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Entries in First on the First (7)


Pickled Vegetables

Pickled vegetables

I was very excited when I found out that the theme for this month's First on the FIrst was pickles! When it comes to those sweet, tangy, crunchy vegetables, you either belong to the "love 'em" or "hate 'em" camp. I belong in Camp Love 'Em! I'm the kind of girl who always asks for an extra pickle whenever I'm at a hot dog stand; my favorite part of eating at a deli is the pickle on the side of the sandwich; you get the picture. Generally, when you think of pickles, you think of cucumber slices soaked in a brine, but lately, I've been enjoying other vegetables as pickles too! We went to the farmers' market last week and I picked up a big bunch of beets and radishes. While I didn't have anything in mind for them at first, I quickly decided that they would be delicious pickled, so I gave it a try. There is something about a pickled beet that I can't quite describe, but it is absolutely delicious! Below, I have listed the vegetables that I chose to use, however the recipe can be easily adapted for whatever vegetables you like best. Give these pickled vegetables a try for your next backyard barbecue. I promise, you won't be disappointed, and they will disappear very quickly!

2 Kirby Cucumbers, sliced thin
1 Carrot, peeled and sliced thin
2 Radishes, sliced thin
1 Beet, sliced thin
1 cup White Vinegar
4 tablespoons Sugar
2 tablespoons Salt
2 tablespoons Yellow Mustard Seed
1 cup Cold Water

Using a mandolin or a knife, thinly slice the vegetables. Evenly split the vegetables between glass jars (I used 2 pint jars). In a saucepan, bring the vinegar, sugar, salt, and mustard to a simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from the heat, stir in the cold water, and allow the brine to come to room temperature. Pour the brine over the sliced vegetables, evenly dividing it between the glass jars. Cover the jars and refrigerate for at least one hour. Serve on sandwiches or as is. 

SOURCE: Smitten Kitchen



Coconut Rhubarb Mess

Rhubarb mess

After taking a few challenges off, I'm back to posting with First on the First. This month, the assignment was Eton Mess, a traditional English dessert consisting of strawberries, meringue, and cream. It has been said that this dessert is served at Eton College's annual cricket game against Harrow School. I had heard of Eton mess before the challenge, but never cared much to look closely at the recipe or make it myself. When it was assigned, I started to think about how I could put my own twist on the recipe. My brother and sister-in-law have a giant rhubarb plant consuming much of their garden. I stopped by one afternoon and picked some stalks to help them get rid of it, and for nostalgia sake, since my grandparents always grew rhubarb. I wasn't sure what I was going to do with the rhubarb at first. It sat in a glass on my counter waiting to be used. When the assignment for Eton mess was given, I searched Pinterest for a recipe. As luck would have it, one of the first recipes I came across was for this rhubarb mess. Perfect! While the meringues took a bit of time to cook, the rest of the recipe came together quickly. As you might be able to tell from the picture, I had a bit of difficulty with the coconut whipped cream, so I used the liquified "whipped cream" as a sauce instead. Even though Joel passed on the offer for this dessert, I enjoyed it very much!  

For the Meringues:
4 Egg Whites
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 cup Sugar
1 cup Powdered Sugar 

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and allow them to come to room temperature for about 30 minutes. Add the vanilla and the salt, then beat on medium speed until foamy. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition until the sugar has dissolved. Continue beating until stiff glossy peaks form, then fold in the powdered sugar. Carefully spoon the meringue onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 225 degrees for 40-45 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Turn the oven off; leave the meringues in the oven for about 1 1/2 more hours, leaving the oven door closed. Remove from the oven and cool completely on the baking sheet. Makes about 3 dozen 1.5 inch cookies.

For the Rhubarb:
3 Rhubarb Stems, chopped
2 tablespoons Sugar
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract 

Mix the ingredients together in a baking dish and stir to coat evenly. Bake at 325 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft. Remove from the oven and let the rhubarb cool slightly. 

For the Coconut Whipped Cream:
1 can Full Fat Coconut Milk
3 tablespoons Powdered Sugar 

About 2 hours before serving, place the can of coconut milk in the fridge to chill. Remove the can from the fridge and scoop the solid cream from the top of the can into a medium sized bowl. Stir in the powdered sugar and whisk the cream until light and fluffy. Use immediately. **NOTE: Most cans of coconut milk that I have seen tend to be upside down--meaning that in order to open the can, you have to turn the can upside down from the way that the label is. I did not think that far in advance, and therefore, ended up with the whole can of coconut milk instead of the hardened cream on the top. Keep that in mind if you plan to make this whipped cream. I did try to whip up the contents of the can of coconut milk, along with the powdered sugar, but I was unsuccessful, and was left with a liquid instead. 

To Assemble the Dessert:
Spoon some of the rhubarb into the bottom of a glass dish. Add some crumbled meringue and a spoonful of coconut cream. Repeat. Top with toasted coconut, if desired. 

SOURCE: Life Love Food, Meringues from Taste of Home


Cookies & Cream Cupcakes with Peanut Butter-Oreo Buttercream

Oreo cupcakes


My brother's birthday was a few weeks ago, so my mom had us all over for dinner to celebrate. I volunteered to bring dessert and texted him to see what he would like. His response was "something oreo-like" and then later, he said "oreo based, peanut butter based, anything really is good"…hmm. Two years ago, I made him this oreo cake, which was delicious, but a little time consuming. I set out to searching and decided on cupcakes. Not only are they easy to transport, but they were also easier to share leftovers with work colleagues, because let's face it, who is going to want a piece of half eaten cake when they can have their own fresh cupcake? I decided to use this recipe as my post for First on the First this month because the theme was cake decorating, and while I have decorated cakes before, I have never made a "fancy" frosting. Between the frosting, the way it was piped, and the peanut butter cup garnish, I thought that my cupcakes were decorated quite nicely!

For the Cupcakes:
24 Oreos Halves, with cream filling attached 
2 1/4 cups Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
8 tablespoons Butter, at room temperature
1 2/3 cups Sugar
3 Egg Whites, at room temperature
2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1 cup Milk
20 Oreo Cookies, coarsely chopped

Line the wells of two cupcake pans with 24 paper liners. Place an Oreo half in the bottom of each liner, cream side up. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir together with a fork and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Add the milk and beat until just combined, then add the remaining dry ingredients. Gently fold in the chopped Oreos with a  rubber spatula until evenly incorporated, being careful not to over-mix. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners. Bak et at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the pans for 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 

For the Frosting:
1/2 cup Butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup Shortening
1/4 cup Peanut Butter
2-3 cups Powdered Sugar
2-3 tablespoons Milk
Pinch of Salt
3 tablespoons Oreo Crumbs

Separate about 8 Oreos and discard the cream filling. In a food processor or a bag, crush the cookies into fine crumbs. In a large bowl, beat the butter and shortening, on high, until fully combined, then beat in the peanut butter. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add 2 cups of the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of milk, and the salt. Beat the mixture on low, slowly increasing the speed to high, and continue beating for 2 minutes. Add more powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, until you have reached your desired consistency. Add the cookie crumbs and beat on high for 2 minutes. 

SOURCE: Cupcakes from Annie's Eats, Frosting from Saifou Image


Florentine Cookies


Florentine cookies are something I had never heard of before this month's First on the First recipe assignment. Normally when I see the word "florentine" in a recipe, I assume it just means it is prepared with spinach. Since spinach cookies would probably be disgusting, certainly it must have meant something else. A quick search on the internet told me that they are cookies made from finely chopped almonds. They seemed different, but not in a bad way, so I decided to give them a try. (I apologize for not posting yesterday. Of course, the recipe that I actually did not wait until the last minute for ends up being posted late...go figure!)

1 3/4 cups Sliced Almonds
3 tablespoons Flour
1 tablespoon Orange Zest
1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
1/2 cup Sugar
1/4 cup Butter
2 tablespoons Honey
2 tablespoons Coconut Milk (not light; use the cream from the top of the can)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4-1/3 cup Chocolate Chips
1/2 teaspoon Coconut Oil

Finely chop the almonds and place them in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the flour, zest, salt, and sugar. In a medium sized pot, add the butter, honey, and coconut milk and stir until combined. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a low boil. Immediately remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. Set aside to cool for about 10-15 minutes. With wet fingers, shape the dough into 1/2 tablespoon balls and place 3 inches apart on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake at 275 degrees for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 7-9 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for about 5 minutes on the pan, then careful transfer them to a cooling rack. Repeat baking process with the remaining dough. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate chips and coconut oil over low heat, or in the microwave. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the cookies with a fork. Chill the cookies in the fridge or freezer, until hardened. I was able to make 24 cookies. They freeze well, if you don't plan to eat them all at once. 

 SOURCE: Barely adapted from Oh She Glows



Dark Chocolate, Almond, & Raspberry Rugelach

'Tis the season for holiday baking, and have I got something for you. This month, the theme for First on the First was rugelach,  a Jewish pastry filled with nuts and fruit preserves. These beauties have been on my bucket list for a while and I'm so glad that I finally had a reason to make them. When searching for the right recipe to use, I decided to go for a non-traditional route. Instead of the typical walnuts, I chose to use almonds. How can you go wrong when you wrap almonds, dark chocolate, and raspberry preserves in a pillow of soft cream cheese dough? Whether you celebrate Hanukkah, Christmas, or anything else, these cookies would be a great addition to your holiday table. 

For the Dough:
8 ounces Cream Cheese
2 sticks Unsalted Butter
3/4 cup Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
1/2 teaspoon Lemon Zest
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 cups Flour

In a food processor, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and powdered sugar. Add the lemon juice, zest, and vanilla. Pulse again to combine. Add the flour and pulse the dough until it comes together in a soft ball. Divide the ball into two discs, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an our or overnight. Dough can also be frozen for about 3 weeks.

For the Filling:
1 cup Seedless Raspberry Preserves
1 cup Finley Chopped Dark Chocolate  
1 cup Almonds, finely chopped
1/4 cup Cinnamon Sugar (about 1/4 cup sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon cinnamon)

On a floured surface, roll out one of the discs of dough to about a 1/8-inch thick round. Cover with about 1/2 cup of preserves. Cut the dough into 16 equal pieces (as if you are cutting a pizza). Sprinkle on the nuts and chocolate, then sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. With a knife, make a small slit in the wide end of each piece of dough. Roll the dough up, starting at the wide end, until the pointy end is tucked under the cookie. Place the cookies on a cookie sheet, lined with parchment paper and lightly greased. Brush the tops with a small amount of heavy cream and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until they are lightly golden. Remove the cookies from the cookie sheet and allow them to cool on a wire rack. Repeat with the other disc of dough. 

SOURCE: Zoe Bakes