Hello! Kate from Cookie and Kate here. Spring is quickly approaching, and so is asparagus season! Asparagus at its peak is a delicacy, if you ask me, and I can’t get enough of it during the springtime. It makes its way into salads, sliced into ribbons, as well as stir-fries, frittatas, and any recipe that calls for an assortment of vegetables.
That said, Garlic-Roasted Asparagus is my favorite preparation. Simply roasted asparagus makes a light yet flavorful side dish that can complement any cuisine. In the past, I’ve tried to dress up roasted vegetables with fancy dressings and sauces, but the truth is that they are best with a light coating of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. A squeeze of lemon or dash of soy sauce will kick the flavor up a notch, but roasted peak asparagus hardly needs any help.
For this easy side dish, you’ll need 1 1/2 pounds asparagus, 2 to 3 cloves garlic, some olive oil, salt and pepper and good-sized baking pan. Simply preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, snap off the woody ends of the asparagus stems, slice your cloves of garlic thin, and toss the asparagus in a light coating of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 10 to 15 minutes (I roasted mine for a full 15 minutes), until fork-tender. Serve warm.
Greetings! Jessica Christensen, editor with BHG special food publications, here. I’ve had two big events in my life this month that I want to share. First, my little baby boy had his first big birthday! Second, my newest magazine, Cakes!, just hit the newsstands (for a special sneak peek, check out this exclusive slideshow with my absolute favorite recipes from the magazine). Now, I wouldn’t be a true food editor if I couldn’t figure out a way to capitalize on both of these events and wrap them into a blog.
So last Friday, after work, I set out to create two super cute cakes from our magazine for my son’s birthday party. Now folks, this isn’t my first time at the rodeo. After baking my own wedding cake (not the best plan I’ve ever had) four years ago, I know that baking and freezing the actual cakes ahead of time is important. I had completed that step the week before and almost wept with relief that I didn’t have to start baking at 6:00 the night before the birthday party. With all the decorating ahead of me, even cake mix would be too much to ask at that time of night. I’d let the cakes thaw out during the day, so now all I had to do was cut, frost, and decorate. Easy, right? Here are the two recipes I was trying to create—Race Car Cakes and Tropical Fish Cake:
I started with the Race Car Cakes. This recipe makes two cars, each of which is made from a round cake layer (like you would use for a two-layer cake), cut in half crosswise and sandwiched together with frosting. The car is “shaped” by cutting out a windshield section free hand. I decided to make one green one for the boys at the party and one purple one for the girls. Then I decorated one like the Race Car in the photo above and the other like the Flower Car Cake variation at the bottom of the Race Car Cakes recipe. The decorations included Rips licorice pieces (I think these are available at hobby and crafts stores) for the windows, Fruit by the Foot for the stripes, Tic Tacs for the numbers on the side of the car, Oreos for the tires, and Skittles for the flowers.
Next I worked on my son’s “smash cake,” which was a miniature version of the larger Race Car Cakes above. I’m new to this parenting thing, but apparently it’s traditional for kids to smash into a small cake on their first birthday and feed it to themselves. (After feeding my son nothing but organic food for 12 months, it took all my strength to allow him to shovel loads of sugar into his mouth in this manner.) This round cake was baked in a 6-inch round cake pan, instead of a 9-inch pan like the larger ones. I then cut it down slightly to make it even smaller. But it was essentially shaped and decorated in the same way as the ones above. Before serving it to him, I took all the candy decorations off. Toddlers and small pieces of candy do not mix.
Finally, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I made the Tropical Fish Cake. This is not a difficult cake, but by the time I finished the other three cakes, it was nearing 9:30 p.m. I was tired. The kitchen was a disaster and looked like a can of frosting had exploded in it. I had a feeling the whole fish cake decorating experience wasn’t going to end well. Sure enough, despite the fact that I successfully cut the corners from this 13×9-inch cake as directed and got the top and bottom fins placed correctly on the unfrosted version (as seen in picture 2 below), I could not figure out how to place them back on the fish cake once they were frosted (geometry is not my forte). As you’ll see from picture 3, below, my fish almost went to the party looking like he was deformed or swimming backwards. At that point I didn’t even care.
But, for my son’s sake, I summoned my last ounce of strength and spun the fins around (at least a dozen times) until I found the right position. My lack of understanding on how those fins were supposed to go bordered on ridiculous! I even had the photo from the magazine right in front of me. But the end results of the Tropical Fish Cake were worth my profound confusion and the extra hassle.
By the time I finished these four cakes around 10:30, I was exhausted. Luckily I remembered to put them downstairs where the cat wouldn’t get them (she has an unfortunate habit of licking baked goods while we’re all sleeping) before I crashed in bed still covered in frosting. I have a few final thoughts on these cakes. First—and I knew this before I even started—try to do your decorating when you’re fresh and full of energy in the morning. Second, all of the candies and decorations are just suggestions. It’s not always practical to buy 10 to 15 varieties to decorate one cake. Although you can bag up the leftover candy and hand it out as favors when the party is over. Third, the cute decorations and candies can make cutting and serving the cakes more difficult. If it becomes troublesome, do like I did, and remove the extra candies before serving up the cake. In the end, everybody loved the cakes and ate every last crumb. Including my main man…
Of course the weather starts to warm slightly and I’m already jumping ahead for summer. I realize cantaloupe and watermelon aren’t exactly in season, and I’m bucking the farm-to-table trend with this Melon-Fresh Herb Sorbet recipe. But you can always stay a locavore by swapping out the melon for almost any in-season fruit and keeping the recipe ratio for the fruit portion.
To make the recipe as seen in the picture, you’ll notice I did a combination of watermelon, raspberry and mint—its sweetness with a little bit of cooling; for the cantaloupe I paired it with basil for a little added kick. There you go, two simple sorbets that’s great as is or another way to serve this Melon-Fresh Herb Sorbet recipe is to try floating it over some Prosecco for a refreshing sorbet float.
Whatever you do make it, freeze it and have a lot- it’s fruit based after all, so you can totally hit your daily fruit intake with this one.
Blood oranges (and all kinds of citrus!) have been coming in my weekly CSA box of local produce. (A perk of living in sunny CAlifornia I guess!) I used the blood oranges to make this mildly sweet glaze for brussels sprouts and carrots and it came out wonderfully! Adding the nutmeg makes it a perfect chilly weather dish. Enjoy!
- 2 cups fresh brussels sprouts
- 3 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/3 cup (blood) orange juice
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Cut Brussels sprouts in half. In a medium saucepan combine sprouts and carrots. In covered medium saucepan cook in a small amount of boiling water or steam for 10 to 12 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain well. Return all of the vegetables to pan.
2. In a small bowl stir together the orange juice, cornstarch, sugar, nutmeg (if desired), and salt. Add to brussels sprouts and carrots. Cook and stir the mixture over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Serve immediately. Makes 4 side-dish servings.
The Forest Feast is a blog by Erin Gleeson full of simple, colorful vegetable based recipes with photos and watercolor illustration. After working for many years as a food photographer in NYC, Erin moved to a cabin in the woods where she is currently working on The Forest Feast Cookbook. Follow Erin on Twitter and Instagram, @theforestfeast.
Looking for something mint-tinted, fun, and festive to serve for St. Patrick’s Day this year? Try these super-easy, no-bake Key Lime Cheesecake Bars!
I always like making a festive dish for the holidays and I thought a cooling, key lime-flavored treat would be just the ticket for St. Patrick’s Day this year. Not only is the color spot on, but the sweet-tart key lime flavor is absolutely delicious. I can’t seem to get enough citrus these days, so these bars definitely hit the spot.
This recipe for Key Lime Cheesecake Bars is really unique in that calls for whipped cottage cheese to not only provide a surprising boost of protein to the creamy dessert, but also help reduce the amount of cream cheese in the recipe to cut fat and calories. I am not mad at that!
Plus the recipe is incredibly easy. We’re talking assembled then popped into the fridge to chill and setup in under 15 minutes.
Start by whirring together graham crackers with a bit of sugar and melted butter in a food processor to create a thin graham cracker crust, which brings a crunchy-textured contrast to these smooth and fluffy bars. Press the crumbs into the bottom of an 8×8″ pan then stick in the fridge to harden while you prepare the filling.
Next, use the food processor to whip up the cheesecake filling, which is a mixture of fat-free cottage cheese and low-fat cream cheese. The original recipe calls for fat-free cream cheese, but I prefer the 1/3-less fat kind. It’s a personal choice every St. Patty’s Day reveler has got to make for themselves!
Whisk the filling into sugar-free, lime-flavored gelatin bloomed in boiling water until smooth, then fold in a container of light whipped topping.
Spoon the filling over the graham cracker crust, smooth the top, then cover and pop in the fridge for 8 hours, or overnight, to setup.
I was incredibly happy with how these Key Lime Cheesecake Bars came out! The signature cheesecake flavor with a key lime twist was ultra-luxurious, while the whipped cottage cheese and cream cheese gave the bars an awesome, fluffy texture. Very delicious. Very Spring.
Hope you enjoy these key-lime flavored treats too – and happy St. Patrick’s Day!
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You know that saying: “All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten”? Well, it applies to food, too.
Think about it. Most of the dishes and innovations that get us “foodies” excited come from humble beginnings. [Cue the image in your head of the wide-eyed food critic from the movie Ratatouille taking a bite of the reimagined favorite from his childhood.]
Jessie here, senior food editor at Diabetic Living magazine, a Better Homes & Gardens Special Interest publication. When I think back to the dishes that had me running full-speed for the dinner table when I was young, I can see chicken pot pies, macaroni and cheese (always with a side of applesauce), creamed tuna and peas on toast, and my mom’s amazing French toast that my siblings and I topped with our special labeled mix of “sug-a-mon”, a cinnamon and sugar blend.
Like many of you, my palate has matured since kindergarten, and I’ve been exposed to all the indulgences and amazing wonders that our nation’s abundant food system has to offer. In fact, just a few weeks ago, during a trip to Boston, I gorged on Crab-and-Beurre Blanc Beignets, Wasabi-Pistachio Crusted Chicken Fingers dipped in Caramel, Parmesan-Truffle Oil Fries, and a Grilled Vermont Cheddar + Major Grey’s Mango Chutney + Pickled Red Onion Sandwich. Sounds fancy, right? Oooh, and it was. It was awaken-your-brain good. So good was it, that I almost forgot I was eating fancied-up versions donuts, chicken strips, French fries, and grilled cheese. It all comes full circle.
And, trust. No one could be more excited than me that Grilled Cheese, perhaps the humblest of all, is having it’s day (or decade) at the foodie prom. Across the nation–in magazines, restaurants, food trucks, and at parties everywhere–grilled cheese is getting dressed up and frilled out.
Welcome to the Grilled Cheese Prom…
And the must-have prom accessory is…
I know the excitement can be intoxicating, so please drive safe.