cream Soda Martini

have you tasted pinnacle whipped cream vodka? it is amazingly smooth, sweet, and creamy. my friend M introduced me to it while in atlantic city last year for another friend, L's bachelorette party.

as soon as i tasted her incredible drink (whipped cream vodka and sprite) i knew i was in trouble. this couldn't be vodka! it tasted so smooth - just like a cream soda.

that next week i drove on over to my local liquor store and bought myself a bottle. i have already done a couple experiments but this cream soda martini is by far my favorite. it takes me back to being a kid and stopping by spring meadow farms. every once in a while i was allowed to pick out a soda - i always chose a cream soda.

you can use sprite in your martini if you like, but if you can get your hands on jones cream soda, i recommend using it. this cream soda martini is dessert in a glass.

you may want to take yourself to your nearest liquor store this week and pick up a bottle of pinnacle whipped cream vodka - it won't be the last time you see that ingredient in the weekly nightcap.

p.s. next on my list, pinnacle cotton candy vodka - my sweet tooth is aching already!

Cream Soda Martini
makes 2 drinks

4 oz pinnacle whipped cream vodka
10 oz jones cream soda

combine ingredients in a shaker and stir to combine. pour into two martini glasses and enjoy!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...