Mrs. Carla Monti

Mrs. Carla Monti

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mini Red Velvet Cupcakes!

Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting are such a classic and elegant combo. My favorite color is red and I love the flavors of light chocolate and sweet cream cheese, so it's always fun to whip these up. The special occasion this time was that it was one of my new co-workers birthday, a very sweet girl. Her favorite color is purple so I dyed the frosting and topped with white pearl sprinkles. I used a recipe from Annie's Eats, and made two variations: I added espresso powder and substituted butter for vegetable oil, to make the cupcakes more rich. They were a big hit in the office! I always think the best form of praise is when someone is telling you how much they like your cupcake with their mouth full ;) Such a compliment!




Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fruity Ice Pops!

About two weeks ago, I was browsing foodie blog pages on Facebook, and this delightful picture from Divalicious Dishes caught my eye:

How beautiful does that look? So colorful and refreshing. I immediately wrote in my planner "Crate & Barrel" and sure enough, days later, I had my own set of ice pop molds:

The next step was to get ingredients for the fruit pops. I decided to start simple and make two layers, one with pureed strawberries, sugar, and freshly squeezed lemon juice, and the other with pureed blackberries and a touch of honey. I love using my Magic Bullet for anything fruit-related (I gave up on my actual juicer a long time ago!) so this was certainly no exception.

After filing the molds (which filled surprisingly fast - I had leftover blackberry puree and lemon juice!), I popped them onto the handy red tray and put them in the freezer. And yesterday I pulled them out:

I took one out and put it in my favorite over-sized wine glass...

 ... and added some of my favorite Pinot Grigio (Santa Margherita!)

It was the perfect summertime drink for extremely hot and humid weather. Yum! Love the color combination here. I can't wait to try other fruits, like mango, peach, blueberries. Delicious!

Source: Divalicious Dishes!



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Snickers Cupcakes!

Snickers Cupcakes .... take it in .... the idea is so gloriously chocolatey and decadent ... this is not a cupcake for the faint of heart! This is also not a cupcake to skimp on ... no 2% milk or low-fat sour cream on the menu!

The first time I made snickers cupcakes was in November of 2011 and they came out great! I was blown away by how much a cupcake could taste like a candy bar. I had seen the recipe on AmyBites, but she had gotten it from the always fabulous Annie's Eats. I decided to re-make them to bring them into my new job :)

I don't often stop in the middle of the baking process to snap a pic of cupcake batter, but this was a special exception. If you make these, it will be a serious challenge not to polish off a good size of this bowl, right at the moment .... it tastes JUST like snickers, but in heavenly cake batter form.

 YUM! :)



Simple Dining!

I have said this before, but my boyfriend and I are TOTAL foodies. We spend alot of time either in grocery stores, restaurants, or even watching Food Network together. Lately we've been on a staying-in streak and have been cooking a far share. We had a very memorable dinner a few nights ago, memorable because it was so simple but so delicious! My man did most of the actual cooking while I was relegated to garlic-chopping duties, but as it turned out, I was okay with that ;)

For the protein, we sauteed shrimp in a heavenly sauce made with freshly-squeezed lemon juice, diced garlic, white wine (Chablis), butter, and a healthy splash of white Martini Rossi, our secret ingredient! The Martini is a brand of herby-aromatic vermouth, and it added a wonderful depth and surprising sweetness to the shrimp that made them so very delicious! The lemon juice added a spark of freshness and the wine, butter, and garlic mellowed it all out and made for a rich, flavorful liquid.



We also cooked some green beans in boiling water and doused them with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt - the simplest and best way to eat green beans! A bowl of simple garlic and herb rice pilaf rounded out the rest of our dinner.

Sunshine in a vase :)

Here's a snapshot of our dinner from last week. My man made burgers on the grill (on French hamburger buns - my favorite!), guacamole, grilled shrimp skewers, mushrooms in a sweet red wine and brown sugar sauce, and mashed sweet potatoes.




Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

For father's day, I knew I had to make my dad's favorite dessert - vanilla cupcakes. He loves the simple flavor and I only use the best vanilla extract:

So I decided to jazz up the traditional vanilla cupcake by adding Godiva white chocolate liquor. Then I made some pink vanilla buttercream frosting with milk and coconut oil, and topped with coconut for a tropical take on the traditional vanilla cupcake classic!


For breakfast, we kept it simple at home. Pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup, omelets with hash browns, and some cute chocolate and apricot cookies from our local Italian bakery. Paired with a lovely latte and cupcake - it made for a wonderful Father's Day brunch!


Love you papi!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Black Bean Burgers!

I LOVE cooking with beans, they are healthy, colorful, tasty, versatile; what's not to love? So far my favorite bean recipes have been white bean hummus (with cannellini beans), black bean burgers, chickpea burgers, etc! Since I'm evidently on an Annie's Eats old school kick, last night I made black bean burgers and topped them swiss cheese, crunchy multigrain sandwich thins, and mashed up an avocado with lime juice and salt as the 'condiment'. Yum! The patties were soft, but flavorful and moist due to a combination of spices I added while pureeing the beans, so they were more like sandwiches then burgers, but still hearty nonetheless.

And for tonight's dinner I went to a little Russian cafe in the most random location - the third floor of Bloomingdale's at my local mall. I had quiche and a fruit and veggie salad, alongside a glass of Merlot. Delicious!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Lemon Blueberry Cupcakes!

It is most definitely summer here in South Florida! Crazy high temperatures, near 100% humidity, glaring sun - also huge thunderstorms that roll through practically on a daily basis. I decided to ignore all of that and make a lovely springy-summery dessert ... lemon blueberry cupcakes! I love the spark of freshness from the lemon zest and freshly squeezed juice (which I always go overboard with) and the shock of color and sweet flavor of the blueberries. My staple recipe for this cupcake mix comes from the ever-lovely Annie's Eats. I made these once before, for my family's New Years Party a few months ago, and they looked great with festive gold sprinkles, but yesterday I opted for the more traditional blueberry garnish atop lemony cream cheese frosting. 



Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas, Part Two!

I am a big fan of homemade Mexican food. Beans, sour cream, avocado, cheese, tortillas ... what's not to love? The ingredients are delicious, and versatile. With a few pantry staples and spices, you can whip up your own version of a taquito, enchilada, burrito, quesadilla, etc! My first attempt at chicken enchiladas was back in April but I knew I needed to try them again. For lunch today, I decided to make them, but minus the red sauce. My goal was to use ingredients I had on hand and to not run to the store last minute!

I had some leftover chicken cutlets in balsamic vinegar from dinner last week, so I shredded them and then marinated them with lime juice, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.

Next I diced some slices of Swiss and muenster cheese, and started to form the enchiladas. I rolled the chicken, black beans, and cheese bits in corn tortillas.

Assembled enchiladas, with cubed cheese on top.

Baked, golden brown, bubbly goodness!

I mashed up an avocado with a bit of lime juice and salt and slathered it on top of the enchilada pieces, along with some sour cream.

Yum! :)


Update!

I haven't updated in so long! I have been traveling a bit, I went to my best friend's graduation in D.C., my baby cousin's wedding in Micanopy (FL) and Orlando with the parentals. I also started a new job at a law firm - and I am loving it thus far! This week I have still been training a fair bit at work, so I only managed to cook one night. I went to an old standby - chicken cutlets in pomegranate balsamic vinegar and red wine (the Cupcake Red Velvet - one of my favorites!) along with roasted yellow squash and zucchini slices. I made a simple bed of greens with baby spinach tossed in lemon olive oil and white wine vinegar to go with the chicken.

I love the dark color of the chicken as it absorbs the vinegar and wine!

The other nights went a little something like this .....

Scallops over creamed corn!

Garlic toast, filet mignon, and baked blue cheese!


GIANT ice cream cake!