May 31, 2011

Ten on Tuesday - Ten Tasty Food Blogs

Tuesday has rolled around again, so it must be time for another Ten on Tuesday feature. What is it? Kim from It's a Crafty Life describes it best. "Today's the day when you blog about whatever's on your mind...random info about you, events going on in your life, a top ten list, ten pictures, long as it is 10 items!"

If you would like to play along check out It's a Crafty Life.

Today I want to share ten tasty food blogs that I am really enjoying. They each bring different things to the table, be it beautiful photography, a unique and charming voice, or the ability to make you drool all over your keyboard. Hopefully you find a new blog or two to subscribe to. Enjoy!

Ten Tasty Food Blogs You Should Be Reading



5. Delicious Discoveries. Recipes you need to see: Grandma's Stove Top Casserole, Hot Chocolate Rice Krispies Treats, Chicken Spaghetti Casserole.

All header images are property of their respective websites.

May 30, 2011

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars

Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars are great for when you aren't in the mood to make pie crust from scratch. Chewy and chocolaty. It is hard to go wrong when you are dealing with pecans and chocolate.

May 28, 2011

My Big, Fat Chocolate Chip Cookies

There is something about the sight of a just barely undercooked chocolate chip cookie that is drool inducing. Once the cookies cool and set up a bit, they are the perfect combination of browned and chewy on the outside, and soft and gooey on the inside. Perfection.

May 26, 2011

Herbed Garlic Bread

First off, I didn't do so well with mashing the garlic into a paste, as you can see. I think my problem was not using enough salt. Ah well, it still tasted great.

May 25, 2011

Pepperoni Macaroni and Cheese

If you glance at the title of this recipe and assume it is a run of the mill "throw a jar of spaghetti sauce together with mozzarella cheese and bake it," casserole, you are sorely mistaken. This is, dare I say, gourmet Mac and Cheese.  A delicious white cheese sauce coats the pasta and a sprinkling of breadcrumbs and cheese is used to top this glorious dish.

May 24, 2011

Food Blogging - Making a quick & easy visual recipe index.

What if I told you that setting up a visual recipe index for any blogger site was as simple as a button click? Are you skeptical? Check out the screenshots below for examples.

Notice the grey text at the end of the URL. Also take note that the 'label' tab has been selected. This will create a visual recipe index that is categorized by the labels you have assigned your posts.

Wondering how you can do it? Ali to the rescue! Note: Full Feeds must be enabled on the blog for this to work.

So if you haven't read about it, blogger has started to introduce new dynamic ways to view blogs. If you read up on current blogger news you probably already know this, but I'm gonna take a wild guess that most of you haven't.

The scoop is this, if you visit a blogger hosted website, you have five new dynamic ways to view the site (including your own blogger sites). You have two ways to easily view these new designs.

The first way, and easiest way, requires you to use Google Chrome, which is an internet browser like Internet Explorer or Firefox. So all you do if you use Chrome as your internet browser is download the blogger Chrome plugin. If you view a site that is hosted with blogger, a little blogger icon will appear in the right hand URL bar (see image directly below). Just click it and pick your view!

The second way requires you to add just a bit of text to the end of a URL. See the first screenshot and notice that the light grey text at the end of the URL is the added bit of text. Here are all the snippets you can try:


Updated: I was heaping the praise upon Chrome in this post, but after I gave it an extra few weeks, I really am not happy with how frequently Chrome has issues connecting to websites. I thought it was a fluke at first, but I'd say about 25% of the time when I type in ANY web address, Chrome says the webpage cannot be found. This is really annoying.

I am now back to using Firefox 4 for most of my browsing. It seems to be crashing a lot less than when it was first released. When I am in the mood to surf blogs, I do use Chrome so that I can easily use the dynamic features plugin mentioned and shown above.

Mosaic mode, which is viewed by adding /view/mosaic to the end of the URL or by choosing the mosaic option via the Chrome plugin which I heartily recommend.

So now you've seen the flipcard view and the mosaic view of my blog. I picked a random blogger site from my Google reader, used my chrome plugin to select Snapshot view, and viola, here is Cajun Delights:

Finally one view that I find comes in handy when you discover a blog and they have a TON of archived recipes that you want to browse through quickly, without exhausting your scroll button on your mouse, is to use the sidebar view.

Posts are listed on the left allowing you to very quickly click through and skim the posts.

Ah, I'm in love.

If you would like to add a link to your sidebar directing your readers to your new visual recipe index, just copy the URL and add your link. Ta-da! While you can't rearrange things as much as if you were to build a more complex visual index where you uploaded pics and added in all the links manually, this is a quick and dirty way to set it up with minimal fuss.

Any questions? Leave a comment below and I will do my best to help.

I'm linking up to:  

Flat-and-Chewy Chocolate-Chip Cookies

What attributes make the perfect chocolate chip cookie? Is it chewy or cakey? Loaded with chocolate or sparse? What about the important question: Do you eat them with a glass of milk?

When it comes to the flat and chewy chocolate chip cookies, these might be my favorite. They are buttery, chewy, a little salty and utterly delicious. I'm still on the hunt for my favorite cakey chocolate chip cookie. If you have a recipe to recommend be sure to leave a comment.

Be sure to check out these other food blogs that have tried the recipe: The Wednesday Chef, Laura Rebecca's Kitchen, and My Madeline.

May 23, 2011

Food Blogging - Organizing and tracking your recipe index.

If you have been food blogging for a while, the time comes where the list of things you need to blog to get caught up spirals out of control. Don't believe me? Take a look at my recipe index.

407 Recipes! -- I just updated this list and now I'm at 415+. Bleh.

Curious how many I've blogged about? About half. 'Ouch' and 'my brain hurts' is all I can say in response. If you are in need of a way to keep track of what food you have made and if you have blogged about it yet, I have a few tips for you.

The title of this spreadsheet is fitting, no?
  1. First, you need to start a spreadsheet. If you don't have an Excel sort of program, head over to Gmail, then go to the 'documents' tab to start one.
  2. Open up your recipe index on your blog. Highlight and copy the entire index. Click back over to the spreadsheet, click into the first box, and paste.
  3. If necessary, delete any rows that were your category headers, like "Desserts" or "Main Dish". All we want is the name of the recipe. That's it! If you use Google docs it should auto save, but be sure to save as you go to be safe.
  4. Next you are going to add in the recipes that you have made but not blogged about. You will want to compile the links ahead of time. Save them to a new folder to your bookmarks menu, or gather up all your print outs and you will be all set to go.
  5. Now that we have a giant list of our recipes, you want to sort the rows so they are displayed A-Z vertically.  You should be able to skim through the list quickly and see if there are any doubles and delete the extra entry.
  6. Click to the left (or you can go to the right) of your recipe column and insert one column to the left. This is where we will add in an 'X' to signify that the recipe has been blogged about.
  7. Go through your recipe index online and quickly mark each recipe with an 'X' if it has been blogged about.
  8. Be sure to save as you go along. Update this weekly or monthly and you are good to go.
Tip: When you are inserting or deleting a row, be sure that you are inserting/deleting an entire row. You do this by right clicking on the number of the row and selecting "Insert one above/below" or "remove row". The reason this is important is if you want to be sure that your two columns match up correctly and you don't accidentally mess the whole list up. That would be super sucky.

If you have any tips please leave a comment!

Party buttons can be found here. I'm linking up to:  

Deconstructed Strawberries Romanov

The other day I was over at Kalyn's Kitchen reading about Strawberries Romanov when I noticed that she had mentioned a restaurant that served strawberries alongside brown sugar and sour cream. First you dip the berry in the sour cream, then lightly coat it in the brown sugar. I was intrigued!

Today I finally got to try it out. It was delicious! You really can't taste the 'sour' part of the sour cream at all. If that seems a little too weird for you, just mix the two together and you get a brown sugar cream seen in this Blueberries and Brown Sugar Cream recipe.

It takes about 5 seconds to throw together and would be perfect on a larger scale for parties as well. I went a little too heavy on the brown sugar with mine, but it was tasty nonetheless.

May 21, 2011

Oatmeal Coconut Chewies

Let me introduce you to my favorite cookie recipe ever. No exaggerations, this is the one. I am a coconut lover and this hits just the perfect balance of chewiness, sweetness and coconutiness (not a word, I know).

Try this recipe out soon, it is amazing. Many thanks to Mel's Kitchen for this recipe.

Oatmeal Coconut Chewies
Makes about 2 dozen

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened to cool room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup quick oats

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl cream together the sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

3. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a greased or lined (silpat or parchment) baking sheet.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes, until the cookies are set but not overly browned (bake a few minutes longer for a crispier version).

Source: Mel's Kitchen Cafe

May 19, 2011

Bourbon Mint Iced Tea

Who is ready for Summer weather? Me, kinda. Who is ready for Summer food? Me me me! So besides being a refreshing beverage, this Bourbon Mint Iced Tea has the bonus of having booze in it. Of course if you don't drink alcohol you can leave it out. 

Bourbon Mint Iced Tea
Makes 2 Quarts

1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (4 ounces)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (4 ounces)
1 cup bourbon (8 ounces)
Ice cubes
1 quart plus 1 cup unsweetened iced tea (40 ounces)

In a two-quart pitcher, muddle or mash the lemon wedges, sugar and mint leaves with a large wooden spoon until a thick syrup forms. Add the orange juice, lemon juice and bourbon and stir to combine. Fill the pitcher with ice cubes and add the iced tea, then stir to combine.

Source: Rachael Ray

May 18, 2011

Chile Con Queso

Today was one of those days where melted, spicy cheese really hit the spot. I think my personal preference would be to make this without the sausage the next time around, but that is just me.

Chile Con Queso, Revved Up
Makes many servings, plus extra for freezing

2 lb package Velveeta Cheese
1 lb package Hot Breakfast Sausage (Jimmy Dean, Potter’s, etc.)
1/2 large onion
1 regular can Rotel (either Regular or Extra Hot, according to preference)
1 7-oz can diced green chilies
1 to 3 finely diced jalapeno peppers, according to preference. (If you like things more spicy,
leave the seeds and white membranes.)

1. Chop the onion and brown with the breakfast sausage. Drain excess fat so you won’t have a
coronary. Cut Velveeta into cubes and add to warm skillet. Add Rotel and green chilies, and stir
together over low heat until mixture is melted. Add finely diced jalapenos, stir together, and serve warm with tortilla chips. During serving, Queso needs to be kept warm, either in a fondue pot, chafing dish, or Crock Pot.

2. Queso can be frozen flat in Ziploc bags and reheated.

Source: The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Linking up to: Everyday Sisters

May 17, 2011

The Amazing Citrus Wedding Cake

The top tier of the cake, which we took with
us to eat on the honeymoon.
Alternate Title: Moist Yellow Wedding Cake with Fresh Lemon Curd, Candied Orange Slices and Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting.

The Amazing Citrus Wedding Cake is a little bit easier to say though, isn't it?

My mom made this for my wedding. Being a total goober, I forgot to take a picture of the finished wedding cake. *Facepalm*

  • Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting: Recipe from Fancy Flours (Recipe below - My mom actually got the recipe directly from them from their physical store location, back when they had one, so I don't think the recipe is online at their website.)
  • Lemon Infused Simple Syrup: No recipe that I could find for this at the moment. It is brushed on top of each layer of yellow cake.

    If you look closely you can see colored straws were used as dowels to support the upper cake tier. The original plan was to pipe lines of frosting to match the clipping below, but it was too much of a hassle so we went with the rustic look.
    Closeup of the Top Tier

    Italian Meringue Buttercream Frosting
    Makes 8 cups

    8 egg whites
    1 tsp. cream of tartar
    1/3 c. sugar

    1/2 c. white corn syrup
    3/4 c. sugar
    1-1/2 pounds unsalted butter
    1 Tbsp. vanilla

    1. Beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Add sugar gradually and beat until a stiff meringue forms.

    2. Meanwhile, in a nonstick saucepan combine corn syrup and sugar. Bring to a rolling boil over high heat. In a small, steady stream, pour into meringue mixture with a mixer running. Whip until room temperature, about 20 minutes. Slowly add room temperature butter about 1 tablespoon at a time. Whip until mixture comes together and forms a smooth frosting. Beat in vanilla.

    Source: Fancy Flours

    If you were wondering, these are the clip outs that I saw that inspired the cake:

    Cheesy Funeral Potatoes

    All in the same week I came across several recipes for Cheesy Potatoes (also known as Funeral Potatoes, Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole, etc.) and I knew I'd have to make it. There are small variations between the recipes, but if you ballpark it to match your tastes you should be fine. In the photos shown I used a bag of frozen Potatoes O'Brien, which contained some pepper and onion pieces for extra flavor.

    Many thanks to The Farm Girl and Carrie's Cooking and Recipes for their recipes. It was ultra comforting and delicious.

    Cheesy Potatoes (Also known as Funeral Potatoes, Cheesy Hashbrown Casserole, etc.)
    Makes several servings

    1 28 oz. bag frozen hashbrowns
    1 small can cream of chicken soup
    1/2 c. sour cream
    4 oz. cream cheese
    1 c. cheddar cheese, grated
    (I added a little bit of melted butter, help me God. The reason being one - butter is tasty and two - one recipe had a bit of melted butter and one did not, so I chose to add just a bit as a compromise)

    1.  Preheat oven to 350-f degrees.  In medium sauce pan mix chicken soup, sour cream and cream cheese until smooth and creamy.  Add cheese (and butter if using) and stir until melted.  Add hashbrowns and stir well to combine. Pour hashbrowns into a deep 9"x9" casserole dish (greased). Smooth out flat and bake for 1 hour or until light brown and bubbly.

    Source: The Farm Girl and Carrie's Cooking and Recipes

    May 16, 2011

    Blueberries with Brown Sugar Cream

    I'm so excited for summer desserts. Sweet treats that satisfy your craving but are light enough to not feel like a brick in your stomach on a hot day. This recipe for Blueberries with Brown Sugar Cream fits the bill, light and totally delicious.

    Note: The original directions don't call for you to mix the brown sugar and sour cream together, but I did and I think it is better my way. Ahem.

    Blueberries with Brown Sugar Cream
    Makes 4 servings

    2 cups blueberries (1 pint)
    1/3 cup regular or low-fat sour cream
    4 teaspoons brown sugar

    1. Add ½ cup blueberries to each of 4 small bowls. Set aside

    2. Mix together the sour cream and brown sugar until thoroughly combined. Spoon a heaping tablespoon of mixture on top of each serving of blueberries.

    Source: Adapted from Real Simple

    A million and one link parties: How to organize and track them.

    If you have participated in some of the weekly link parties held at various blogs hopefully you have seen some good traffic to your blog as a result. During the past week I had considered writing up a little post about how to organize the many parties out there, and when I received an email from a fellow blogger asking me how I handled it, I decided to write this post.

    I'm sure to some of you this may seem overly thorough but I am a little bit OCD when it comes to organizing so this works for me. Consider the following post a tutorial of sorts of how to set up and organize your link party list, track previous parties, and minimize the time you have to spend each day actually submitting your posts. If you have any feedback or tips of your own, please leave a comment.

    • Picking your parties - What I did in the beginning was to basically copy another bloggers party list as my starting point. I emailed her and asked her if this was okay. After all, she had spent the time to write up a nice page for her parties, it seemed only fair that I ask if it was all right if I swiped it. This was just the first step for me. I knew I wanted to edit out parties that didn't relate to my blog, as well as add many more that she didn't list.
    • Creating the master list page - Quite a few bloggers provide a link on their sites to their regular link parties, so I bookmarked about half a dozen, visited said parties, and added the ones that applied to my master list. You can do this easily by creating a page on your blog and listing each day of the week and the parties underneath each heading. I did this and it worked well enough, but I needed more information.
    • Tracking the parties - I realized half way through my first week that I was going back to a few blogs again and again to verify if I had participated in their party. This lead to a lot of wasted time. I pulled up Gmail and opened up a Google doc and created a spreadsheet. Look for it in the top navigation bar, sometimes listed under the "more" tab if you don't use it much.  I simply copied my master party list by highlighting the text, copying and pasting into the spreadsheet. See the screen shot below for more details.

    Organized by day of the week. Also shown is a column to mark if you've added their button to your blog (I haven't compiled this info yet so my column is blank), then following that I give each week a column and specify what post I am submitting. An "x" means I have submitted successfully to that party. Two marks is two posts submitted, etc.
    • Keeping your parties current - After several weeks of tracking parties, you should be able to see which parties have closed down or gone on hiatus. I will usually mark a party by bolding their name in black text to signify that they are no longer current, and if by a few weeks time they aren't back, I put the name in red to signify that their info needs to be removed from the spreadsheet as well as the link page on my site.

      Red crayons used to block the lapsed parties info. Poor little parties! Come back to us!

      • Prioritizing parties - Using the extremely basic traffic counter provided by blogger on the "Stats" page, I assign a few select blogs a bold color to let me know that they have provided large numbers of hits to my site. That isn't to say they are any better than other parties, but if I don't have much time to spend submitting to parties, I know to hit up these blogs first. Speaking of saving time...

      Create a second sheet within your spread sheet to remind you of what the colors mean. I haven't tracked the referrals of the week, but I added it incase I wanted that option later.

      Time Saving Tips -
      1. If you are able to, submit earlier in the day. The earlier the better. The reason being that the linking tools used by parties often get quite bogged down during the day and evening. What takes you 15 seconds to do in the morning can take 3 minutes in the afternoon.
      2. Take the time to make sure your party page list of links is identical to your spreadsheet. This means you wont be searching through your lists trying to match things up. I pull up my link party page in one tab, the spreadsheet in the next, and just go boom-boom-boom down the list. No searching necessary as it all matches up sequentially.
      3. Make sure the picture you are going to use in the party doesn't need intensive cropping. One less step in the process saves you time over the long haul.
      4. If you only have a few minutes to commit to submitting your posts to parties, keep the priority parties marked by bold text and coloring their names on your spread sheet.
      And finally, one thing that makes me go “huh??” every week. Link parties that are set for a certain day of the week, as in the day of the week in is their party name, yet they post the day before. That always bugs me. I think I am gonna be on time to link up for “Tuesday blah de dah” or “Friday doop de doo” and I visit the website the morning of the party and 300 people have already linked up the day before. Doh! :)

      I hope this tutorial helped you to achieve your party goals. If you have any questions, thoughts or tips, please share them in a comment.

      Party buttons can be found here. I'm linking up to:  

      May 15, 2011

      Grilled Beer Brats

      I can hardly wait for grilling weather. There is something about the smell of meat cooking on a grill, oye, it is so good. If you want to jazz up the standard brat, try out these delicious grilled beer brats. 

      Grilled Beer Brats
      Makes 6 servings

      6 bratwurst
      3 bottles beer
      2 onions
      hot dog buns

      1. Prepare grill before starting.

      2. In a large pot, add sliced onions to the bottom of the pot. Top with bratwurst and add beer. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove brats and onions. Discard liquid. Set aside onions if using. Transfer brats to grill. Grill several minutes on each side, or until done.

      Source: Not sure, still tracking it down

      May 14, 2011

      Chicken Poppy Seed Casserole

      This is a comforting, easy little casserole. The filling is similar to one that I use for chicken pot pie. Very quick, buttery, delicious.

      10 Things I hate about your blog.

      Here is a cute cupcake before we begin.
      Hopefully it is enough to keep you
      from getting annoyed at me.
      Brace yourself. Just kidding, I promise this won't be too painful.

      So I'm browsing through a new to me blog, Hope Studios, and I am reading a great post she wrote called "10 Things I Hate About Your Blog." Genius, I say.

      Just to clarify, this is not a bashing bloggers sort of post. This is just a list of peeves and constructive criticism that apply to all of us, myself included. For the record, I have made most of these mistakes myself. My list is a bit more themed towards food blogs, since that is primarily the type of blog that I follow.

      Let's get to it.

      10 Things I hate about your blog

      1. Music that auto plays - If you simply must auto play music, put the widget for it at the top of your page so I can turn it off quickly. 99.9% of auto play abusers hide the widget at the bottom of their blog and if I can't find it within 3 seconds I will just close down the page. That isn't exactly a good thing if you are trying to get new readers, right?

      2. Hocking too much junk - This is a rough one because the thrill of getting something for free is very enticing. Be prepared as a blogger to be tempted by all sorts of pitches for free junk, and a lot of times it is just that, junk. Really think about if it is worth writing a post about, if it is something your readers are interested in, and if you can write the review of the product without coming off like you are hocking junk.

      3. Cluttered design - Take a critical eye to your sidebars and consider ways to combine elements so that they don't take up too much space. I've always thought that less is more when it comes to blog design, but I still struggle with this.

      4. Dark background / neon text - It is hard to read. If I can't easily read your posts, then I'll just leave. Simple enough, right?

      5. No easily accessible contact/ about info - The first time I visit a blog I typically check out the 'about' page. If you don't have an email address associated with your blog, and may I ask why not, just let the reader know to leave a comment with their questions.

      6. Too many step by step photos - This one is a toughie. I would say that if your photo somehow helps someone in the cooking process, for instance a shot of creaming butter and sugar for cookies, that is good. After all, not everyone knows what that should look like once it is creamed. On the other hand, blurry, dark or otherwise not so great pictures of every step in the process is really not needed. I can't tell you how many out of focus, dark and barely decipherable pictures of a hand holding a teaspoon of spices I've seen. *Updated* I felt I should clarify this a bit. What I meant was photography overkill for a recipe. Photos of the process are good. 25+ pictures where it is literally someone holding their ingredient in their hand, then a shot of them adding it to the bowl, then a shot of them mixing it, again and again, that is what I consider too much.

      7. Exclamation points - I use to be a big offender of this, and I still have to reign myself in. Let me give an example. The other day I visited a brand new to me food blog. In one very short cooking post there were 10 exclamation points. Two sentences even ended with three (!!!) exclamation points. I've seen other blogs that pretty much use exclamation points to end every sentence. Ask yourself, am I really that excited? Don't get me wrong though, I'm not saying never use them, I'm just saying, take a critical look at your posts and see if it is being abused.

      8. Using DH DD DS abbreviations - A lot of you will disagree with me on this one but using the "Dear Husband" abbreviation is just more than I can handle. Over the top cheese ball, if I had to put it into words. My solution? Every time you write DH I read it as "Dumb ass" or "Damn" Husband. Hey, it works.

      9. Being a judgmental food snob/elitist - There is a difference between sharing your beliefs or being passionate about a subject compared to putting down those who disagree with you.

      10. Being too critical of other bloggers - Heh.

      What do you think? Do any of these bother you or not bother you?

      To not be a total jerk face, here is:

      A  few blog things that bug others but don't bother me:

      1. Typos. They happen to everybody. I couldn't care less. Of course, if it is a typo on an amount for an ingredient this can be troublesome and ruin a recipe, so double checking is always a good idea.
      2. Less than great photos. We all start somewhere and I know that I was terrible at taking food pics when I started. Not that I am all that great now, either.

      May 10, 2011

      Goat Cheese, Avocado and Slow Roasted Tomato Penne

      This month over at Food 'n Flix the movie selected is Under the Tuscan Sun, which was chosen by girlichef. This movie has been a favorite of mine for quite a few years now. There is something so magical about dropping everything and moving away to an exotic country and being on your own. Are you a fan of this movie too? 

      My entry for their food event is this Goat Cheese, Avocado and Slow Roasted Tomato Penne. Fresh, rich flavors that aren't bogged down by a heavy sauce. 

      Goat Cheese, Avocado and Slow Roasted Tomato Penne
      4-6 servings

      2 pounds red and yellow cherry tomatoes
      3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
      2 teaspoons kosher salt
      1 pound penne
      6 ounces fresh goat cheese
      1 avocado, diced
      1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
      Additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

      1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

      2. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Halve each tomato and place cut side up in 1 flat layer on the baking sheets. Drizzle the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle on the salt. Roast until the tomatoes are dried around the edges but still moist, about 2 hours.

      3. Crumble the goat cheese into large chunks and refrigerate until ready to serve the pasta.

      4. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the package directions. Remove 1 cup of the cooking liquid and reserve. Drain the pasta well and return to the pot. Add the tomatoes, goat cheese, avocado, basil, reserved cooking liquid, and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss well and season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.

      Source: Adapted from Sara Moulton Cooks at Home

      May 9, 2011

      Cherry and Vanilla Layered Cake

      I know, okay? I know, I know, I know. Cake mixes are evil. No one should ever stoop so low as to make them. Blah-dee-dah. If I lie and say that I agree with all that, can we just move on? Good. now make this cake.

      Cherry and Vanilla Layered Cake
      6-8 servings

      1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
      1/3 c. oil
      1/2 c. water
      2 -3 eggs, depending on instructions on box of cake mix.
      15 maraschino cherries, approximately
      3/4 c. maraschino juice
      Seeds of one vanilla bean
      Frosting recipe of your choice or *dare I say it* a premade jar of frosting

      1. Preheat oven to box directions. Drain the cherries reserving juice; chop cherries in half and reserve.

      2. Prepare cake mix according to box directions, adding water and cherry juice to equal the amount of liquid needed for cake mix. (In my case, the amount of water called for on the box was 1 1/4 c. I substituted 3/4 c. cherry juice and 1/2 c. water instead)

      3. Fold the cherries and vanilla bean seeds into the cake mix; stirring by hand. Pour mix into 2 round cake pans (about 8 - 9 inches) and bake in preheated oven according to pan size and temperature listed on the box.

      4. When cake has completely cooled, frost; serve and keep unused portions in refrigerator.

      Source: Adapted from

      Party buttons can be found here. I'm linking up to: