Friday, April 29, 2011

Recipe Snapshot: Lavender Cupcakes

It's officially spring.  My car is covered in icky yellow pollen, the azalears are blooming, there is asparagus everywhere I turn, and I finally broke out my flipflops a few days ago to give my toes a taste of freedom.  With the arrival of spring comes a variety of holidays and special occasions.  The Royal Wedding was today, Mother's Day is just around the corner, and graduation and weddings are on nearly everyone's calendars.  In my mind, special occasions mean special food!  So when my work had a bake sale with a Royal Wedding theme, I just had to try something a little special: lavender cupcakes.

I may have mentioned in a previous post that I love the taste of lavender.  Yes, the taste.  I love the smell, too, as evidenced by the lavender sachets in some of my drawers and the soap in my shower, but the flavor is really special if done right.  Because many people have never eaten anything with lavender flavor, some will find it peculiar or even perfumey, but if you don't go overboard with it, it adds a lightly floral je ne sais quoi to these that is just perfect for spring.  If I had a bridal shower to go to, I would totally make these!  So if you've got a mom who loves cupcakes, a grad who loves lavender, or a girlie baby/bridal shower coming up, take note!

Recipe and notes below the cut!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Recipe Rundown

Happy Easter, all!  If I had my act more together, I would have posted Easter recipes over the last couple of weeks, so that people could feasibly recreate any recipes that seemed appealing.  But alas, I am not.  The good news, though, is that the recipes I'm sharing now are good any time of year, not just at Easter!

My husband and I were alone this Easter, which just means...more leftovers!  I only scaled back slightly on the food.  We had a small orange-glazed ham, twice-baked potatoes, honey and curry glazed carrots, and steamed asparagus.  The recipes for the ham glaze and the potatoes are worth trying for any special occasion!

The ham glaze was perhaps the best I've had.  I'm not the biggest fan of orange-flavored things, but the recipe got great reviews on the Food Network website, and I've had great luck with Ina Garten's recipes, so I decided to give it a try.  The twice-baked potatoes are a standby in our house. (Note: normally, I like to make them with smaller potatoes, but our grocery store only had these enormous Paul Bunyan-size russet potatoes; as a result, my husband and I shared one large potato.)

Here are links to the recipes, if you're interested.  I can't say enough about the ham--I'm actually looking forward to the leftovers this week!

Orange-baked ham: Ina Garten (Note: the recipe is for a very large ham; since I wasn't feeding 30 people, I got a much smaller--and boneless--ham.  As a result, I cut the glaze recipe in half.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Step-by-Step Recipe: Pasta with Proscuitto and Peas

Sorry for the long absence, friends.  No good excuse, really, except that life has gotten in the way.  I'm going to try and make up for it, I promise!

It's definitely spring here in the DC area, and I continue to crave dishes with spring ingredients.  This particular dish, pasta with prosciutto and peas, is something that definitely makes me think of spring, because of the peas and the lemon juice/zest added to the sauce, which adds a springy brightness.  As a kid, I never would have eaten this, because I hated peas.  They are still not a favorite of mine, but I've learned to appreciate them in certain dishes.  But a bowl of creamed peas?  Still like a bowl of kryptonite to me.  Ha!

With a green salad on the side, this is an easy and filling weeknight meal.  And if you're like me an enjoy pasta with cream sauce, but don't enjoy how guilty it usually makes you feel, this is a slightly lighter version than some.

Pictures and recipe below the cut!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Step-by-Step Recipe: Ham and Cheese Quiche

The spring flowers and trees are blooming...but the spring temperatures have been inconsistent at best.  This means more recipes with the tastes of spring, but with some extra heartiness.  This quiche totally hit the spot.  Say what you will about quiche being feminine, my husband loved this.  It was hot, cheesy, filling, and delicious.

You could put whatever you wanted into this quiche; I went the traditional way with diced ham and shredded cheddar cheese.  You could do whatever cheese you'd like--swiss would have been great, too.  You could probably add vegetables, too, though you'd want something that wouldn't add too much moisture to the quiche, because that would affect how it cooked.  (I'm as much of a fan of veggies as the next girl, but I decided to just serve a salad on the side.)  And quiche is good for brunch, lunch, or dinner!  The secret to this quiche is that it uses cottage cheese instead of heavy cream.  This makes it lighter without sacrificing the taste or texture.

Recipe and pictures under the cut!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Step-by-Step Recipe: Potato Leek Soup

Lately I've been craving food with the taste of spring. But because it's been unseasonably chilly, I've been looking for recipes that have spring ingredients but are still hearty enough for cold days. I made this potato leek soup from my Everyday Food cookbook for the first time a couple of years ago, and my husband and I both really liked it.  Then I promptly forgot about the recipe until recently.  It's really easy to make and has simple ingredients, yet tastes somehow more complex than you'd expect.  It can be eaten hot or cold, though why you'd ever want to eat cold potato soup, I don't know.

Tips: the recipe says to puree the soup in a blender, but because my food processor was more easily accessible, I used that instead--the puree was not as smooth (which you can tell from the pictures). You could also try an immersion blender if you've got one; I've not had the best luck with mine, though.  Also, if you can't find fresh chives (my grocery store was out), you can use dried, just use half as much. 

Recipe and pictures below the cut!