Mrs. Carla Monti

Mrs. Carla Monti

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Pregnancy: Foiled Expectations and Many, Many Surprises!

When my (now) husband and I found out we were expecting last November, we experienced the usual flurry of emotions: joy, panic, terror, excitement, etc. Being the first of our friends (and family) to become pregnant has been an interesting experience (to say the least), and there are so many things that happened that defied any expectations I may have had at the beginning of this process, along with many well-meaning people's "advice" and other notions which were ultimately dispelled over the past months.

Now that I am officially eight and a half months pregnant, I feel comfortable putting my words down and cataloging just what those expectations and surprises have been, during my own, personal pregnancy ride.

You're going to throw up!
False. My pregnancy has truly been very smooth and easygoing. My body has charmingly given me most of the typical pregnancy symptoms to experience, however the duration of each symptom did not go beyond a day or a week at a time, and always mild in nature. I did experience some nausea in week 6, but it never got so far where I actually threw up. By week 7 it was gone, never to return again!

You're going to gain so much weight!
Also false. My body was fairly fit prior to conceiving, and I naturally eat well and exercise, so by maintaining all of these routines well into my pregnancy, I have actually been 'under' gaining weight according to my 'category', which is a blessing for me, and perfectly safe and natural. Since I was healthy and not overweight or obese prior to conceiving, my 'category' means that I should gain between 15 - 25 pounds by the time of labor. I'm a few weeks away from my due date, and barely breaking through the 15 pound mark.

Your belly will reach the steering wheel and make driving difficult!
Maybe I sit really far back in my car (although I doubt it since I am petite!), but this is definitely not going to happen.

Mood swings!
Okay let's get something straight: nothing, and I mean NOTHING, could have prepared me for the 'rage'. Pregnancy rage has been the most transformative aspect of this entire experience, by far. I may not have had morning sickness, heartburn, weight gain, or other symptoms like some of the other mamas, but I definitely got the 'rage' for months at a time, and always intense. I NEVER experienced rage towards my husband or towards my parents, but basically I spent months hating people intensely. I felt that everyone around me was just so dumb, and everyone was making terrible, stupid decisions and living their lives in utter mediocrity. It was very bad and it got to a point where I could barely be in the same room with someone that I was experiencing rage towards.

Maternity clothes!
Every woman's body is different, and certainly women have very different reactions (physically) to pregnancy. Some women gain a horrible amount of weight and do not even look pregnant, and others sport a neat, pretty little baby bump. Horribly shallow of me, but I am glad to belong to the second group. I only gained weight in my belly, I am well into my third trimester and still wearing the same bras, underwear, bikinis, and other clothes as when I was not pregnant.

You won't be able to sleep!
Sleep is SO important to me. It's up there in the top things I love, along with my husband and family. I take naps on weekends, and need at least 8 hours of sleep a night - and this is when I am not pregnant! I am sure I have many sleepless nights ahead of me when my daughter finally graces us with her presence (or maybe not - perhaps babyhood, like pregnancy, will surprise me with foiled expectations as well!), but I have been able to keep my sleeping habits well into my third trimester. I certainly experience fatigue from time to time, but I make sure to listen to my body, and do as it tells me.

Maternal instinct?
For the first 20 weeks of my pregnancy, I swore up and down that I was carrying a boy. No one could convince me otherwise, I just KNEW, and it was my first powerful maternal instinct. Like so many other trendy couples, the hubs and I decided to find out the gender by throwing a gender reveal party at my parent's house. NOTHING could have shocked me more when pink balloons flew out of the box - I nearly fell down! Of course, everyone in our lives is so over the moon about our little baby girl, Giuliana Maria, and we cannot wait to meet her soon!

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


It's been 6 months since I posted last and so much has happened!

  • My husband and I got married in January!

  • We're expecting our baby girl in early July!

  • I'm graduating from my MBA program in early August!

It's definitely been an incredible whirlwind over the past few months, and Mike and I have enjoyed every step of the way. We are beyond excited to meet our beautiful baby girl in just a few weeks (12 more to go!)

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.

Baby Salted Caramel Cheesecakes!

This is possibly one of the best desserts I have ever made. Mini salted caramel cheesecake cupcakes .... you need to make them.

Baby cheesecakes are SO easy to make and they taste very fancy! They are also super versatile - you can add cocoa powder or food coloring to the actual cheesecake part to change up the flavor, and then top them with anything ranging from candy, fruit jelly, whipped cream, frosting, etc. 


Birthday Cupcakes!

I made these fun, beach-themed Kahlua cupcakes for one of my good friends at work last month. The decorations were my favorite part!

Halloween Cupcakes!

Vanilla bean pumpkin cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Pumpkin Ale Cupcakes!

Pumpkin ale cupcakes are a dream. A beer-enriched chocolatey batter and a pumpkin spice-flavored heady buttercream to tie all the flavors together.

Recipe courtesy of My Baking Addiction.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins!

Hearty and healthy pumpkin chocolate chip muffins! Recipe courtesy of Joy of Baking.

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Cupcakes!

Happy October! It is most definitely the season of pumpkin. To kick off the pumpkin baking, I started with basic pumpkin spiced cupcakes and cream cheese frosting - a classically delicious combination. Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Guiness Cupcakes with Bailey's Frosting!

These were made in honor of a special Irish-American friend's birthday - Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes with Bailey's Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting! I adapted the recipe from Brown Eyed Baker, essentially just removing the whiskey ganache filling part. I topped the frosting with a dark chocolate espresso bean. Yum!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Birthday Mom!

Mom's birthday cupcake request this year was a bit odd - she requested chocolate cupcakes with Bailey's frosting. Nothing wrong with that combo (nice one Mom!), but it was a bit out of character for my fruit-loving, booze-shunning mamma. Regardless, the birthday girl had it her way!

Espresso Chocolate Cupcakes with Pink Bailey's Buttercream (rosette themed)!

Mac n' Chese Cupcakes!

For a co-worker without a sweet tooth (gasp!), I had so much fun playing around with a savory cupcake recipe. These mac and cheese 'cupcakes' were delicious and adorable - the baked breadcrumb topping really set them off!

Chocolate Kahlua Cupcakes!

For a very special co-worker birthday, I made chocolate Kahlua cupcakes. The batter contained Kahlua and so did the cream cheesey buttercream, and both came out fabulous! I topped each one with a milk chocolate-covered pretzel for garnish. Yum! Why are boozy cupcakes the best?!

Mini Donut Cupcakes!

In a team as big as mine, it is always somebody's birthday at work, it seems. This time, I decided to make mini donut cupcakes - with a simple vanilla base, and coffee-flavored creme glaze, and topped with a perfectly miniature sized donut. These bring 'coffee & donuts' to a whole new level!