Mrs. Carla Monti

Mrs. Carla Monti

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!

Spaghetti Squash Alfredo With Chicken Sausage and Kale!

We recently went to our awesome neighbors' house for dinner, and we ate this incredible spaghetti squash with diced chicken sausage and sauteed kale, in a creamy (and healthy!) alfredo sauce. I had never cooked with spaghetti squash or chicken sausage before, and I was intrigued. I made this at home a few weeks later and it was delicious!

I highly recommend this recipe - it's healthy but packed with flavor and texture!

Recipe link here!

Salted Caramel Cheesecakes!

Our lovely neighbors invited us over for dinner recently, and I brought along these mini salted caramel cheesecakes for dessert. I love making variations on the simple cheesecake recipe, and I almost always make them in mini form. I prefer a dessert be more individualized, and easy to grab or share in, versus making one large cheesecake in a pan.

Recipe adapted from here!

Happy Birthday Hubby! 2017

My husband recently turned 30 (on the heels of our 2nd wedding anniversary!) so we celebrated with a party at home, and invited plenty of family and good friends. He always requests the same cake (4 years in a row now!) and it's a simple, but delicious ricotta vanilla cake. I typically whip up some fresh cream with a little vanilla extract, and top the frosting with some fresh berries or sliced fruit. My husband doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, so he enjoys natural sugars versus artificial flavors.

Recipe link is here!

Broiled Catfish Fillets!

In my household, seafood reigns supreme. Given that we are half Italian (husband) and half Portuguese (me), we are big lovers of crab, lobster, fish, clams, mussels (the list goes on and on!)

Our toddler is also in love with seafood (thank goodness!) so I am always trying to incorporate new and different ways to cook seafood in our house.

One night recently, I decided to pick up some catfish fillets instead of our usual salmon fillets. Using shallots, fresh parsely and thyme, and lemon, I broiled them in the oven and they came out so tasty and fresh!

Recipe link here!

Vegetarian Meatballs With Masala Sauce!

I saw this recipe via video on Facebook, courtesy of awesome blog/site Pinch of Yum! I was immediately on board with the concept - a veggie base for the "meatballs", and a sauce made from tomatoes, coconut milk and Indian spices? Delish!

These were quite a hit in my household. I used a mix of cauliflower and broccoli florets for the base, so the "meatballs" were a little bit green at first, and I chose to bake them versus cook them on the stovetop, but these were minor changes, and the overall dish was fantastic. The sauce was silky smooth and so flavorful!

Find the complete recipe here!

Banana Cupcakes With Coffee Kahlua Frosting!

For a former coworker (and very good friend)'s birthday in January, I made banana cupcakes with an espresso and Kahlua cream cheese frosting. Yum!

The cake, flavored by ripe bananas, is moist and fluffy, and the creamy, coffee-flavored frosting is a great complement to the banana flavor.

She loves flamingos, so I couldn't resist adding a decorative garnish at the end!

Recipe adapted from here!

Skittles Vodka!

I made these for fun one day (no intention of drinking them anytime soon)! I picked up 5 mini Absolut bottles at my local liquor store, and one bag of Skittles. I separated the skittles by color, and put them in the bottles. I shook them up and left them out on the counter for a few hours. The colors are so pretty and look cute as a decoration in a kitchen or bar area. These would also be cute in a gift basket for friends!

A more detailed process can be found here!

Red Velvet Cheesecake Swirl Brownies!

I made these delicious, rich, and creamy red velvet cheesecake swirl brownies last month, just in time for Valentine's day!

The brownie batter is your basic, classic brownie batter, dyed red with food coloring, and layered into a pan. In a separate bowl, prepare the cheesecake filling, and drop on top of the brownie batter in dollops. Put a few drops of red food coloring on top. Next, using a butter knife (or toothpick), make the swirl design all the way across the top of the batter. Bake, cut, and voila! Beautiful and delicious!

Recipe link here!