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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

White Almond Sour Cream Cake


Labor Day is coming up.  We will be celebrating by making some ribs and eating this cake.  It is much simpler than the Flag Cake I shared at the 4th of July, but it still very festive.

This recipe is actually a recipe for wedding cake.  I don't know anyone getting married anytime soon, so I decided to make it to celebrate Labor Day.  This was the best white cake I've ever eaten.  It was very light and moist.  I especially loved the hint of almond extract.   I frosted the cake with my favorite Buttercream Frosting - it put the cake over the top!


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spaghetti and Meatball Pot Pies


A few weeks  ago I posted my version of Pizza Pot Pie.  We loved it!  It was a great change to pizza night. I was going through my Google reader last weekend and noticed Chris' post on Nibble Me This for Spaghetti and Meatball Pot Pies.  Genius!!  We had to give it a try.    It was fantastic and so much more fun to eat than regular spaghetti and meatballs!

This is really simple to throw together.  I used frozen meatballs and refrigerated pizza dough.  The most time consuming part of this meal was boiling the pasta.  Can't beat that!  Give this a try on your next spaghetti night.  Thanks for the inspiration Chris!



Monday, August 29, 2011

Almond Toffee Bars - Secret Recipe Club


I am so excited to be part of the Secret Recipe Club this month!  I was assigned A Tale of One Foodie's Culinary Adventures.  I was torn over which recipe to make - Erin has so many great recipes!  Make sure you go check it out - I pinned several to make later.

I finally decided on these Almond Toffee Bars since I love almonds and toffee.  Good call - these bars were AMAZING!! They were so simple to make and even easier to eat!  I had to take them to work to avoid eating the entire pan by myself.  Seriously!  These would be great for watching football this weekend or just because.



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Friday, August 26, 2011

Lasagna Flatbread


I decided to mix up pizza night and try this Lasagna Flatbread.  I've had this recipe in mind for a while, but I never got around to making it.  I could kick myself!  It was SO good!! 

This was kind of like an open-faced calzone.  We both loved it.  I used sausage and part of a jar of marinara for the meat sauce.  Feel free to use hamburger instead of sausage.  You can also use more or less meat and sauce depending on how meaty and saucy you want the lasagna.  This recipe is going in our regular dinner rotation.  Give this a try next time you want lasagna without all the work!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Peanut Butter Eclair Cake


I have to give credit to Chicken Legs for this recipe. One of his favorite desserts is my Chocolate Éclair Cake. The last time I made it he suggested that we try a Peanut Butter Chocolate Éclair Cake. I happen to love peanut butter and chocolate, so I thought that was a fantastic idea!!

I made a few simple changes to the original recipe and we had our creation. It was absolutely delicious! We both loved it. It is so light; it is hard to stop eating! I always make this the day before I want to serve it. It gets better the longer it sits in the fridge.



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Ritz Carlton's SALT Cooking School - Day Two {Corn Ice Cream}


We had a great time on day one of the Salt cooking school, and we were really excited about day two.  We were making so many wonderful things!  Brisket, mac and cheese, homemade marshmallows, corn ice cream and CHICKEN!  I couldn't wait to see how it all tasted!!

The first thing I saw when we walked in the kitchen was the chicken soaking in the brine.  It had lemons, oranges, grapefruits and rosemary.  YUM!

 My Mom and I helped prep the collard greens.  We cut the stems and chopped the leaves. 

The restaurant's fresh fish shipment arrived while we were there.  That is one big fish! They also had fresh lobsters - they were still walking around in the box.

I was really excited to see how to make homemade marshmallows.  It was much easier than I thought.  We made raspberry marshmallows.  One tip I picked up was to use snow sugar instead of powdered sugar.  The powdered sugar will melt.

 This is the salt encrusted snapper.  This was actually pretty easy.  It would be great for a party.

 Prepping the mac & cheese.  We used fresh rigatoni that was made in the cafe kitchen.  They made it longer than regular rigatoni so we could stuff it with cheese like a manicotti noodle.

It rained while we were cooking and the outside grills went out.  They had to start a charcoal fire inside.  Chef Rick grilled his prawns for the avocado and cilantro soup right in the kitchen. 

Here is the snapper right out of the oven.  I thought it looked like a piranha from a horror movie! SCARY!!

We finished cooking around 1:00pm again.  This time instead of heading to the dining room, we each got to plate our own food.  Each chef did an example and then we all got to give it a shot ourselves.

Plating tip - wipe your clean plates with gin.  The alcohol will evaporate and your plates will dry to a spot-free shine!

The Feast
 Chilled Avocado and Cucumber Soup with Grilled Florida Pink Prawns and Corn Ice Cream
I was really excited about the corn ice cream.  It tasted like creamed corn - I really liked it.  I shared the recipe at the end of the post.

 Salt Crusted Snapper with Lemon Potato Salad and Meyer Lemon Sabayon
This is that scary fish!  It looks much better on the plate.  My favorite part of this dish was the Meyer Lemon Sabayon.  It was made with preserved lemons.  This was the first time I have seen a sabayon made.  It will really help build your arm muscles!!

Smoked Chicken with Collard Greens and Mustard BBQ Sauce
I loved this dish!  The chicken tasted great and the BBQ sauce was amazing.  I plan on making this  ASAP.  

 Slow Smoked Brisket over Mac & Cheese with Fried Pickles and Hot Sauce
I loved everything about this dish.  The mac & cheese was amazing.  It is on the list to make.  The hot sauce was great too.  It was super simple - hot sauce, mustard seed, cumin seed and garlic.

 Milk Chocolate Cremaux Tart with Caramel Sauce and Rasberry Granita
Holy Moly!  This was good.  The chocolate tart was so creamy.  I can't wait to try this at home!

Berry Marshmallows & Watermelon Truffles 
The marshmallows tasted great and the watermelon truffles were to die for!


We had a fabulous time at cooking school.   We learned a lot and ate even more!  Chef Rick and his team at SALT were amazing.  We really appreciated them taking the time to put on the class.  We are hoping to make this an annual trip!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ritz Carlton's SALT Cooking School - Day 1 {Homemade Ranch Dressing}


This past week my Mom & I took a "girls trip" to the Salt Cooking School at The Ritz Carlton in Amelia Island, FL.  It was AMAZING!!  We had the best time.  We cooked all day and ate all afternoon.  What could be better??

The cooking class is a two day event.  We started off day one with a tour of all the kitchen facilities at The Ritz Carlton.

This is the banquet kitchen.  They prepare all the food for the events held at the hotel.

Right off the banquet kitchen was the cold prep kitchen and butcher shop.  They were prepping fruit when we walked in.  It was hard not to snag a strawberry off those pans!

Next up was the Pastry Kitchen.  I could have camped out here all day!!  They were pulling out Chocolate Cheesecake Souffles when we walked in.  I wanted to grab one and run out with it!  It smelled amazing!  The pastry kitchen works in shifts so all the pastries and breads are fresh.  They provide food for the entire hotel.


Our final stop on the tour was in the Cafe 4750 kitchen. It is open 24 hours a day and provides all the food for the Cafe, Lobby Lounge and Eight Sports Bar.

The cafe kitchen also makes all of the pasta for the resort. Chef Rick was nice enough to share that recipe with us.  I plan on trying it out this weekend!

After our tour, we hit the SALT Kitchen.  We were able to pick what we wanted to work on.  We could either stay with one chef or float around all day.  We did a little of both.

I spent a lot of time with Amanda, the pastry chef.  We made lemon pound cake, vanilla ice cream, grilled peaches and a honey balsamic glaze.  It was all delicious!

My Mom spent a lot of time working on the salad and then helped out with the skewers.

This was where we made the salad with homemade ranch dressing.  I'll be sharing that recipe at the end of the post.  Everyone raved about it!

We made two kinds of BBQ sauce to go with the ribs - a mustard sauce and a more traditional red sauce.

We were in the kitchen until 1:00pm, and then we moved into the dining room.  Each chef plated their dish and brought it out to us.  SALT paired the food for us with some great wines.  We had a white, Zenato Pino Grigio, delle Venezi, Italy 2009, and a red, Marchesi Frescobaldi "Castello di Nipozzano" Chianti Rufina Reserva, Tuscany 2007

The Feast
Grilled Salad of Romaine
with Serrano wrapped Mancheago, Corn,  Red Onion and Homemade Ranch
Everyone loved this salad.  They were still raving about it the next morning.  I especially loved the grilled Serrano wrapped Mancheago!

Trio of Street Fare 
Pesto Marinated Shrimp and Melon / Filet Skewers / Spiced Chicken with Summer Succotash / Peach Sauce 
I loved this course.  I plan on trying the steak skewers this weekend with skirt steak.

Halibut en Papillote
Halibut with a tomato basil butter cooked in parchment
My Mom LOVED this dish.  She made sure to eat every bite. 

Quinoa Taboule
A cold quinoa salad with fresh veggies and lemon

Meloncello 
Pureed watermelon, limoncello, light rum and lemon/lime soda - YUM!

Memphis Style Ribs 
The ribs were served over Boston Baked Beans with a Carolina Mustard Sauce and Kansas City Classic Sauce
The method they used was similar to my ribs recipe - they just cooked the foil wrapped ribs on the grill instead of the oven.

 Grilled Peaches, Lemon Pound Cake, Vanilla Ice Cream with a Honey Balsamic Glaze
This is the dish that I helped out with the most.  The lemon pound cake was amazing.  It was moist and full of lemon flavor.  It is on my list to make at home soon!

Coconut Caramel Sandwiches
This was a cross between an American and a French Macroon.  They are also Gluten Free!
These are on my "to make" list as well.  Chicken Legs would love these.


Day One was SO much fun!  We were exhausted from being on our feet all day and extremely full!  Below is the recipe for the Ranch Dressing we made.  This makes a TON and it is a 1/4 of the recipe they use at SALT.  You can freeze the extra dressing or put it in mason jars and give it away.  Your friends will thank you!

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