In Texas, the summers can be brutal. By August, I’m coming up with new ways to cool off, from freezing random foods to leaving the house in the morning with my hair still wet. One of my favorite ways to refresh from the summer heat is with cake! Here’s a fresh, fruity recipe to have on hand when the dog days of summer come barking!
Mandarin Orange Cake
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 cup vegetable oil
1 (11 ounce) can mandarin orange segments
1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed or whipping cream
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice
1 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Grease a 9×13 pan (or I use a nonstick one). (You can also make this as a layer cake as shown above, but I like the pan version; it makes me feel like I have more cake!) In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, eggs, oil, and mandarin oranges (with their juice). Mix until smooth. Pour batter into prepared pan, and pop it in the oven for 30ish minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on it; it’s ready when a toothpick stuck in it comes out clean. While it’s baking, prepare the frosting by mixing together the whipped cream, pineapples, and pudding mix.
Once the cake comes out of the oven, let it cool. If you can wait, you may even consider placing it in the refrigerator to cool completely. Then top the cake with the frosting, and enjoy!
Planning a menu for an event can be stressful. We have put together a few tips to make planning yours easier.
1. The first thing that needs to be done is kind of obvious: Determine what type of event your are having.
2. How many people are you expecting at your event?
3. Are you having a full meal or just hors d’oeuvres?
4. Will there be an guest with dietary restrictions?
If you are planing on doing just hors d’oeuvres:
1. Typically, 10 to 12 guests should have 5 different selections, 25 guests at least 9 different selections, and with 50 there should be at least 13 different selections. Options, options, options!
2. The general rule is to plan on having 4-6 pieces per person an hour. This will help determine the amount of each appetizer to prepare.
3. Have a variety of different types of appetizers but also keep in mind how they all will taste together. Make sure you have selections for people with food allergies and for vegetarians or vegans.
If you are planning a full meal:
1. Choose your entrées first. Make sure to have at least 2 to 3 selections for your guest to choose from, or if you are planning on just one main dish make sure it follows everyone’s dietary requirements, if there are any.
2. If meat is going to be the main feature plan to have 3/4 pound (12 ounces) per person. If the side dishes will be more substantial you can drop it down to 1/2 pound per person.
3. When choosing your sides make sure to keep in mind the main dish. Think about how the main dish and the sides will look together on the plate.
My mom is a great cook! I know it, my husband gains weight eating it, and my daughter asks for seconds only when she is at my parents’ eating my mom’s cooking. Certainly, I would have this gene of good cooking…After visiting my parents one weekend and seeing how my daughter devoured her risotto, I decided to make it myself. I called my mom, talking with her step by step slaving over the hot stove stirring the risotto for what seemed like hours to get the perfect consistency. I proudly served my meal to my family anticipating everyone’s reaction. After the first bite, my daughter (who was five at the time) says, “It’s not as good as Gramma’s.” Needless to say, I did not receive the cooking gene and I have not made the risotto again. Instead, opting for a delicious and easy boxed risotto from Whole Foods and adding fresh vegetables to the mix.
In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share one of my favorite desserts that my mom makes. I remember her making these only when they would host dinner parties at our house. Therefore, making them a special treat that we did not get often. I don’t know what I will pass down to my daughter as that special treat, but I am thankful to my mom for always making me feel special…
½ cup fresh lemon juice
Grated rind of 2 lemons (be careful to avoid the white pith)
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter
4 eggs, well beaten
Combine rind, juice, sugar and butter in top of double boiler over simmering water. Stir occasionally until butter is melted (about 10 minutes).
Stir in eggs (when adding eggs make sure they are room temperature and add a little of the hot liquid to the eggs before adding so they will not cook immediately upon entering the hot liquid).
Cook, stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes more) until the filling piles a little when you pour from spoon on top of mixture.
Store in jars in refrigerator and use as needed. Fills about 6 dozen tiny tart shells. Can top the lemon curd with whipping cream, blueberries or raspberries.
2 sticks butter (1/2 pound)
2 3 oz packages cream cheese
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
Let butter and cheese soften in bowl at room temperature. Blend cream cheese and butter together (I use my hands although it’s messy). Add flour gradually until it is all worked in and blended. Chill mixture. Then shape in small balls (approximately ¾ inch) and press into tiny muffin tins.
Bake at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes. After cooling, store in plastic bags in freezer until needed.
One last thing…in the picture above, you will notice behind the tarts there is a photograph. In that photograph is my mom as a young girl having lunch at Neiman Marcus, in Dallas, with her mom, sister, and father.
Last call for celebrating National Grilled Cheese Month! I call this an Italian grilled cheese only because it calls for things like pesto, basil, and mozzarella. Really, it’s just a delicious sandwich to eat anytime you can get fresh basil and the ripest tomatoes.
Italian Grilled Cheese
1-2 ripe tomatoes
Real Italian mozzarella cheese
1 loaf of bread (something like a salted ciabatta tastes amazing)
You can make this one of two ways, depending on the bread you use.
Warm a skillet on your stove to medium heat. Meanwhile cut traditional sandwich bread into thin slices. Butter the outside of each slice. Spread pesto on the inside of each slice. Fill the sandwich with tomato and mozzarella slices. Put the sandwich together and “grill” each buttered side in a skillet.
Oven method (recommended)
Preheat the oven (I usually go for the standard 350-degrees). Starting with a small loaf of bread that already has a nice crust on the outside, slice it lengthwise. Continue as above: Spread pesto on the inside of each slice. Fill the sandwich with tomato and mozzarella slices. Put the sandwich together and place it in the oven to warm, just until the cheese melts.
Enjoy with a side salad and a refreshing glass of wine.
Quite honestly, my very favorite grilled cheese is the kindergarten version…buttered white bread with American cheese (plastic removed.) But since that’s probably not very interesting for National Grilled Cheese month, here’s my current runner up.
Grilled Goat Cheese and Beet Sandwich
Nutty 9-grain bread, buttered
Roasted red beet, sliced thin
Honey flavored goat cheese
Assemble and grill until warm.
It’s Ryan here, ready to hand over my favorite grilled cheese recipe. This one is called “Grown Up Grilled Cheese” and I found the original recipe on the Food Network website (see bottom of post). I made a few changes, but the results are just as delicious!
Grown Up Grilled Cheese
Ingredients (To 4 servings):
1 loaf ciabatta bread
1/2 pound Brie cheese
1/2 pound sharp cheddar
3/4 pound Pancetta (they used 1 pound ham)
3 to 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup roasted red peppers
- Cut loaf of bread in half lengthwise. Top the bottom bread slice with brie cheese, pancetta, distributing it evenly. Place top of bread on sandwich and brush with butter.
- Heat a sandwich grill until hot. Set sandwich, butter side down in grill. Butter top side of bread. Place a heavy pan on top of entire sandwich to evenly distribute weight and cook until nicely browned and the cheese is melted, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
- Transfer the sandwich to a work surface and remove the top slice of bread. Spread the underside of the bread with mustard, and add roasted peppers.
- Replace the top slice of bread, cut the sandwiches into slices, and serve while still gooey!
In the Creative Department at Wisteria, we love potlucks. It is a great time to make and try new things. For a recent potluck, I experimented with a grilled pimento cheese sandwich and I have to say it was pretty darn good! I am introducing it here in honor of National Grilled Cheese Month.
Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich
12 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese
5-6 oz. roasted red bell or piquillo peppers
4 cloves garlic
1/2 c. Best Foods mayonnaise
Break the cheese into large chunks and place in the bowl of your food processor. Pulse until the cheese resembles gravel. Add peppers and garlic, process until mixture is finely chopped. Add mayonnaise and process until mixture is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Image and recipe via Savour-Fare
Additional Notes from Paige: I added green chilies to the mix for a little heat. Chopped fresh jalapenos would be a great addition as well. I used a George Foreman grill to make panini style sandwiches, but a regular skillet would work just fine as well. Just don’t forget to coat the bread with lots of butter! Yum!
Image and Recipe from NPR.
April is National Grilled Cheese Month! In honor of it we are going to be posting a different grilled cheese recipe every Monday throughout April. To get things started here is my recipe for my Southwest Grilled Cheese.
Makes 2 sandwiches.
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sliced red onion
3 tablespoons mayo
2 teaspoons chipotle chilies in adobo sauce or 1/4 teaspoon of ground chipotle powder
2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, chopped
4 slices of jalapeno bread (or sourdough)
4 ounces shredded or thinly sliced sharp cheddar (I substituted pepper jack for cheddar)
1/2 large avocado
In skillet melt 1 tablespoon of butter and then saute the onions until they are caramelized. Remove from heat.
In a small bowl combine mayo, chipotle chilies or powder, and cilantro.
Spread remaining 2 tablespoons of butter on one side of each of the 4 slices of bread. Place buttered sides down on clean work space and spread a thin layer of the chipotle sauce on each slice of bread. Pile on cheese, avocado, and grilled onions to one side of the bread and then add the additional slice of bread to the top.
Place sandwiches in a preheated skillet and cook about 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown and the cheese has melted.
Okay y’all, it’s that time of the month where we get to give away one of our happy hour secrets. This month, I decided to choose a drink that reflects the anticipation of spring, with a bright color and tangy-yet-sweet palette (I even threw in a little greenery!). This cocktail recipe is an adaptation from one I pulled online, but I made some of my own splashes and dashes to it. Also note that since it asks for vodka, you could easily take that out as a work-friendly beverage. How do you like it?
- 8 oz vodka
- 1L guava juice (sometimes I use mango juice)
- 1L dry ginger ale
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Angostura bitters
- 1/4 cup whole mint leaves or lemon rinds
- Mix guava juice and vodka in a large jug.
- Just before serving, add ginger ale, lime juice, bitter, and a pinch of mint. Twisted lemon rinds work well as a garnish too if you don’t have fresh mint.
- Serve very cold.
Image and original recipe taken from http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/17622/vodka+guava+and+ginger+cocktail.