Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cobb Salad

Yum, Cobb Salad. One of my all-time favorites. Ever. Anything with avocado and cheese pretty much does it for me. The only problem with Cobb Salad is it’s probably not the healthiest salad out there for you because of the cheese and bacon. I refuse to blame anything on avocado. The Cobb Salad I am showing you here is bacon-less, so I chose to believe it is low fat. Oh, all right, LOWER in fat than the alternative….

All three of my children have been sick for the better part of the last week and a half, so I am definitely running on fumes. On days like today the last thing I want to do is make dinner, but who else is going to? If you discover the answer to that question, please pass that information along, as it would be so very helpful! I checked my refrigerator and discovered some grilled chicken from the other night, and a whole lot of chopped romaine lettuce and voila! I knew what to make….

Ah, yes, but first I need to give credit where credit is due. I have these awesome glass containers
from Crate and Barrel that I store produce and other leftovers in. When I get home from the grocery store I usually will wash and cut-up any fruit and vegetables that need to be cut-up and put them in these handy-dandy containers. These glass containers enable me to look in my refrigerator and actually know what is in my refrigerator. It also is so helpful on a day like today to have all my souse-chef work already taken care of in the way of chopped vegetables etc.

This afternoon the light bulb above my head went off as I laid my eyes upon the fabulous glass containers housing a few ingredients for Cobb Salad. I ran to the store and picked up a beautiful Haas avocado and some crumbled blue cheese, because luckily I had all of the few remaining ingredients waiting for me in my refrigerator.  Yes, in glass containers.

First, I hard-boiled three eggs and let them cool. I grabbed large bowls for salad- the largest I could find to make beautifully, bountiful Cobb Salad. I filled the bowls with the chopped romaine chopped width-wise into thin-ish strips. I then chopped my grilled chicken into small cubes and placed them on top of the salad in their own triangular section. I chopped up some tomatoes and added them to the top of the salad in their own section adjacent to the chicken. Next I chopped up the avocado and added them to the salad, again in their own section. I squeezed a little fresh lemon juice on top of the avocado to keep them looking pretty and green. I may or may not have added extra avocado to my salad bowl. I then added about a tablespoon and a half of crumbled blue cheese to the top of the salad in it's own section next to the tomatoes. Any cheese really will work in this salad. Some other cheeses commonly used would be gorgonzola, cheddar, but really any cheese will do. It’s your salad after all!  Once the eggs were cooled I peeled them and chopped them finely and added them the salad in the final remaining section. I sprinkled a pinch of salt & a pinch of pepper on top of the salad and then I sat back and admired that beautiful salad. Of course, then I remembered I needed to make a salad dressing! I quickly “whisked-up” a balsamic vinaigrette 3/4 cup good quality olive oil, 3 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, a little salt & pepper and a little squirt of fresh lemon juice. Do what you will with your salad dressing, I don’t like to add too much to the salad myself; just enough to moisten up the salad a tad. And that’s it! Now in Julia Child’s voice,  “Bon Appetit!”

Side note: I also made a quick Boboli Pizza (you know the store-bought crust and sauce, a little shredded mozzarella) and my 8-year old suggested I add the extra Cobb Salad fixings to it (enough for two slices), so I did. I threw the extra chicken and blue cheese on top of the pizza and popped it into the over. Once it was out I added the egg and avocado. My son gobbled it up, so I’m guessing it was good.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

i heart faces "smile"

"Beauty is power; a smile is its sword." ~Charles Reade

My kids smiles slay me, completely and utterly. Not the smile for the sake of a picture, but their true and genuine smiles. The kind of smile that bring out my oldest's dimple, the kind that makes my middle child's huge brown eyes twinkle and the one where my daughter's face just turns into a complete ray of sunshine. Ahhh, those are the smiles I adore, the ones I heart. Picking just one picture of any of their sweet smiles for this week's i heart faces "smile" competition is proving to be very hard because I am partial to that little dimple, those big brown eyes and that sunny little face in every picture they show up.

After much deliberation I chose this picture of all three goofing around. All three personalities are so well represented here that I just adore this picture. This picture of  those three smiles completely and utterly slay me...

Say "cheese" and head on over to i heart faces

Friday, April 23, 2010


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Florida oranges

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Dog Day Afternoon

i heart collages

Another jump into unknown territory for the sake of an "i heart faces" weekly contest. This week was all about collages/storyboards. I have never attempted this before and was having trouble doing so with an storyboard actions, so I made my own & I am hoping it came out alright.

While in Florida I was able to have a little photo shoot with my brother, sister-in-law and their babies (Cesar & Sonny). I thought some of my favorite shots from that session would make a great storyboard. I hope you do too!

Now go check out some cool collages over at "i heart faces"!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy birthday Grandma, now let's eat cake!

In the spirit of posting dessert pictures & recipes, I've got a great one for you! My mother's birthday was today & she requested a lemon cake. I found this beautiful lemon cake on the cover of Bon Appetit magazine a few years ago and have been dying to make it. This recipe is not for the baking faint of heart, but so wonderful & elegant as far as birthday cakes go. It was also a big hit with the birthday crowd :)

Lemon Pistachio Crunch Cake (from Bon Appetit magazine)

8 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons (packed) grated lemon peel
1/8 teaspoon salt

Pistachio crunch
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1cup natural unsalted pistachios (about 5 ounces)

2 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream, divided
8 ounces high-quality white chocolate, chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar, divided
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 1/2 cups whole milk
8 large egg whites
print a shopping list for this recipe


For curd:
Whisk all ingredients in heavy medium saucepan to blend. Cook over medium-low heat until curd thickens and candy thermometer registers 170°F, stirring constantly, about 7 minutes (do not boil). Pour curd into small bowl. Press plastic wrap onto surface. Chill at least 1 day and up to 3 days.

For pistachio crunch:
Place large sheet of foil on work surface; butter foil. Combine sugar, butter, and 1/4 cup water in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves and butter melts, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Increase heat to medium-high and boil until syrup is medium amber color, stirring constantly, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat. Immediately add baking soda (mixture will foam up), then nuts and stir to blend well. Spread nut mixture onto prepared foil, separating nuts. Cool completely. Chop crunch into 1/4- to 1/3-inch pieces. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

For frosting:
Bring 3/4 cup cream to simmer in heavy medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and salt; stir until smooth. Transfer frosting base to bowl. Cover; chill overnight.

For cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually add 1 3/4 cups sugar, beating until well blended. Beat in vanilla and lemon peel. Beat in flour mixture alternately with milk in 3 additions each. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another large bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, beating until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into batter in 3 additions. Divide batter among prepared pans.

Bake cakes until golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool cakes in pans on racks 15 minutes. Cut around pan sides and turn cakes out onto racks. Turn cakes right side up and cool completely. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap in foil and store at room temperature.)

Using serrated knife, cut off mounded tops of cake layers to level. Place 1 cake layer on platter, trimmed side up. Spread with half of lemon curd. Top with second cake layer, trimmed side up. Spread with remaining lemon curd. Top with third cake layer, trimmed side down.

Whisk remaining 1 3/4 cups chilled cream into frosting base to loosen. Using electric mixer, beat until frosting holds stiff peaks. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Chill until frosting is firm, at least 3 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; keep chilled.)

Press crunch lightly into frosting on sides and top edge of cake. (Can be prepared 1 hour ahead and refrigerated.)


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

i heart desserts (& yes, I really do!)

i heart faces has spent another week focusing their cameras on dessert! What better reason to indulge than that? And to sweeten the contest this week, the one and only Bakerella is judging! If you are not familiar with Bakerella, head on over to her website for the coolest desserts you have ever seen!!! Her desserts are adorable and she photographs them beautifully! During the holidays a friend of mine and I created Bakerella's reindeer cake pops. They were not nearly as adorable as the original, but a huge hit at the preschool holiday party! I would like to make Bakerella's smores cupcakes next. Oh my....

I am a dessert junkie, especially when chocolate is involved. Baking is a favorite past time of mine and I bake any chance I get! I am currently vacationing in Florida at my parents house, so unfortunately my baking is limited to more basic stuff. It's beautifully hot and my kids have been in the pool all day. One of their favorite treats that I like to make them are chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches. Choose any cookie recipe you fancy, bake & cool them. Pick any ice cream (or better yet, make your own) & place a scoop on the inside, center portion of a cookie, place another cookie on top and gently press together. Freeze for a little while and enjoy! Super easy to make and so much fun to eat!

Feeling indulgent? Head on over to i heart faces for some sweet inspiration!

Monday, April 12, 2010


What makes a kid happier than bubbles?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Web Sharpening

Have finally figured out sharpening for web (web sharpening) and now am testing to see if makes a difference:



Sunday, April 4, 2010

My Story in Photos- Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding (from the "Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey" cookbook by Jill O'Connorr)

This week i heart faces is shooting away from the face and into the kitchen! Wow, I never realized how hard cooking tutorials are! I have a new found respect for my favorite cooking blogs. It is really difficult to shoot while cooking/baking, but also just trying to make everything look appealing! It was a lot of fun and I would love to try again with a prettier recipe. Today I made Sticky Toffee Pudding for Easter dessert, so I figured I would just enter this! The recipe comes from a fabulously fun and indulgent dessert cookbook, "Sticky, Chewy, Messy Gooey" by Jill O'Connor. The recipe is absolutely, out of this world, so please try it and tell me what you think!!!

1. Lightly butter a standard 12-cup muffin tin (or 6-cup as I do here) with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Preheat over to 350 (rack positioned in middle).

3. Chop 2 cups pitted dates & combine in heavy saucepan with 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to gentle boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered until the dates have softened and the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon baking soda. Let stand 20 minutes.

4. Sift 2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking powder into a bowl. Set aside.

5. In another bowl, beat together 3/4 cups of butter (1 1/2 sticks) and 1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 3 large eggs, one at time, beating well after each addition, and then beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla.

6. Stir the dates and any soaking liquid into the batter. Gently fold in flour mixture until just combined.

7. Fill the muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 22-28 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

8. To make toffee sauce: Combine 2 sticks of butter and 3 cups dark brown sugar in saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar and butter melt together.

9. Add 2 cups heavy cream, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1/4 tsp salt. Increase heat to high and boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens (6-8 minutes).

10. Remove the cakes from the oven and poke the top a few times with a toothpick. Drizzle 1 tablespoon warm toffee sauce over each cake and allow it to sink in completely.

11. To serve, spoon a little sauce on each dessert plate and place cake in the sauce. Spoon more warm sauce over the top of the cake and serve immediately, with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Check out some more delicious recipes at i heart faces!