Tiny Tomato Tarts

I have been trying to get better about using up all of the food in our fridge before buying new stuff, so when I was planning for our family Easter party, I looked at what we had first before hitting the grocery store. I had some fresh mozzarella in the fridge and frozen phyllo cups in the freezer, so I picked up some grape tomatoes and fresh basil to make these cute little appetizers.

They were pretty easy, and most of the prep-work was done the night before the party.

Tomato Tarts:

  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella, chopped into little pieces
  • 4 dozen phyllo cups (found in the frozen food section with desserts)
  • about 5 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
  • fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place tomatoes, garlic and about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Bake for about 35 minutes.
  2. Once tomatoes are roasted, cool to room temperature and mix in mozzarella.
  3. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place phyllo cups on a rimmed cookie sheet and add a small scoop of the tomato mixture to each one. Add a small piece of fresh basil to each one. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

We served them with an asparagus tart on this cool two-tiered server that my sister had. The were delicious and we ended up making the roasted tomatoes again today for lunch. I really need to set up a tomato plant on our back porch because I think we’ll be eating a lot of these this summer!


Sweet Things for the Weekend

My oven has been on for 2 days straight, as I am baking for a few parties and getting Valentine’s Day treats ready. I used disco dust (edible glitter) for the first time this morning, and I can get enough of it. I was to cover everything I eat with pink glitter.

The internet is full of super-creative ideas for things to make your sweethearts next week:

Crazy creative homemade candy necklaces from Bakingdom via Not Martha
Valentine’s Day Heart Punch Napkins from Make, Grow, Gather
Pretty Lace Heart Cookies from Sugarbelle (I am making these today)
Ruffle Fondant Cupcakes from Jessicakes
Cherry Vanilla Layer Cake from Sprinkle Bakes

Pasta with Goat Cheese, Roasted Asparagus and Lemon

I love goat cheese. A lot of people don’t (at least people in my family). This makes the following recipe fairly controversial, but I promise that the cheese turns into a delicious, creamy, mild, amazing sauce when it melts into the pasta. If you have any hesitations about trying goat cheese, this recipe is a good way to give it a try.

– 1 box curly pasta such as rotini or campanelle
– 1 bunch asparagus
– 1 small package goat cheese
– Zest and juice of 1 lemon
– 2-3 sprigs tarragon, chopped
– 1/4 cup olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Trim asparagus into bite-sized pieces and spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Coat with olive oil and sprinkle with a little coarse salt. Roast for 10 minutes.
2. In the meantime, prepare pasta according to package directions.
3. Crumble goat cheese into a bowl, add olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, and tarragon.
4. Add cooked pasta and asparagus to cheese mixture and stir until cheese is melted and pasta is coated. Serve immediately.

Baby Bok Choy with Rice Noodles

We are in serious detox mode in our house after a few weeks of eating lots of sweets, pizza, and other bad foods. Because of that, I have been trying to pick up some new kinds of vegetables every week at the store. Last week, I gave baby bok choy a try.My go-to method for cooking new vegetables is sauteing them in olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes.

Since greens like these usually shrink down during cooking, I used 6 small bunches for the 2 of us. I cooked them over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes, drizzled them with about 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, and served them tossed with rice noodles.It was delicious, light and made me feel a lot better about all of the sugar cookies I’ve been eating lately.

You Want to Make this Orange Cake

I made a delicious orange cake for dessert last night, and couldn’t wait to share the recipe. It was dense and buttery, but not overly sweet and had just the right amount of orange flavor.You probably have the ingredients for the cake in your house right now, so you should definitely make one tonight. Here’s what to do:

Ingredients for Cake
– 4 eggs
– 1 1/2 cups sugar
– 1/2 cup vegetable oil
– 2 cups flour
– 4 teaspoons baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
– zest from 1 large orange
– 1 teaspoon orange extract (you can substitute vanilla if you want)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9″ round cake pan and set aside.

2. Beat together eggs, sugar and vegetable oil until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt and continue mixing. Add the remaining ingredients – orange juice, zest and extract and mix until blended.

3. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Ingredients for Frosting
– 3 egg whites
– 1/2 cup water
– 1 1/2 cups sugar
– 1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1. Beat egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer or with a hand mixer until soft peaks form.

2. Combine water, sugar, and cream of tartar in a small saucepan over high heat until boiling. Once the mixture turns clear and all the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat.

3. While the mixer is running, pour the sugar mixture into the egg whites in a steady stream. Continue mixing for 5-10 minutes, until the frosting is light and fluffy completely cooled.

For extra credit, top with candied orange slices. Cake serves 8-10 people.

Roasted Broccoli and Tomatoes with Balsamic Vinegar

I love roasted asparagus. Seriously, it is in my top ten favorite foods, definitely near the top. I love the way it changes the flavor and texture of the asparagus, and now I won’t eat it any other way.

I need to add some new vegetable recipes to our rotation, and I have read about how fantastic roasted broccoli is, so I decided to give it a try with tomatoes, balsamic, garlic and some cheese on top. It worked out really well and we ate it over some pasta, but it would work perfectly as a side dish to some yummy chicken or fish.

Here’s what you need:
– 1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
– 1 large bunch broccoli, crowns only
– 4-5 cloves garlic, smashed
– olive oil
– 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
– parmesan or romano cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine tomatoes and garlic in a small glass baking dish and coat with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes.
2. While tomatoes are roasting, place the broccoli on a large baking sheet line with foil. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. After the tomatoes have been in the oven for 20 minutes, increase the temperature to 425 degrees and place the broccoli in the oven for 1- to 12 minutes.
3. Once the broccoli is in the oven, remove the tomatoes, add the balsamic vinegar, and stir. Place back in the oven for the remainder of the time that the broccoli roasts.

4. Remove both the tomatoes and broccoli from the oven, and combine. Top with grated cheese and serve over pasta or alone.

The best part of the whole thing was the crispy bit on the broccoli, which look a little burnt, but taste delicious.

My Favorite Christmas Cookie Recipes

It’s only 2 weeks until Christmas and I am going into full baking mode. Every year I try to make as many cookies as I can until my feet give out, and I have started to collect a list of absolute must-make recipes that I can rely on to be awesome. Here are my favorites:

Smitten Kitchen Almond BiscottiThe first time I made these, I was amazed at how many people asked for the recipe.

Glittering Lemon Sandwich Cookies from EpicuriousThese win the prize for being beautiful and delicious. Plus, they are pretty simple to make. I always make mine pink, but they look really great in any sparkly color.

Peppermint Patties from Erin CooksAnthony would be in heaven if I kept these in the freezer all year long. I am making mine star-shaped this year.

Foolproof Fudge from Martha StewartI tried and failed at fudge a few times before I found this recipe. It is seriously easy, especially if you’re making multiple batches.