Italians eat lentils in celebration of the New Year. The small round legumes resemble small coins and symbolize wealth and prosperity. The more lentils you eat, the more wealth and prosperity you will experience in the coming year. I love lentils, I love tradition, and I will share my favorite tasty lentil soup recipe on the first day of the New Year.
Today, however, I celebrate the end of 2012 and initiate an amazing new tradition… caramel popcorn. I hereby decree I will consume these crispy, crunchy, clusters of golden goodness each New Year’s Eve to symbolize my sweet successes of the past year and the golden opportunities that await in the year ahead.
Try this. You will not be disappointed. You can be good next year!
Confession of a *wannabe* foodie… This caramel popcorn is highly addictive. It may be more addictive than Cheetos. Consider yourself warned.
Cilantro Lime Slaw
Slaws are often relegated to my sad side category; nothing terrible, yet nothing terribly exciting. As a slaw skeptic, my common BBQ practice is to bypass the slaw in favor of more enticing sides. Why waste coveted paper-plate space on a bowl of shredded cabbage when faced with juicy slices of watermelon or bacon potato salads?!? I recently, however, discovered this cilantro lime slaw and am reconsidering my classification of slaw as a sad side.
This cilantro lime slaw is not only a crunchy and refreshing condiment for pulled pork or fish tacos, it is an amazing side all on its own. I recently served this slaw as the perfect accompaniment for green chili cheeseburgers and a warm Mexican street corn salad, and then piled the leftovers on grilled fish tacos the following night.
Confession of a *wannabe* foodie…. Although this slaw has initiated my conversion, I still don’t love all slaws, but I will now at least give them a try!
Blackberry Lime Sorbet
For the love of blackberry…. and lime.
It is a happy day, a true sign of summer, when berries dominate the fruit display at the grocery stores. Hoards of strawberries, heaps of blueberries and mounds of raspberries, but blackberries? Where are the blackberries and why are they always in those teeny-tiny containers?
This summer we are participating in the Fresh Gatherings Harvest, a community supported agriculture (CSA) program run through the nutrition and dietetics department at Saint Louis University. We purchase our “share” (or half-share; $17.50 per week) at the beginning of the season and receive our “product” (produce) throughout the spring/summer/fall. This is an incredibly easy and convenient way to purchase seasonal fruits and veggies from local farmers. In a quick 5 minute stop, we have a crate full of produce for the week and the backbone of a seasonal weekly menu! In addition, the crate often includes fruits and veggies that I might not normally find or buy at the grocery store… like blackberries!
Oh the blackberries!
While the blackberries rarely last a day in our house… I resisted all temptation for the love of blackberry and lime sorbet!
Tart, tangy, and tasty… this is a perfect summer treat!
Confession of a *wannabe* foodie… I consider it a miracle when the blackberries survive the ride home!
Hello Kitty Cake
Hello Kitty. Pink. Sparkly.
Those were the instructions from my beautiful niece Elise for her 3rd birthday cake. I should probably rearrange those instructions to reflect the true enthusiasm of Elise in her birthday cake request…
Sparkly! Pink! Hello Kitty!
In an attempt to be the ultimate aunt, I added one more to the list:
Sparkly. Pink. Hello Kitty. Gum. (one of Elise’s favorites)
Who knew the most challenging mission of this cake would be to locate and acquire gumballs! Once gumballs were included as part of the mission, however, they could not be removed, as they were now an essential element in the cake completion. Fortunately, my mother and sister voluntarily enlisted in the overt gumball operation. Three stores and several phone calls later, a large box of gumballs appeared, concealed in a Dierberg’s bag, between the side door and screen door of our quaint brick bungalow. With the success of the overt gumball operation, it was time to move on to the next phase of cake completion.
Hello Kitty Cake
Pink pearl dust, applied with a paint brush (clean, and cake-specific, of course), provided the perfect pink sparkle to make this cake Elise approved. I intended to make this cake over-the-top -sparkly with actual sparklers, but lost too much time with the overt gumball operation. Next New Year’s Eve, I plan to purchase several packs of sparklers to use throughout the year.
Confession of a *wannabe* foodie… My free hand Hello Kitty failed, so I cheated a bit by creating my own Hello Kitty stencil by printing and cutting an image I liked online.
Pumpkin Apple Streusel Muffins
It feels as though this fall continues to remain unseasonably warm in good old Saint Louis. I realize this heat may have more to do with the bun in my oven than extreme global warming in the Midwest, but needless to say, I have been unseasonably slow in my transition to fabulous fall food!
Here’s to hoping that a few of my fall favorites will coax in the cooler temperatures!
These pumpkin apple streusel muffins are a definite family favorite. Although the origin of the recipe is lost in a pre-internet handwritten recipe card, there are now pumpkin apple streusel muffin recipes all over the wonderful World Wide Web.
This recipe, adapted from allrecipes.com, stays true to the original roots of the muffin and definitely delivers fall in one giant bite… regardless of the temperature outside.
Confession of a *wannabe* foodie… Sometimes… you can’t eat just one!
Batman and Iron Man Cake
I don’t consider myself a necessarily girly-girl. I love to camp, spend time outdoors, watch baseball and hockey, listen to loud rock and roll, love crime shows, etc. I have to admit, however, I seem to be missing the superhero gene! I appreciate a good superhero in the occasional movie or great costumes at Halloween, but if you ask me about Bruce Wayne, it may take a second before I figure out if you are referring to Batman or Superman.
I am always up for a birthday cake challenge, so I thought I would attempt Mason and Alex’s favorite superheros: Batman and Iron Man. Despite my superhero ignorance, I am fairly confident with Batman. Iron Man, on the other hand, is where that ignorance returns in full force! I tried my usual hot spots for cake inspiration: blogs, Google image searches, Pinterest, movie/cartoon clips, etc., but Iron Man continued to elude my creativity. This creativity block continued for several days and as the birthday approached, I began to fear that stifling creativity might, in fact, be Iron Man’s ultimate super power.
I unleashed a few of my decorating superheros, and the gold and silver pearl powders ultimately saved the day by kicking up the Iron Man mask and power supply.
I welcome any suggestions for future superhero cakes! It can be difficult to find that delicate balance of awesome… that remains within my ability to execute!
Batman and Iron Man Cake
Confession of a *Wannabe* Foodie… Boxed cake mix, layered with pudding, and frosted with homemade icing can be pretty fantastic and great for kids’ birthday cakes. The kids get way more excited about the decorations than homemade cake!
Homemade Vanilla Wafers
My loving, sweet, adorable husband does not like chocolate. Under the circumstances, I believe it is even appropriate to say that he hates chocolate. He dislikes chocolate so much that he does not eat anything with chocolate in it… except for Mexican Mole!
As a baker, this has been a difficult character flaw, I mean trait, to accept. As our dating days progressed into engagement and marriage, the issue of the chocolate lingered… no one to appreciate gooey chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven, a lifetime of vanilla ice cream, cuddling on the couch with a steaming cup of hot cocoa and homemade marshmallows alone… the tragedy of missed opportunities, as you can imagine, abound…
After almost four years of marriage, however, I determined there are a few surprising benefits (okay, two) to a non-chocolate-eating husband!
1. There are many circumstances in which I am *forced* to eat 2 desserts; it is only polite. If dessert at a certain dinner or event, for example, happens to be chocolate, I politely devour mine and then do a quick switch of the plate when no one is looking to politely finish Allen’s dessert as well.
2. I explore and test a lot of amazing non-chocolate desserts, which I might normally overlook!
These homemade vanilla wafer cookies are a fantastic example of a cookie I might never have tried if it were not for my chocolate-fearing husband and my heightened awareness of non-chocolate eaters.
These delicate, crispy, vanilla bite sized cookies will definitely make you think… what chocolate chip cookie?!?
Confession of a *wannabe* foodie… Although I do love to harass Allen for his disdain of chocolate, I do love all the non-chocolate desserts we discover!
Oatmeal Cream Pies
Ohhhh yes… homemade oatmeal cream pies! You may be thinking…
When was the last time I actually ate an oatmeal cream pie?!?
Why would I want to bake a homemade version of a pre-packed vending machine snack?!?
Just take one look at that ooey gooey oatmeal cream pie and trust me!
The past few years, I have helped with a retro bowling fundraiser for Guardian Angel Settlement Association (GASA), an amazing organization in Saint Louis that serves the poor by helping them improve the quality of their lives and achieve economic independence. In addition to raising money, this event is a wonderful opportunity to get together and celebrate such an incredible organization in the Saint Louis community. You know it’s a pretty fantastic fundraiser when it includes, all you can eat, drink, bowl, and shoot pool at an old school bowling alley that requires you to keep your own score! The event is held at Saratoga Bowling Lanes, in operation since 1916, and supposedly the oldest bowling alley west of the Mississippi.
I thought it would be fun to contribute a retro dessert buffet, and where better to start than with the original Little Debbie Snack Cake… the Oatmeal Cream Pie.
Confession of a *wannabe* foodie… these taste amazingly similar to the original Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pies, yet oh so delicious! (more…)
Kale Salad with Avocado, Apricots & Almonds
I claim that I am not a picky eater, which I still hold as true, but I often fall victim to the work-lunch-funk. I seem to instantly transform into the world’s choosiest (that doesn’t sound quite as harsh as picky) eater the minute it is time to decide on lunch for the upcoming week work week. I don’t really like frozen meals or just-add-water soup, I don’t love sandwiches, and it is too hot for my standard winter soups and beans! Needless to say, I am always on the lookout for fun and easy lunch ideas! I saw this recipe on The Kitchn a few days ago and was intrigued. Although this is not the summer-iest of this season’s salads, it is delicious, filling, and holds up well as a work lunch!
Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes
Each summer I wait patiently… or not so patiently… for those large containers of blueberries to miraculously appear at the grocery stores and farmer’s markets at fairly reasonable prices. As I begrudgingly headed to the grocery store, officially marking the end of vacation, I walked through those automatic sliding doors to behold a glorious slight… Blueberries! Lots and lots of blueberries!! I filled the cart with blueberries (not exactly an exaggeration) and began planning the upcoming week(s) of blueberry goodness. First stop… Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes!