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Sunday
Dec262010

Snow snow snow, we cannot escape the snow

We left 30 inches of snow in Minnesota to come to this..

..in the south, where we did not expect to see snow. And do you know what everyone is saying? "We haven't seen snow like this since...well, since two years ago! When you were last here, as a matter of fact!" Of course!

But we are cozy inside and enjoying each other.

One thing I have learned is not to get too worked up about things that are completely out of our control. Like the fact that my husband and I are supposed to head to the mountains today for a 3-day childless vacation, but the weather may not allow that to happen.

Like that! Out of our control. Let it go. And let it snow.

Saturday
Dec252010

Pesto pizza

Last weekend my bff Heather traveled four hours to Minneapolis for a two-day visit. Oh how I love spending time with her. She is a girl's dream for a friend. She is fun, witty and adventurous. She loves to cook and drink wine with me. She is a great listener and a supremely supportive friend. I love this girl! Whenever we spend time together, we try to squeeeeeeze as many activities in as possible because there is always so much we want to do. So, last weekend, our Friday night plan was to whip up some pesto pizzas and then head to a local Mexican restaurant for a margarita. We accomplished both goals! Wooo!

Why pesto instead of pizza sauce? Well, because Heather and I both adore pesto and because I am constantly looking for new foods to combine with its scrumptious green-ness.

Heather prepared the crusts and I made the pesto (this time with walnuts!). We compiled our ingredients and started having pesto pizza fun. We loved creating all of the different combinations. By the time we headed out for our margarita adventure, we were pleasantly stuffed!

This post is merely meant to generate ideas. Nothing is set in stone. Grab a few different types of cheese, veggies, meat, sauces, whatever you wish, and throw them onto a pizza crust. We baked ours in a 350-degree oven for about 15 minutes.

This was our first attempt. Pesto, fresh spinach, Roma tomato slices, sliced red onions and fresh mozzarella cheese.

So simple, yet so supremely delicious!

This creation is one that my husband stayed far away from because it held mushrooms atop its splendor.

Pesto, mushrooms, Roma tomatoes, fresh Mozzarella cheese and sliced green onions.

This had to be my favorite creation. Of course, anything with sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes makes me weak in the knees. Pesto, fresh spinach, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, red onion slices and fresh mozzarella.

And I sure didn't complain about this one, either.

Pesto, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, red onions and fresh mozzarella cheese.

Ok, we could have branched out much more, but these were all the ingredients we had at the time. The options really are endless! Our little pizza night has inspired me to do some more experimenting. Maybe I'll head Heather's way one of these weekends with pesto and pizza toppings in hand.

Is anyone else salivating?

Wednesday
Dec222010

How to toast pecans

I prefer sweet over salty most of the time, but I do have a weakness when it comes to the Delicious Pecan. I love the softness of it when my teeth sink into its flesh. I love its flavor. I love the way it can be eaten alone or in a pie or with a salad. Pecans are delicious when toasted or roasted or even plain!

If you are looking to toast them, here is what you will need to do.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with foil and place the pecans in a single layer on top of the foil.

Coat the pecans with olive oil.

Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes, stirring once.

And there you go! It's as simple as that!

Wednesday
Dec222010

Layered carrot cake

I want to know what person first thought that carrots and cake would go well together. It sounds terrible! It certainly is a delicious combination, though, isn't it? Pair it with a creamy frosting and there is not a whole lot that beats it.

I saw this recipe in Christmas Baking 2010 magazine and knew I had to make it. My husband's birthday was coming up, so there was my perfect excuse to do so! I don't think I need to tell you that it tasted incredible. The pictures speak quite well for themselves.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Allow 4 eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, grease three 9x5x3.5-inch loaf pans and set aside. Or do like I did and use one loaf pan three times.

In a large bowl, stir together:

2 cups flour

2 cups sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

 

Toast 1/2 cup of pecans.

Finely chop the pecans after toasting.

In a medium bowl, combine:

4 eggs

3 cups finely shredded carrots

1/2 cup toasted, chopped pecans

3/4 cup vegetable oil

Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir until well combined.

Divide the batter amongst three greased loaf pans.

Bake in preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of it comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes and remove. Do this carefully! One of my cakes broke straight down the center.

Place one cake layer on a rectangular serving platter and spread 1/2 cup of Orange-Honey Frosting over top of it. Top with another cake layer and another 1/2 cup of frosting. Add remaining cake layer and spread with the remaining frosting.

To store, cover and place it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Carrots + cake = yum!

Click here for a printable recipe!

Wednesday
Dec222010

Orange-honey frosting

I have made more frosting in the month of December than I did in the previous two years. Frosting is one of my great weaknesses. Back in high school, if my stepmom ever had frosting in the house I would smear it onto a graham cracker and devour it. Then I would fight the urge to do it all over again. And still to this day, I have to exercise great willpower when it comes to frosting.

This particular frosting goes great with carrot cake. It would also be great on a spice cake or a nut cake. Licking it from the spatula works, too. (Don't think I didn't do this.)

(Source: Christmas Baking 2010)

In a medium bowl, combine:

2 8-oz. packages softened cream cheese

1/2 cup softened butter

1 cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel

3/4 cup honey

Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. If the frosting seems too soft, chill for 15-20 minutes before spreading.

Delicious!

Click here for a printable recipe!