Mrs. Carla Monti

Mrs. Carla Monti

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Ritz: A Food (and Drink) Diary!

Two weeks ago, my work held a two day conference at our local Ritz-Carlton. I organized the event, and we all had such a blast! The people who work at the Ritz are some of the most competent, professional people I've ever met. The conference went very smoothly, and there was plenty of time to explore the amazing food and drink options offered.

For our first day, late afternoon conference, we served freshly baked cookies, along with a sliced tropical fruit platter.

Enjoying a late afternoon glass of white wine in front of the ocean!

Dinner that night at the downstairs restaurant, Burlock Coast, was fabulous! (Info can be found here.) The rum-based cocktails packed quite a punch, and the fried oysters were divine!

The mini dessert station following lunch at the next day's conference was amazing!

Mini Key Lime Pie:

Mini Lemon Cheesecakes:

Mini Dark Chocolate Charlotte Shooters:


And later, some delicious strawberry daiquiris (with floaters!) by the hotel pool on the 7th floor.

And finally, a delightful surprise in my room from the thoughtful guest services, a mini fruit basket!

Saturday Picnic!

Last Saturday, I prepared a simple picnic, as I was getting together with one of my girlfriends, her nearly one-year-old daughter, and my nearly two-year-old daughter. We took the kids to a local park with an awesome splash pad, and had a great time!

I LOVE my picnic basket that I got from Amazon.

Mimosas with raspberry ice cubes, served in adorable pink tumblers! What a view!

Mushroom tarts in puff pastry! Recipe link here.

And fruit kebabs for dessert!

Sunday Brunch!

Last Sunday I decided to host a simple, elegant brunch for two of my girlfriends. It had been awhile since the three of us were able to get together, so I wanted to keep the food simple and easy to eat, and the mimosas flowing as we laughed and got caught up on each other's busy lives!

For the mimosas, we kept it classic with champagne and orange juice - but I added my own twist by using ice cubes that had frozen fresh raspberries inside!

I made individual baked French toast servings in creme brulee dishes, instead of ramekins, because I did not want the servings to be too deep. This is an easy recipe, and you can do all the prepwork the day or night before! Then just pop the dishes into the oven 20 minutes before your guests arrive. The added bonus - your house will smell amazing! I sifted some powdered sugar on top, and had freshly sliced strawberries and raspberries alongside some high quality maple syrup.

You can find this recipe here.

I went back to an old staple - baby quiches! I have made these so often, I don't even look at a recipe anymore. I generally make these when I have a ton of leftover shredded cheese (of a variety of flavors) leftover in my fridge. I always keep chopped frozen spinach in my freezer, so I just cooked that down in a hot sauce pan with diced yellow onion and minced garlic, to add to the shredded cheeses (cheddar, provolone, mozzarella, parmesan, and colby jack), 5 beaten eggs, and salt and pepper. Delish!

For the final dish, I made these hash brown egg cups with chopped bacon that I had seen on Buzzfeed's Facebook page a few weeks ago. The hash browns did not crisp up quite as much as I wanted them too, and I think that was because they were not as finely chopped as they should have been. Noted for next time! You can find this recipe here.

Et voila! Brunch is served, alongside some beautiful fresh spring flowers.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Lemon Raspberry Muffins!

I love my family's lazy Sundays. We hang out at home, play outside, and I bake when the baby naps! Yesterday I decided to make these lemony, zesty, and perfect-for-spring muffins. With fresh, tart raspberries swirled into the muffin batter, these were a big hit at home and at work.

Recipe link here!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Swirl Muffins!

Okay, okay - I know it's not fall yet (far from it!), but since I recently started a new job (yay!), I decided to bake one of my favorite muffins to bring into my new office. As always, I like to celebrate any occasion with baked goods, so why should this be any different? :)

These are just heavenly - delicious, lightly spiced pumpkin muffin with a creamy center of cream cheese filling. The combination makes for such a moist, flavorful muffin that goes so well with a glass of cold milk.

Recipe link here!

Chicken Mushroom Stroganoff

I have a lovely red crockpot, that I very rarely use. I will make pulled pork, maybe once every two months, using my crockpot, but other than that, I am really not making much use of it. I frequently come across many slow cooker recipes on Facebook or Pinterest, but few of them grab my attention.

Last Friday, we celebrated a good friends' birthday at my house, and I decided that, instead of trying to cook something after work with people over and my toddler running around, I would remove that element of stress by making dinner in the crockpot.

Here are my modifications / things I would do differently next time:
  • Mix the cream of chicken soup (I used an organic one, NOT the Campbell's chock-full of sodium version), dry French onion soup mix, and cream cheese more thoroughly, before pouring on top of diced chicken and mushrooms. The reason behind this is, I found that the sauce was a little lumpy after 8 hours of cooking on low heat. If the wet ingredients had been more thoroughly whisked beforehand, perhaps it would have all melded a little bit better together.
  • Overall I enjoyed this recipe, but found it could have used some more spices or herbs to punch up the flavor a notch or two.

Recipe link here!

Healthy Morning Muffins!

Another great recipe coming from a Buzzfeed video posted to Facebook. I swear, every day I click "Save Video" on more and more of these! What a great way to find new and interesting recipes to make.

These banana oat-based muffins are so healthy, there is no added sugar, and the muffins' light sweetness comes from honey, cinnamon, banana and blueberries. These were very tasty to eat at my desk, an hour or so after my morning workout. I didn't try (yet) to give one to my toddler, but I bet she would enjoy them as well.

Recipe link here!

Mushroom Risotto!

I love risotto, and I love mushrooms, so this was a no-brainer to me. Risotto is truly a labor of love - you are essentially chained to the stovetop for a good 30 minutes, as you constantly replenish the risotto with ladlefuls of hot chicken stock for it to absorb and take on the creamy, dreamy consistency that we all know and love.

I used a recipe from Giada (recipe link here), but I would make a few modifications in the future.

  • I used 1 diced yellow onion, so I forgot to cut the amount of butter in half. It was okay because everything cooked down well, but initially at least, there was too much butter.
  • I'm honestly not sure that the dried porcini mushrooms that I re-hydrated in hot chicken stock, imparted any special flavor to the overall risotto. I would probably skip this step next time, and instead use a wider variety of fresh mushrooms.
  • For the fresh mushroom component, I selected a box of sliced baby portabella mushrooms (instead of the boring white mushrooms Giada called for), and this was great, but in my haste, I forgot to dice them, so I would definitely chop them more finely in the future. Ultimately, the size of the mushrooms cooked down anyway so the final product didn't feature large chunks or anything, but to make a more cohesive dish, I can tell that dicing the mushrooms more finely would be best.
  • This recipe called for way too much chicken broth. There was at least 3 cups of hot broth I ended up pouring down my sink. 
  • The recipe didn't call for enough Parmesan! I doubled the amount, ultimately.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Banana Walnut Cupcakes!

I made these on a rainy Sunday afternoon. They were perfect with my morning latte!

Recipe link here!

Butterbeer Cupcakes!

We recently celebrated a close friends birthday, and in this particular trio of friends, we are all Harry Potter-obsessed! Since she is a fellow baker, I knew I had to pull all the stops and make Butterbeer Cupcakes!

The vanilla, butterscotch and cream soda flavors all meld together into a creamy, rich, flavorful cake and frosting. Yum!

Recipe link here!

Baby Nutella Cheesecakes!

Who doesn't love nutella? These are rich, chocolatey, and oh so good! With a buttery Oreo cookie crust and topped with mini chocolate chips, these are a win-win!

Recipe link here!

Spicy Cauliflower Burgers!

Another classic from Pinch of Yum! I love this site, and get so many healthy recipe ideas from them.

This recipe has quite a bit of prep time, so be warned! First you have to cut up a head of cauliflower into florets, sprinkle with lots of spices, and roast. While the cauliflower is roasting away, boil water to prepare the quinoa. Then grate a block of monterrey jack cheese. Combine with breadcrumbs and eggs to form patties. I chose to bake the patties instead of cook them on the stovetop (as is my tendency with this kind of thing), because although I added one more egg than the recipe called for, I didn't feel the patties were strong enough to withstand so much flipping around with a spatula.

I prepared these with toasted sesame buns, chipotle mayo, shredded lettuce, and smashed avocado. They were so good! My husband came home from work and ate 4!

Recipe link here!

Veggie Nuggets!

I saw this video on the Buzzfeed Facebook page, and I was all about it. Veggie nuggets? Perfect for me, considering my toddler has never had a chicken nugget before (and won't anytime soon - if I have anything to do with it!).

These are fantastic - made with a broccoli, cauliflower and carrot base, they are filling and healthy. I made a spicy siracha ketchup dipping side (adults only!) and they made a great weeknight dinner. I sauteed some spinach and prepared some rice to serve alongside the nuggets.

Recipe link can be found here!