Mrs. Carla Monti

Mrs. Carla Monti

Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year's Cupcakes!

Since I dropped the ball this year and did not bake Christmas goodies for my friends, I promised myself I would rectify the situation come New Years Eve. Today I baked Vanilla Latte Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream, topped with gold sprinkles. (Both recipes are courtesy of Annie's Eats.) I used Bailey's Coffee liqueur, along with espresso powder, and freshly brewed American coffee to achieve a strong coffee taste and color, and then the light, fluffy vanilla frosting gave it the whole 'latte' taste effect. The packaging idea for these cupcakes came from Pinterest, but you can view the link here. I think the effect is elegant and pretty, and these would be a big hit for a baby shower, bridal shower, or even as a goodie bag from a wedding. One of my co-workers actually gave me the leftover cupcake liners from her wedding cupcake tower, so they really helped in making these pop!


Comfort Food!

Today was a cold day for South Florida, and a very typical one for our winter season at a balmy 61 degrees. I decided to take advantage of the weather and make a comfort food dinner. I used a Salisbury Steak recipe from All Recipes that I have used before. I love this recipe, it is easy to make and very flavorful using ground sirloin beef and French onion soup, along with other traditional meatloaf-type ingredients. I added half a cup of red wine to make it more gravy like. I kept it simple and made a pot of white rice and cannellini beans to serve alongside.




Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

Christmas was very special this year. Not only was it the first one for my boyfriend and I as living together, but it was also our official one year anniversary. We didn't really celebrate on the day since we were with both of our families, but I decided to surprise him with a romantic dinner a few days later. I feel like I haven't been in the kitchen, cooking a meal in ages. Between my busy busy job and school, I have not had the time, nor made the time, for about two months. It felt so good to grocery shop in WholeFoods and come home and be a little housewife. I decided to keep it simple, with fresh flavors. I had some lovely tilapia filets, and I baked them in foil with diced cherry tomatoes, chopped garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, lemon slices, salt, and pepper. To serve alongside, I decided to oven roast four different types of veggies and not serve a rice or pasta side. I diced butternut squash, yellow squash, zucchini, and portabella mushrooms and roasted them in olive oil, salt, pepper, and a bit of garlic powder. Everything came out fresh, delicious, and so healthy! I also made a simple chocolate mousse, using heavy whipping cream and melted Ghiardelli dark chocolate, to be served with raspberries. Yum!




















Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!

2012 is almost over! I can't believe it is already Christmas Eve, as this month truly flew by. Work has been both insanely busy and rewarding and baking a mere afterthought ... something I plan on changing with the new year! Today I made time to get my bake on and put a Carla twist on a holiday classic - red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. I made them 'pink velvet' instead and garnished with grated white chocolate, to create a cute 'snow' effect that matches the snowflake cupcake liners! I used a red velvet and frosting recipe from Joy the Baker, because she does not use cocoa powder in the batter (there are some picky non-chocolate eaters in my Christmas midst, so I was mindful). Merry Christmas everyone! :)

Recipe courtesy of Joy the Baker!





Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mini Red Velvet Cheesecakes!

In honor of another lovely co-worker birthday at work, I whipped up mini red velvet cheesecakes topped with Godiva white chocolate liqueur whipped cream and garnished with white chocolate chips! I used dark chocolate fudge cookies for the crust. Recipe courtesy of Betty Crocker :)










Saturday, December 1, 2012

Holiday love!

Wow I can't believe I haven't posted in about a month! November has been crazy what with my birthday, Turkey Day, the semester wrapping up, work being insanely busy, and life in general being busy and lovely. I did manage to bake something today which was nothing short of miraculous as I have been eating out and getting takeout often these past few weeks! I definitely had to reacquaint myself with the kitchen this morning!

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins with Maple Almond Butter Glaze and Cinnamon Sugar on top! The almond butter and cinnamon-sugar grinder were two lovely gifts I received in the fall as part of the fabulous Foodie Penpals program, thanks again girls!




Monday, November 5, 2012

Cannellini e Pomodoro sul Polenta!

Yesterday I was in an Italian mood (as I tend to be, 90% of the time). I wanted to try polenta, but since I had never cooked with it before (and eaten it rarely in restaurants), I was apprenhensive to try my hand at slow cooking cornmeal over a simmering pot. I took the easy route and bought a 'polenta log' at whole foods, a roll of pre-cooked polenta you can can break down into creamy polenta or slice into rounds to bake or grill with. I sliced it into rounds and drizzled with olive to bake them up into crispy, salty polenta cakes. I mashed up some stewed tomatoes in garlic along with cannellini beans, and the dish was born.






Sunday, November 4, 2012

Birthday Baking!

Tomorrow is a joint birthday celebration at work, and being the resident birthday queen, I rolled up my sleeves this weekend, ready to bake two very different birthday treats for two very different co-workers!

Orange Creamsicle Cupcakes!





Mini Berry Cheesecakes!





Thursday, November 1, 2012

Foodie Penpals: October Edition!

Foodie Penpals, round two! This month, I sent a package to lovely Katie, over at The Eight Hour Project, and she also an author on a site about all things D.C., We Love DC! I had alot of fun making her package, and I sent her some of my Crispy Chocolate Cookies as the homemade component.

My package came from the fabulous Julie, of Julie Goes Healthy. She sent me the most incredible box of goodies! It put the biggest smile on my face. Thank you so much Julie!

This pie pan is amazing ... you can make TWO different types in one pan! I love this idea, and Julie suggested flavors like apple and pumpkin ... I can't think of two better pies :)

Adorable cookie cutters! Can't wait to test them out ... hm Christmas sugar cookies perhaps?

Here are some great drinks and snacks that I am definitely bringing to work next week! Some very unusual flavors here, I am looking forward to trying them all :)

Macadamia nut coffee? I love this idea!

Cinnamon sugar grinder ... perfect for baking!

Great healthy snacks and drinks to keep in the cubicle :)

Such a cute card!

Grazie :)



Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkin Ale Cupcakes!

In honor of a friend's Halloween party tonight, I baked up some Pumpkin Ale Cupcakes, recipe courtesy of My Baking Addiction! I haven't baked with beer before, and I was very happy with the result! Even though there is an entire bottle of beer (12 oz) in the cupcakes, what you taste is an enhanced, deeper chocolate flavor. The only change I made was to the frosting, instead of using all butter, I added cream cheese and sour cream, along with a bit more of the pumpkin ale, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. I topped them with little candied pumpkins I picked up at the Fresh Market! I was very pleased with these turned out, as I was naturally wary of using such an odd ingredient in cupcake-making, however they are both tasty and festive!








Bourbon Honey Pears

I find myself constantly inspired to bake or cook from all the lovely foodie pages of blogs that I have 'liked' on Facebook. My newsfeed is always full of gorgeous cupcakes, delicious-looking dinner ideas, and fabulous drink recipes! Yesterday's dessert was no exception - Bourbon Honey Poached pears from Cook Bake Nibble!   A booze-infused sweet dish? I'm so there!  








Sunday, October 21, 2012

My love affair with Pumpkin....

As October marches on towards the end of 2012, I find my love affair with pumpkin to be still going strong. Today's baking was no exception! I wanted to make honey pumpkin muffins from Better Bee Honey, however I realized I didn't have any honey on hand! I did however have maple syrup, and after a quick Google search to find out the exact substitution (a little less maple syrup per 1 cup of honey, plus some white sugar), I was raring to go! I paired the pumpkin maple syrup mini muffins with cinnamon mascarpone cream cheese frosting, garnished with a walnut. I love this combination of fall flavors!



Roasted Potato Quiche!

Quiche is one of my go-to recipes. It is versatile, and so easy to adapt to whatever you have in your kitchen, or whatever vegetables happen to be in season. I typically make quiche with frozen spinach and garlic, but today I only happened to have small red potatoes on hand, so I sliced them and roasted them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then I prepared my standard (depending on the contents of my fridge) quiche filling, with 5 eggs, mascarpone, ricotta, Muenster, and Parmesan cheese. I made a quick batch of dough for the quiche crust. I didn't have any butter, so I made the dough with olive oil and it tasted great! I always use this recipe from Chocolate and Zucchini and it is fast and perfect every time. I topped the quiche filling with the potato rounds and it tasted great!



It made for an easy Sunday lunch, and will be perfect to take to work tomorrow!

Vino!

Friday night, the man and I checked out a new (new for us) little wine bar here in Boca, called Vino! It is a small, adorable, and very romantically-lit bar full of wines and great Italian food, served tapas-style. We ordered grilled calamari and meatballs with whipped ricotta, to go along with our wine. If you live in the area, I highly recommend visiting Vino for a little vino :)





The couple that cooks together....

One of my favorite aspects of my relationship is how much my boyfriend and I love food and wine. The man actually works in the restaurant industry, so he is constantly in a foodie environment. We love to go out to eat at new places, as well as go food shopping and cook together when we have the time. Thursday night was one of those nights! We're both big seafood-lovers, so our dinner was very fish-centric.

This was my boyfriend's invention. Scallops covered in breadcrumbs and butter, cooked in bacon in all its fat and juices. In other words, heaven!

Next: shrimp cooked in lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, salt, pepper, garlic, and white wine ... classic and classically delicious :)

And our standard side dish: garlic bread!

Served alongside oven-roasted mushrooms, then doused in an amazing sauce made from butter, marsala wine, and olive oil!




Monday, October 15, 2012

Crispy Chocolate Cookies!

Yesterday I was in a cookie-baking mood. I'd previously made two cookie recipes from Joy the Baker, her Cappuccino Cookies and her Dark Choc & Pistachio Cookies, both fabulous, but I decided to try a mash-up version of both recipes, and add a special ingredient. Instead of simple espresso powder, I ground up dark chocolate-covered espresso beans into powder, and used that instead. The power of espresso bean and chocolate really brought home those flavors. I used a little more sugar, and baked the cookies for a bit longer so that they really flattened and crisped up. Beforehand, I made sure to stop at Homegoods to stock up on vanilla extract and a cute new spatula!









What goes great with deeply chocolatey and coffee-flavored cookies? A full-bodied red of course! The man and I tried a new one, The Velvet Devil, from Washington State! Love the name and loved the taste :)


Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen: Manic Monday Party #13

Friday, October 12, 2012

32 East!

My boyfriend I spent a lovely evening in Delray Beach, a cutesy little beach town full of restaurants, bars, and boutiques. It was one of the first slightly chilly, breezy nights and we walked to the beach after dinner. It was so great to wear a scarf! I can't wait for cooler temperatures and the season of boots, scarves, and sweater dresses to begin down here.

As always, we love to order a bunch of appetizer and entrees and then share. We both share a big love for food and love to go out to eat and try new restaurants. The restaurant we went to was upscale American, called 32 East! Here are some of the dishes we tried last night:

Pumpkin Bolognese Rigatoni:




Grilled shrimp with chickpeas, lettuce, and avocado cream (the avocado cream was my favorite part!):



The next dish was my favorite of the night: prosciutto wrapped figs, baked until crispy, over a bed of sliced grapes, walnuts, and melted cheese!



Dessert: rich dark chocolate mousse, croquant, and port-wine pear (that was the best part!):



Delicious! If you live in the area, I highly recommend a visit :)