‘Christmas Tree’ Salad

Christmas is Coming!

 

Welcome to December — Christmas is just around the corner!  Here is a colorful Christmas Tree salad to add to your festivities

 

Christmas Tree Salad

'Christmas Tree' Salad

A healthy delicious salad filled with colorful ingredients becomes a healthy, delicious and colorful Holiday salad topped with a toasted Star!

From Healthy. Happy. Life.

I had no intentions of making this raw chard ribbon salad a “Christmas Tree” Salad. It was just going to be a holiday salad. Until I piled it into my bowl and watched as it formed a peaked tower that resembled a decked out holiday tree. 

Complete with shiny red pomegranate “lights” – glossy grape bulbs – twinkly satsuma ornaments – and then I needed a star on top…

 ..sprouted grain toast star it was!

 So my holiday salad turned into an edible tree..

 

Read the full post and get the recipe here:  Happy. Healthy. Life. from lunchboxbunch.com

 

Elegant Entrée of Poached Salmon

Attractive, Delicious, and Healthy too!Elegant Entrée of Poached Salmon

This elegant entrée of Poached Salmon with Broccoli Rabe and Pea Shoot Coulis was just what I was looking for and it satisfied my taste buds perfectly!

I already had a couple of lovely Salmon filets and was wondering how to prepare them.  The Broccoli Rabe and Pea Shoots, both looking very fresh and ‘green’ at the market, had already tempted me and were awaiting their turn at the table. Not intending to use them all together initially, when I came across this recipe, I was intrigued as well as delighted. I just needed the mushrooms and I was ready to make this elegant entree of poached salmon for an attractive, delicious and healthy meal!

Here is the recipe. It might seem intimidating at first, but follow it through and you will be rewarded! (By the way… I puréed the pea shoots so had a thicker coulis and I used less than 2 cups of oil for the salmon – I think my results were delicious!)

Elegant Entrée of Poached Salmon

Serving Size: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 Fresh salmon filets, skin on
  • 6-8 cups Olive oil
  • 10 ounces Broccoli rabe
  • Mushroom jus
  • 2 tablespoons Unsalted butter
  • Pea shoot coulis
  • For the Mushroom Jus
  • 2 cups Crimini mushrooms, slices thinly
  • 4 tablespoons Unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup Shallots, minced
  • 2 cups Water
  • 1/2 cup White wine (Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 4 tablespoons Sherry wine
  • For the Pea Shoot Coulis
  • 8 ounces Pea shoots
  • 1/2 cup Chicken stock

Instructions

    First make the Mushroom Jus
  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan with a lid. Add the shallots and cook on high until slightly browned, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook at high heat until the mushrooms become browned, about 10 minutes.
  3. Once the mushrooms are cooked down, add the water and both wines. Stir and cover. Allow the mixture to cook, covered, at a simmer for 35 to 40 minutes.
  4. While the jus is cooking, prepare an ice bath. Set a bowl in the ice bath and put a strainer over the bowl.
  5. After the mushrooms have finished cooking, strain the liquid into the bowl in the ice bath and allow to cool to room temperature, stirring frequently. Add salt to taste. Discard the solids. After the jus has come to room temperature, place covered in a fridge.
  6. Next make the Pea Shoot Coulis
  7. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Set a cold water bath aside with a strainer submerged in the water.
  8. Once boiling, add a generous pinch or so of salt. Set a few pea shoots aside for garnishing. Add 1/3 of the remaining pea shoots to the boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the shoots are tender.
  9. With slotted spoon, remove the shoots from the boiling water and place into the water bath. Add the remaining pea shoots in two separate additions.
  10. Once the shoots have cooled, raise the strainer out of the ice bath and squeeze them gently to remove excess water.
  11. Place the shoots into a bowl and add the chicken stock. With an emersion blender (or a regular blender) liquify the shoots.
  12. Run the liquid through a fine sieve into another bowl.
  13. Place the bowl, covered, in the fridge.
  14. For the Salmon
  15. Preheat an oven to 225 degrees. Measure the height of the salmon to determine how high the oil needs to be to cover the filets (6-8 cups). Fill a cast iron skillet (or any ovenproof pan) with oil slightly over the height of the salmon.
  16. Heat the oil to 120 degrees on a cooktop and add the filets to the oil, making sure they are covered completely.
  17. Place the skillet or pan into the oven and allow to cook for approximately 25 minutes, until the white fat from the salmon begins to come to the surface.
  18. For the Finish
  19. When the salmon has 12 minutes to go, add 1/2 cup of the mushroom jus to a saucepan and bring to simmer on high.
  20. In a separate saucepan, add the coulis and bring to a simmer.
  21. Add the broccoli rabe and the 2 TB butter to the jus and cook on high, basting to broccoli often, until the stems are tender, but still crunchy, about 8 minutes. At the same time, add 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter to the coulis and allow to melt. Salt to taste and set aside.
  22. Once the broccoli rabe is cooked, place in a dish and cover with foil. ( The salmon should be about done in the oven).
  23. Add another 1/4 cup of the jus to the saucepan and bring to a simmer at medium. Bring the salmon out of the oven and place it into the pan, skin side down.
  24. Cook the salmon skin side down lightly for a minute or so, basting the top with the jus. Flip the salmon and allow to cook briefly, until the top has a nice golden brown color, about 2 minutes. Remove the skin and set the filets in a dish and cover. Season with salt to taste.
  25. To Serve
  26. Add the coulis to a plate and allow to spread around. Place the broccoli rabe down, about 8 per person. Place the salmon on the broccoli and garnish with the leftover pea shoots. Enjoy!
http://greatfoodfunplaces.com/2014/10/22/elegant-entree-of-poached-salmon/

This recipe is adapted from Food52’s recipe for Olive Oil Poached Salmon. See their recipe here.

 

 

Apricot Almond Layer Cake

Let’s Eat CAKE!

Apricot Almond Layer Cake

Apricot Almond Layer Cake  Apricot Almond Layer Cake is a rich, elegant dessert or ‘sweet treat’ to serve with tea.  At first, I described it as just  ‘good’ . . . but not ‘wow’.  The  second day it was a little better, even though the meringue gets a bit soft (mine was soft and chewy to begin with).  Overall the flavors blend together nicely, especially the second day. Even after a few days (yes – it lasted that long….quite rich so serving slices were small) it was still attractive to serve and tasted good. Apricot Almond Layer Cake

The photo accompanying the recipe shows a bright orange ‘apricot’ colored layer.Apricot Almond Layer Cake Since I used non-sulfured apricots, so they were dark to begin with.  I think the bright orange apricots might turn dark after cooking into the compote anyway, so would not maintain the pretty bright orange as in the photo! (as in so many published recipes, the photo was probably photo-shopped or un-cooked apricots were used). The flavor is subtle and very nice. I think I might use the ‘compote’ for other recipes such as with waffles, pancakes, or even French Toast; or possibly paired with cheese and crackers!

The Almond-Crunch was a fascinating process and works really well. Apricot Almond Layer Cake I recommend it for any recipe with ‘nut-crunch’ or ‘praline’ type additions or toppings!! I’m also thinking topping for ice-cream or perhaps lovely pumpkin pie?

The recipe seemed to make a large volume of meringue. Even after carefully drawing out the circles and piling on the fluffy meringue, I had lots left, so I daubed on some smaller circles. Another idea for this dessert – making individual servings!

Apricot Almond Layer Cake

 

 

 

Apricot Almond Layer Cake

 

 

 

Get the recipe: Apricot Almond Layer Cake

 

 

 

 

Pretty Party Cake – Let’s Eat Cake!

Let’s Eat Cake!

Pretty Party Cake for any Celebration

 

Pretty Party Cake - Let's Eat Cake!

This was a yummy cake and it was easy to make.

I see us making this cake often.

I liked that the two layers are each made separately so I didn’t have to try to cut them straight! Or fill each pan evenly.   Thankfully I read the directions all the way through before beginning the  recipe, so I was aware that the amounts were per layer.  I think it would be fun to add a third layer, which would be easy to do with the recipe measurements as they are.Pretty Party Cake - Let's Eat Cake!

 

IPretty Party Cake - Let's Eat Cake! did not follow the recipe for all of the frosting. The recipe has you make one frosting for the base and another for the decorative flowers but I would have to buy 3 bags of powdered sugar and 2# of butter.Pretty Party Cake - Let's Eat Cake!

 

So instead I made the base frosting following the recipe. Then I added some more powdered sugar to make it thicker and colored it for the flowers. We pressed them on wax paper and put them in the freezer because our room temperature was warm. It worked perfectly. There was still left over frosting after we made the flowers and left per flowers (we didn’t put all the flowers we made on the cake).  They make a yummy- cool sweet treat right out of the freezer.

Pretty Party Cake - Let's Eat Cake!

I was also concerned with 2 sticks of butter in the frosting so I compared other buttercream frosting recipes. They all had the same amount of powdered sugar but much less butter and milk. I think that is what makes this one so good and not too sweet.

My hubby has requested this to be his next birthday cake.

I’d say it say it was a big hit! 

Epeciurious.com Recipe: Two Layer Cake

 

Coffee-Chocolate Decadence!

Let’s Eat Cake!

Coffee-Chocolate Layer Cake with

Mocha Mascarpone Frosting

 

Coffee-Chocolate Decadence!

Let’s Eat Cake!

  What could be better?!         Coffee-Chocolate cake with a rich Mocha frosting – Oh My! The recipe shows a picture of a dark – almost black – cake and frosting so I was totally intrigued. After reading through the recipe I became a bit apprehensive  realizing the lengthy process and the number of steps involved: mix, bake, cool, mix, chill, mix more, frost some, chill again, frost more, chill more, un-chill to serve at room temp… whew!

I was also curious just how an almost black cake would result from mixing (white) mascarpone cheese & (white) whipping cream with dark chocolate and dark coffee Coffee-Chocolate Decadence! Coffee-Chocolate Decadence!

… NOT going to happen — and it didn’t!

But it WAS rich … oh – so rich and decadent!

AND… It was EASY!!  I allowed two days of baking and frosting to assure myself  enough time for all the steps and time required for mixing and chilling.

 

This is a delicious chocolate cake with VERY RICH frosting

My pans were a good size and baked almost evenly….one layer seemed to sink just a bit on one side while cooling but didn’t affect the layering (a little more frosting in that section!!) Once cooled, they were individually double-wrapped  (in plastic then in Ziplok bag) and refrigerated until being frosted.

Coffee-Chocolate Decadence! The process of frosting the cake (one of the many ‘steps’) is a good one to remember and probably use for others: brush the crumbs off with a pastry brush; put the layers together with the filling/frosting; spread a thin layer of frosting around the sides and over the top;  then chill another 10 minutes before finishing the frosting. … I figured it was to keep the whipped cream frosting from warming too fast (the chilled cake layers helped too) but I think it is good idea for any layered cake frosting. It also gets any extra crumbs confined.

It was a nice straight up cake to begin with but once I slathered on the second layer of frosting, it kind of ’rounded’ out and looks a little plump! Coffee-Chocolate Decadence! I  could have ‘straightened’ it up again making flat sides (and losing a little frosting), but decided to leave it. I added the chocolate curls to the top and around the bottom to dress it up.

The mascarpone cheese must help hold the whipped cream frosting together (I’m thinking the commercial bakeries that offer whipped cream frosting must use something similar so it holds up and doesn’t begin to weep and sag.  The mascarpone certainly makes it RICH!

The coffee adds a lovely flavor – especially in the frosting. It could almost be a Tiramisu cake if it was a white/yellow cake vs chocolate cake (I might give that a try!)  AND – as I have said a couple times now —  there is NO WAY this recipe is going to look like the picture – At least in color! But since I knew that, I am not disappointed in anyway with the outcome.

The cake looks a little dense but has a lighter texture that it appears. Both the cake batter and frosting have a delicious – almost chocolate toffee – taste. The baked cake has a lighter coffee flavor than the batter and goes well with the frosting.

ALL reports are thumbs up!! After his second piece (with tea the next morning), hubby rates it on par with (his memory of) cakes from our favorite Dimmer’s bakery.  Our granddaughter had a piece with Gpa this morning and could only eat half of her small piece (its very rich!) but had no problem finishing it later and then asking for more. Other family members raved and raved and asked when I was making it again! Our neighbor LOVED it and said it was one the best chocolate-chocolate cakes she’s ever had.

Yaaay!!  Another winner!

 

Let’s Eat Cake! – Watermelon Cake?

Let’s Eat Cake!

Watermelon Cake! 

Let's Eat Cake! - Watermelon Cake?

 Funny thing is. . . during our first conversations about this cake ‘challenge’ we had some discussion about who might want which cakes… pick and choose? or random drawings?

The conversation went something like this:

ap: “I haven’t looked at the list – I’ll wait until you divide them up.  You can just do it randomly, or all you others can chose the ones you want and I’ll take what’s left.   And what I get makes no difference to me (as long as they don’t have watermelon or licorice in them!)”

hj: ”I” get any with watermelon and licorice!!!  Dibs!  hahaha!   (ewwwww….)

 jm: “watermelon and licorice cakes – ewww – I agree = no thanks on my end !! UNLESS it is a watermelon shape/decorated cake! but no licorice”

And then. . . there it was!

ap: “Speaking of cakes…!!  — “No Bake Watermelon Cake Recipe”

The next ‘round’ of recipes went out with the ‘extra’ recipe for watermelon cake!

 jmThe Watermelon Cake * is up for grabs and would be a good ‘summer’ cake. If anyone decides to make it, please share your experience with us all!!

 hj: “I’ll volunteer to make the watermelon cake “sometime” this summer!”

And now. . . HERE IT IS!!

 “No Bake Watermelon Cake” Let's Eat Cake! - Watermelon Cake?

Simple ingredients:  1 Large Watermelon, Blueberries, Raspberries, Almonds, Whipped cream or Coconut Whipped cream.

Simple instructions:  Cut watermelon in a circle like a cake, ‘frost’ with whipped cream, add almonds to sides, decorate the top with berries.

It was really very easy and makes an attractive and impressive presentation.

One suggestion I have is to take courage and just CUT the circle out. I thought I needed to use as much of the watermelon as possible, so I more or less ‘peeled’ it and ended up with a ‘top hat’ shaped cake. It also didn’t need to be as big of a watermelon as I used (about 8 pounds – wish I had taken a photo of the un-cut melon).

Let's Eat Cake! - Watermelon Cake?

I also experimented with whipped coconut cream to avoid dairy and was pleased.  Use coconut cream (not milk), well chilled with any liquid drained off, sweeten with sugar like whipping cream.

Let's Eat Cake! - Watermelon Cake?

It was really juicy at first. The recipe suggests ‘patting it down” with a paper towel before frosting which I did. It was still juicy when cut, but the left-over stayed almost a week in the refrigerator… and was still very good – maybe even better than the first day!

Should this be categorized as Edible Food Art? Healthy Cake? Gluten Free? Vegan? No-bake or just ‘Cake’ ? It is definitely fun and delicious!

The perfect healthy “No Bake Watermelon Cake Recipe” is from Jennifer Garza. Visit Jennifer’s blog for more exciting information and recipes.

 

 

Let’s Eat Cake! – Heavenly Lemon!

Let’s Eat Cake!

 Heavenly Lemon!

 

Let's Eat Cake! - Heavenly Lemon!

Meyer Lemon Cake

with Lavender Cream

“The floral notes of Meyer lemons meld with lavender in the most heavenly way in this light, golden cake. The secret to the moistness of the tender layers is olive oil—a common ingredient in Provençal cakes—and they take well to the bright lemon curd and loose billows of lavender-honey cream”

  This perfectly poetic description from the introduction in the recipe says it all!!

One might expect this cake to be a bit heavy and dense with the olive oil but is delightfully tender and light and moist.

I really liked the cake –  made with whipped egg whites and lemon juice and will use this cake recipe as a base for other cakes.

This cake was easy to make and everyone who tasted it enjoyed it.

Each taster’s sweet/sour preference varied. Some people thought it was perfect because they like tart. Others thought it needed a sweeter topping to balance the tart. Personally, I thought the curd was too tart. But that can vary with each lemon, too.

The lavender cream had mixed reviews too. It added a nice balance to the curd but the floral taste was a bit different.

Let's Eat Cake! - Heavenly Lemon!!

Let's Eat Cake! - Heavenly Lemon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let's Eat Cake! - Heavenly Lemon!

 

 

 

Let’s Eat Cake! — Take 2

Let’s Eat Cake!

Take 2 —

Let’s try this again!   The first cake of the challenge was a bit of a flop — a funny but frustrating  “Epic Failure“.  Some of us are a bit cautious about our assignments, but we plan to just “plow through and see what happens!”  So here goes . . . “Let’s Eat Cake! — Take 2”

 The Pink Cake

Let's Eat Cake -- Take 2

With some extra time this morning,  I went ahead and made the cake and got it frosted, instead of baking one day and frosting the next. And just to let you know – all this fancy “mix with the paddle attachment, mix with the whisk attachment ” isn’t happening in my house. One little hand mixer is all I have, and it’ll have to do.

I was intrigued with the part of the recipe where the chocolate is incorporated into the sour cream.  That all worked pretty well.

The cake itself is very moist, and has a nice chocolate flavor.

The Frosting is another issue! 

First of all – an entire pound of butter???  Yikes! I love butter, but this is way over the top for me.

Secondly, my little hand-beater had a tough time toward the end of the butter incorporation – it got a bit thick for the small beater to handle.

I transferred it all to a larger bowl before adding the raspberries.  I used frozen.  At the price of fresh raspberries in this little town it was cost prohibitive to use fresh with the required 4 cups.  (A lovely raspberry patch would be so nice!)

The  buttercream frosting directions do say that the mixture will appear “curdled” somewhere along the line when beating in the butter, but not to worry as it will smooth out as it all gets mixed in.

Well, before adding the raspberries the mixture was nice and smooth and fluffy.  When I mixed in the raspberries, that’s when it “curdled.” I beat the heck out of it, and it never did go back to smooth and fluffy, so I gave up and just put what I had on the cake.

LET'S EAT CAKE! -- TAKE 2

I would  have liked to have added some chocolate curls, but I didn’t have any chocolate for that.

The frosted cake tastes okay, but that “frosting” has just way too much butter in it.  (It actually tasted quite bland before I added the raspberries.)  When I ate my piece of cake I ended up scraping off most of the frosting.

The chocolate cake itself is also kind of bland, but works well with the raspberry flavor of the frosting. I think the cake batter does need a rich frosting of some kind to make it work.

My take on The Pink Cake:

– it’s good, but not good enough for all of the work.

There you have it!

Top photo by Erin Kunkel

Recipe: Epicurious.com

Let’s Eat Cake! . . . Epic Failure?

 Let’s Eat Cake!

The challenge: Bake one cake a month. Take photos during the process or at least of the finished product. Tell us about the experience and share the photos. Then EAT the CAKE!

In a totally RANDOM drawing done on behalf of each participant by Mr. Tommy, the first round of recipes have been picked and handed out.

First up:

Let's Eat Cake. . .or Not

Yellow Layer Cake with Chocolate-Sour Cream Frosting

Are you ready to eat cake? Let’s get started!

 Ok – here ya go!!!  I was laughing so hard during this!  My helper was complaining that she couldn’t take pictures because I was making her laugh, too.  It was hilarious!

I bought two sets of new cake pans to start this adventure!  I have two “old” pans – don’t even know if they’re nine inch or eight inch.  I needed three rounds for this cake (each split in half so I’d end up w/6 layers), and I wanted to make sure they were all the same size, etc.

Let's Eat Cake . . . or NotThe cake batter was easy to make and I thought it turned out good – fluffy and good consistency.  The cakes took a little longer to bake than the recipe said, and ended up with “crispy” edges – kinda like when there’s too much butter in a chocolate chip cookie and it spreads and gets crispy (?) – so I didn’t adjust for altitude, and I think that I should’ve added more flour (live and learn)!  When the cakes were cooled and I cut them in half, it seemed like the “tops” were bigger than the bottoms, but I wasn’t comfortable trimming around the edges – the cake seemed too “crumbly”.

The frosting recipe was a sour cream chocolate icing – you mix it up and let it get thicker in the fridge as it cools (recipe called for 30 minutes).  Well, I let it set all afternoon and finally decided it was probably as thick as it was going to get.

So. . . I put the first layer on the cake stand, topped it with the icing, smoothed it to the edge, put the second  layer on, topped it with icing, smoothed it to the edge, then the third, etc., etc.  By the time I got to the fifth layer, things were obviously off-kilter and leaning towards one side.  I tried to smoosh everything back to the other side without making too much of a mess – there was a little movement in the right direction, but obviously not enough. Let's Eat Cake . . . or Not I went ahead and put the final layers on and noticed how uneven the layers were (as in, the edges of the layers were radically not even).  I thought I was being careful when placing the cake layers on each time, but I think the spreading of the icing created movement that made everything crooked.  The picture on the recipe doesn’t have the sides of the cake frosted, but I had lots of extra frosting, and thought that maybe I could hide some of the unevenness if I threw some frosting on the side (obviously not!).

Let's Eat Cake! . . . or NotThen there was more movement and I hollered that we needed to cut a piece quick!  and get it on a plate. We grabbed a dessert plate and cut a slice and rushed to get a picture of the inside of the cake on the stand.

Let's Eat Cake . . . or NotThen while we were taking a picture of the slice on the plate, the whole cake just started cracking and sliding so I grabbed a cookie sheet for it to fall on – it was hysterical at this point – a slow (but kinda quick as it gathered momentum) mudslide.

Let's Eat Cake . . . or Not

Let's Eat Cake . . . or NotLet's Eat Cake . . . or Not

Wow.  I think the frosting was too “slick” – maybe more powdered sugar?  But I didn’t want to mess with it too much when I was making it – the picture looked like it was very glossy and not too thick with powdered sugar.  Now I know!

None of us were big fans of the taste of the cake, either.  I’ll get the “boys” opinions tonight.  – It had a tang or sourness that’s a little unpleasant.  Which is surprising to me, because I love tangy/sour things – I love buttermilk and sour cream.  But, not so much in this recipe!  What a way to start the cake challenge!  Geesh!

OMG!  It was fun though, and I enjoyed the experience, and the girls and I got a good laugh!  🙂

It’s OK if you start with the epic failure – we can only get better from here!  By the way, neither of the “boys” liked the taste of the cake either – both cut a large-ish slice and neither finished.  It looks like it should be good – it’s just not.  🙁  

Recipe: Epicurious.com

Cake Image:  Stephen Lewis

 

Easter Bunnies and Chicks – Springtime Fun

Hippity Hoppin’ Down the Bunny Trail

How cute are these? – Almost too cute to eat! These little Easter bunnies and chicks will bring fun and delight to your Easter dinner or any spring-time celebration.

Easter Bunnies and Chicks – Springtime Fun

Easter Bunnies and Chicks – Springtime Fun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

People are so creative! I am constantly amazed at what cute little creations come hopping along. These bunnies and chicks are perfect examples.

These adorable little  Bunnies look easy enough to make. They didn’t come with instructions other than this photo   It looks easy enough: small balls of dough for dinner rolls are snipped to make the ears before baking (it looks like they must already be raised and ready for the oven at snipping time).  And, of course, make the little eyes with a polk from a  skewer or chopstick.Easter Bunnies and Chicks – Springtime Fun

 

 

 

 

 

Perky little Deviled Egg Chicks  created by Chris Eileen Preston, will require a bit more finesse. She says she made them for Easter a few years ago and never imagined her cute little creations would become ‘world famous’.Easter Bunnies and Chicks – Springtime Fun

Here are the instructions and filling recipe as shared by Chris Eileen Preston:

“I cup the egg on my palm and wrap my fingers around it to support the sides.  Then I very carefully loosen the yolk with a very tiny sharp paring knife.

The filling is:  “mayonnaise, mustard, pickle juice, garlic and onion powder, salt, sugar. Keep the filling stiff. I beat it with an electric hand mixer and use a large star tip with a coupler on a cake decorating bag.

Push the tip down into the egg as far as you can without ripping the white. Then slowly withdraw it as you fill, moving it around so you have no air pockets.

The eyes are black food gel coloring dotted on with the small end of a chop stick. The beak is a wedge of cheddar cheese.”

Pepper corns or pieces of black olives also work for the eyes and a wedge of sliced raw carrot can also be used for the beak.

The flowers are the part sliced off the big end to make them sit straighter and then filled with the star tip.

Have a Happy – and Delicious – Easter!

Easter Bunnies and Chicks - Springtime Fun