Friday, June 29, 2012

Boozy Bites

What better way to kick off a 'holiday' weekend (I think when a holiday lands on a Wednesday we should get two weekends to celebrate...right?) than with a dessert that's every bit boozy as it is sweet. We had some friends over to break in our grill (more on this later) after an afternoon spent on the beach. We had talked about making rum cakes for some time, and decided to finally get baking when dinner was cooking outside. 

We used a recipe almost identical to this (and might have added a little extra rum to the glaze) and used light brown sugar in place of white. 

As a rum cake should be, this cake is beyond moist and really does get better with age (resist the temptation, it's worth the wait!) If your making this for a party or guests, I reccommend baking and glazing 24 hours ahead of time.

We substituted two 8inch rounds for the bunt pan and the cakes came out both perfect in size and texture. The cake alone is incredibly delicious as the nuts compliment the rum baked into the cake--but the glaze is what takes this over the top.

We can't wait to see what variations we can make using this technique--we were thinking an almond/pineapple cake with coconut rum glaze--

What are you sipping (or snacking) on this weekend? 

Greta--our new grill, is seeing a lot of action already, especially as temperatures are forecasted over 100 degrees this weekend. We love Greta and we're so happy to have her in our lives.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Summer Slumps

Hi Readers! We've survived a weekend and another Monday...and things are getting hot. No, literally--summer arrived here in a big way with temperatures this weekend threatening 100. Westerners, you're already there.  Things around here have been a bit in a slump. I almost can't seem to catch up with anything (I'm looking at you grass and Ranger hair tumble-weeds down the hall, and bank account numbers that are consistently going in the wrong direction to support a shopping habit).  I have been in the kitchen, but mostly making old standbys...or small fun things that I only think of to take a picture of on the very last bite (as in finger almost in my mouth from the last swipe of the plate/bowl). I've also been sneaking way too many grilled cheese & tomato sandwiches into my diet. 

My kitchen recently received a much needed sidekick in the form of a grill this weekend, so I hope to fire that up this week (you can decide for yourself if that pun was intended) and start a whole new world of Dressing on the Side for the warmer months. I'm particularly looking forward to grilled chicken recipes and creating the ultimate grill top dessert.

Meanwhile, a late wedding gift in the form of custom cutting boards that I featured here. These are every bit as impressive in person as they are online. I can't wait to have a small bites party and use it for a cheese plate or serving tray. 
 My dad visited this weekend and the neon light was on. We had to stop for a dozen right off the belt.
We took the ferry to a tiny beach town just south of here for a Sunday walk and coconut mocha iced coffees. I can't wait for some slightly cooler days to take a ride over with D for leisurely lunch.

I hope things settle down soon and I find some balance as the days get longer and hotter. I've got some new features planned for you guys and hopefully a facelift very soon :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sweet Oven Cornbread

 Growing up as part of an Italian family in New Jersey bread was often a staple during meal times. Cornbread, however, was not. Hosting D's dad for Father's day this weekend, I decided to do something a little untraditional for me but comforting and familiar for him (D and I are very 'city girl meets country boy').  We had the cornbread along side a family recipe for Italian Style pork chops--someday I might just share that one with you, too.

I used this recipe from Paula Deen and it turned out exactly as promised. Slightly sweet, moist and most importantly, very easy to make. I used an extra 1/2 tbsp of sugar, but think next time I'll use 2 tbsp of brown sugar--to keep things a little extra sweet!

I suppose it's time to earn my stripes here in the south and start working on my barbecue skills...

*also new incredible Ikat print bag from the Limited that I'd been keeping my eye on for months. It's been featured on Refinery 29 and Glamour's top 10 totes for summer. and I'm so happy to have it for the summer! What are you SO happy to have for the summer?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Potato Chip Chocolate Chip Cookies

For as long as I can remember I've always helped out in the kitchen baking cookies.  There was sneaking of raw dough during sugar cookie roll outs and the frustration from the year my mom ordered a cookie press from QVC. Around the holidays every surface in my grandmother's kitchen was covered in sheets of cookies to be filled with preserves, rolled and sealed and carefully baked for guests. My favorite cookie always was (and still remains) the  chocolate chip cookie (so much so that last week I was DYING for a cookie and had to Google a 4 cookie total recipe so I didn't go overboard consuming them. Let's be honest--the intention is to just eat one..okay maybe two..and before you know it you've downed a dozen. No judgies--you do it too..)

When D brought home this recipe for potato chip cookies, I immediately thought of the chocolate factory back home that we visit every trip up to get a bag of chocolate covered potato chips. The thick chocolate shell and salty, potato center are the perfect blend of sweet & salty and unlike anything else I've ever come across. 

We followed the Martha Stewart recipe exactly for the first batch and after a taste, I decided immediately that a few changes needed to be made--most notably--they needed chocolate chips.

Here's the original from Martha Stewart's July Issue,

Here's what I came up with....

Chocolate Chip Potato Chip Cookies
(makes about 2 dozen)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 c packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/4 c all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 4 cups coarsely  crushed salted potato chips, divided.
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a stand mixer, combine butter and sugars until fluffy--about 2 minutes. Add in the vanilla and eggs and mix on medium until combined.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour until combined. 

Fold in 2 cups of the chips and the chocolate chips until just combined. 

Make tablespoon sized balls of dough and roll them in the remaining crushed chips. Place the balls on a parchment lined baking sheet about 1-2 inches apart (I did about 9 cookies per sheet). Bake for 9 minutes, then rotate your pan and bake an additional 3-4 minutes until golden brown. 

Place the cookies on a cooling rack to cool before consuming. 

Just like potato chips, these cookies are impossible to eat just one.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Southwest Stuffed Peppers

On my quest to add more vegetables and fruit to our diet, I decided to tackle a new dish that's packed with fiber, protein and a rainbow of veggies. Disguised with a spicy sour cream, these stuffed peppers mimic all of the great flavors of a stuffed Mexican burrito without the carbs of tortillas or temptations of fatty sides like guacamole and cheese sauce. You literally can taste the freshness of all of the produce offerings of a summer in the south.

Southwest Stuffed Peppers
(makes 2 peppers)
  • 2 green bell peppers (try to find shorter, fat peppers with fairly level bottoms)
  • 1/2 lb lean ground beef (or chicken or turkey)
  • 1/2 - 1/3 c black bean and corn salsa (we made it here)
  • 1/4 C shredded Mexican cheese (or substitute any cheddar blend cheese)
  • 2 tbsp diced onion
  • 1 clove of garlic, grated or finely minced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c sour cream
  • 1-2 tsp chili pepper sauce (such as sriracha)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium skillet heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add in the ground meat, diced onion and garlic. Season the mixture with the chili powder, cumin and salt & pepper and cook until meat is browned. While cooking the meat, be sure to break it up with a wooden spoon.

Stir in the black bean and corn salsa until heated through and well combined.

Remove the top 1/4 - 1/2 inch of the bell pepper and carefully remove the seeds and ribbing.

Fill the peppers with the meat and salsa mixture and place in a shallow baking dish (for two peppers I used a loaf pan and it worked great!). Sprinkle the top of each pepper with the shredded cheese. Cover the pan loosely with foil and bake for 35 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes until the cheese begins to brown and peppers become tender. 

To make spicy sour cream simply combine chili pepper sauce and sour cream. Add a dallop to each pepper before serving.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer so close...

Some weeks, regardless of my best intentions, I just can't seem to get into the kitchen long enough to create anything worth sharing. While not over worked or over committed--I just couldn't exactly get into the kitchen to do my thing. I tried a few things that need tweaking before sharing--ones worth checking back for (hopefully next week). An impromptu surprise party, late nights at work and a long day with D doing things around the house (including but not limited to being drenched in weed-b-gone) left little time for making meals ---I might have also insisted on an al fresco lunch by the water yesterday after my traumatic morning in lawn care. 

I did whip up this gem last night that will be a perfect way to use up all that summer squash that's just on the brink of taking over gardens everywhere for the next few months. (The ingredient list might look familiar, as I love love love these flavors as seen here and here).

 Summer Squash Pizza
  • one ball of fresh pizza dough (check the deli section of your grocery store!)
  • one medium zucchini, sliced super thin (I used the biggest side of a box grater)
  • ~6 oz goat cheese
  • 1/4c sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar *
  • 1 tsp honey*
*optional balsamic reduction drizzle for a little extra special flavor and presentation (highly recommended! plus, who doesn't want to say 'summer squash pizza with balsamic reduction' ? SO fancy)

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Meanwhile, in a small saute pan heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the thinly sliced zucchini and season with salt & pepper. Cook for 5-8 minutes until tender crisp (so cooked a little bit, but still has some crunch).

Stretch your dough out onto a pan , round or rectangular and drizzle with remaining 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle on the garlic powder and bake for about 5 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and top with the zucchini and crumbled goat cheese. Bake again for 5 minutes.

Remove the pizza from the oven and top with the sun dried tomatoes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees and bake 2-3 more minutes until crust is golden and the cheese is just starting to brown.

*balsamic reduction:
In a small saucepan combine the vinegar and honey. Heat over medium heat, whisking occasionally until the liquid reduces down to 1/4 cup (or the vinegar can coat the back of a spoon). This takes about 10 minutes.  Use as a drizzle over the pizza.

Our view from lunch down at the beach. It was the perfect afternoon for eating outside and relaxing. We sipped on lemonade & shared lemon pepper curly fries. I had a soft shell crab sandwich and D had a basket of fried oysters.  Follow me on instagram @ktvcox

Monday, June 4, 2012

Dessert Bruschetta

As I mentioned Friday for the sneak peak, in addition to my day (and by "day" I mean, day, night, weekends & holiday) job & Dressing On the Side, I'm a food contributor for Minted--a magazine for the girl who has (or wants to have) it all.  I came up with this recipe as a great way to serve an impressive dessert without sweating for hours in an oven heated kitchen. It's beautiful presentation is eye catching and rustic enough to have your guests serve themselves. The blend of herbs with the strawberries creates a flavor profile that will have everyone wondering what that last hint of flavor is (it's the basil mixed with the mint!) Are you drooling yet?

Serve it for dessert or on a brunch buffet, or even as an afternoon snack.

For the full recipe see the Minted post here.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sneak Peak: The Summer Issue of Minted

Good Morning Dolls! So I have some incredibly exciting news for you ladies today. For a few months now I've been contributing to Minted Magazine--an incredible resource for the modern career girl or anyone who loves fashion, food, beauty and inspiring women. I've written a few recipes for their blog on Foodie Tuesdays and have found some of the most inspiring women who make up Minted.

The Summer Issue of Minted is finally here! Well, it’s almost here—it’s releasing this Monday, June 4. If you don’t already know what Minted is and you’re into fashion, food, beauty AND awesome profiles of female entrepreneurs, you’ve been missing out. It’s a quarterly online women’s lifestyle and business magazine aimed “for the modern career girl.” This latest issue has special sections focused on eco-friendly living and for soon-to-be mothers! The cover even features eco-friendly swimwear designer Mallory Curlee of CurleeBikinis.

Today we have some special sneak peeks especially for you—if you like what you see, you’ll love what’s in store for you on Monday.

Long summer days just sometimes aren’t enough for you to make wardrobe changes to take you from the sandy beach to a candlelit dinner with your better half. Minted has you covered in its Style File “Day to Night” section. With a swap of some accessories and pieces, you’ll be good to go for the day!

Yes, nowadays it is common to be a successful entrepreneur and careerwoman while still managing a family! And who says you can’t look awesome while you’re doing it? Founder and designer of Endure Jewelry Sunny Arada modeled the latest in maternity fashion that you can sport during and after your pregnancy! Yes, ladies, that means you don’t have to shell out money for clothes that’ll only fit that belly for a couple months!

Did you know that women control more than 60% of all personal wealth in U.S.? Even with stats like that, it’s surprising that women only make up 3% of the advertising industry’s creative directors—the very people in charge of selling you products. So why are men in charge of attracting brands that women are supposed to buy into? Find out why in the Summer Issue of Minted!

Alright ladies, go update your bookmarks and visit Minted to catch up on the premier Winter issue and the incredible spring issue of Minted. Don't forget to like Minted on facebook so you'll be updated with the daily blog, including Foodie Tuesdays.