Monday, November 21, 2011

Maple, Caramel Sea-Salt Blondies

This is a crowd pleasing, home-run treat. There is a little bit of everything- the salt, the sweet, the chocolate- all in one. Although there seems to be several steps to making these Blondies, this really is, quite an easy recipe to make. It is a whip-it-up kind of dessert.

This recipe is for a substantially sized batch. You can adjust the amounts depending on how many you would like to serve. This bacth will yield about 25 blondies.

3 sticks melted butter
3 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
about 20-25 caramel squares- cut in quarters
Coarse sea salt (for topping)

For topping the blondies you will need an additional cup and a half of milk chocolate chips and the coarse sea salt.

Preheat oven to 350.

Grease one 8x8 pan and one 9x13 pan-- as a little trick I use the wrapper that the butter was in, to grease my pans. There is usally enough left on there to do the job. No waste!
You could use just one large pan but will need to acccount for the additional thickness cooking time.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, transfer to a large bowl-then add the brown sugar and mix well, using a whisk.

When the brown sugar and butter are blended well, add the maple syrup, vanilla and the the eggs-one at a time. (Make sure the mixture has cooled enough to add the don't want the heat from the butter to cook the eggs.) Stir well. Then add the flour mixture, in 3 parts, stirring well after each addition. Finally, add the caramel and chocolate chips.
Pour 1/3 of the mixture in to the 8x8 pan and the remainder in to the other pan. Spread evenly.

 About 15 minutes into baking, take the pans out of the oven and sprinkle with sea salt. You don't want it to cook in completely but you want the blondies to be sticky enough that the salt stays put.

Return pans to the oven until a toothpick comes out just clean. Make sure not to overcook, better to take them out a touch too early and have them a little extra gooey than to overbake them into a brick.
 In a microwave safe bowl, take the rest of the chocolate chips and heat in 30 second segments, stirring between each reset. When completely smooth and evenly melted, remove and spread over top of the blondies.

Let cool until chocolate has become solid. Cut into 1.5" sqaures.

As a caution- If you plan to refrigerate these, make sure you have ample time to let them soften again. The caramel could be too hard for your teeth.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Dunkin Donuts Autumn Awesomeness

I love seasonal goodies! I admit it, show me anything holiday or seasonally themed and you've got my attention. Keeping it is the challenge. Whether it's a pumpkin treat around Halloween and Thanksgiving or a Chocolate Peppermint concoction at Christmas- I need quality product at an unbeatable price. The best bang for my buck!! Thankfully I don't have to look far. Dunkin Donuts has sweets, treats and the coffee I need to get me through my hectic day. Living in Florida it's nice to have a change of season right in my coffee cup, even if I can't bundle up and go on a hayride or pick apples in the orchard.

Dunkin’ Donuts now features an array of  autumn inspired creations of delicious food and beverages, available at participating locations. The fall line up includes a Pumpkin Coffee and Latte (available in both hot and iced), new Pumpkin Packaged Coffee available in a special 8-oz size, Pumpkin Donuts, Munchkins™ and Muffins. The brand has also introduced a new Caramel Apple Donut, and for traditional autumn refreshment, Apple Cider served hot or iced.
           Check out Chef Stan Frankenthaler’s recipe highlighting fall’s bounty of flavors. He makse it easy for you to spice up the season right in your own kitchen. One of my favorites is:
Caramel Apple Donut Tart (serves six) 

·         4 Apples (a mixture of Granny Smith and Macintosh)
·         Cider Caramel (see recipe below)
·         Medium Dunkin’ Donuts Apple Cider (14 oz)
·         1 ½ Cups Granulated Sugar
·         4 Tablespoons Butter, plus 2 Tablespoons for Ramekins
·         4 Dunkin’ Donuts Caramel Apple Donuts
·         6 Ramekins
·         Heat oven to 350F.
·         Using the 2 Tablespoons of butter, lightly grease each ramekin.
·         Prepare the caramel sauce (below).
·         Peel the apples, cut each in half and then slice into thin crescent shapes.
·         Layer the apples into the bottom of each ramekin, making sure to begin layering around the outer edge in a circle and finishing in the center. Place a second layer on top (the apples in the end will be the top of the dessert, so you want to make sure to keep them layered nicely).
·         Cut each donut in half, creating two crescent shape pieces. Taking each half, slice into thirds, again each piece should be crescent shaped. Set aside.
·         Once the caramel sauce is made, divide among the 6 ramekins and pour the sauce over the apples.
·         Top the apples and caramel sauce with the donuts. Layering the donuts again around the edge, crescent side out (preferably the glazed side of the donut facing out), covering the entire top of the dish.
·         Cover in aluminum foil, bake for approximately 30 minutes, then remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 10 minutes.
·         Remove the dishes from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
·         Using a knife, gently run it around the edge of each ramekin.
·         Using a plate in one hand place on top of the apple donut tart, with the other hand, flip the tart and plate over. Remove the ramekin, the apple donut tart should slide right out and you will now have the apples on top.
·         Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. 
Tell us what your favorite coffee and baked goods combo is!
Leave a comment below for a chance to win a Dunkin' Donuts gift card. Winner will be chosen at random. Contest closes at 12pm on Monday, November 14, 2011.

Don't forget to check out for the latest and greatest. Also, the DD Rewards program is awesome!! I have already received coupons for a free coffee just for signing up!! SCORE!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pet-A-Palooza and National Deli Success

 This past weekend National Deli raised $500 for the National Canine Cancer Foundation from their hot dog sales at Saturday’s Pet-A-Poolza!! 

AnnaDishes would like to know about your favorite dog! Leave a comment below and tell us all about your best friend, what is so special about them!?
 One winner, chosen at random, will win a $10 Publix gift certificate.
Contest closes at 12pm on November 2, 2011.

 Lou Ann Best, Twiggy the amazing water skiing squirrel and Nat Deliman 

 Nat Deliman and Clifford the Red Dog

Valerie and Chris Pikes of the National Cancer Canine Foundation

South Florida based National Deli is the official sports arena hot dog and the Official Hot Dog of the Bank Atlantic Center, the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida; Roger Dean Stadium — home to Florida Marlins’ and St. Louis Cardinals’ spring training games; and in the most famous arena of all, New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

National Deli hot dogs are now available at Publix Super Markets in South Florida. More than 200 Publix stores from Vero Beach to Miami are now carrying the locally-made deli-style franks as well as their own line of all-natural Grade A mustard.   The National Deli mascot, Nat Deliman often visits local hospitals and charities to lend his support for those in need. In short, he's no ordinary Frank! Please visit him on Facebook at www.facebook/natdeliman to like him and learn more about Nat and his whereabouts.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Flourless Paleo Pumpkin Bread

I love treats and sweets. I am obsessed with pumpkin during the autumn months. I am trying my hardest to avoid sugar and starch. So in an effort to enjoy somethine that encompasses all of the above, while pleasing my tastebuds and my waistline- came the inspiration for this "bread". It's a no guilt, full flavor autum treat that takes almost no time to put together.
½ cup coconut oil
1 can organic pumpkin
½ cup honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 ripe banana
½ cup coconut flour
½ cup coconut milk
6 eggs

Preheat oven to 350. Grease a loaf pan and set aside.

In a standing mixer whip coconut oil and can of pumpkin. Add in other ingredients on at a time. Add eggs one at a time. Pour into loaf pan and place in center of oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool.

Wrap and refrigerate. Reheat for breakfast and top with coconut "butter".

Dulce de Leche Pumpkin Cake with Spiced Mascarpone Buttercream

2 3/4 Cups Cake Flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 sticks butter

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cups golden brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 Tablespoons honey

1/2 cup sour cream
3/4 cup  whole milk

1 can pumpkin (I used organic, plain from Whole Foods)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9" round cake pans.

Sift dry ingredients into a medium bowl. Set aside.

Combine butter and sugars and cream until the reach a light, whipped texture. Add eggs one at a time.Then honey and sour cream.

Mix in sifted flour mixture. Alternate dry ingredients with milk in 3 additions, ending with the milk.
Then beat in pumpkin. Mix until everything is well blended. Divide batter between the two cake pans.
Place in oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean from the middle of the cake. Take cakes out of oven and let cool for a few minutes until you are able to handle them long enough to flip onto the cooling rack. Let cool completely.

For the Frosting:

3 sticks softened butter

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

3 or 4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp cinnamon

8 oz. mascarpone cheese

1 can dulce de leche (set aside for when you assemble the cake)

Whip softened butter with the brown sugar. Add in the powdered sugar and whip well. Add in other ingredients. Reduce the speed on the mixer and mix in the mascarpone. Your frosting should hold a stiff peak.

If the frosting seems to loose- add more powdered sugar. If it is too thick, add a bit of heavy cream.

Take the cooled cakes and place on cake stand. Poke holes on the top of each cake by piercing with a fork a few times. Spread a layer of dulce de leche on the bottom layer of the cake. About 3/4 of the can. Use the other 1/4 for the top layer of cake.
Take about 1/2 a cup of the frosting and spread on the bottom layer, on top of the dulce de leche. Top with other cake- dulce de leche should be frosting side down. The top of the cake should be dry.

Take the remainder of the frosting and spread evenly over the cake. If you have in icing bag you can pipe a design as you like. If there is any of the dulce de leche left you can garnish the top of the cake.

**If you can't find Dulce de Leche in a can at your supermarket, it is very easy to make. It is usually located either in the ethnic aisle or near the condensed milk.
To make your own at home- buy one or 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk. Fill your crock pot high enough that the cans are completely submerged. Remove labels from the cans. Place in the crock pot on low for 8 hours. This is a great time saver if you put in at night and when you wake up it's ready to go! Would also be delish on pancakes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Roasted Yellow Pumpkin and Acorn Squash Soup -or- A Bowl Full of Sunshine

Sometimes in my CSA(Community Supported Agriculture) Organic Buying Club, I get vegetables that I might not think to buy in the store. Sometimes (if it is something i know I don't like) I give them away to friends, other times I get the chance to experiment with new or forgotten things. In this case, I got two acorn squash and one yellow pumpkin, I knew I wanted to try something different with them. I have cooked with squash and pumpkin many times in the past but, would have never thought to buy them at this time of year. I am guilty of being a hungry shopper at times, I buy what I know I want to eat. I like to experiment and try new things but sometimes I am just on autopilot at the grocery store. That is one of the reasons I love this buying club- it breaks me out of my broccoli boredom.

If you are in South Florida and are interested in joining a Buying Club, take a look at Ms. V's Organics. It is so convenient, you get a box or half box of produce and there are different pick up days or, you can opt for delivery. The produce is always fresh and delicious. I honestly don't have any complaints on quality or quantity. You can even order grass-fed beef and other products from her. One stop, healthy, ethical shopping!
If you aren't in South Florida- take a look and see if you can find one in your area. It is definitely worth it!

2 Acorn Squash
1 Medium Yellow Pumpkin
3 Cups (No Sugar Added) So Delicious Coconut Milk (You can substitute this for regular milk if you prefer)
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
2+ Tablespoon Olive Oil
Salt &Pepper

**If you don't have or can't find a yellow pumpkin you can substitute for 2 additional Acorn Squash- for a total of 4.
**This recipe yields a good bit of soup. Somewhere around 6 bowls (depending on size).

Preheat oven to 350.

Half the squash and pumpkin and clean out seeds. Using your hands rub a thin layer of olive oil over the surface of the squash and pumpkin. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Cut the pumpkin into similar sized pieces in relation to the acorn squash. You want to be sure they cook evenly. Roast for 30-40 minutes- it will be done when the texture is soft and there is no resistance from a fork or testing utensil. Cooking times will vary.

Remove from the oven- and let cool slightly. You need to make sure the temperature is comfortable to handle. Consider keeping a pot holder handy in case it's too hot.
Scoop the meat out of the squash and place in a food processor.

Turn on and slowly add the coconut milk and olive oil. Blend until smooth, creamy and thin enough to resemble soup.
You may have to do this in two steps depending on the size of your food processor.

Transfer the soup to a pot and stir over medium heat. Add more Coconut Milk if necessary.
Be careful not to let the soup boil too hard- you don't want it to separate.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
This recipe is made to be dairy free but you can top with a dollop of creme fraiche as a garnish.
It is delicious as both a hot and cold soup.

If you want to add a little something extra in terms of flavor composition, try adding crumbled bacon pieces when serving. Tasty!!

Happy Dishing!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

New to South Florida! Grub Hub and a tasty giveaway!

As much as I try to cook at home, there are times when we crave a hassle free, no clean up, delicious meal delivered to our door. New to the South Florida foodie scene is Grub Hub. I was introduced to this amazing new site recently and I couldn't be more excited. When you want your favorite restaurant's noshings with out the trek, you need GrubHub. 

As a special introduction to AnnaDishes readers, GrubHub would like to offer first-time users $10 off their initial order by visiting Grub Hub here. (Through September 4, 2011)

 This site is just launching in the Miami area and will continue to add new restaurants to the line-up, so don't  be discouraged if there aren’t a smorgasbord of places that offer pick up or delivery through GrubHub in your neighborhood just yet….there will be more soon!

 Miami’s diverse cultural makeup, combined with its international allure as a leading vacation destination, makes it one of the fastest growing culinary markets in the country. is now available to help Miami area diners explore more local restaurants- right from the comfort of their homes. 

GrubHub shows diners neighborhood restaurants that deliver or offer pick-up and allows you to order online or through its free app for iPhone or Android. Diners can also use the service to compare menu prices, read diner reviews or find unique coupon offers.  So whether you’re a Miami local who would rather avoid digging through your menu drawer or a tourist fed up with overpaying for room service, GrubHub is the one-stop spot for finding and ordering delivery or pickup food.

Here’s how it works:

1.Type in your address
2. Choose your preferred restaurant, cuisine or food item
3. Include any special instructions and confirm your order  
4. Enjoy a delicious restaurant meal with out ever having to leave the comfort of home.                   

GrubHub is helping family owned restaurants grow their business during these challenging economic times by sending them an average of 20 percent more delivery and pick-up orders.

In addition to the generous offer to save $10 on you first order, GrubHub would like to offer one of AnnaDishes readers the opportunity to win a $25 Gift Certificate to try out some of the fabulous options.

To enter the contest- leave a comment stating that you have done the following:

(One entry for each of the following.)

1. Follow @AnnaDishes on twitter
2. Like AnnaDishes on Facebook
3. Follow the AnnaDishes Blog
4. Tell us what you would like to try from GrubHub.

Contest ends Thursday August 18th at 12:00pm.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

2011 Bon Festival at Morikami

The 2011 Bon Festival is this weekend at Morikami in Delray Beach. If you have never had the opportunity to experience the tranquil, ethereal event- this is the time to take a look. With something for everyone and a portion of online ticket sale proceeds to benefit relief efforts in Japan- it's a weekend wind-down must! Anytime you can combine good eats with a beer garden and fireworks it's bound to be a beautiful evening.

Some information provided on the Bon Festval:

"Inspired by Japan’s three-day Obon holiday honoring the spirits, the Morikami’s largest event, Bon Festival, packs all of the celebration’s excitement into one breathtaking evening. Held from 4pm - 9pm on Saturday, August 13, the festival follows the holiday’s tradition of remembering ancestors and thanking them for our quality of life. Each year thousands of guests travel to the Morikami for the awe-inspiring Bon Festival which embraces the celebration and appreciation of those who passed.  Bon Festival features rousing taiko drum performances by Fushu Daiko, children’s activities, traditional Japanese folk dancing, American & Japanese cuisine, and the Kirin Beer Garden. When night falls, patrons pay homage to those who have passed on by floating individually decorated candlelit lanterns on Morikami Pond, a traditional Japanese ceremony known as Toro Nagashi. The myriad of lights created by the floating lanterns signifies the guidance of departed souls back to where they came after their brief visit. Additionally, in light of the recent tragedy, there will be special remembrance opportunities offered by the Morikami to honor and raise funds for those whose lives were impacted by the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The night will end with a brilliant fireworks display over Morikami Lake."

Some images from Morikami's album from proir Bon Festivals.

If you purchase your tickets online -in advance, Morikami and EventBrite are partnering to donate $1 per adult ticket and $.50 per child ticket purchased for Bon Festival to Japan Relief. Buy your tickets in advance to save money, skip the lines and help a worthy cause!

Advanced Tickets

$12 for adults (ages 18+)

$5 for kids (ages 4-17)
FREE for members
and kids 3 and under 

Tickets at the Gate
$15 for adults (ages 18+)
$6 for kids (ages 4-17)
FREE for members and kids 3 and under

"Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens has been a center for Japanese arts and culture in South Florida since its opening in 1977. The Morikami invites guests to discover South Florida’s heritage and its connection with Japan, and explore a series of six diverse gardens inspired by a different historical period and style of Japanese gardening.  Experience traditional and contemporary Japanese culture through world-class exhibits, varied educational programs and seasonal events, bonsai display, Pan-Asian cuisine and a distinctive museum store."

 Morikami is located at 4000 Morikami Park Road in Delray Beach, Florida. For more information about the Morikami, its exhibitions, programs and events, visit or call 561-495-0233.

I hope to see you there!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Mustard Musings and a Celebratory Giveaway!

There are few condiments as worldly as mustard. From Dijon to Dusseldorf (and beyond) you will find the delectable topping married to a myriad of meats and other tasty foods. Whether you like to schmear some spicy brown on a sandwich or marinate your filet in a multitude of mustards- you can't go wrong with the versatile flavor. (One of my favorite meals is a Steak with Many Mustards that my mother always used to make. It is AMAZING. I will try to get the recipe to share.)

This past Saturday- August 6th was the 20th Anniversary of National Mustard Day.

And to celebrate we have a giveaway thanks to the generous folks at National Deli. A savory $10 Gift Certificate! (There will be 2 winners.)

Even if you don't win this giveaway- you can still enjoy the deliciousness! Check out National Deli's coupon especially for you: National Deli Coupon

I get excited every time I see a new twist on this classic condiment- whether it’s wasabi or a special stout- it’s always a home run! So AnnaDishes would like to know what you think about mustard.

To be entered in the giveaway, leave a comment here with the following information-
(One entry for each of the following.)

Follow: AnnaDishesDaily here on Blogspot
Follow: @annadishes on Twitter
Follow: National Deli on Twitter
Answer: How did you celebrate National Mustard Day? Or tell us What is your favorite way to enjoy mustard?
Winner will be chosen by a random number generator.
Entries must be received by 12:00pm on Thursday August 11, 2011.

Happy Dishing and Good Luck!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Orecchiette with Pancetta, Parmesan and Spinach

As much as I like to spend a leisurely afternoon cooking and take my time creating new dishes- more often than not, I am in a rush to get something ready for dinner. I try my best to make healthy meals with fresh and organic ingredients- even in a pinch. This is one of those meals. I got home tonight with no idea what I was going to have for dinner. I didn't want anything too heavy, or that too long to make (I don't like to eat too late) since I was home later than I'd planned.

I had these ingredients in my fridge just begging to be introduced. There are very few ingredients but the result is flavorful and balanced. This serves 2-4 depending on portion.


10 oz. of Whole Wheat Organic Orecchiette
3/4 cup of freshly grated Parmesan
3 cloves of Garlic
5 oz. Organic Baby Spinach
6 oz. Pancetta (if you can't get Pancetta you can substitute bacon)
Tablespoon Butter
Olive Oil

Place water on stove to boil (make sure to salt the water) and add pasta. Cook until al dente.

Cut the pancetta into small pieces and cook over medium heat until crispy and browned. Remove from heat, drain fat and set aside.

 In the same pan, add light layer of olive oil and briefly saute chopped garlic. Add spinach and cook until reduced.

For the Parmesan- I suggest at least 3/4 cup but you can adjust to taste. I like love Parmesan so I would suggest mixing most of the cheese into the pasta and leaving a bit to sprinkle on the top before serving/enjoying.

Drain water from pasta and return to pot. Add tablespoon (or so) of butter and mix well. Add in other ingredients, ending with the Parmesan.

****Just as a side note: This is the best pot for pasta. I use it for so many items that need to be drained. As silly as it sounds-cutting out the step of using a colander is a relief and although brief- a time saver. This pot is made by Bialetti.  (I wish I had one of these great colors!!)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Roasted Garlic Cabbage with Shaved Manchego

As always- I look for new ways to try old favorites.
For a long time I hesitated to eat cabbage- (I don't know why.) Now that I enjoy it- I try to find different ways to prepare it. Although cabbage has a definite flavor it marries well with many flavors. Sauteed cabbage is a quick go to for us...takes only a little time and almost no effort- but always tastes good. This is also a fast and easy way to prepare cabbage (or brussel sprouts.)

I chose Manchego for this as it is one of my favorite cheeses- it is a delicious Spanish sheep's milk cheese with a flavor can be adapted in many ways.

1 head of Cabbage
3 Cloves of Garlic-chopped
3/4 Cup Shaved Manchego
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350.

Cut the cabbage into wedges about 1" thick.
On a sheet pan, drizzle a decent coating of olive oil over the entire surface. Place the pieces on the pan to coat one side in the oil and then turn them over. Salt and Pepper the tops of the cabbage, then top with the chopped garlic. Place in the oven for 15 minutes or until they start to brown. Take out of oven and turn over. You will need a spatula- carefully as to not separate the sheets.
Salt and pepper the tops again and replace in oven.
Cook for another 15 minutes.

 After they have cooked through, turn the broiler on to crisp the top of the cabbage.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle the shaved Manchego over the cabbage. Serve hot! Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Red Peppered Beans

I am frequently looking for different ways to prepare one of my favorite foods...cannellini beans. I like the texture and richness you get- without the guilt. I try to incorporate them when I am in the mood for something hardy - in place of say, potatoes. (As much as I love potatoes, I try to avoid them.)

Last night we were grilling some meat and I had decided on the always a favorite- broccoli- as the vegetable. I felt like something was missing- some texture and some spice. I decided to mix somethings up and see how we liked it. This was Hubbs favorite part of the (simple) meal. It takes almost no time and tastes great!


One can Cannellini Beans (also called Great Northern Beans)
One can Chick Peas (Garbanzo beans)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes (adjust to taste)
Garlic Salt
Onion Flakes

Drain and rinse the beans and chick peas. Shake off excess water. Cover medium skillet with thin layer of olive oil. Add beans and peas- and lightly toss in other ingredients. Be careful not to stir too roughly- you don't want them to break up. Also-make sure the heat isn't too high. You aren't trying to cook the beans, just heat them through. Leave in pan for 5-7 min or until desired temperature is reached.

Season with salt and pepper if needed.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Baked Brie with Almonds and Raspberry Filling

This is a super easy recipe I love to make when we are having people over. You can prepare it earlier in the day and pop it in the oven when your guests arrive.

(Pictures to follow- as soon as I make this again)

The amounts are variable as you can add more or less jam and almonds to suit your taste.

1 box Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry (in the freezer section)
1 Large Wheel of Brie (I use the large wheel of President Brie from Costco or BJs)
Slivered/Sliced Almonds (the kind with the brown skin still on the sides)
Olive Oil
Aluminum Foil

Preheat oven to 400.

Soften 1/4 of a stick of butter.

Defrost the puff pastry- (don't leave it out for too long- it will become too soft and hard to unfold.)

On a baking sheet, place 2 pieces of aluminum foil- one in either direction (like a cross, you want to be able to tent it when you are ready to bake)- lightly grease the foil with a very thin layer of Olive oil.
Place the puff pastry on top- (in the same manner- you want to be able to fold the edges up to cover the wheel of brie).
Put the brie in the center of the pastry and cut through the middle horizontally-so you have a top and bottom. Put the top half aside and leave the other side, rind down on the foil.
Spoon at least 2 tablespoons of raspberry jelly, jam or preserves on the bottom half. Sprinkle almonds and replace top half of the brie.
Fold up the 4 corners of the pastry so that the entire surface is covered in pastry.

Take the softened butter and spread over the closed top of the pastry. Sprinkle on additional almonds.

Tent the pastry and place in oven for at least 15 min. You will see that the pastry is starting to puff and cook. When it looks like it is almost done- open the tent and let brown.

Let cool for just a couple of minutes. You want to serve it hot but you don't want to burn your dinner guests.

Place on a large plate with a sharp knife- make sure you are able to cut all the way through.

If you would prefer to make personal size baked brie you can use the same ingredients- just unfold the pastry and cut even squares. Cut a small piece of brie to fit inside and follow the same directions to finish.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Greek Inspired Orzo Salad

This is a great recipe if you need to make something quick for a BBQ, Dinner Party or other sort of gathering and don't have a lot of time.


1 box Orzo
1 Block Frozen Chopped Spinach
1 Can Chick Peas
1/2 Red Onion- finely chopped
1 Cup Feta Cheese- (You can use more, I do- because Feta makes it betta)
1/2 Cucumber (Peeled, scooped and chopped)
1/2 Cup Chopped Artichoke Hearts
1/2 Yellow Pepper- Diced
1/2 Red Pepper- Diced
Olive Oil

Take spinach out to defrost in plenty of time. Quite often those containers leak when they are defrosting- so be sure to keep a plate or bowl underneath. Drain well. You want to make sure the moisture is removed so that your salad does not become mucky. (I know, such an advanced terminology) I also will wrap the spinach, once removed from the container/brick/packaging and place it in paper towel and squeeze the water out. It works well and you lose less of the spinach that you would if you were to use a colander.

Cook the orzo until desired tenderness. Drain- and set aside to cool off. If it starts to stick, toss it with a bit of olive oil.
Chop, slice and prepare other ingredients while orzo cooks and cools.

For the artichokes, it is up to personal preference- but, I chop the leaves off and only use the meat of the heart. I think it works better here.

In a LARGE bowl- combine all ingredients. Toss with olive oil, salt & pepper.
Refrigerate overnight (if you have time) and toss with a bit more oil before serving as the ingredients will absorb a bit of it.

Baked Brussel Sprouts with Brown Butter Guinness Sauce

Since it is nearing St. Patrick's Day and I already had some Guinness conveniently handy, I decided to dress up some Brussel Sprouts, I thought a lil Irish influence might be nice.

This is a very easy recipe.

1 Stick of Butter
3/4 Cup Guinness- there is no substitute.
1-2 lbs of Brussel Sprouts
Olive Oil

First- clean and drain the Brussel Sprouts.
Then cut off the bottom stem part and halve. If they are very small you can leave them as is.

In the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish-drizzle olive oil, 1/4 cup of the Guinness-(the rest is for the butter mixture) salt and pepper. Toss the sprouts until well coated and bake in 350 oven for about 20 min. They should be tender but not soft when they are done. About 10 min in you can remove the pan to adjust and turn the sprouts.

Use a silver bottomed pan- don't use a dark pan as you can't properly see the browning of the butter. The color of the butter sauce is important.

Place the butter in the pan and melt over medium heat. When it is completely melted you can add the Guinness- stirring while pouring. You need to make sure that the butter and the stout do not separate. Stir constantly and do not leave the mixture unattended.

Stir with a whisk and let reduce for about 20 min. You need to be sure that the alcohol reduces. You should end up with a light caramel colored sauce with a nice nutty aroma. It should be thick like heavy cream.

 Remove Brussel Sprouts from oven and arrange in serving dish. Top immeidately with Guinness Butter.
Serve Hot and Cheers! 

Green Guinness Cake with Bailey's Buttercream and Whipped Cream Filling

My Goodness - My Guinness.

The recipe was developed from a Red Velvet recipe...Paula Deen's to be exact.
I took components of the Red Velvet and made it less southern and more Irish- and dare I say, more delicious. Who needs Corned Beef and Cabbage for St. Patrick's Day?!

Green Guinness Cake:

2 cups sugar
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 ounce green food coloring
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup Guinness
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Container of Green Sprinkle Sugar

In a mixing bowl, cream the sugar and butter, beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Mix cocoa and food coloring together and then add to sugar mixture (I always do this in a disposable solo cup- to avoid staining anything); mix well.

Sift together flour and salt. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk and Guinness. Blend in vanilla. Add baking soda to mixture.

Pour batter into 2 or 3 (depending on how many layers you want. I went with 2)8-inch round greased and floured pans. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from heat and cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting I wanted a traditional Buttercream texture-wise but need a little more ooomph.
There are 2 parts to the frosting and filling of this cake. To keep it lighter- I used a Bailey's Whipped Cream for the center filling. To top it off I used the Bailey's Buttercream.

Whipped Cream Filling
12 oz. Heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup Powdered sugar
3 tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream

Combine ingredients in KitchenAid or use a hand mixer in a large bowl. Be careful as you will get a splash of cream if you turn it on too high. (I wrap a dishtowel around the mixer to prevent a splash.)

**Just as a side note- if you want a less intense Bailey's flavor, use plain whipped cream. Just leave out the Bailey's in the above recipe.

(-The middle of the cake, between the 2 layers can  be filled with either the Whipped Cream Filling -as listed above- or extra Bailey's Buttercream.)

Bailey's Buttercream

2 sticks softened butter
4 cups Sifted Powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
2 Tablespoons Heavy Whipping Cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Beat butter for a few minutes on medium speed.  Add 3 cups of powdered sugar and set mixer to the lowest speed until the sugar has been incorporated with the butter.  Increase mixer speed to medium and slowly add vanilla extract, salt, cream and Bailey's and beat for for 3 minutes.  

If you need to make the frosting thinner- add more cream or Bailey's. If you need to thicken it- add more sugar. It should be firm but, fluffy.

This amount of frosting will only frost the outside of the cake. If you want an interior layer of frosting - double the amounts above. 

To frost the cake- I cut off the uneven top portions of the cakes so that they are flat and level. You can do this by laying them flat on the counter and using a bread knife so take off the rounded top of the cake. Make sure it is level.

Spread the whipped cream filling on the top of the bottom layer, then place 2nd layer on top- rough side down.

You should have the smooth side of the cake facing up- as you don't want crumbs to break off and muddy up your frosting skills.

Use a large scoop of the frosting- place it in the center of the cake and swirl out to the corner of the cake. Finish off with the sides.

Sprinkle green colored sugar on top of the cake from some sparkle.

**The original Buttercream recipe came from The Savory Sweet Life and was altered to create the Bailey's Buttercream.