Recent Cakes!

Inn Towne Birthday! One of the guys enjoys fishing so I helped him catch a delicious one. Notice the almost-unnoticable fishing pole. :)
Another Inn Towne Birthday. It's been a hot summer. Who doesn't love ice cream cone cupcakes?
These haven't even been delivered yet! Dora cupcakes for Andi's birthday. :)
These haven't been delivered either. Green Bay Packer cupcakes for Cristian's Birthday.
Dad turned 50 on the 19th! Had to rub it in a little! :)
Despite his face, he loved it. :)
Our good friend Ashley got this cake for her birthday.
Hall pass and chalkboard are not edible. :( But they're cute!
I loved how these little apples turned out.
Ken's birthday was July 12th. In June he started becoming addicted to the show "Swamp People". If you haven't seen it, it's a bunch of super-southern guys who make a living hunting gators. They bait them, pull them in and then one of them wrestles the gator until the other can shoot it in it's one unarmored spot on the top of its head. In short, it's insane. But the accents are hilarious - one guy needs subtitles - and he's speaking English. So anyway, I make Ken a gator for his birthday.
Look how cute his little nose is.
Vicious. :)
Top Shot. This was also my first try piping. I made the scales that way. Not as bad as I thought it would be.
I told him before we did any birthday stuff there was a critter in the apartment he needed to kill. When we walked in the door, I handed him the gun and yelled "SHOOT IT SHOOOOOOT IT!" - the mantra of his favorite Swamp People guy. You can see by his face that he was THRILLED with his gator hunt and his fake shotgun.

My parents brought over a Dairy Queen log cake. It was a perfect fit! Happy Birthday P.Bear. I love you.

Salmon BLTs

Salmon BLTs

Season 4 2-oz pieces skinless salmon fillet with salt and pepper. Cook in olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until opaque, 2-3 minutes per side. Spread 4 slices toasted bread with mayo. Top with lettuce, tomato, salmon and cooked bacon.

Ken really liked this sandwich. I did not. I'm a bit of a purist when it comes to certain things, but since I love salmon I thought this would be a nice marriage. Nope. Still can't mess with a simple BLT.

Pork Tenderloin Medallions and Balsamic Reduction

Pork Tenderloin Medallions

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp minced shallots
1 garlic clove, minced
1 c balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp dijon mustard
Cooking spray
1# pork tenderloin, cut into 12 slices
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic; saute 2 minutes. Add vinegar and next 3 ingredients; cook until reduced to 1/2 cup.

2. Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Coat pan in cooking spray. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Place pork in pan; cook 2 min on each side. Add balsamic reduction; cook 1 minute, turning pork to coat.

For Grilled Peaches:
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 4 peach halves to pan; cook 2 min on each side. Cut each half into 3 wedges.

For Wild Rice Salad:
Cook 1 c fast-cooking white and wild rice per directions, omitting seasoning (I used brown rice because we had some). Stir in 1/4 c chopped green onions, 2 Tbsp chopped dried cherries, 2 Tbsp chopped pecans (I skipped the pecans).

Yield: 4 servings

From Cooking Light Magazine July 2011

Ken's Rating: *****
Chalsea's Rating: *****
Easy and Yummy!

Hashbrowny Cheesy Egg Bake (make-ahead)

Hashbrowny Cheesy Egg Bake

3 Tbsp oil
2# hashbrowns
1 onion
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
2 c cubed ham
10 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper
1 1/2 c cheddar cheese

1. Heat oil in a large skillet. Add hashbrowns, chopped onion and peppers. Cook until potatoes start to brown.

2. Spray 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Spread in Pan. Top with ham and pour eggs over top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

3. Gently stir to cover all ingredients with eggs. Sprinkle with cheese.

4. Refrigerate overnight.

5. Bake, uncovered at 375 for 35 minutes.

Yummy! Seth was staying with us for a weekend wedding and I didn't want him to drive home hungry, but I also didn't want to get up at the crack of dawn to make a good breakfast. Ken majorly raved about this one, too. Make-ahead egg bake, you rocked.

Soft Pretzels (bread machine)

Soft Pretzels

1 pkg dry active yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
3 c flour
1 c water
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp oil
1 egg white, slightly beaten
desired toppings (I use kosher salt, garlic salt/powder, and dill)

1. Place ingredients in a bread machine pan in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select Dough setting or White Bread/Manual setting and then press start. After the machine has completed the second rising cycle, it will beep.

2. Remove the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 4 parts. Divide each fourth into 3 pieces. Roll each piece into an 18 inch rope.

3. Shape rope into a circle, overlapping about 4 inches. Take on end in each hand and twist at the point where the dough overlaps. Carefully lift ends across to the opposite edge of the circle. Tuck ends under the edge to make pretzel shape. Moisten with a tiny bit of water and press ends to seal.

4. Place on a greased cookie sheet and let rise, uncovered, until puffy - about 20 minutes.

5. In a 3-qt saucepan, combine 2 qts of water and 1/3 c baking soda. Bring to a boil.

6. Lower 1 or 2 pretzels into the saucepan; simmer for 10 seconds on each side. Lift from water with a slotted spoon and return to greased cookie sheet. Let dry briefly.

7. Brush with slightly beaten egg white. Sprinkle with desired toppings. Bake at 425 for 4 minutes. Turn cookie sheet around and bake 4 more minutes until golden brown.

Yield: 12 pretzels

SOOOO good! These are pretty easy but they do take some time. Plan it for a housework day or a lazy day at home. :)

No-Bake Lasagna with Ricotta and Tomatoes (I used bow-ties)

No-Bake Lasagna with Ricotta and Tomatoes

Total Time: 25 minutes

1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
7 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3 c red and yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, halved (2 pints)
2/3 c chicken stock
8 lasagna noodles (we had bowties in the pantry so I used those up)
2/3 c small basil leaves
1/2 c reduced-fat ricotta cheese
1 oz Pecorino Romano cheese, shaved (right. I used shredded Parm)

1. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic until pale golden, about 3 minutes. Add 2 c tomatoes and 1/2 tsp salt. Cook until soft, about 7 min. Add stock. Simmer until saucelike, about 1 minute. Add remaining tomatoes. Cook until warm, 1-2 min.

2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain.

3. Toss pasta in skillet to coat. Stir in basil, reserving some for garnish.

4. Divide pasta among 4 plates. Top with any remaining sauce. Dot with ricotta, and drizzle with remaining tsp of oil. Top with shaved cheese and remaining basil. Sprinkle with pepper.

Yield: 4 servings


Ken's rating: ****1/2
Chalsea's rating: *****
This was easy and delicious! I love ricotta cheese. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite things.

Summer of Mojitos

With the crazy cheap mint at the farmer's market ($1 for enough mint for a week!), and these lovely HOT summer days, we made a billion mojitos. Next year, I'm totally growing mint.

Here's our approximate mojito recipe:

1. Muddle a few wedges of lime, 1 or 2 Tbsp sugar, and 10 mint leaves.
2. Add ice about 2/3 up.
3. Add about a shot of Bicardi Limon.
4. Fill the rest with club soda and another lime wedge. Don't forget the bendy straw!