Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Greek Antipasto Platter

My family loves snacking during the football game.  These antipasto sticks make it easy to grab and eat without missing a play.  You can use some baby spinach to dress up the platter, then drizzle everything with some Balsamic Vinaigrette.


1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 container marinated fresh mozzarella balls (found by deli)
1 jar marinated kalamata olives
Sliced pepperoni or salami (or both)
Baby spinach
Balsamic Vinaigrette
Party skewers

Place a layer of baby spinach on platter.  Skewer tomatoes, meats, mozzarella balls, and olives (I placed the olives on the platter since some of my family doesn't like them).  Place on platter and drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Fried Mozzarella Sticks

This is one of our favorite football party appetizers.  They can be assembled ahead, placed in the freezer, and fried up when your company arrives.  Freezing them also helps the cheese from seeping out when frying.  This is a Giada De Laurentiis recipe.  I plan on creating a baked version using a breadcrumbs and panko coating soon! Oven Baked Panko & Italian Breadcrumb Mozzarella Sticks


2 (16 oz) blocks mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 cups Italian style dried breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
4 eggs
1 cup canola or vegetable oil

Cut the mozzarella into 4 x 1/2 inch sticks.

In a pie dish or other shallow baking dish, stir together the breadcrumbs, parmesan, garlic powder, and salt.

In a separate pie dish, add the eggs and beat well.

Line a baking sheet with foil.

Dip the mozzarella sticks into the beaten eggs, then roll around in the breadcrumb coating.  Place on prepared baking sheet.  Repeat with all mozzarella sticks.

Repeat the process again and place back on baking sheet.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer for 2 hours up to 2 days. This will make the cheese firmer so it doesn't melt out of the coating when frying.

When ready to eat, heat the canola or vegetable oil over medium heat.  Shallow fry on both sides until golden brown, about 1 minute each side.  If the cheese begins to ooze out before coating is brown, remove pan from heat and decrease to medium low.  Remove to paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.  

Arrange on serving platter and serve with your favorite dipping sauces...marinara, wing sauce, buttermilk garlic dressing.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Cocktail Friday ~ Vodka Margarita on the Rocks

It's Cocktail Friday!  I know I'm happy the weekend has arrived.  This cocktail is a twist on the traditional tequila margarita, and I hope you enjoy!


1 oz  Vodka (I always use Ciroc)
1 oz Limencello
1 oz orange juice
3 oz sweet-n-sour
1/2 oz Triple Sec
dash of grenadine
squeeze of fresh lime

Salt the rim of large margarita glass.  Add all ingredients to shaker filled with ice and shake well.  Pour into glass and garnish with lime wedge.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Cilantro Lime Cole Slaw

This cole slaw would be great as a side dish or as a topping on black bean or fish tacos.  It's simple to make and will brighten up any meal.


10 oz. cole slaw mix
2 T cilantro, chopped
1 cucumber, cut into match sticks
1/3 cup lite mayonnaise
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 lime, juiced
2 tsp agave nectar (sugar or honey can also be used to taste)
kosher salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
ground cumin, to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, lime juice, agave nectar, and spices.  Taste and adjust if needed.  Add the cole slaw mix, cilantro, and cucumber and use tongs to toss well.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Neapolitan Birthday Cake

This special birthday cake for my Mom In Law starts with a layer of fluffy vanilla cake, homemade strawberry jam filling, strawberry cake, and topped off with chocolate frosting. The outside frosting edges were piped using a ruffle design

Fluffy Vanilla Cake:
Recipe from Sweetapolita

5 large egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup whole milk, room temperature (divided 1/4 and 1/2 cup)
2 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 T + 1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
12 T unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and line two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper.

In a bowl, stir together the egg whites, 1/4 cup of the milk, and vanilla extract.  Set aside.

In a large stand mixer bowl, add the cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt and stir on low speed until well combined.

Add the butter and other 1/2 cup milk and mix on medium speed for 1 1/2 minutes.

Scrape down the sides of bowl, then slowly add the egg/milk/vanilla mixture in 3 batches beating on medium speed for 20 seconds after each addition. 

Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the top with an offset spatula.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Run a knife along edges to loosen  and invert onto wire racks lined with parchment or paper.  Turn the cake top side up and let cool completely.

Cakes can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then in a freezer bag and stored in freezer for up to 2 months.  I only used one of these cakes, and froze the other one.

Strawberry Cake
Recipe from Sweetapolita

2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 (3 oz) box strawberry gelatin
4 eggs, room temperature
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 T pure vanilla extract
2 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup strawberry puree (made by blending up frozen sweetened strawberries)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and line two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper.

In a large stand mixer bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and box of strawberry gelatin until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.

In a glass measuring cup, stir together the milk and vanilla extract.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add 1/2 of the flour mixture to the creamed butter and beat on medium speed for 20 seconds.  Add 1/2 of the milk mixture and beat on medium speed for 20 seconds.  Repeat with remaining flour and milk.

Add the strawberry puree and mix just until combined.

Pour batter into the two prepared cake pans.  Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until cake tester comes out clean.  Let cakes cool in pans on wire rack for 10 minutes.  Run a knife along edges to loosen and invert cakes onto parchment lined wire racks.  Turn cakes top side up and let cool completely.

Cakes can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then in a freezer bag and stored in freezer for up to 2 months.  I only used one of these cakes, and froze the other one.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk (maybe less, maybe more)

In a large stand mixer bowl, beat the butter for a minute.  Add the sifted powdered sugar and cocoa powder and mix until combined.  Add the vanilla extract, then slowly add the milk, a little at a time, until the right consistency is achieved.  Piped frosting needs to be thicker than frosting that will be spread using offset spatula.  Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes until thick and fluffy.

To assemble cake, place the fluffy vanilla cake on cake plate.  Spread with a layer of homemade strawberry jam (store bought works too).  Top with strawberry cake.  Frost with the chocolate buttercream frosting.  

This is what I did with the frosting:

Spread a thin layer of chocolate frosting on sides of cake and a thick layer of frosting on top.  Add remaining frosting to piping bag fitted with a medium size petal tip #103.  You can watch this video tutorial to learn how to pipe on ruffle edge.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Cocktail Friday ~ Midori Limencello Sour

Welcome back for Cocktail Friday!  This is a simple and pretty cocktail packed with flavor.  I found this recipe while searching for some easy Midori cocktails and found this article.


2 oz. Midori
1 oz. Limencello
2 oz. Sweet 'n Sour mix
squeeze of fresh lime
Maraschino cherry for garnish

In a cocktail shaker with ice, pour in the Midori, Limencello, Sweet 'n sour, and lime juice.  Shake well.  Use the same lime to run along the rim of martini glass, then dip glass rim in sugar.  Pour the cold cocktail into glass, drop in a maraschino cherry, and serve.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cocktail Friday ~ Guy's Fish Bowl Cocktail

Guy Fieri Food ~ Cookin' It Living' It Lovin' It cookbook is in the Top 3 favorite from my collection.  Guy devoted a section for popular cocktails from his restaurants.  We are stocking up our bar with the basic necessities so I can make all of these cocktails in the weeks ahead.  I plan to post a cocktail each Friday just in time to help you relax after a long week.  So watch for my "Cocktail Friday" post.

I chose this cocktail first because it's my favorite color and it reminds me of the Caribbean and the beach.  It was quite tasty and sweet.  This cocktail is meant to be served in a large bowl type glass with several straws so it can be shared.  I don't like sharing (at least not my cocktail), so I served ours in martini glasses garnished with frilly pink umbrellas and maraschino cherries.  This recipe makes 4 martini glass servings. 


3 oz Bacardi coconut rum
3 oz Blue Curacao
3 oz Vodka
6 oz Pineapple juice
6 oz 7-Up or Sprite
8 oz Sweet-and-sour mix
Lemon or lime slices, for garnish
Maraschino cherries, for garnish

Add all ingredients to a large glass pitcher with 1/2 cup ice and stir well.  Strain into martini glasses and garnish with lemon or lime slices and maraschino cherries.  Enjoy responsibly!

Now just imagine sipping on this cocktail while strolling down the beach hand in hand during sundown.  That's what I need right about now!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Cake Batter Truffles

I've made Red Velvet Cake truffles, Oreo truffles, and Peppermint Brownie truffles.  But these truffles deserve a standing ovation.  They are absolutely incredible.  Seriously, they taste like cake batter cookie dough, and who doesn't like cookie dough!  I found this recipe at Chef In Training.

I made a batch of these truffles for our Christmas Eve party.  We always have family over to hang out, eat dinner, sing Christmas songs with the kiddos, make cookies for Santa and food for his reindeer.  It was a fun night that lasted long into the am, so I bet the sugar helped us stay focused while putting together tons of toys for our girls after they went to bed.

Truffle Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup yellow cake mix
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
dash salt
4 T milk
2 T sprinkles

Truffle Coating:

16 oz. Vanilla flavored white almond bark, or white candy melts
Sprinkles for decoration

In a large stand mixer, beat together the softened butter and sugar.  Add the flour, cake mix, vanilla, salt, and milk and mix just until combined.  Add the sprinkles and gently stir.  Put bowl in refrigerator to chill dough for 15 minutes.

Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet.  Place in freezer for 30 minutes. 

Melt almond bark or candy melts in the microwave.  Use a spoon to dip truffles into melted chocolate and place back on parchment lined cookie sheet.  Immediately top with sprinkles.  Store truffles in refrigerator in airtight container until ready to serve.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Better than Chipotle Rice Bowls

These bowls are easy to make and satisfies the picky eaters in the family.  It starts with a layer of cilantro lime rice and taco beef.  Then you set out all the toppings just like a salad bar.  My kids had fun making their own bowls and hubby went back for seconds.  I found the recipe for Cilantro Lime Rice over at Two Peas & Their Pod blog.  I made the taco beef using ground beef and a packet of taco seasoning prepared per package instructions.


Cilantro Lime Rice
Taco Beef
Black beans
Grape tomatoes, halved
Avocados, sliced
Sour cream
Shredded Cheese
Hot Sauce

There really is no recipe for this besides the Cilantro Lime Rice.  This is an idea for an easy family meal.  Enjoy!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Banana Upside Down Spice Bundt Cake

This is a play on a pineapple upside down cake and cinnamon banana bread.  I used a spice cake mix and added mashed bananas to the batter.  The topping is a brown sugar sauce and sliced bananas.  My girls loved it!  Also, check out my Upside Down Apple Spice Cake with Coconut.

Cake Ingredients:

1 box (15.25 oz) Betty Crocker Spice Cake Mix
1 cup water
1/2 cup Canola oil
3 eggs
2 medium bananas, mashed


2 medium bananas, sliced
5 T unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a non-stick bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.  

In a large stand mixer, add the cake mix, water, oil, and eggs.  Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes.  Add the mashed bananas and beat to incorporate.

In a small sauce pan, melt the butter and add the brown sugar.  Turn heat to low and let simmer for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.  

Place the sliced bananas in the bottom of the bundt pan.  Pour the brown sugar sauce over the bananas, and then pour in the cake batter.

Bake for 38-42 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Immediately invert onto serving platter.  Enjoy!

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