February 29, 2012

Spicy Garlic Roasted Shrimp on Lemon-Parmesan Orzo

Spicy Garlic Roasted Shrimp on Lemon-Parmesan Orzo

I enjoy cooking but since I only taught myself to cook through sheer force of will, a bookshelf full of cookbooks and lots of food blogs some of my technical cooking skills are pretty lacking. Baking comes to me pretty naturally but I still struggle a lot with cooking. I think it’s because baking is mostly linear: you mix all the dry ingredients, then you mix all the wet ingredients, then you mix them all together, etc. Cooking seems to have a lot more multitasking: cook this in a pot and while you’re doing that saute this other stuff in the skillet and while you’re doing that chop this stuff up and on and on. I cannot tell you how much that stresses me out! That’s why I’m a much more adventurous baker than cook. My favorite dinner recipes are the ones that are as simple as possible. But just because something is simple doesn’t mean it can’t be great. That’s definitely the case for this roasted shrimp recipe.

I’ve made several different versions of this recipe in the past — always cooking the shrimp in a skillet — …

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February 23, 2012

Mini Grapefruit Angel Food Cakes

Mini Grapefruit Angel Food Cakes

I mentioned last week that I had a lot of egg whites left over after making my king cakes. I wanted to make a cake since I was still in birthday mode, but after a fairly indulgent month eating chocolate cookies and cream cheese filled cakes, an angel food cake seemed like a nice alternative. A sweet treat without any of the guilt!

But I didn’t want a plain angel food cake and I already made a chocolate one a few years ago so I decided to incorporate my current obsession: citrus! I just can’t get enough of oranges and lemons and grapefruits lately and a citrus cake sounded really refreshing. I always feel like grapefruit is kind of underrated compared to other citrus fruits, so I decided to make the grapefruity-est dessert I could come up with. This grapefruit angel food cake is flavored with grapefruit juice and zest and then drizzled with a grapefruit syrup. I also mixed a little grapefruit juice and zest with strawberries to use as a garnish. Obviously, if grapefruit isn’t your thing you can substitute your favorite citrus but despite how much …

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February 15, 2012

Lemon and Cream Cheese-filled King Cakes

Lemon and Cream Cheese-filled King Cakes

Even though I haven’t lived anywhere that celebrates Mardi Gras for a very long time, I grew up on the Gulf Coast and still have lots of fond memories of going to the parade every year. And since my birthday is in late February, Mardi Gras has fallen on or near the same day—the date changes every year, along with Easter—a bunch of times so I would usually have some kind of Mardi Gras themed party and we’d order a King Cake instead a normal birthday cake. This year, Mardi Gras happens to be next Tuesday, the day after my birthday, so I thought it would be fun to have a King Cake again.

King Cakes I’ve made in the past have always been huge, not only hard to handle and store but they’d wind up drying out before we could finish eating them. So this time, rather than making one giant cake I decided to make small personal-size cakes. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to full size again! This recipe makes four 6-inch King Cakes which are adorable and easy to carry and store. I think they’d …

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February 7, 2012

Cherry Chocolate Malt Cookie Sandwiches

Cherry Chocolate Malt Cookie Sandwiches

I’ve never made a big deal about Valentine’s Day. It’s nice to get some flowers but I don’t expect anything else. We don’t even bother going out to eat on Valentine’s Day anymore because the restaurants are always so crowded. Besides, my birthday is less than a week later so it’s easier to celebrate both occasions then. But there is one thing I love about Valentine’s day, especially since I started this blog: it’s a great excuse to make chocolate desserts!

I decided to make some cookies because Brandon’s coworkers have been asking for more cookies from me ever since my epic cookie testing project last December. It’s definitely flattering that they liked my cookies so much, so it seemed like a good idea to keep them happy and to find a great recipe to post for Valentine’s Day at the same time! I found these chocolate malt cookies in one of my Martha Stewart cookbooks and thought they would be really nice paired with a cherry-white chocolate filling.

February 1, 2012

Cherry-Orange Cream Scones with Blood Orange Caramel Sauce

Cherry-Orange Cream Scones

I know oranges are available year round but for some reason the only time I actually want to eat a whole orange is in the early months of year when my two favorite varieties are available: Cara Cara and Blood Oranges. When they show up at my grocery store I start hording them so I’ll be able to eat as many as possible before they disappear again. I haven’t been to the grocery in a few weeks, so when I went on Monday and saw they finally had blood oranges I grabbed a bunch and decided it was a sign that I had to make something delicious out of them. I was so energized by the idea that I found myself in the kitchen at 11pm later that night making these scones. If I had any regrets about staying up too late I forgot them as soon as I took a bite of one the next morning.

As I said last fall, cream scones are the only way to go. All the scones I’ve tried to make without cream were dry and dense and almost inedible. After some searching I think I …

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January 25, 2012

Tomato Noodle Soup (Homemade Spaghetti-Os!)

Tomato Noodle Soup

Ok, it’s confession time. While my eating habits have improved a lot over the past couple of years, I still have a lot of weaknesses for the unhealthy processed food I used to eat all the time. Things like corn dogs and snack cakes and store bought cookies. But the good thing about learning to cook is that you can learn to make all the “bad” stuff you love. Yes, it may still be unhealthy, but at least you know every single ingredient that went into it and you aren’t consuming any weird chemicals or preservatives. I’ve learned to make Oatmeal Cream Pies and Oreos and chewy Granola Bars and while I can’t say I totally gave up the processed versions of those things, more often than not when I really want them I’ll make them at home.

Spaghetti-Os are another one of my weaknesses. I’m calling them Spaghetti-Os because I think that’s how they are best known, but those are actually made by Campbells. The kind I grew up on was from Chef Boyardee and they were called …

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January 4, 2012

Butternut Squash Cakes with Maple-Cream Cheese Glaze

Butternut Squash Cakes with Maple-Cream Cheese Glaze

Hello January, we meet again. I used to try to make resolutions, the usual ones about going on a diet, exercising more, etc. but after years of pretty much not ever following through I’m officially giving up resolutions. I know it’s the New Year and that seems like a great time to “start over” but January just never works for me. The cold weather makes it hard for to get motivated to go walking (the only form of exercise I enjoy) and I crave lots of warm and hearty foods that are rarely low-calorie. And even if I do make some progress in January, February comes along and there’s Valentine’s Day and my birthday and I lose all my motivation.

So I’m not going to bother going on a diet this year or maybe ever again. I’m just going to keep doing what I’ve been working on since I started this blog: eat more real food like fruits and vegetables and a little less carb, sugar and processed crap. That’s why I was really happy to get this new cookbook for Christmas, Green Market Baking Book

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December 29, 2011

Creamy White Cheddar Grits with Ham

Creamy White Cheddar Grits with Ham

I almost didn’t think I’d make it, but it looks like I’ll be able to squeeze in one final post in 2011. I was in crazy work deadline mode the week before Christmas and barely had time to cook anything much less photograph and post it here. After I got all my work done, I went a little cooking crazy figuring something I make over the weekend would be worth posting but it turns out everything has already been posted! I made Chicken and Dumplings and Honey Cornbread on Christmas Eve. The next day, we had our traditional Christmas dinner of glazed ham and my mom’s famous “Pineapple Stuff.” For dessert I made mini Oreo and Peppermint Bark cheesecakes and we snacked on my favorite Mint-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies all weekend long.

It was definitely a satisfying Christmas, food and gift-wise, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit panicked on Monday morning when I realized I didn’t have any new recipes. And after cooking and baking so much over the weekend I was feeling too lazy to make much else, especially anything else with …

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