An Impressive 4th of July Cake

rwb cake

I set out on a mission: to create a totally impressive July 4th dessert without having to purchase any special tools or equipment. This red, white, and blue ombre petal cake is where we ended up. To achieve deeper colors use gel paste.  The store bought food coloring will give you want I have been calling “Nantucket” red, white and blue–I still think it’s pretty!

Cake stepsAll you need is cake and icing ingredients, standard round cake pans, some ziptop baggies, and a little time. Yes, while this cake is easy on the eyes, it does take some effort. Set aside at least one hour to decorate it — just think of it as art therapy.

STEP 1: Gather your equipment
• 5 (1-gallon) ziptop bags
• 1 dinner fork
• Rubber spatula
• Scotch tape
• 2 boxes white cake mix (plus, water, egg or oil as the mix directs)
• 6 containers white frosting (important that it is white and not vanilla or your colors will be off)
• Red and blue food coloring
• Large offset spatula, optional for crumb layer

STEP 2: Bake cakes
Follow directions on cake mix box for mixing. Divide batter evenly between three 9-inch cake rounds and bake according to manufacturer’s directions. Let cakes cool completely.

STEP 3: Color frosting
Divide frosting into five separate bowls, one container per bowl. Mix food coloring as follows leaving one bowl white. Be sure to mix thoroughly. 
• Pink: 6 drops of red 
• Red: 60 drops of red 
• Light Blue: 8 drops of blue 
• Blue: 50 drops of blue

STEP 4: Make piping bags
Snip approximately 1/8 inch off the end of a ziptop bag. Place tape on the corner of the bag so that the edges of the tape and corner of the bag are parallel. Turn bag over and repeat on the other side so that the entire edge of the bag is covered with tape. This will help keep the tip in tact. Add one color of frosting to each bag, squeeze out all the air, and push frosting down to the tip.

STEP 5: Stack cakes and add a crumb layer of frosting
Cover your workstation in foil to make for an easy cleanup. Place one cake round on a cake stand or serving platter. Frost the top of the cake using the sixth frosting container then, top with the second cake and repeat with the last cake. Frost a thin layer over all three of the cakes.

STEP 6: Get piping!
Starting at the bottom of your layer cake, pipe one dollop of blue frosting. Place the end of a fork in the middle of the dollop and swipe. Pipe another dollop in the center of the swipe and swipe again. Repeat all the way around the cake. Continue with a row of light blue, then two rows of white, light pink, and finish with red. Continue onto the top of the cake with a color pattern of your liking. We eliminated the swipe on top of ours and stuck with the dollop.

STEP 7: Garnish
Print out an image of an American flag (or something patriotic). Tape to a toothpick and insert into cake.

 

Chickpea, Spinach and Chorizo Frittata

frittata 2I’ll admit that while testing recipes for Food52 I’m not always blown away by the ones I get assigned, but when I am, it’s like Christmas morning.  Enter this incredible frittata recipe. If I ever had time to host a brunch party, this would definitely make the roster–until then it will suffice for my husband and I alone. As an added bonus, only one pan is needed which makes clean up a breeze! 

Original recipe found here

You’ll Need: 

  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 cup chorizo, diced
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 big handfuls of spinach
  • 5 eggs beaten
  • salt
  1. Finely chop the onion and garlic and saute in a frying pan in a good glug of olive oil until soft and fragrant.
  2. Dice the red pepper and chorizo into chickpea-sized chunks and add to the pan with the chickpeas and paprika.
  3. Saute everything together until the orangy paprika oils run from the chorizo.
  4. Add the spinach and keep stirring until it wilts and everything starts to meld together in the pan.
  5. Add the eggs and stir gently to incorporate the eggs into the whole mixture, then allow to set over a medium heat.
  6. Preheat the grill then slide the whole pan under the grill to set the top of the fritatta, it will only take a minute or two to become light gold and puffy.
  7. Remove from the grill, gently loosen from the edge of the frying pan with a knife then place a large plate over the pan and invert the fritatta onto it. Then place another plate on top and invert once again so the glossy grilled top of the fritatta is on view.
  8. Sprinkle with a little sea salt.
  9. Allow to cool slightly before slicing into canape sized cubes or wedges. Serve hot or room temperature as a tapas or with a salad.

Frittata 1

 

 

5 Ingredient Garlic Knots

knots 3

Now this just baffles my mind: I have been writing this blog for six years and have yet to feature any sort of garlicky bread.  It just feels like a sin to me.  Luckily, as I was developing a few recipes for Good Housekeeping last week highlighting garlic, I was brought to my senses and quickly realized that I need to share this with all of you!

Knots 2

These little buns of goodness were done in less than 20 minutes and gobbled up for breakfast by my boss and I before 10am.  Perfect as a side dish for a light summer salad or dipped into your favorite marinara sauce, I highly recommend keeping this recipe in your back pocket for your next cooking adventure. Just don’t forget the breath mints!

You’ll Need: 

  • 1 13 oz. package pizza dough-preferrably fresh made which you can find at most grocery stores or pizza places, but brands such a Pilsbury will work too
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut pizza dough into 1″ strips and tie into a “knot-like” bun and place into a small baking dish (I used a 6″ cake pan).

2. Melt butter, garlic, and honey in the microwave for 25-30 seconds. Brush the tops of the buns with the garlic butter and sprinkle with Italian seasoning and salt. 

knots 5

3. Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked all the way through and golden brown on top.  Half way through sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Serve hot or cold. 

knots 3

Banana Pudding with Salted Caramel

caramel 4

If you are anything like me, you get over ambitious at the grocery store and buy way too much. I really do try hard to get only what I think we will eat for the week, but sometimes my eager appetite takes precedence. Like in the instance of bananas. I always buy bananas and end up eating 1-2 from the bunch. Each time I say “oh, I’ll just make banana bread.” Nothing against banana bread–it is actually one of my favorites but–you can only eat so much of it! I needed a back up plan.

caramel 1

So last night I decided to get creative and try out this banana pudding. I expected it to be a big project and take up the majority of my Monday night. Little did I know it would take no time at all (I even had time to watch a little Miss USA before I hit the bricks!). 

You can make this lactose free and use almond milk or try making your own caramel, but I used whole milk and store bought caramels to speed things up. 

You’ll Need

  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 + 2 TBS corn starch
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 bananas, mashed
  • 1 bag caramel candies
  • 1 tsp sea salt

1. In a large bowl whisk together egg yolks, sugar, corn starch, and vanilla. Set aside

2. Add milk to a sauce pot and bring to a boil.  Using a ladle, spoon hot milk into egg yolk mixture and whisk until smooth.  Continue this process until the bottom of the bowl becomes warm. 

3. Pour the rest of the milk into the bowl and whisk until smooth.  Clean out the sauce pot and add mixture back in.  Heat over medium, whisking constantly until it becomes thick. About 3-4 minutes.  It’s important to keep whisking to prevent the pudding from scorching. 

4. Transfer to a bowl, stir in bananas, and place plastic wrap on top so that no air can get through. Chill in refrigerator for 3-4 hours until cold. 

5. Meanwhile, place 1 bag of caramel candies into a bowl with 2 TBS water. Bring a pot of water to a boil and place bowl on top. Let caramels melt stirring occasionally.  Add in salt and stir until dissolved.  Use immediately.   

Sesame Chicken with Broccoli


Sesame Chicken 2

It seems far too often that my husband and I are searching for our perfect Asian delivery joint. We have the BEST Mexican place.  A super duper burger shack. And a spot where we can order something on the lighter side. But each time we are craving beef and broccoli or chicken pad see ew, we are left disappointed.  So much so that the last time we ordered Thai food, Adam couldn’t even eat his! You would think it’d be rather easy to find a good place in NYC but you’d be wrong. 

Sesame Chicken 3

Well, I couldn’t get rid of my craving last week and decided to spare us both the long hunt for a new Chinese restaurant and make my own.   With this recipe I accomplished the weeknight cooking trifecta: quick to make, easy to clean up, and oh so tasty. As an added bonus, I kept it on the lighter side, so not only was Adam thanking me, but my hips were too. Behold my new go to Asian craving buster; sesame chicken and broccoli. 

Sesame Chicken and Broccoli

  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1 egg
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 TBS sesame oil
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced or grated
  • 4 TBS soy sauce
  • 2 TBS  mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 2 TBS fish sauce
  • 1 TBS sesame seeds
  • Green onions for garnish, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • white rice for serving, optional

1. Whisk corn starch and egg into a medium sized bowl and add chicken.  Coat with the mixture and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

2. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add olive oil; allow to heat until shimmering.  Add in chicken (cook in batches if needed–its important to not over crowd the pan for even browning) and cook for 10-12 minutes until meat is cooked being sure to turn pieces over half way through.

3. Set chicken aside on a paper towel lined plate. Add sesame oil to pan and heat until shimmering. Add in broccoli and cook for 3-5 minutes then add peppers.  Allow to cook for an additional 5 minutes.

4. Add garlic, ginger, soy sauce, mirin, and fish sauce.  Bring to a simmer and add in chicken. Coat chicken with sauce and adjust seasoning to your liking. Serve atop rice and sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions. 

Sesame chicken