Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Birthdays are a labor of love!

So last month I decided that I would tackle the challenge of making Mr. Tana-Licious' birthday cake. I knew that I wanted to use fondant in some form... and that my darling fiance loves cream cheese icing & cinnamon. How to incorporate all 3 became my challenge... and I knew that I wanted to do it mostly all from scratch!

I found a recipe on Food Network for a Spicey Cinnamon cake (courtesy of Paula Deen!) and decided that that would be a solid base... and with a few tweaks I could make it work. Then, I took a classic buttercream recipe & adapted it to make it into a cream cheese frosting.

The result? Heavenly! The cake was moist & delicious and the frosting was soooo good... the cream cheese really works with the buttercream to give that sweet, but not too sweet taste.

Here are the recipes... I'll post pics after the recipes! Remember: the recipes have been tripled from their original amounts due to the amount of cake I was making! Enjoy :)

Cinnamon Swirl Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Cinnamon Swirl Birthday Cake
(adapted from Paula Deen’s Spicy Cinnamon Cake)
*Note: this recipe makes a 2 tiered cake (10” & 8”)

3 packages white cake mix
3 4-serving packages of instant vanilla pudding mix
3 cups of sour cream
12 eggs
1 ½ C corn oil
7/8 C + 1 T of sugar
2 T cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease cake pans.

Combine cake mix, instant pudding, sour cream, eggs, and corn oil and beat together well.

In a separate bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.

Pour 3 C batter into prepared pan # 1 and sprinkle with half of sugar mixture. Pour another 3 C of batter on top.

Pour 1 ½ C of batter into prepared pan # 2 and sprinkle with remaining sugar mixture. Pour remaining 1 ½ C of batter on top.

Bake 1 hour. Let cool and remove from pans.

Cream Cheese Frosting
*Note: this recipe has been tripled to frost a 2 tiered cake*

3 - 8 oz. packages of cream cheese
1 C + 2 T of shortening
9 C powdered sugar
3 dashes of salt
¾ C of milk
3 t of vanilla
3 T of meringue powder

Cream shortening, cream cheese, milk, vanilla.

Add salt & mix.

Beat in sugar & meringue until desired consistency has been reached.


Now for photos...

The cake!!!
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All lit up! Sparkler candles!
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The inside... loved that swirl!
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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Knock knock... who's there?

Banana who?
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Banana who?
Knock knock.
Who's there?
Orange who?
Orange you glad I didn't say banana!


That joke puts my preschoolers into a tizzy... who knew that oranges would be so good for knock knock jokes a well as for a yummy batch of blondies?!?!

When I stumbled upon this recipe a while back, I wasn't so sure I would ever use it. I like citrus as much as the next woman but orange blondies? Blondies (and brownies for that matter) are not supposed to contain fruit! Ludicrous...

That until I made them, ate one, and fell deeply in love! These blondies are so easy & so delicious. As I was making them, I was contemplating how I could switch the recipe up in the future because it is a basic blondie recipe... with the addition of the fruit thrown in. Maybe lemon? Or key lime? Or, lemon lime! Endless possibilities that I will certainly whip up in the future.

Please try these... they are so moist & the frosting really compliments the blondies perfectly! Oh, and it is a requirement that you must tell a horrible knock knock joke while eating these too! ;)

Orange Blondies
(from foodnetwork.com)

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1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
4 eggs
2 teaspoons pure orange extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 recipe Orange Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch pan.

Stir together flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add butter, eggs, orange extract, and orange zest. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat until well blended.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until light golden brown and set. Remove from oven, allow to cool and pierce entire cake with a fork. Spread the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting over completely cooled brownies. Cut into squares.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons softened butter
1 (1-pound) box confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice

In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter and cream cheese together with a hand-held electric mixer. Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar until it is all combined and smooth. Beat in the orange zest and juice. Spread over brownies.

Go to goodness.

Who wants to come home from working all day and slave over a hot stove? NOT I!

This is absolutely one of my go to recipes... I'd compare it to a quick version of Shrimp Scampi. It's really all by taste but the flavors really come together well and you can whip it up in 10 minutes tops. I always keep a bag of fresh frozen shrimp on hand for meals
just like this! Pair it with some garlic bread & a salad and you have a hearty meal!

Super Quick Shrimp Pasta

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2 tbsp minced garlic (jar or fresh)
the juice of 1 whole lemon
1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 stick unsalted butter
1 tsp parsley (fresh or dried)
salt & pepper to taste
1 lb shrimp (frozen or fresh; pealed & deveined)
1 lb pasta

Bring a pot of water to boil for pasta. Once it has reached a boil, cook pasta according to directions on box.
In a large skillet, melt the butter. Once melted, whisk in olive oil, lemon juice, and minced garlic.
Once the sauce has combined, add the shrimp.
Saute until shrimp are pink & firm.
Add parsley.
Once pasta is done cooking, drain the pasta and reserve one ladle of pasta water.
Add the pasta and pasta water to the shrimp.
Toss all together and serve!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Pizza Night!

While house sitting, Mr. Tana-Licious and I cooked up a BBQ feat of chicken on the grill, corn on the cob, and some great onion potatoes. As yummy as it all was, we made far too much chicken and ended up with a ton of leftovers... probably about 3 full breasts!

What to do with the yummy BBQ chicken... take it for lunch? Sure. But why not make a BBQ chicken pizza! And so my pizza was born... it was so easy to throw together and tasted great.


BBQ Chicken Pizza

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3 precooked chicken breasts, cubed or shreded
1 ½ C BBQ sauce
1 precooked pizza crust (suggestion: Boboli)
1 ½ C of shredded mozzarella cheese
½ C chopped scallions

Preheat over to 425 degrees.
Spread ½ C of BBQ sauce on pizza crust; set aside.
Toss chicken in remaining 1 C of BBQ sauce.
Pile chicken ontop of pizza crust.
Sprinkle scallions onto chicken & follow with cheese.
Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly.

Tana-Licious’ notes: I used leftover BBQ chicken that we had made on the grill a few nights prior. It worked out really well & you could taste the smokey grill taste too!

Spinach & strawberry... a salad match made in heaven!

When I tell you that this salad is super easy and such a crowd pleaser, you better believe me! I found the basic recipe on allrecipes.com & then added some twists to it that really helped the flavor along. Here is my version...

Enjoy! :)

Spinach and Strawberry Salad
(adapted from all recipes.com)

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4 bunches spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
4 cups sliced strawberries
1 cup vegetable oil
½ cup balsamc vinegar
1 cup white sugar
½ teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 ½ cups candied almonds**
2 cups bleu or gorgonzola cheese crumbles

In a large bowl, toss together the spinach, strawberries and almonds.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, paprika, sesame seeds, and poppy seeds.
Pour dressing over the salad.
Top with cheese & serve!

** To candy almonds: drop into a hot pan and sprinkle with sugar and a few drops of water… allow the almonds to caramelize on low heat for a few minutes

Tana-Licious’s notes: You can prep everything ahead of time but make sure to leave dressing out on a counter and not in fridge. It will turn to sludge!

Everything tastes better with hummus!!

I have seriously neglected my blog as of late! Things have been super busy around here... a couple of weddings, birthdays, parties, and lots of work (so un-fun!). Fear not my friends, I'm back with a vengeance! ;)

I decided to tackle a recipe that I've always wanted to make... hummus. I made it for Mr. Tana-Licious' Aunts birthday party the weekend of the 4th. I've never made hummus before because I do not have a food processor. Very sad :(... however! While house sitting at said Aunt's house that week, I discovered theirs and was as giddy as a child!

The hummus turned our perfectly... nice and garlicy with a pop of black pepper. It was definitely spicier than anticipated but the combo of roasted garlic & freshly ground black pepper was a hit!

Enjoy :)

Roasted Garlic Hummus

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3 - 19 ounce can chickpeas
3 - head roasted garlic**
1 ½ lemon (zest and juice)
4+ tablespoon olive oil
3 clove of garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Puree everything in a food processor until smooth. Add olive oil as needed to bring it to the consistency that you like.

Note: I serve mine with red & yellow bell peppers, baby carrots, and pit bread wedges

**To roast garlic:

heads of garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Cut the tops of the heads of garlic off such that a little bit of each clove is exposed.
2. Drizzle olive oil on the exposed garlic cloves and season with the salt and pepper.
3. Wrap the garlic in aluminum foil
4. Bake in a preheated oven until the garlic is soft and golden brown, about 45 minutes.
5 Let the garlic cool.