Sunday, April 19, 2015

Trying Some New Recipes

In my ongoing quest to shake up the menus around here, I recently tried a couple of new recipes.  One is a soup that appeared in the March 2015 issue of Country Living.  It's a lemony chicken orzo soup.  Since I love Panera Bread's version, I figured it was well worth a try.

It's light, yet filling.  The fresh dill adds a nice touch.  You can find the recipe on the Country Living site here.

An even better success was a scrumptious mini chocolate chip Bundt cake.  It was a big hit with me and our son.  I found this recipe in one of those compilation fundraiser cookbooks -- love those.

My cake stuck to the pan a little bit, as you can see in the photo below.  The topping is put in the pan first, and is maybe a little too buttery.  Tastes great, but leaves the fingers a little greasy if eating out of hand.

Nutty on top!

Imminently snackable
Toll House Bundt Cake
from A Cookbook by Sunset House Auxiliary Toledo Ohio (1991)

2 3/4 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 cup less 1 Tablespoon milk
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla
4 eggs
1/2 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips

Nut Topping:
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/3 cup chopped nuts

For topping, combine butter, sugar and nuts; mix until crumbly.  Spoon into well-greased and floured 12-inch Bundt (or tube) pan.  Chill in refrigerator while you prepare cake batter.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  Place vinegar in 1 cup measure, fill with milk to 1 cup line; set aside.

In large mixing bowl, combine butter, brown sugar and vanilla; beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Turn mixer to low.  Gradually add flour mixture, 1/3 at a time, alternating with milk.

Gently fold in chocolate mini chips with a rubber spatula.  Pour into prepared pan.  Bake at 375 degrees F for 50 minutes.  Loosen edges of cake with spatula.  Immediately invert on cooking rack.

Printable recipe

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Signs of Life

Spring, in all its fickle glory, has arrived in northern Illinois.  The earth is slowly coming back to life after our long, snowy winter.  Spring flowers are beginning to bloom, trees are budding, and the grass is greening up.  Despite the general greening, there are still dead leaves hanging around from last fall, which drive me crazy.  You'll see some in the picture below.  We rake multiple times in the fall, and I have been raking and hand gathering leaves for two weeks, and they just keep appearing.  Maybe once we mow the grass, the remaining leaves will be gone.

I love spring.  It's such a joy to be back in the garden.  One of my favorite things in our spring yard is the carpet of blue flowers under the hackberry tree.  They are quite common in our neighborhood, and I believe they are Siberian squill.  Whatever they are, I adore them.

Here is a close-up view of the squill.

I always have big dreams for the garden in the spring.  This year, it's adding birdhouses (One is already built and put up!  I'd show you a photo, but we knocked off a design we saw on the internet, and it turns out, it is a copyrighted design.  Oops.), and putting in mulch paths in some very shady areas where grass just will not grow.  We'll see how much I actually get done.  In the meantime, I hope the weather is nice wherever you are.


Friday, April 3, 2015

A Tale of Two Shrimp

We love seafood here at the Sweet Posy house.  Shrimp is one of my favorites (and clams, and trout, and salmon; okay, okay, I'll stop).  This is a tale of two shrimp dishes.

Our son gave me a wonderful cookbook for Christmas, The Skinnytaste Cookbook by Gina Homolka.  (Homolka also writes a blog which you can find here.)  We've been trying lots of fabulous, healthy entrees from the book.  Almost everything we've tried has been a hit except the Silky Chocolate Cream Pie, not a fan of that one.  One of my favorite recipes from the cookbook is Cilantro Lime Shrimp, which I have made several times.  Recently when I pulled out a bag of frozen shrimp to thaw for dinner, my son expressed a little bit of boredom at the prospect of Cilantro Lime Shrimp again.

So I looked around online for another shrimp recipe and, since the weather had warmed up enough to grill, a grilled Cajun shrimp recipe sounded good to both of us.  We served it over quinoa with grilled vegetables, and it turned out beautifully.  Beautiful to look at, that is.

I like fairly spicy food, but this was so spicy hot that my lips tingled for at least half an hour after dinner!  Yikes!  I didn't save the recipe, so I can't link to it, but as I recall it contained three tablespoons of Cajun seasoning for two pounds of shrimp.  (I use a homemade version of Emeril Essence.)  I know we reduced the seasoning a bit, but whatever it was, it was WAY too much.  I couldn't face peppery food for days afterward.

About a week later, I pulled out another bag of shrimp.  There was a little grumbling from a certain quarter, but I made the Cilantro Lime Shrimp again.  The husband completely understood why -- I had to get the taste and memory of that super hot shrimp out of my mind.  I served the Cilantro Lime Shrimp (recipe here) over brown rice seasoned with cumin, lime juice, and cilantro.  Bliss.