31 August 2010

Poppy Seed Cake + Strawberries

Doug's family has a recipe for poppy seed cake that is absolutely TO-DIE-FOR!! It may just be my favorite cake out there! However, Doug's brother, Paul, made it perfectly clear that I cannot get my hands on that recipe until I am officially part of their family. Thanks to Google, I was able to find a recipe of my own for the time being. Granted, it is not the same as their family recipe... I still think it did the trick for my poppy seed cake craving! I made this cake in my Williams-Sonoma pan, but the original recipe says you can bake it in a bundt pan too.


Poppy Seed Cake & Strawberries
(Adapted from AllRecipes.com)
Yield: 10 Servings

1 Package Yellow Cake Mix
1 (3.4 oz) Package Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix
2 Tbsp. Poppy Seeds
1 C. Water
1/2 C. Vegetable Oil
4 Eggs
1 tsp. Almond Extract
1 Pint Strawberries, quartered (for garnish)
Fat Free Whipped Cream (for garnish)

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan or the W-S pan I used. In a large bowl, stir together cake mix, pudding mix, and poppy seeds. Make a well in the center and pour in water, oil, and eggs. Beat on low speed until blended. Scrape bowl down and beat for 4 minutes on medium speed. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely. Serve with fresh strawberries and whipped cream for a cool summer dessert.

Grilled Rosemary Lamb Chops

Doug and I are very lucky because both of our parents love to cook and they have wonderful recipes for lamb chops! My mom and dad love the dijon-grilled lamb chops. This was the first time that I've tried to make Doug's family recipe, grilled rosemary lamb chops. They were amazing! You really do need to plan this meal in advance because the chops need to marinate for 4 hours (well worth the wait)! I normally never show you a picture of our actual dinner plates full of our sides. This night, we ate the chops with our farmers market loot: french bread, new potatoes, and green beans. Shout out to my grill-master fiance, Doug, for grilling these to perfection! Thanks!


Grilled Rosemary & Garlic Lamb Chops
(Mrs. D's Recipe)
Yield: 4 Servings

3/4 C. Balsamic Vinegar
6 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
3 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary, minced (or 3 tsp. dried)
6 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1 tsp. Black Pepper, freshly ground
12 (1''-thick) Loin Lamb Chops, fat trimmed

Mix vinegar, oil, lemon juice, rosemary, garlic, and pepper in a small bowl. Place lamb chops in a single layer in a 13x9x2-inch glass dish. Pour marinade over. Cover with foil and refrigerate for 4 hours, turning lamb chops occasionally. When you are ready to put these on the grill, you will want to let it heat to medium-high. Season lamb with salt and pepper and place on the grill. Grill chops to desired doneness, basting often with the marinade (about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare). Transfer to a platter and serve.

26 August 2010

Lime Sherbet Dessert

One of the first times I went over to Doug's parents' house, his mom made this lime sherbet dessert. It was the perfect dessert to serve in the summer heat, similar to what we have been experiencing this year. I recently came across her recipe for it and decided I needed to bring it to a dinner party. Wise choice! This dessert received rave, rave, rave reviews and I definitely plan on making it again in the near future (so should you)!


Lime Sherbet Dessert
(Adapted from Mrs. D)
Yield: 15+ Servings

1 1/2 C. Ritz Crackers, crushed
4 Tbsp. Sugar
7 Tbsp. Butter, melted
1.75 quart Lime Sherbet
1.75 quart Vanilla Ice Cream or Frozen Yogurt
4 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 C. Sugar
2 Eggs, beaten
6 Tbsp. Butter

Mix crust ingredients together in a small food processor. Once crumbly, press into a 9x13'' pan. Next, soften the lime sherbet and vanilla ice cream. Stir together in a large bowl (or I'm sure a stand mixer with the paddle or bread hook attachment would work fine on the lowest speed). Once combined, pour over the crumbs and put into the freezer. Meanwhile, make the lemon curd topping by cooking the lemon juice, beaten eggs, and butter in a small saucepan. Stir, while cooking over medium-low heat, whisking continuously until a low boil (about 10 minutes). Whisk for another 5 minutes and remove from heat; let cool (important). Pour the lemon curd over the ice cream; cover and freeze (best if frozen overnight). Let stand a few minutes before serving squares of this icebox dessert.

21 August 2010

Banana Pancakes

I love weekend mornings! One of my favorite things to make on the weekend is banana pancakes. Doug and I don't get too fancy with our pancakes. We use a box mix (gasp!) and just add thinly sliced bananas to it. It is delicious. One day, I will have enough courage to wake up early and whip up the real deal.


If any of you were looking for a homemade recipe for banana pancakes, then I'll point you in the direction of one of my foodie blogger idols, Annie. She just posted a recipe that sounds simply perfect. Here you go... Enjoy!

19 August 2010

Thank You!

One of my favorite blogs, Lavender & Lilies, had an awesome giveaway the other week. I won! I just wanted to give Jessica a shout out because I love, love, love the stationery I got in the mail! THANK YOU! Flat cards are my latest obsession:


If you want some of your own, head on over to Petite de Lis Paperie or Stacey's blog. Even the package it came in was super cute! Thanks ladies! I'll be ordering some more soon!

13 August 2010

Dill Pickles

I bought some pickling cucumbers at the farmer's market last weekend. Since then, they have been chillin' in my fridge (literally)! I have never pickled anything in my entire life, so I figured that some of my followers might want a more detailed description of what to do with little cucumbers!

First, give the lil' cukes some lovin' and wash them.

Cut them lengthwise into quarters.

Next, you'll want to throw some peeled and crushed garlic in the bottom of each jar. Sprinkle some red pepper flakes in the jar too.

Throw some fresh dill in the jar.

It takes some talent, but you will need to jam the little cucumbers into the jar. Try to fit as many as you can in there!

Then, carefully pour the brining liquid on top - just enough to cover. Make sure the lid is on nice and tight. Leave them on your counter for two days and then pop them in the fridge for one week. I made these yesterday and put the date on the label. Here they are on my counter:

Dill Pickles
(Adapted from Katie)
Yield: 2 small jars of pickles

4 1/2 C. Water
1 1/2 Tbsp. Kosher Salt
4 Tbsp. White Vinegar
1 Bunch Fresh Dill
2 Cloves Garlic, peeled & smashed
1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
About 12 Small Pickling Cucumbers

Bring the water, salt, and Vinegar to a boil in a saucepan. Once it starts boiling, let it boil for 2 more minutes. Meanwhile, put one garlic clove in the bottom of each jar and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Then, pack the fresh dill on top. Use up all of your dill (the more, the better)! Cut the cucumbers into quarters (lengthwise) and pack them carefully in the jars. When the brine mixture is ready, pour it over the cucumbers, filling it to the top. Seal the jars tightly. Let sit on counter for 2 days and then put in the refrigerator for 1 week.

10 August 2010

Potato Salad with Bacon, Herbs + Lemon

Are you going to an end of summer potluck this weekend? I have a wonderful dish for you to bring! This recipe comes from the July 2010 Bon Appetit magazine, but it has been adapted by Doug's mom. The freshly zested and squeezed lemon combined with the aromatic herbs from Mrs. D's garden gave this recipe a refreshing twist on classic potato salad. It was the perfect compliment to our grilled kabobs on a hot summer night. So if you are heading to a beach barbecue anytime soon, you should print off this recipe ASAP!


Potato Salad with Bacon, Herbs & Lemon
Yield: 8 Servings

5 oz. Bacon or Pancetta (about 5 slices)
1/4 C. Lemon Juice, freshly squeezed
1 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary, minced
2 tsp. Lemon Zest, finely grated
1 Clove Garlic, pressed
2/3 C. Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper, to taste
3 lbs. Yukon Gold Potatoes
3 Large Celery Stalks, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Arrange bacon slices on rimmed baking sheet, spacing apart. Bake until golden brown and crisp (about 20 minutes). Drain on paper towels; cool completely and coarsely chop. Meanwhile, whisk the lemon juice, zest, and garlic in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper to taste. Next, place the potatoes in a large pot, adding enough cold water to cover by one inch. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. Simmer with the lid ajar until tender (about 18 - 25 minutes, depending on size). Drain; let stand until cool enough to handle (about 20 minutes). Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices (removing skin if desired - we kept it on). Place in large platter or bowl. Add celery, drizzle dressing over, and toss to gently coat. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill until cold (at least 2 hours)!

Do Ahead: The bacon and potato salad can be made one day in advance. Cover bacon; chill. Keep potato salad chilled. Bring bacon to room temperature before continuing. Sprinkle bacon and chopped parsley over potato salad before serving.

09 August 2010

Fusilli Pasta Salad

My friend's mom sent me a couple wonderful summer recipes. I've been dying to try her Fusilli Salad and I finally had the perfect excuse to make it this past week. We went to Jazz on the Green, which is a great thing to do on a gorgeous Thursday night! People are encouraged to bring blankets, chairs, pack a picnic dinner, and listen to live jazz music! We packed our picnic basket with many special treats: wine, beer, fusilli pasta salad, grilled chicken breasts, watermelon, and strawberry-poppy seed shortcake! Great food, great company, and great music! This Thursday is the last one of the summer, so make sure you pack up your pasta salad!

Fusilli Pasta Salad
(Adapted from Bunny)
Yield: 6-8 Servings

1 lb. Fusilli Pasta (rotini)
1/4 C. Red Onion, chopped
1/2 C. Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Oil, drained & chopped
1 C. Kalamata Olives, pitted & cut in half
1 C. Broccoli, cut into small florets
3 Carrots, peeled & sliced thin
1/4 C. Pine Nuts, toasted
3/4 lb. Feta Cheese, crumbled
2/3 C. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar
1 Clove Garlic, minced & then crushed
Salt & Pepper, freshly ground (to taste)

Cook pasta, drain well, and let cool. Add onion, tomatoes, olives, broccoli, and carrots. Toss to combine. Add the pine nuts and feta; toss gently. Combine the olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper; whisk. Pour over pasta, toss, and serve. Can be made a day ahead - toss again before serving.

07 August 2010

Strawberry-Rhubarb Dessert

One of my very first recipes that I posted was Rhubarb Crisp. I am a Minnesota girl at heart and rhubarb, for some reason, makes me think of home. It makes me think of my grandma. It makes me think of my mom. That recipe had oats in it and a hint of orange zest. Try it if you haven't made it already! I went back to Minnesota a few weeks ago and made this strawberry-rhubarb dessert with my mom. I love strawberries + rhubarb! We each had a little piece as soon as it came out of the oven. Delicious!


Strawberry-Rhubarb Dessert
(From my awesome mom)
Yield: 12 Servings

3 C. Rhubarb, chopped (frozen works well)
2 C. Strawberries, hulled & sliced in half
3 Eggs, beaten
2 C. Sugar
3 Tbsp. Flour
3/4 C. Brown Sugar
1 1/2 C. Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
1 Stick (8 Tbsp.) Unsalted Butter, cold

Arrange the rhubarb and strawberries in a 9 by 13-inch pan. In a small bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, and 3 Tbsp. flour; pour over the fruit. In a medium bowl, mix together the brown sugar, flour, soda, and butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over the rhubarb and bake in a 350F degree oven for 45 minutes. The top will be lightly browned.

06 August 2010

Tomato Goat Cheese Napoleons

Need something to do with all of those farmer's market tomatoes? They are absolutely gorgeous this time of year! Why not use that Classic Basil Pesto we whipped up last week and make this gourmet-looking side dish?! In reality, it is the easiest thing to assemble and these little tomato napoleons are sure to impress your guests. Simply layer heirloom tomato slices with pesto and mozzarella or goat cheese. Hope you enjoy this as much as we did!


This recipe comes from the Junior League of Annapolis cookbook. Big thanks to Aunt Leigh for sending it to us as an engagement gift! Doug and I love it (especially me)!!! Here is my loot from the farmer's market:


Tomato Goat Cheese Napoleons
(Adapted from A Thyme to Entertain)
Yield: 4 Servings

4 Medium Heirloom Tomatoes
4 oz. Goat Cheese or Mozzarella Cheese, sliced
1 (8 oz) Jar Basil Pesto - or make your own!
4 Sprigs of Woody-Stemmed Rosemary (optional)
Balsamic Vinegar & Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for drizzling
Salt & Pepper, freshly ground (to taste)
Mixed Salad Greens (optional)

Cut each tomato horizontally into four even slices, keeping the slices in order from top to bottom. Drain the slices of excess liquid on paper towels. Arrange the goat cheese (or mozzarella) evenly over the three bottom slices of each tomato. Top the goat cheese evenly with the pesto. Reassemble each tomato and secure with the rosemary sprigs speared through the center of the tomatoes. (I didn't use rosemary to secure the tomato stacks; I just left the stem of the tomato on because it was beautiful by itself). Chill, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To serve, place the tomatoes on a bed of mixed salad greens and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top. This recipe pairs well with lamb, beef or chicken. It can be easily doubled or tripled. For a beautiful presentation, use different colored tomatoes and mix the color slices when stacking.