Blake Lively’s Favorite Pastry Recipe

Doesn’t this recipe sound so delicious? Maybe I’m just hungry…figs, sausage, brie, puff pastry…all things I love. Sounds spectacular.

I’ve had a fairly easy pregnancy as far as not getting sick, but the one big bummer has been that any sort of sugar gives me a headache almost immediately.  So I’ve had to say sayonara to sweets but luckily, I’ve been pretty safe with lots of fruit so that’s usually where I turn to get something sugary.  I think this recipe sounds like a fantastic dessert idea for me!  (bourbon flavored maple syrup…am I allowed to have that? I bet it’s divine.)

Doesn’t Blake Lively just seem like such a lovely lady to be baking with in your kitchen, tearing off pieces of bread, chatting and sipping lemonade?  I love to hear her tell the story about her sister tiling her bathroom in Louboutins, and if you stick around through the 2:30 mark, you’ll get a close up shot of her stunner of an engagement ring. Whoa.

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Lime Shrimp with Coconut Rice

lime shrimp and coconut rice via Williams-Sonoma

lime shrimp and coconut rice via Williams-Sonoma

Whenever I need to treat myself (or friends) to a nice dinner, this is always the recipe I think of first.  Why, you ask?  Because it’s delicious and I love the coconut-lime combo.  Do yourself a flavor favor: grab the necessary ingredients and give this one a go for yourself.  You’ll thank me later!  Oh, and don’t forget to put on Harry Connick Jr.’s “A Wink and a Smile” while you’re prepping…it always puts me in a good mood!

Here’s the recipe (via Williams-Sonoma), and if you’re a coconut lover like me, I recommend sprinkling in a generous handful of shredded coconut to the cooked rice to give it even more of a coconut kick!  To round out the plate, we usually add a side of healthy black beans, which makes a great combo for a delectable day-after burrito (that’s if you’ve got any left over!).

Enjoy!

What are your favorite go-to recipes?

 

Chocolate Rum Cake

If you come across Captain Jack Sparrow and he’s wondering where all the rum has gone, go ahead and let him know it’s in this here cake.   The first time I baked it was like taking a shot of rum with every bite I took.  Oddly enough, no one who ate it complained.  I like to think it’s because I found a seemingly acceptible way for alcohol consumption at all hours of the day.  I guess I should also inform you that I’ve previously made it acceptable to eat cake for breakfast (which, btw, how cute is this?), so clearly this is just natural progression.

My German-French friend Dona made this lovely cake and brought it to me at work and she claims to have followed the recipe but I swear hers didn’t taste like mine because I’m pretty sure I didn’t feel like I was consuming alcohol at work. I would remember that. My first go ’round the alcohol tasted more concentrated in the center – like it hadn’t baked out enough – but the second time the outer rim of the cake tasted more pronounced so I’m not quite sure.  If you’re worried, go easy on the booze.  If you really love rum, have at it.  Also, Dona says that this is the easiest cake ever and if you forget things like flour, it still turns out great.  German-French women are so chic.

French Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups Dark Chocolate Chips
8 oz. Salted Butter
3/4 cup Sugar
5 Eggs
1 cup Rum (I think I used Bacardi Gold…and one day I swear I’ll try Malibu because I love coconut)
1 tbs. Pico de Gallo (or espresso, or orange zest, or ground anise…whatever you’d like to compliment the chocolate)
1/2 cup Flour

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Melt butter and chocolate in a saucepan, careful not to burn chocolate.
  3. Separate egg yolk from egg white.
  4. Beat egg whites with mixer until it becomes stiff (looking a little bit like snow).
  5. Beat egg yolks with sugar until it turns whitish and thickens.
  6. Combine chocolate and egg yolk until nicely mixed using a wooden spoon.
  7. Add rum, spice(s) and flour.
  8. Carefully fold egg whites in, trying not to flatten the egg whites by folding too long.
  9. In your cakepan of choice, bake for 20-30 minutes.
    -Cooking times may vary by oven – mine took a little over 25 minutes.
    -To check if ready, slide a knife in cake. Knife shoud come out still a little wet (looking like very moist crumbs) in order to maintain it’s rich, gooey texture.

Decoration (optional):

  1. Ganache — melt chocolate chips with heavy cream to taste.
  2. Grinded and roasted hazelnuts or pistachios, caramelized with sugar.  Dona roasts grinded nuts in a pan without any oil and when they start to smell roasted and look darker, she adds sugar to make an “amateur prailine.”
  3. Be awesome like Dona and grow beautiful flowers in your garden to adorn your lovely French cakes with alcohol in them.

Have you ever made a cake with alcohol?

Baking With No Eggs

20121023-122512.jpgHave you ever really been craving pumpkin bread (me, on Sunday) or brownies (Mumbles, last night) and gather all of the ingredients to start making your desired delectible treat only to discover you don’t have eggs? Blast! What to do, what to do?

Last year when Mumbles and I moved to our first home and were making daily trips to various Home Depot and Lowe’s stores around Orange County we popped into Sprouts on occasion (there wasn’t one near us at the time) and stocked up on some good staples and goods we wanted to try. I nabbed a few different types of oils (coconut, walnut, grapeseed) and flours including blanched almond and coconut, along with flaxseed meal to try out some of the gluten-free recipes from Elana’s Pantry and just to experiment in the kitchen. (note: Elana’s Pantry recommends not to use Bob’s Red Mill almond flour – read more here)

After a few scoops into the flaxseed meal, I noticed a little note on the side of the packaging that suggested flaxseed meal as a great subsitute for egg. Well, what do you know! (did you know that? I didn’t know that!)

For one egg, mix 1 tbsp flaxseed meal with 3 tbsp water and let sit for a few minutes before adding into the recipe just like you would an egg.

There are, of course, some recipes where you simply can’t substitute an egg (say for example, the delicious chocolate rum cake recipe from my French/German friend, Dona – recipe coming soon, promise!). But, I tucked away that little nugget of knowledge to save for an eggless day, which has been used many-a-time and twice this week alone!

I made the pumpkin bread mix from Trader Joe’s on Sunday when we hosted Mumbles’ family for an afternoon barbeque dinner and I didn’t tell anyone I did anything sneaky like not using eggs and they raved about the loaf. Then, last night, Mumbles was desperately craving brownies. Feeling a little guilty for having still not yet been to the grocery store for milk and eggs, I decided to try the little flaxseed meal trick – which henceforth should be called “the craving saver” or something truly heroic because it is. The brownies didn’t bake up nice and fluffy like they usually do with eggs, but lucky for us we like our brownies gooey and fudgy but also a bit crispy (I love the edges and should probably get that thingamajig that you pop into the pan to make all the pieces edges…gosh, what will they think of next, right?!). The brownies almost had a carmelized flavor to them so they might not have been fantastic for a dinner party because they wouldn’t make for pretty presentation but they were perfect to spoon hot out of the oven and straight into a bowl with ice cream. And straight from said spoon into my waiting mouth.

Have you used this little trick?  Any other nifty substitutes to share?

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water mixed with flaxseed meal is a handy egg substitute

What’s for dinner: Stuffed Artichokes

Okay, not quite dinner, I know (although I could eat these stuffed artichokes until I’m downright stuffed myself). I found this lovely little recipe and video how-to on Daily Candy about a year ago and have been making it for quiet nights in and dinner parties to rave reviews every time.

The recipe instructs that you cut off the top of the artichoke and the stem so that it can sit flat.

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I use kitchen scissors to snip off all the pointy leaf tips then open up the artichoke so it looks like a pretty ranunculus flower.

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Then, create a simple little mixture of Parmesan, oregano, bread crumbs (I usually just crumble up crackers or wheat thins – whatever I have on hand), and garlic salt to taste.

Spoon the dry mixture into each little leaf so that later there’s a tasty nugget on each of the leaves when you pull it off. Add some garlic to the center and then place the artichokes in a pot or deep pan with a half inch of water in the bottom. Drizzle a little olive oil over the artichokes, turn the stove to medium heat and steam them for about 40 minutes.

When they are done the leaves will be easy to pull off and it’ll smell crazy delicious. Be careful, though, because it stays hot and steamy for a while.

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Never eaten an artichoke like this? Pull an individual leaf and hold it with your fingers by the tip. Put the bottom in your mouth and slide it through your teeth to get the meat of the artichoke and cheesy goodness. If you’re entertaining, don’t forget to leave out a plate or bowl for guests to discard their scraped-off leaves (kinda like the already-sucked-out-shells of edamame).  On the other hand, if you’re at home in front of the couch, just chuck ’em back onto the plate when you go back for the next one! 

Enjoy!

What’s for dinner: BBQ Ranch Salad

Mumbles is like a lot of guys in that he has to have meat on his plate to consider it a meal. This was pretty tricky for me in the early dating stages, as I’ve been known to have meals that consist solely of bread, cheese and wine. (I later learned to add salami and nuts to round it out a bit for him). Even sometimes now when I’m not up for cooking meat I get a little worried… that is until I decided to make myself like black beans. Dr. Merrett can attest to the fact that I’ve told her [probably a million times over] of how I learned to love tomatoes while living in Spain with BFOTB, forced myself to eat pickles until I began to crave them, and even tried to partake in the party staple deviled eggs (that one hasn’t stuck yet). So, I’m proud to present the new Mumbles and Stick Girl go-to favorite for when we don’t want to cook meat but still want to pack a punch of healthy protein in a meal: the BBQ Ranch Salad.

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I cut up a bunch of fresh veggies like celery, tomatoes, carrots, and bell peppers (and would have used corn if I had any). Next I added in half a can of black beans and some pepper jack cubes to give a slight kick to the salad, then added the leafy greens and tossed everything together with light ranch dressing and barbecue sauce. The finishing touch was crumbling some tortilla chips on top.

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It was super delicious and because I was too lazy to dirty up more dishes/find it somewhat romantic to eat out of the same bowl (again with the two forks, one bowl – this is really starting to stick! – or just completely make people throw up in their mouth a little. gosh, we’re like the kind of couple that sit on the same side of the booth at restaurants… okay, yes, we do that, too, sometimes. stop judging me.), we were fighting back and forth over all the yummy nuggets of goodness in this tasty salad.

What are your go-to recipes when you don’t have/want meat?

What’s for dinner: Pork Chops in Wine Sauce

My sister-in-law, the future Dr. Merrett (who is also a future Mrs.) and I decided to get a little creative with dinner last night. Pork chops. Pork chops are an intimidating meat. We found a fun little recipe online featuring what I consider to be a fantastic main ingredient: wine. Other ingredients included sage, rosemary and garlic. We rubbed the pork chops with those tasties and a pinch of sea salt and pepper before placing them in a skillet with olive oil to cook for a few minutes on each side. Four minutes on each side, to be exact. Next comes the good part: add the wine. The recipe calls for 3/4 of a cup of dry white wine but merlot sounded really good to me. And don’t tell anyone but we might have added a lot more than 3/4 cup. Let it simmer in the wine for 25 minutes (we flipped them at the half point). During all that goodness, we boiled some peeled potatoes. Once the pork was ready the potatoes were too. Quite convenient. We simmered the wine sauce a bit and then poured it over the pork chop and potatoes. Oh, and also sprinkled sone parmesan on those potatoes. Remember, cheese makes everything better. Write that down. The potatoes are a bit bland which is good because the seasoning and sauce of the pork is insanely delicious. Trust me. The Dr. and I are happy our men weren’t around for tonight’s feast because it was unbelievably awesome and they might expect this ridiculously good food every night. Not possible. We are adding this to the “when I really need to impress people” recipe list. Plus, it was super easy to make, surprisingly enough. Just don’t tell anyone and they’ll be really impressed. Mumbles came home later and ate the leftovers. I think he loves me more because of this meal. Seriously.

Here are photos of each step and the final dish:

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Do you make pork for dinner? How do you make it? Leave your comments below!

Cheers!