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The recipe I followed originally called for almond champagne, I am not a fan of almond flavor, but if you are I hear Trader Joe’s carries a great almond Champagne.
I made this cake for my mother-in-law, she and I share a love of lemon, and Champagne is a favorite of hers, so the two together were perfect for her birthday cake! This cake is dense and not too sweet, and the frosting perfectly tops off this cake for a touch of sweetness. And look how pretty it is too.
1 cup softened butter
2 cups granulated sugar
5 whole eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Juice and zest of one lemon
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup Champagne (I used Cooks (the quality is not a huge factor when you cook/bake with it)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until creamed and smooth. Just like you would starting cookie dough.
Once the butter and sugar are creamed slowly mix in the dry ingredients.
Once the batter is mixed together, add the champagne and stir slowly – watch out it will bubble up!
I used my fancy new Pampered Chef stoneware bundt pan,but any bundt pan you have is good. Even a regular cake pan would due, it’s just prettier and fancier looking in a bundt pan.
Spray your pan with oil or wipe the pan with butter.
Pour in the batter and put into a preheated oven. Bake for 1 hour.
Frosting, Frosting Frosting…
And for the best part of the cake FROSTING!
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp. lemon zest
2tsp. heavy cream (or milk)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and set aside until the cake is almost cooled. If the cake is semi-warm the frosting can melt a little and will drip down the sides in the most delicious way. (the original recipe called for Champagne in place of the milk but my kids were going to eat this so I opted out of the champagne, but it would have been really good I bet, let me know if you try it and leave a comment about it!)
Serve with a nice glass of champagne!
Recipe adapted from www.countrycleaver.com
Now that we have passed St. Patrick’s day, and I missed the train on that one, I’ll share with you what I just learned to use my leftover corned beef to make. Corned beef and hash. For my husband and I this was one of those things we would eat when we went out for breakfast. We had corned beef and cabbage on St. Patricks day and other than the deli sandwich meat on occasion I never made corned beef. This year, I found out our kids like it and that I could make corned beef and hash. Now we will have corned beef a few more times a year.
First, I cook the corned beef in this recipe just like I would corned beef and cabbage. I like having a bit of chopped cabbage mixed in with my potatoes and corned beef. The cabbage really soaks up the flavor of the cooking liquid giving this dish a pop of flavor.
1 Pkg Corned Beef and the seasoning package.
1 head of cabbage
1 lb of small potatoes (check the package from TJs
2 tbsp. of butter
2 tsp. seasoning salt
1/2 c. reserved cooking liquid
Place the corned beef in a large pot, add water to the pot just covering the beef, then add the seasoning packet that comes with the corned beef. Cook the beef for 2-3 hours, until tender. Adding water as needed. When the water level begins to go below the beef add a little water 1 cup or so at a time. I like this process because the flavor of the liquid and corned beef becomes more concentrated.
After 2-3 hours, add the potatoes and cook for 20 minutes. Add the cabbage and cook 10 minutes more.
Remove the meat, potatoes and cabbage from the pot and allow to cool (for handling). Reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid.
Chop corned beef into chunks.
Then chop into fine pieces.
Next coarsely chop the potatoes and cabbage. This does not have to be neat. It is a hash it’s supposed to be a rustic mixture of meat and potatoes, not a neat pile.
Mix the potatoes, cabbage, meat, reserved liquid and seasoning salt in a bowl.
This is my favorite seasoning salt, but any other brand or generic will work just fine!
Now heat butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Preferably this pan should not be a nonstick pan, as it does not allow for the crispy crust that make this so good. Once the butter is melted add the corned beef mixture. Cook until the meat and potatoes begin to brown, flipping the mixture browning the other side.
Serve with an egg and/or toast or eat it right out of the bowl. It may take some time to cook the corned beef but it is well worth it and easy. Try putting the corned beef in the slow cooker too so when you get home it’s cooked through, add the potatoes and cabbage at the end probably the last hour or so of cooking.
Spring is in the air and the vegetables are fast on its heels. Asparagus is one of my favorite spring vegetables, and many of you with community-supported agriculture baskets will probably be seeing a lot of asparagus here shortly. Not sure about you, but I usually blank when it comes to side dishes. As much as I love buttered salted veggies, it’s nice to have more ways to make vegetables exciting and flavorful.
To pick asparagus, choose bright green, firm stalks. Not limp or woody looking stalks. Bright green or violet stems are good. The tips should be tightly closed.
The best way to prep asparagus is to first snap the asparagus stalk. If you grab both ends of the asparagus and gently bend, the asparagus stalk, the stalk will snap where the stalk gets tough, and the tough part you don’t want to eat will snap right off with minimal effort. Wrap cut ends in damp paper towels in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Asparagus Au Gratin
1 bunch trimmed asparagus cut in half
1 tablespoon butter
½ onion diced
½ cup chopped mushrooms (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp. thyme
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup heavy cream
salt and pepper
¼ cup white cheddar
1 tablespoon Parmesan
In an oven safe pan sauté butter, onion, garlic and, if using, mushrooms and thyme season with salt and pepper. Add asparagus and sauté a minute or two. Add stock and cream and stir. Boil 3-5 minutes.
If not using an oven safe pan, transfer the mixture to an oven safe dish. Top with cheese and
bake for 15-20 minutes on 425 degrees.
Roasted Greek Asparagus: Arrange asparagus and tomato on a nonreactive pan and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in a 400 degree oven 15-20 minutes. Top with Feta and serve.
Roasted bacon wrapped asparagus topped with gruyere cheese: wrap asparagus with ½ slice of bacon, roast in 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the bacon is crisp. Top with shredded gruyere and black pepper just before serving.
Pan roasted asparagus with soy sauce and ginger: Mix ½ tsp. of ginger, dash red pepper, and 3 tablespoons soy sauce together. In a wok or sauté pan heat 2 tablespoons canola oil over medium-high heat. Add asparagus and soy sauce mixture to pan and sauté 2-3 minutes then cover and turn off the heat and let steam 2 minutes (more if you like more tender asparagus)
Most people are familiar with the classic tiramisu, an Italian espresso-mascarpone layered dessert. The creamy mascarpone combined with chocolate and espresso make a satisfying after dinner dessert. My love of cheesecakes has lead to many flavor combinations, like my Zebra cheesecake (on my blog), lemony versions, white chocolate raspberry, even an apple pie version. Classic desserts are my biggest inspiration for new cheesecake idea combinations. Tiramisu is one of my favorite desserts, so it’s only logical to make it into a cheesecake. Besides who doesn’t like coffee and chocolate – it’s a perfect combination, such as peanut butter and chocolate. For Valentines Day, I decided to make this dessert for my love. He gave his seal of approval.
Mascarpone is traditional in tiramisu, however cream cheese is the traditional ingredient in cheesecake. Cream cheese and mascarpone are very similar ingredients. In fact, the two are regularly combined, and may even replace one another, in cheesecake, and other, recipes. Mascarpone is a little tangier than cream cheese if you were taste testing the two side-by-side. However, the consistency of the two does not differ too much. In this recipe, I keep the cream cheese base for the cheesecake, but incorporate a fluffy mascarpone cream to reel in the Tiramisu experience.
Over the years I have tested many cheesecake recipes. For this recipe I use my basic cheesecake recipe to start. It is a combination of a classic recipe, and my grandmother’s recipe. This recipe always yields a perfect combination of creamy and fluffy. Some of you may like a dense and dry cheesecake (my boyfriend included), and you can achieve that by removing two eggs from this recipe and not using a water bath.
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. When I follow the standard water bath instructions, like most recipes call for, my crust ends up soggy. When I don’t use a water bath I notice my cheesecake is drier and cracks! So, I decided to use my roasting pan with the removable rack (my rack is flat not ‘V’ shaped) and filled the pan with water to just below the rack. This way I get moisture in the oven, without the soggy crust. If you have luck with a traditional water bath, definitely use it. It is all about what works for you.
1-package (12 lady fingers) –Raley’s keeps them in the bakery freezer, just ask the baker for a package.
4oz brewed espresso (you can use hot water and instant powder too)
Arrange the lady fingers in the bottom of your spring form pan as tight together as you can. You want the least amount of gaps as possible (I put a piece of parchment paper at the bottom of my spring form pan). Sprinkle the espresso over all the lady fingers so each one soaks up the espresso. I tried dipping the lady fingers in the espresso first, but found if I tightly packed the lady fingers then added the espresso, that worked much better.
3- 8oz. pkgs cream cheese (softened)
3/4c granulated sugar
5 eggs (2 for a dense cake)
1/8 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp espresso powder, or 3 tablespoon brewed espresso
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until combined. Add eggs one at a time and make sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. Beat in whipping cream and espresso. Pour the filling onto the lady finger crust.
Reduce the oven to 300-degrees, bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 5 min (or until the middle is set).
Once the middle is set turn off the oven and prop the oven open slightly for about 15-20 minutes so the cheesecake can cool slowly (this will help avoid cracking). Remove the cheesecake from your oven and allow it to cool a bit more.
1 cup mascarpone cheese (about 8 ounces)
1/3 cup well-chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
In a bowl with a whisk or an electric mixer beat together mascarpone, cream, and sugar until mixture holds stiff peaks. Once your cheesecake is cool to the touch, spread, or pipe, the cream on to the cheesecake.
Sift sweetened cocoa powder over the top, or grate semi-sweet chocolate on top.
Refrigerate cheesecake 4 hours before serving.
Hey I never said a good cheesecake was easy…
This is not a healthy, heart friendly recipe, but it sure is tastey. While I substitute some fat with yogurt there is still plenty of sugar in the “apple pie filling” and the brown sugar topping to affect your waistline. So that I can avoid those waistline issues, I keep a few slices for me (and my family) and bring the rest to my fellow co-workers to bring smiles to their faces in the middle of the week. Given this weekend is the beginning of Autumn, and the abundance of apples around town, no kidding, just this morning I saw a box full of apples in someone’s front yard, marked "free," a recipe with apples seemed fitting to kick off the start of fall.
Fall comes around, and so does the canning and baking bug. So far, I’ve made apple pie filling to keep on hand in the freezer, apple butter using the slow cooker and now this wonderful apple bread. Cooking and baking with the kids is always fun around this time of year as well, caramel apples, caramel corn and homemade candies (peanut butter cups, maybe?). Fall traditions are fun too, visiting Apple Hill, Corley Ranch and Lattin Farms festivals are always on my list.
Encouraging my fall excitement I decided I wanted to share a recipe to celebrate fall flavors. Brown sugar is one of my favorite ingredients, after chocolate of course, and it reminds me so much of baking and caramel, so it only made sense to make this apple bread using all brown sugar. The comforting smell of spicy cinnamon, nutmeg and apples will fill your house with the smell of fall. Hopefully this helps with what to do with the abundance of apples you, or your neighbors, may have.
Peeling Apples: I peel the apples and put them in a bowl filled with water and the juice of a lemon. Once I’ve peeled all the apples, I dry them, then I core and dice them.
½ stick softened butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp cinnamon
Pinch each of nutmeg and ground cloves
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 tbsp vanilla
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Coat a loaf pan with cooking spray or butter. Cream together the butter and sugar with a mixer. Mix in the egg. In separate bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture, alternating with the yogurt – make sure to start with flour and end with flour.
Fold in the “filling” (see recipe below). Pour batter into loaf pan and top with the crumble topping (see recipe below).
Bake the loaf for 45-50 minutes or until tester comes out of the center of loaf clean. Let cool in the loaf pan for a few minutes before transferring to a rack. Let the loaf cool for at least 5 minutes before slicing. Serve warm with butter. Enjoy.
1 ½ cups apples(about 3 medium apples), peeled, cored, and diced
¼-½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg and ground cloves
Mix the sugar and spices together, then toss with the diced apples.
Top with crumble topping.
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup oatmeal
1 tsp cinnamon
½ stick butter
Mix together with your fingertips until crumbly.
Notes: This could also be used for muffins. Pour into muffin liners in a muffin tin. Bake at 350 degrees for 17-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
The food trucks pulled into town this past weekend and created a pretty big scene. By 11:45 when I arrived there were already lines forming. I’m glad I arrived early because as the day went on the lines seemed to get longer. Seeing the turnout on this event is just awesome. Food can always bring people together and this weekend the Gourmet Food Trucks really brought Carson City out and about.
I spoke with Fat Daddy’s Ice Cream and they commented on how nice people up here in Carson City have been to them. They were thrilled to be in such a beautiful place with great people. Hopefully that means they will be back! I tried the Chocolate malted crunch and my boyfriend tried the chocolate brownie with white chocolate topping. Both were super tasty. My chocolate malt crunch was crunchy and packed with malty flavor, which is my favorite. The ice cream was creamy and thick and did not melt faster than we could eat it (that is a real downer for me when my ice cream melts before I can eat it all). And Fat Daddy’s has some really fun marketing.
Again I visited my friend Phil at Traffic Jam, and this time he had Tri Tip on stick which was even better than the last time! Amazing! The next time I think I’m going to taste his Victorian Chicken Salad Sandwich with cranberries, apples, and almonds.
Of course I had to try Kenji’s tacos, at $1.50 a piece they were a huge steal! Chicken was my favorite but I tried the pork and beef as well. They blew me away. After waiting 40 minutes (this was average for most trucks by about 1pm) I would say they were well worth the wait. I will definitely be back to visit them in Reno on a Food Truck Friday. And on top of good food, they have good personality.
Next we had to try Slap Yo Mama. The name alone made me want to try this truck, but even more, the Snoop Dogg Montecristo (which this truck had the honor of making for Snoop Dogg himself). Two waffles, fried chicken breast, mac ‘n cheese dipped in batter and fried! Yes the heart attacker is what it should be called. Now I can say I really get what chicken and waffles is all about! This sandwich was extraordinary, definitely not an every day treat, but on occasion it would be okay. A friend of mine got the soft shell crab sandwich and we tried that. It was super good too, with a spicy sauce, oh yum. Typically I don’t like soft shell crab, but I was surprised it was cooked perfectly!
Suge Knight – red velvet waffle topped with 2 pieces of fried chicken with butter and maple honey:
Snoop Dogg Cristo: fried chicken, mac ‘n cheese between two waffles, batter fried and toped with powdered sugar & syurp (super YUM):
and they entertain…
And of course I tried the Nom Nom truck. The runner-up in the Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race. Now I know that sounds funny, a show about food trucks, but I only got hooked because I happened to come across the show one night, and because it was hosted by Tyler Florence, who I really like and respect as a chef. This truck had an amazing following on the show and I can now say I have tried a Banh Mi. Chicken, pickled carrots and onions, jalapenos, cilantro on a roll. Those who know me, know I love cilantro and lime and onions. It’s one of my favorite combinations, so naturally this sandwich was a need to try. Fortunately for me when I finally made it to the truck I ordered the LAST Banh Mi for the day! I cut it so close! Very happy I was able to get to taste this sandwich. About half the way through the crispy sweet pickled veggies the heat of the peppers kicked in. Oh my is this sandwich good, but glad I shared it with a friend, my lips were on fire. I am not usually weak when it comes to spicy foods, but they have some nice hot peppers. In the photo below you can see just one of the many green peppers, it is sitting on the very top. This sandwich has so much flavor, I highly recommend trying Nom Nom if you make it to San Francisco or if they return for next year’s Food Truck Festival.
Thank you Casino Fandango for holding such a really awesome unique event for our little city! Such a great experience it was, and I will attend any future events. Hopefully this event had a big enough turn out for the Fandango to hold another. Now I will make more of an effort to head to Reno to test out more of our local food trucks, especially DISH truck and Gourmelt. Unfortunately we did not make it to those and both trucks. Both are well known for their outstanding menus so I cannot wait to try them!
At the beginning of this month I was contacted by Cluster Truck Events and was asked if I would be willing to talk about the Casino Fandango’s Gourmet Food Truck Festival on my blog. Why of course! What a great opportunity for me to try new food and do what I love, eat food, write about food and photograph food! Yes it’s a full on festival celebrating the Food Truck, and not just your regular food truck, but a GOURMET food truck. There will be items from a Snoop Dogg MonteCristo (yes it was actually made for Snoop Dogg) which consists of two waffles sandwiched between fried chicken, dipped in batter and fried, with a drizzle of maple syrup), Chicago-style hot dogs, gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, to Asian, Mexican and Hawaiian fusion, to snowballs and ice cream. A list of the trucks are on the Casino Fandango’s Gourmet Food Truck Festival page, you can check out their websites and menus. You may need some time with them, it will be tough to narrow down what to eat! (that’s why I’m bringing a good group of friends/family!)
This street food greatness is the first of it’s kind here in Northern Nevada. As long as the food truck has been a popular food trend, I have not had the opportunity to try any of the Gourmet trucks, if you can believe that. I try everything and anything involving food, it’s my thing after all!
So you will see me this Saturday, June 30th 12pm-5pm. There will be food, music and outdoor bars. There is no entry fee, just the cost of your food and drinks.
Follow these tips and be prepared:
Trucks are coming from Reno, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and San Francisco. For those of you Foodies out there that watched the Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race, the Nom Nom truck (a runner up in the first season) will be at this event!
Last week I had the honor of attending Media Day and got to sample Traffic Jam truck’s food. It was terrific. Parmesan crusted sandwiches and steak on a stick! Yum…this is going to be a real great time! I cannot stress what a treat we are all in for! And (sshhh don’t tell) but if this is a hit the Casino Fandango would love to have a food truck event a couple times a year. So gather your friends who like to drink and eat and bring them to this event! Tell your friends, your families, your facebook friends and tweet it out loud! Let’s make it a HIT!
And now for some visuals to entice you even further and get your mouth salivating…
This is the roast beef sandwich
Look at the crusted parmesan and the gooey cheese coming out of this sandwich. I’m a sucker for a grilled melty sandwich and this was a toasty piece of heaven. Highly recommend adding Traffic Jam on your list.
The Steak on a Stick is awesome too. This is not the full size, this was only a sample. The seasoning on the steak is flavorful and the steak was very tender. Perfect for eating and walking.
Meet Phil the owner of this awesome cuisine…
the Truck to look for!
Court Cardinal President and General Manager of the Casino Fandango (right) and his crew enjoying some Traffic Jam food… thank you guys for bringing this event to our little city!
I hope to see you all at the Casino Fandango Food Truck Festival! I will be there with a drink in hand and my foodie friends surrounding me to test as many trucks as we possibly can! Save your appetites…Korean barbeque, gourmet grilled cheese, snow cones, ice cream, paninis, sandwiches and more!
A few weeks ago the Early Farmer’s Market started down at Greenhouse Garden Center. There are cherries, apricots, white peaches, oranges, lettuce, garlic, onions, asparagus and more! I really love when the Market begins. As I have posted before it is something my daughter and I do every Saturday. Last week I bought some apricots to make an apricot pizza pie, it is my boyfriend’s favorite! This past weekend I bought some apricots for muffins (and some for a apricot peach pie I made for my friends).
I purchased the apricots from Fruit Factory – aka Schletewitz Family Farms in California. They make a 6 hour drive to us each week to bring fruits we would not otherwise be able to get here in Nevada…I thank them!
I used Early Castle Brite Apricots for both the muffins and the apricot pie I made last week.
APRICOT CREAM CHEESE MUFFINS
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup greek yogurt
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup applesauce (or any other jam or fruit sauce)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup fruit chopped (Apricots)
Cream Cheese Stuffing
1 8 oz bar of cream cheese softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk eggs, yogurt, sugar, applesauce and vanilla together in a separate bowl.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet just enough to get all the dry ingredients moist. Just like pancakes don’t overmix! You still have fruit to fold in, that will help incorporate the batter the rest of the way.
Using a spatula fold in the fruit. I use a small ice cream scoop when making muffins, cupcakes, or cookies, which helps with consistency. Scoop batter into muffin cups to fill just part of the way. Add 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese on top, then cover with more batter to fill the muffin cup.
Bake 17-20 minutes. Use a toothpick to check whether the muffins are done.
Cherries at the Market: