Mrs. Carla Monti

Mrs. Carla Monti

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkin Ale Cupcakes! 1

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!


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 :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins!

As its obvious all over my blog, I am a BIG fan of the lovely blog known as Annie's Eats. Annie has recipes for every genre of food, and seasonal cooking always features heavily. As the year marches towards the end (how on earth is it October already?!), I am getting more and more into the spirit of fall cooking. Fall is my favorite season, and probably the only time during the year that I will lament living in sunny South Florida. Leaves changing! Pumpkin patches! Apple picking! These activities are not a part of my life down here, but a girl can dream.

Let's starting dreaming with the most glorious pumpkin spice muffin recipe EVER. Pumpkin muffins flavored with traditional fall spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves, topped with a crackly cinnamon-sugar topping, and cream cheese-sugar filling inside! Are you drooling yet? I was so intrigued by this recipe - the filling is not piped in at the end, but instead frozen, and then sliced and placed halfway through the batter! This muffin-making was a two-day process. I whipped cream cheese and confectioner's sugar yesterday, and rolled it into a log, wrapping it carefully in plastic wrap and aluminum foil, to hold its shape. Today I made the muffin batter, and filled the bottom of the baking cups with a bit of the batter, then sliced the log into rounds, and placed a round (or ball - it is sticky to work with!), and then filled the cup the rest of the way with batter.

Next step was making the topping. Flour, white sugar, cinnamon, and unsalted butter gets mixed together until crumbly, and sprinkled over the top of the muffins.

I HIGHLY recommend that you put these on your "To-Bake" list! They are perfectly flavored with spices and pumpkin, and the slight crunch of the cinnamon sugar on top, along with the oozy, sweet, creamy center, makes it truly the best muffin. They are a bit more work then your average muffin (more similar to cupcakes with the frosting inside maybe?), but they are so worth it! :) Happy Baking! Here's the recipe link!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fish Dinner!

I usually grocery shop at Publix, and the other day they had something that really caught my eye. Crab meat stuffed tilapia fillets! Granted, this is something that can easily be done at home, but the idea hadn't occurred to me, so I picked up two for our Saturday night supper at home. Even though they looked seasoned, I made sure to add more salt, pepper, and Old Bay seasoning before sticking them in the oven, making sure to keep them on the bed of spinach they came ready with. To accompany the fish, I oven-roasted yellow squash and zucchini rounds with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Yum! I also couldn't resist and bought two miniature pumpkins (I've never seen them in white before!) to add a little fall decor to our kitchen.

Roasted Asparagus Salad!

Working full time and taking night classes for my master's, coupled with my boyfriend's busy work schedule, means that some nights, dinner needs to be fast! As is evident in many of my posts from this past summer, I am a big fan of compiling various ingredients and assembling them all together in one big festive platter. A few nights ago, I roasted asparagus in the oven with olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. I made some couscous with garlic and dried herbs to accompany the asparagus, along with red kidney beans, and sweet corn. I love the presentation of colors, and the contrasting sweet and salty flavors, along with crunchy and soft textures was very pleasing. This is a great vegetarian meal as well!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Orange Creme Cupcakes!

One of my favorite reasons to bake is for birthdays. It is so fun to personalize flavors, colors, and garnishes depending on a person's specific preferences. I always bake for family, friends, and co-workers, and I can't think of a more fun way to celebrate someone's special day then by sharing delicious cupcakes. This week I baked orange vanilla creme for a special member of my team at work. I made my basic vanilla cake base, with my extra-special Madasgar Bourbon Vanilla Bean paste (yum!), and topped it with an orange butter cream frosting, with an orange-chocolate covered almond as garnish. They were a big hit at work! :)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Foodie Penpals: September Edition!

Last month I was browsing the net, trying to find a good recipe for coconut cream pie per the man's request (this ended up being a total kitchen fail), when I stumbled upon the lovely blog of The Lean Green Bean. A bit more searching and I discovered the awesomeness that is Foodie Penpals! I immediately signed up for the month of September, and if you have never heard of it, you should totally check it out! It was wonderful, and I look forward to participating again this month. The fantastic blogger who I got to send a package to was Katie, over at From Ice Cream to Marathon! It was so nice to connect with her, and I had so much fun picking out all the various components for her package, including my homemade pumpkin butterscotch cookies, mentioned at the end of my last post. She is such a sweetheart, and I love her blog and how positive her message is! You go girl!

The person who sent me a package is Ruthie over at The Tasty Truth, yet another lovely lady blogger. She was recently an intern at Food Network magazine in New York (hello fabulous!) and the package she sent me was so incredible. In our exchange of emails, I had mentioned how my favorite NY bakery is Ladurée, and she sent me some macarons! I was thrilled. The other components were a beautiful note card, ligonberry juice, almond butter, her homemade Pumpkin Pie Granola (which was devoured over a very few amount of days at work!) and a lovely tea. Ruthie - thank you so much! I truly appreciate the effort you went to, and your package was fantastic!