Mrs. Carla Monti

Mrs. Carla Monti

Friday, August 7, 2015

Chicken Bacon Ranch Paninis!

I love watching the Food Network and the Cooking Channel, especially since I am home all day with my newborn baby girl. My favorite chefs to watch are Giada and the Barefoot Contessa. I love how Giada makes everything with perfectly (smaller) sized portions, while I enjoy the elegance and finesse of how the Contessa makes her dishes.

One chef that I am not typically a fan of is the Pioneer Woman (Ree). I find that she cooks with way too much fat, and the whole 'far out on the farm' premise isn't really appealing to me.

Having said all that .... I found myself watching an episode of her show the other day and fell in lust with these simple panini she made. I vowed to dust off my parents old panini press and try them out. They came out incredible!

Recipe link: Paninis!

The recipe calls for chicken breasts sliced in half, but I took this step out by purchasing thinly sliced chicken breasts at my local supermarket. I seasoned them simply with salt and pepper and cooked them in a pan with plenty of butter.

Next, I crisped up half a pound of bacon in the microwave. I love this method for cooking bacon, as it is easy and the bacon always comes out super crispy! I lay down two paper towels on a large glass plate, then 4-5 bacon strips, then two more paper towels, and cook on high for 4 minutes. That's all it takes for super crispy, delicious bacon!

Finally, it is time to assemble the sandwiches. The other players here are a nice thickly sliced loaf of bread (I went with a garlicky Tuscan loaf, but ciabatta or crusty French bread would work well), slices of sharp cheddar cheese, ranch dressing, and butter.

The first step is to put ranch dressing on each slice of bread, and then place a chicken breast on top.

Next: add the bacon!

Cheese it up:

And finally, butter the remaining sides of the bread (both sides!) so that they get a nice crispy, toasted texture from the panini press.

Last step: press and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Pulled Pork Sandwiches!

I've been a fan of pulled pork sandwiches ever since I tried my first one five years ago at a house party in New Jersey. The hostess had used her slow cooker to make the pulled pork, and the tenderness of the meat. combined with the juicy flavor, was something I've always wanted to re-create.

I found a simple recipe online. I bought a 3 3/4 lb pork shoulder, bone in, and prepared a simple spice rub for the meat. The spice rub consisted of garlic powder, salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin, and paprika. Once the meat was seasoned, I placed it into the slow cooker, and covered it with two bottles of root beer. I set it on the low setting for 6 hours. After it had cooked all the way through, I took the meat out onto a cutting board and shredded it, removing the large chunks of fat that remained. I drained and cleaned the slow cooker pot. Once the meat was shredded, I put it back in the pot, and added half a bottle of barbecue sauce. I put it back on the low setting for one hour, and then prepared the sandwiches. Delicious!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Asparagus: A Love Affair (Part Two)

Last night, I put those remaining asparagus stalks to good use and turned them into a soup. First I sauteed a small yellow onion, roughly chopped, three cloves of garlic, and 1 tsp of finely minced thyme leaves in olive oil. Then I added the diced asparagus (into 1/2 inch chunks) and let it heat up for 5-10 minutes. Next, I added a combination of chicken stock and water, and let it simmer for 30 minutes. I added salt and pepper, and used an immersion blender to puree it in the pot. Final touches included a squeeze of lemon, and a cookie-dough-sized scoop of sour cream with a few sprinkled of grated Gruyere cheese for garnish.


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Asparagus: A Love Affair (Part One)

Why have I not noticed up until now how lovely asparagus is as a vegetable? A tray of gorgeous asparagus caught my eye in the grocery store yesterday, and I decided to search for a recipe that would suit my impulse purchase. I settled on these gorgeous roasted mushroom and asparagus tarts using puff pastry sheets from Bon Appetit!

My modifications:

  • I cut off the asparagus spears, and put the stalks away in the fridge to use for soup later on (most likely tonight).
  • I could not find creme fraiche anywhere, so I substituted half sour cream and half plain, non-flavoured yoghurt. 
  • I used shiitake mushrooms, and roasted them for ten minutes in hot butter. The smell and nutty, buttery, meaty taste that came off of these was incredible!
  • Puff pastry sheets are super easy to use! I thawed them for 40 minutes on my countertop, and then they were so easy to roll out and cut for the tarts.
  • This recipe is very versatile and open to changes. Besides the veggies and cream, I added in grated Gruyere cheese, lemon zest, fresh thyme (chopped very finely), salt and pepper. Simple, but elegant and delicious!

Stay tuned for Part Two: Asparagus Soup!

Recipe Link:

Mini Vanilla Bundt Cakes With Chocolate-Amaretto Glaze!

At some point over the last three years, I purchased this adorable mini Bundt cake pan.


I've used it a grand total of once before this past weekend. To make (of all things) cheesy spinache quiche mini Bundts. Why? No idea.

Last weekend, I FINALLY put it to good use, and made mini vanilla Bundt cakes, and topped them with a chocolate Amaretto glaze.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Asian Marinated Salmon!

Last night I was in the mood for something flavorful and a little different. I looked up an Asian marinade for meat and decided to use it on salmon. I loved the freshness of the ginger and garlic, paired with the syrupy goodness of the honey, sesame oil, and soy sauce. I toasted some sesame seeds to top the salmon with, and roasted diced zucchini and yellow squash to accompany the fish and white rice. Delicious!


Friday, September 5, 2014

Summer Vegetable Quiche!

This may be the 5th quiche post on this blog, but it is such an easy and tasty dish to make really for any season or meal. A quiche can be extra eggy for breakfast, full of protein for lunch, or elegantly decorated with roasted veggies for dinner.

My new favorite blog, Sally's Baking Addiction, recently featured a low calorie version of a crust-less quiche. Needless to say I made some in my tart tins and the result was tasty and light.

Recipe link here.

-I sliced up some yellow squash, zucchini, yellow onion, and garlic, and sauteed them until soft in olive oil over medium heat.

-I whisked together 3 whole eggs plus 3 egg whites, milk, salt, and pepper.

-In another bowl, I grated small hunks of sharp cheddar, havarti, parmesan, and gouda cheeses, and mixed it in with the egg/milk mixture.

-Once the veggies cooled, I mixed it all together, and poured it into Pam-sprayed tart tins. They baked for about 40 min in a 350F oven.

My boss at work had the ingenious idea of decorating her lunch plate with cherry tomatoes and raspberries, it had such a gorgeous summer look!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Blueberry Cupcakes With Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting!

Blueberries and lemon - this is the perfect spring or summer combination of bright fresh berry flavor and tart citrusy goodness. These cupcakes are perfect for those who do not like chocolate or red velvet, as they have a plain vanilla base. This recipe is so versatile, you can substitute the blueberries for any other berry since lemon goes so well with fruit flavor.

This recipe is from Sally's Baking Addiction blog.

Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes With Bailey's Cream Cheese Frosting!

These are definitely in my top three list of favorite cupcakes to make! My go-to recipe comes from Brown Eyed Baker's blog and it is easy and delicious (I do not use the whiskey ganache, however).

Although I would categorize these cupcakes as an 'autumn' recipe, nothing stops me from whipping up a batch in summertime.

Guinness stout, melted butter, and rich dark chocolate come together to form a moist cake that is not too dense and certainly not too sweet. Whipped Bailey's Irish cream and cream cheese make a frosting that is to die for. I highly recommend these!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Chocolate Cupcakes With Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting!

Last week, we celebrated the birthday of a close family friend. Every year I ask her to tell me what she would like for her birthday dessert and this year she just said, CHOCOLATE! After asking a few more questions to establish preference of frosting, I knew it was time to incorporate Nutella somewhere into my standard chocolate cupcake.

The result was beautiful - the frosting is perfectly chocolatey but not sickly sweet, and the cake came out moist and rich.

Frosting recipe can be found here!

Strawberry Shortcake Parfaits!

I love making layered desserts that can be served in any type of glass whether it's a water glass, wine glass, or funky serving dish. They are easy to make, look beautiful, and taste great!

Strawberry shortcake parfaits are my go-to dessert because they are so simple. I'll buy a box of strawberries, heavy whipping cream, and a pound cake. After whipping the cream with some sugar and slicing the strawberries and cake, I begin the layering.

In this instance, I used graham crackers, pureed with butter and sugar as the dense base instead of sliced pound cake. Delicious!

Pancakes ... it's what's for breakfast!

I've been on a pancake kick lately. Since I've been home more, I've taken to making my squishy breakfast after he rides his bicycle on his mornings off.

First ... blueberry pancakes!

Next ... banana walnut buttermilk pancakes!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Holiday Baking!

Happy December! These are red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, topped with sprinkle-coated decorative marshmallows.