Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Our 1st Anniversary Dinner!

Chad and I celebrated our first anniversary yesterday! I can't believe it's already been a year...it seems like we were just walking down the aisle. We're going to Boston next Wednesday to celebrate, so we decided we would just make dinner at home on our actual anniversary. We drank some wine, ate a delicious dinner and watched our wedding video. It was an awesome night, and I'm so lucky to be able to share these moments with such a wonderful man!

The table set-up, with roses from Chad


Great wine Karen and Jon brought us back from Greece


The food!

Beef Tenderloin with Gorgonzola Sauce

I love beef tenderloin steaks, and there is nothing better than adding cheese to make something good even better. I went to a cooking class in Orlando with my mom at a place called Truffles and Trifles and we made this gorgonzola sauce that is absolutely fabulous on steak. This recipe is to make enough for a party so I usually half or quarter it for fewer people.



Gorgonzola Sauce

2 cups heavy cream
3-4 ounces gorgonzola (or other good blue cheese)
3 tbsp. fresh grated parmesan
fresh ground pepper

Bring heavy cream to a full boil, and continue cooking on a rolling boil for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cream should thicken up like a cream sauce. Remove from heat and stir in cheeses and pepper. Serve immediately.

For our steaks, we just shake a little Montreal steak seasoning and grill.

Lani's Ultimate Crab Cakes

When Chad and I first decided to have our anniversary dinner at home, I knew I wanted to make homemade crab cakes. I have wanted to make them before, but when I saw crab meat was $15.99 for 8 oz. I figured I would wait for a special occasion! My mom has used Tyler Florence's Ultimate Crab Cake recipe before and liked, so I thought I would try that. But as I kept looking I saw some recipes on Epicurious, Cooking Light and even the back of the crab meat container that I thought looked good. So I decided to do a combo of them all and come up with my own recipe.

These were soooo good. My mom had made the suggestion to break up the crab a little instead of leaving the jumbo lumps, and when Chad shopped for the crab meat he found one called "Special" which the seafood guy told him refers to the cut of the meat...it was more shredded. And it was $5 cheaper, which was a bonus! We decided we liked how the crab was shredded throughout the cake. It actually tasted like the ones we used to buy at the Publix seafood counter but have since been discontinued. This recipe made 4 crab cakes, so we ate 2 and froze 2 for later.



Lani's Ultimate Crab Cakes

4 slices of white bread, crust removed
1 egg white
2 tbsp. mayo
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped fine (flat-leaf)
1 green onion, chopped fine
6 shakes hot sauce
3 shakes Worsteshire sauce
fresh ground pepper
8 oz. crab meat
3/4 cup panko crumbs

Tear the bread and process in the food processor until you have fine crumbs. Place in a bowl. Add egg white through ground pepper and stir. Gently fold in crab meat.

Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper. Form 1/4 of the crab mixture into a cake and dip each side in the panko crumbs. Lay on wax paper. Continue with the rest of the mixture. (This part is really messy and the crab cakes will be pretty sticky.) Place cakes in the fridge until you're ready to cook them (at least 30 minutes).



Heat large pan on medium-high heat. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil, and pan-fry the crab cakes until they are golden brown on both sides (about 8 minutes per side). Serve with remoulade sauce.

Grilled Zucchini

This is a really easy way to prepare zucchini. If you don't want to fire up the grill, this can also be baked in the oven.



Grilled Zucchini

2 zucchini, sliced length-wise
olive oil
white wine vinegar
dried oregano
fresh ground pepper

Place all zucchini in a large plastic bag, and add marinade ingredients. I probably use about 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp. white wine vinegar, 1 tbsp. oregano, and a few turns on the pepper grinder. This is one of those that I just throw it all in. Let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes or more. Grill for 5-7 minutes on each side (depending on the thickness of your zucchini).

Wedding Cake - 1 Year Later

I have to say that I had my doubts that a cake would last a year in the freezer and still taste edible, let alone good. Lucky for us, not only was it edible, it was DELICIOUS! I only had a small piece at the wedding so I was happy to get a whole piece all to myself.



The only thing I did to the cake was to place it on a paper plate, wrap it really well with plastic wrap, then wrap the whole thing with a lot of aluminum foil. We put it in the fridge for about 48 hours, then on the counter for about 3 hours before we ate it.

Lemon-Raspberry Swirl deliciousness

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The best birthday cake ever!

There is a deli in Tampa called Wright's, and they have some really good cake. My favorite is the Hummingbird Cake (I like it so much I served it at my rehearsal dinner!). When my mom asked what kind of cake I wanted for my birthday, I knew she would be the one to recreate this for me. I found a recipe on Oprah's website and forwarded it to my mom. Like everything my mom makes, it was absolutely delicious. We were up in Keaton for the weekend, and even though I'm trying to eat healthy, I had a piece for breakfast and a piece for dessert every day!

And thanks mom and dad for the new camera...my pictures are so much better now!



Hummingbird Cake

Cake:

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 5 bananas)
1 cup drained crushed pineapple
1 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup (4 ounces) finely chopped pecans (she didn't use these...no nuts for me!)

Icing:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 pound confectioners' sugar (about 4 1/2 cups sifted)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

To make the cake, position racks in the center and bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350°. Lightly butter two 9" round cake pans, sprinkle evenly with flour and tap out the excess. (If you wish, butter the pans, line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper, then flour the pans and tap out the excess.) Mom didn't have 2 round cake pans in Keaton so she used a 9x13.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt into a bowl. In another bowl, stir or whisk the bananas, pineapple, oil, eggs and vanilla until combined. Do not use an electric mixer. Pour into the dry mixture and fold together with a large spatula just until smooth. Do not beat. Fold in the pecans. Spread evenly into the pans.

Bake until the cake springs back when pressed in the center, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the cakes to wire racks and cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks (remove the parchment paper now if using). Turn right side up and cool completely.

To make the icing: Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the cream cheese and butter in a large bowl until combined. On low speed, gradually beat in the sugar, then the vanilla, to make a smooth icing.

Place 1 cake layer, upside down on a serving platter. Spread with about 2/3 cup of the icing. Top with the second layer, right side up. Spread the reaming icing over the top and sides of the cake. The cake can be prepared up to 1 day ahead and stored, uncovered in the refrigerator. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.



And because I love it so much, a picture of my birthday/anniversary present from my wonderful husband, a matching band to compliment my wedding and engagement rings. He's the best! =)

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Sausage, Broccoli and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

Before I went grocery shopping this past weekend, Chad and I looked through the freezer to see if we had anything we could use for meals and Chad pulled out a package of venison sausage we had gotten from my dad. I usually make sausage with peppers and onions on a roll, but decided this time I would use it for pasta. I had a recipe pulled out from my Cooking Light magazine that used shrimp, and I thought the sausage would substitute well. I changed up the recipe a bit, but I couldn't find the original one online. So you'll just have to trust that the changes I made were for the better (if you're not into venison...shrimp, chicken or turkey sausage would be great). This pasta was delicious...yet another meal that Chad proclaimed to be the best I've ever made! =)



Sausage, Broccoli and Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta

1 lb. venison sausage, casings removed
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup julienned sun-dried tomatoes (if packed in oil, drain as much as possible)
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup light cream cheese
noodle of choice
1 cup chopped broccoli
parmesan cheese

Put water on for noodles. Heat a large pan on medium heat, and cook sausage. When the sausage is mostly cooked through, add onions and garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Start the noodles. Add sun-dried tomatoes and saute for 1 minute. Add broth, wine and cream cheese. Cook for about 5 minutes, and then turn to medium-low. When noodles have about 4 minutes left of cooking time, add chopped broccoli. Drain noodles and broccoli and toss pasta with sauce. Sprinkle with cheese.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

TWD: Apple Cheddar Scones



This week the Tuesday with Dorie recipe was apple cheddar scones. I like scones, but thought the apple and cheddar was an interesting (weird) combination. But I made the scones as the recipe stated and I thought they turned out pretty good. They weren't over the top wonderful, and I think I would tweak the ingredients next time I make them, but the overall flavor of the dough with the cornmeal was good. I think my problem was that neither the apple nor the cheddar was a very strong flavor, so it didn't really stand out much. Maybe making an all the way savory (more cheddar and rosemary?) or all the way sweet (more apples and sugar with cinnamon?) would be better. And these babies definitely taste best right out of the oven...but don't all baked goods?



So I would say this recipe was a success because I am no longer intimidated by scones (although the sticky dough made it difficult to work with) and I have a good base recipe for the next time I make them. To see the recipe check out The Floured Apron.