armadillas


Sparkle

Today is a special day. Not my special day, no, but it might as well be as excited as I’ve been, counting down the days and suffering from fits of enthusiasm. But it is not my special day. Today belongs to the boyfriend. It’s his birthday! I love birthdays. I love everything about birthdays. I love the cake. I love the ice cream. I love the special dinner. I love the presents. Oh how I love the presents. I don’t think there is anything more fun than planning out a gift, of searching for just the right fit and then wrapping it up to give away. Of course, this year has been a little tight for my post graduate self, but that’s okay. It just means I’m going to have to have some kitchen adventures! I can pour just as much love into a dish as I can into a gift. Probably even more love. And it’s all for love, right?

I’m thinking Alfredo. Rich, decadent, creamy Alfredo. With bacon. And peas. And lemon. Delicious! If I asked the boyfriend what his favorite meal was, I’m pretty sure he would give me some noncommittal answer. I can’t blame him really. Even I have the hardest time with that question. But from several observations, I think Alfredo might be at the top of his list. I’d bet money on it. Plus, it’s just a great celebration dish in general. It’s not like you can eat this Alfredo everyday. No ma’am. We are going big. That means real cream. Of the heavy variety. And let’s not forget about the real butter. Did I mention the cheese?

But that’s only half of it. We also need a special cake. Something homemade. I don’t even want to get into a discussion about those store bought concoctions. Bleh! I really wanted to make a German Chocolate cake. I was ready to take on the challenge. Then I discovered something called a sparkle cake. How could I pass on something with a name like that? Sparkle! Like the sparkling flames of birthday candles. Like the sparkling magic of celebrating your birthday. I just like the imagery that comes with a word like sparkle. So, my German chocolate recipe has been set aside for future use and we’re going to make a light, refreshing cake instead, which is probably more suited for a hot July day anyway

As much as I would love to fill this post with excruciating detail on how I prepared the cake, today I’d rather just show you the result and send you on over to the Pioneer Woman’s site. It was her recipe I used after all. But let me tell you a few things. I’ve never made an angel food cake before and I’m not sure I’m inclined to make one again. The batter was sticky and finicky and I didn’t even want to lick the bowl afterwards. But the cake was exactly what I was looking for and everyone enjoyed it.

Strawberry Sparkle Cake recipe courtesy Ree Drummond

The batter got really big. Whoa!

If you don’t have an angel food cake pan, a bundt pan will have to do. Ungreased.

I really thought it was going to overflow all over my oven

I tried the best I could to dig the cake out of the pan. I heard a rubber spatula works wonders

I resorted to a butter knife

The filling was my favorite part. Strawberry jello with whole strawberries!

Whipped cream smeared all over = heaven

The cake was a bugger success than I hoped. Woo hoo! But dinner…dinner was a great hit! In fact, it was such a great hit I’m going to give the Alfredo it’s own post. Stay tuned!

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Sleeping in after a long night

Ah, there’s nothing like sleeping in on a Saturday morning. The sun is shining, the weather is breezy, and you aren’t obligated to leave the comfort of your chambers for nothing. Except, perhaps, your grumbling tummy. After all, you haven’t eaten in a good 17 hours. But it’s too late to make breakfast (in some opinions) and you’re not quite awake enough for something heavy. There, my friends, is the beauty of brunch. Not breakfast, not lunch, but a magical combination of both.   In college, brunch was probably my favorite meal…and I was always sad when I had to go into work and miss out on the yogurt bar which was only served on Sundays. It was a conspiracy, I tell ya!

Aside from a brunch bar with tangy yogurt, fresh fruit, and crunchy granola, I can’t think of anything more perfect to feast on for brunch than a yummy quiche. With a glass of milk. And a ripe peach on the side that smells impeccably of summer. Yes, we are about to die and go to heaven. Might as well write your wills out right now.

I must admit I had my doubts about quiche. You see, I’ve never tasted a quiche before. Souffles, yes. Quiche, no. So I was quite surprised when I padded to the kitchen, opened the refrigerator, noticed the bacon and asparagus, and then pulled out the eggs, milk, and cheese. I knew exactly what to do with all these ingredients. It’s like I was possessed! With such a delightful outcome, I’d happily become possessed again. I’d volunteer!

Perhaps you’ve never had quiche before either. Maybe you’re not much of an egg person and would rather move on to the cereal cabinet or see if there’s any deli meat left in the fridge. I promise you will not want to miss this. The quiche is divine, not eggy like one would expect, and if I had known how good it would turn out, I would’ve been making it for years.

Ingredient:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups of milk
  • 1 tbs butter
  • 1/2 package bacon
  • 1/2 tbs garlic
  • 1 handful baby asparagus
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese (but I bet fontina would be a star in this dish)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Let’s start with the bacon! We’re only going to use half a package. We’ll save the rest for some BLTs. Go ahead and take your half package of bacon and cut it into bite size chunks. Place it in a skillet over medium heat and fry it up! Hello, love!

Set bacon aside. Next, drain the majority of the bacon grease from your skillet. Seriously, we aren’t cooking with it today, though a hint of flavor won’t hurt

Return skillet to heat and melt a pat of butter. Throw in your asparagus! On a whim, add the garlic. And a sprinkling of lemon juice. It’s habit! I can’t help it…

Oh yeah, and make sure you cut off the ends of your asparagus stalks. Oh, and preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Phew, that was close!

Now that your bacon and asparagus is all nice and cooked, whisk together milk and eggs in a medium bowl. Shake in your salt and pepper

Stir in bacon and asparagus. It would probably help if you chopped up the asparagus (this should probably be done in step 2). Stir in cheese as well

Your batter is ready. Spray a pie pan with nonstick spray (like PAM) and slowly pour in your quiche batter. I emphasize the slow part. No sloshing, please!

Pop her in that hot oven for 35 minutes. Our goal is for the center to be set…and for the top to be a Mediterranean golden brown! Ta-da!

Oh, baby! It was so good I had to have seconds. I probably could have eaten the whole thing by myself. No joke. Talk about scrumptious! You may want to pat your asparagus dry before mixing it into the batter. It makes the bottom of the quiche a little soupy, otherwise. Enjoy!

Tijuana


Memorial Breakfast

I love breakfast for dinner. I love breakfast for lunch. Heck, I love breakfast for breakfast. Unfortunately, I’m one of those people prone to skipping early morning meals (I’m much too fond of that extra 15 minutes of sleep tsk tsk) so it’s a rare treat when I actually wake up, head to the kitchen, and crack open some eggs. Sometimes I even get inspired to whip up a pancake batter. But I have a secret. I am the worst pancake cook ever. I almost always ALWAYS burn them up. I think I get so excited about having pancakes that I keep turning up the heat (a no-no!) until it’s too late. Then I forget to learn my lesson and never turn the heat back down to its rightful position to cook perfect pancakes. This, folks, is why I invested in a waffle iron. It does the dirty work for me and I can focus on the bacon. Mmm. But today I wanted to give pancakes another go.

Since it’s Memorial weekend (and Sunday to boot), I figured today would be just the day to have a little breakfast in bed. Sort of. I don’t have any of those cute trays that you see on Mother’s Day commercials, but I believe in good old innovation. That’s what side tables are for. Am I right or am I right?

In my very good opinion, there’s no such thing as a good breakfast without bacon (or at least sausage if bacon can’t be found). I don’t know when my love for bacon emerged. I remember my first taste of crab legs. I remember my first taste of asparagus. I remember the first time I realized that coleslaw was an undiscovered delicacy! But I do not remember when bacon and I became lovers. I suppose it just always was and will always be. The reason I love bacon so much (you know, besides the fact that it tastes oh so good) is because you can pretty much add bacon to anything and improve it. Let’s make a list!

  • Bacon just on it’s own
  • Bacon crusted mac n cheese
  • Bacon flavored cupcakes (don’t knock it…)
  • Bacon wrapped asparagus
  • Bacon bits for salad
  • Nut and bacon brittle
  • Bacon dipped in chocolate

The list goes on and on and on and then on some more. Bacon also happens to shine quite divinely alongside some eggs. You see those eggs right there? Those are sunny side up eggs. I’ve never eaten them before which means I surely have never cooked them before. But there’s a first time for everything. I’ve never been much of a yolk person truth be told. My childhood was filled with fried egg white sandwiches thanks to my mom. That’s how she liked her eggs so that’s how I liked my eggs (I was quite the picky eater as a child- shocker, I know!). But now I’m more experimental and since today I wanted a semi-luxurious breakfast, sunny side up seemed like a good start.

Since I was frying up some bacon anyway… I went for it and cooked the eggs up in some of the leftover grease as opposed to butter. I guess this week is my glutton week, huh? We can start exercising again on Tuesday. And eating more fruits and veggies (there’s a zucchini in the fridge with my name on it). No worries! I decided to eat mine on toast with some cheese

As you can see, someone else decided to plop theirs onto a pancake. To each their own, to each their own

You know, the eggs really weren’t that bad. Not as runny and gooey as I imagined. Of course, my eyes were closed for each bite. Baby steps, okay? I didn’t burn the pancakes either! The syrup someone sent my way probably had something to do with the melt in your mouth taste, though. It was good, thanks! Overall, I’m pleased to say it was a very satisfying breakfast, and the milk was ice cold the way I like it.

Sunny side up eggs:

This was a lot easier than I expected. Warm up a non-stick skillet. I kept mine on medium-low since I tend to burn things. Also, the key here is slow cooking. Trust me on this one. I used a little bacon grease in my pan, but butter or a few tablespoons of canola/olive oil would do just fine. Once the grease is warm (not super super hot mind you) crack your egg into the skillet. I’ve heard that it takes practice not to break the yolk, but you’ll be fine. Mine didn’t break. I have confidence that yours won’t either. And that’s all she wrote! Let the egg and grease get to know one another, allowing the egg white  to firm up a bit. Once the whites start turning white, gently spoon the hot grease over the eggs and cook until they reach a consistency you’re comfortable eating. I cooked mine a little longer than necessary, but I have yolkphobia. I said baby steps!

As for the pancakes, I’ll share a recipe once I manage to perfect one. Did I mention pancakes aren’t exactly my forte?

Tijuana