March 12, 2012

Kale Salad

Kale Salad

With all the dreary rainy days lately I wanted comfort food so I pulled some beef stroganoff together but knew I’d need a hearty vegetable to go along with it.  I found the original recipe for this salad at Epicurious but didn’t notice that I had to soak currents overnight until I was ready to prepare the salad for dinner.  It didn’t help that I couldn’t find currents at the store.  It’s possible that I couldn’t find them because I don’t know what currents are.  I bought dried cherries instead, adapted the recipe and pulled it all together in one bowl 20 minutes before the stroganoff was done.  The recipe below is how I prepared it.  It was so good and kale always surprises me with how mildly flavored it is.  Love it.


  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bunch of kale, center ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/4 cup raw pine nuts
  • Parmesan cheese shavings


  1. Whisk balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, honey, oil, and salt in large bowl.
  2. Add kale, cherries, and pine nuts; toss to coat.
  3. Let marinate 20 minutes at room temperature, tossing occasionally.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese shavings over salad and serve.

March 10, 2012

Tiramisu Layer Cake

Tiramisu Layer CakeAlso known as Mystery Murder cake because I made this especially to take to my friend Heather’s house who hosted a How to Host a Murder night.  64185_2740071101657_1253806579_31973189_464162033_nBeyond my expectations of fun, she decorated her dining room to go along with the theme of the game and four hours later, with bellies full of chicken parmesan and this cake, we revealed who the murderer was. 

I chose this cake from Allrecipes because the prep looked easy, the ingredients were common and I didn’t want to have to buy a fancy dish for traditional tiramisu.  As I prepared the batter I read the reviews and so many people commented that they added extra instant coffee to enhance the flavor.  One reviewer said he increased the instant coffee by four times so that was what I intended to do, but wound up mis-reading the measurement and instead of four teaspoons, added four tablespoons instead.  Too late to make another trip to the store, I just blended it into the batter hoping it would add to the cake rather than make it in-edible.  I also halved the amount of liqueur in both the filling and the frosting in hopes that the cake wouldn’t be overwhelmingly coffee-tasting.  The recipe below is exactly as I prepped it.  It turned out better than I had hoped, the coffee flavor was exactly like I hoped it would be and my “oops” will be how I make this the next time.



  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package moist white cake mix (I used Duncan Hines Classic White; it calls for egg whites)
  • 4 Tablespoons instant coffee powder
  • 1/2 cup coffee
  • 1 tablespoon coffee flavored liqueur


  • 1 (8 ounce) container mascarpone cheese
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoons coffee flavored liqueur


  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoons coffee flavored liqueur


  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 square Ghirardelli Intense Dark Midnight Reverie 86% cacao (this can be found down the candy aisle as a bag of individually wrapped chocolates)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

  1. Grease and flour 3 (9 inch) pans.
  2. Prepare the cake mix according to package directions. Pour one third of batter into one pan. Stir instant coffee into remaining batter; pour into remaining two pans.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
  4. In a measuring cup, combine brewed coffee and 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur; set aside.
  5. To make the filling: In a small bowl, using an electric mixer set on low speed, combine mascarpone, 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar and 1 tablespoon coffee liqueur; beat just until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  6. To make the frosting: In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat the cream, 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar and 1 tablespoon1 coffee liqueur until stiff. Fold 1/2 cup of cream mixture into filling mixture.
  7. To assemble the cake: Place one coffee-flavored cake layer on a serving plate. Using a thin skewer, poke holes in cake, about 1 inch apart. With a turkey baster slowly “baste” one third of coffee mixture over cake, then spread with half of the filling mixture. Top with plain cake layer; poke holes in cake. Squeeze another third of the coffee mixture over the second layer and spread with the remaining filling. Top with remaining cake layer; poke holes in cake.  Squeeze remaining coffee mixture on top. Spread sides and top of cake with frosting. Place cocoa in a sieve and lightly dust top of cake. Garnish with chocolate curls. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving.
  8. To make the chocolate curls, use a vegetable peeler and run it down the edge of the chocolate bar.

March 1, 2012

Tomato-Basil Parmesan Soup

Tomato-Basil Parmesean Soup

Sometimes I just don't want to have stuff in the crock pot all day, sometimes I’m extra lazy, and sometimes I like to procrastinate.  I found this recipe at 365 Days of Slow Cooking and intended, for several days, to prepare it as it was written.  Then I didn’t.  My kids aren’t picky eaters but, to me, the less questions about dinner’s ingredients the better.  So I pureed all the veggies first, then after everything was in the pot, I also used my immersion blender and whipped it up till it was almost entirely smooth.

I served this with a nutty fruit bread and it was really, very good and a great go-to recipe for busy weeknight!  The next day we had the leftovers and I just pulled out a few croissants and since those are French, I felt extra fancy so we called it a good Thursday night dinner.


  • 2 (14 oz.) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 handfuls baby carrots
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 T fresh oregano
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Puree all vegetables.
  2. Add all ingredients except cheese to stock pot. 
  3. Bring to a light boil over medium-high heat, stirring often to avoid burning the cream.  Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often for 30 minutes.
  4. Top with cheese before serving.