Mrs. Carla Monti

Mrs. Carla Monti

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Juice Day Two!

I am getting more adventurous in the juice-making-department (and by that I mean I added a vegetable) and today's juice was lovely both in its deep orange color and varied ingredient list. Included:
  • watermelon
  • pineapple
  • baby carrots
  • lemons
  • red apples
  • bosc pears
  • oranges

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Juice Day One!

My girls at work are interested in Join the Reboot, a nutrition plan by an Australian named Joe Cross, who also directed the documentary "Fat Sick and Nearly Dead", which is about making dramatic changes in diet for a healthier way of living. I am the latest one to jump on the bandwagon, nonetheless the ladies and I have started with plenty of fruits and veggies and our fancy juicers. My first attempt last night included: 1 pint strawberries + 1 pint blueberries + 1 pint raspberries...

Made on 03/28/2012.
+ 4 red apples + 2 pears...
Together with my (daddy's) lovely juicer...

And voilà!

Here is what I learned .... berries make beautiful colors for juice ... berries do not make much juice themselves ... berry juice is not very sweet ... adding apples to any juice will make it very sweet and delicious and thus making it unnecessary to add anything other than fruit! I am very much looking forward to adding different types of fruit and slowly incorporating veggies, starting with a citrus-carrot blend.

Spinach Quiche!

Being a fan of spinach, cheese, and anything that comes in tart-form, quiche has been in my repertoire for some time. My favorite 'filling' recipe comes from All Recipes, and I had never really wanted (or felt the need) to bake it with a crust before today. Having recently ordered these gorgeous little tart pans, I knew I wanted to improve my standard quiche. Using Foodo Delmundo's crust recipe, this was the best quiche yet!

Made on 03/28/2012.

Rolling out the dough and filling the tart tins ....

Mix cheeses, salt, pepper, and eggs...

Saute thawed spinach, garlic, and onion in olive oil....

Cutting the remaining dough for the outer crust ....

Prick tart pan bottoms with a fork and brush the dough with a beaten egg....

Pre-bake the crusts at 350 degrees F....

Mix the spinach/onion/garlic mixture in with the eggs, cheeses, and seasoning....

Fill the quiche crusts with 1/3 cup of the filling ...

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until cheese is golden and bubbly....

Let cool....



Okay, this is the last quiche glamor shot. ;)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pesto, Spinach, and Mushrooms!

Thanks to so much Italian in my life, I've discovered a late-blooming love for spinach and mushrooms. I liked them before just fine, but now find myself absolutely devoted. Pesto has always been a favorite of mine, but only homemade! Store-bought pesto is atrocious. I'm also really into whole wheat pasta, more and more. The color is pleasing (as well as natural!) and tends to have more of a bite to it, something I appreciate as a total al dente fan. Last night I made a simple pesto (basil, pine nuts, walnuts, lemon juice, garlic, Parmesan, salt, pepper) and tossed it with whole wheat mini shells (conchiglie). I sauteed sliced white mushrooms in butter and olive oil until tender and wilted a big bunch of fresh spinach with it. I mixed everything together, sprinkled Parmesan on top, and voilà! Dinner is served :)

Made on 03/19/2012.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Baked Risotto and Bridal Cupcakes!

I love Joy the Baker's blog, I love her pictures, the way she writes, her recipes, everything! When I saw she had managed to successfully BAKE risotto (with one stir no less!) I knew I had to make it very soon. I haven't yet made risotto but I figure since it is it's time-consuming stir-ness that intimidates me, why not try Joy's baking method? It was a definite success and the flavors of Parmesan, lemon, thyme, and red pepper flakes really came through, giving it a mild spicy bite. Delicious!

Baked Risotto!

Made on 03/17/2012.

One of my friends is getting married next month and for her birthday celebration this evening, I choose to take yet another page out of Annie Eats' book with these chocolate Kahlua cupcakes. This is simply the best chocolate base cupcake recipe you will ever need. I substituted sour cream for buttermilk and the cake is delicious - moist, chocolatey (more so with the espresso powder - yum!). After I took the cupcakes out of the oven, I brushed them with Frangelico liquor instead of Kahlua (coffee liquor). I added White Chocolate Godiva liquor to the frosting (as well as some pink food coloring), and topped them with pearl sprinkles and little brides and grooms! :)

Chocolate Cupcakes with Kahlua Buttercream Frosting!

Made on 03/18/2012.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Parisian Pastry!

One of my good friends is visiting Paris and came across this delicious-looking pastry in a bakery! So lovely.

Cupcake Jewlery!

Thanks to Cupcake Project (one of my favorite blogs to follow), I discovered Sarita's store on the lovely website Etsy. She is a genius and has several different necklaces and earring sets with various little cooking-related charms. This one stole my heart:

I have several cupcake things including an apron (Anthropologie), earrings (Forever 21), t-shirt (Forever 21), planner (Amazon), but this piece is definitely my new favorite. You can visit her lovely store here!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spaghetti All Aglio e Olio!

This dish has to be one of the simplest, yet it is so delicious! Using fresh ingredients and letting their flavors shine in a basic plate is key. I sauteed white mushrooms in butter and olive oil, then added 5 minced garlic cloves and a bit more oil. I then added 9 oz of baby spinach leaves and cooked it down with the juice of 1 lemon. I cooked spaghetti until al dente, and then added 1/3 cup of pine nuts to the spinach-garlic mixture. Before draining the spaghetti, I reserved two tablespoons of the starchy cooking water and added it to my veggie mix (it keeps everything together!). I dropped the spaghetti in the pot and added a touch of white wine and cream, and stirred it all together. Topped with grated Parmesan and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, this was one of the best dinners I've had in awhile!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Vanilla "Doctor" Cupcakes!

My very good friend just finished his Ph.D (yay!) so a group of us went out to dinner last night to celebrate. In his honor, I made simple cupcakes with a twist - little chocolate "Dr"s on top! It was my first time doing it and it was so easy. Melt a bar of bittersweet chocolate and when cooled, pour into a small ziplock bag and snip one of the corners off. Then 'draw' the word, letters, or design you want on wax paper over baking sheets. Put them in the freezer to harden and the peel them off and top your cupcakes! Super cute and easy!

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes with Cinnamon Frosting!
Made on 03/12/12.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Baked Squash Mac & Cheese!

Baked Squash Mac & Cheese!

Made on 03/11/12.

Variations: I used sour cream instead of Greek yogurt, and my three cheeses were Pecorino Romano, Parmesan, and Cheddar. I used whole wheat rotini for the pasta, and Italian breadcrumbs instead of Panko. Delish!

The squash is great - not only is it a healthy addition to the mac & cheese, but it provides a wonderful creamy texture and gorgeous color! I was apprehensive about this flavor combination, but everything melts together very well :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Cookie and Cake Sandwiches

My lovely blogging friend Ann has a fantastic blog, At The Patisserie and another one discussing her amazing 11 week service trip to Ghana, Serving in Saboba. I decided to make her recipe for Mocha Choc Chip Cookies and turn them into cookie sandwiches with some leftover whipped cream from my Victoria Sandwich-inspired cake (see below).

Made on 03/10/12.

Variations: I halved the recipe (as I tend to do). To make the filling, I whipped 1 cup of heavy cream with 2 tbsp white sugar, 1 tbsp confectioner's sugar, and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. Delicious! 

Vanilla Rum Cake Sandwich! From The Pioneer Woman! Made on 03/10/12.

Variations: I made this cake in two pans so as to be able to sandwich them together. The cake halves are vanilla rum flavor, and they are sandwiched with cherry jam. The frosting is whipped cream and topped with blackberries!

One afternoon's worth of baking! Whew!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cherry Cheesecake Swirls!

Cheesecake Swirl Bars!

Variations: I didn't have any Nutella and am deathly afraid of owning any since when I first discovered it freshman year in college, I had an immediate 5 pound weight gain! Anyway, I substituted the dangerous chocolatey-hazelnut spread with cherry jam and the ensuing red swirls made me very happy indeed!

Made on 03/06/12.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Spain & Portugal ... a Food Diary!

Fresh off a 10-day road trip through Spain and Portugal, I have now sufficiently recovered from both the jetlag I picked up and the nasty cold I brought back with me. Ten days of tinto de verano, Rioja, tapas, tiny pastries, puddings, fish, potatoes, and warm bread have left me happy and sated, with renewed love for the cusine of two incredibly unique countries. Here are some of the best bites from my trip:

Tortilla Española (potato omelet)

Croquetas de Jamón (ham croquettes) 

Huevos Estrellados con Jamón Ibérico (fried eggs with Iberian ham)

Macarons in Madrid...

Mini treats...

Gorgeous spread...

Pasteis de nata (egg tart pastries)