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12.20.2012

{Guest Post} How to Make A Veggie-Packed Lasagna

I have a guest post today! I am on vacation so even though I am not great about planning timed posts or posts ahead of time, it was great when Tali volunteered to be a guest poster on Opera Singer in the Kitchen. 

This post was written by Tali Wee who currently lives in Seattle and blogs about life in the northwest.  She owns Wee Picket Fences where she writes about being a new homeowner, bargain hunter, foodie and DIY enthusiast.  Tali works at Zillow where she handles the community outreach for Charlotte, NC.  She enjoys family, food, travel, writing and spending time on projects around the house.


Check out her bio to learn about she and her husband's lives. While she eat dairy-free her husband does not but she is familiar with gluten-free and vegan restrictions. I love her recipe and will have to try the lasagna when I get back home.

Thanks Tami for posting!



How to Make A Veggie-Packed Lasagna

When one person in a family has dietary restrictions, meals generally revolve around their needs. If you are that one person, it’s wonderful to be able to eat with the group and not feel like the odd man out. You know how tough it is to be the one person who can’t enjoy the mouthwatering pizza with everyone else. However, spouses or other family members who are constantly eating a restricted diet on behalf of the one person with limitations end up sacrificing constantly. They may even be giving up their favorite dishes.

I’m allergic to dairy and have been on both side of the scenario. I have gluten-free and vegan friends who I cater to at times. Though, my husband who loves cheese has accepted a dairy-free lifestyle for me. Of course he can snack on cheese or have a glass of milk whenever he wants, but our meals never include dairy. Last week, I decided to prepare two lasagnas, one dairy-free and one full blown dairy just for him. 


We had enough lasagna for a week, but it catered to us both and was delicious.
We are omnivores with a healthy craving for vegetables, so this lasagna recipe includes a lot more veggies than usual. I’ve separated the ingredients to cater to the common diet restrictions: vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free. The recipe is for two 7” x 11” glass casserole dishes. If you are planning to make only one lasagna, use a larger casserole dish. Eliminate half of the meat and some of the breadcrumbs. Choose either the faux or real sour cream and double it.

Ingredients:
14 oz. can tomato sauce
28 oz. jar prepared marinara sauce
14 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 white onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced (I prefer red or orange)
8 oz. button mushrooms, diced
5 medium sized zucchinis, thinly sliced lengthwise
3 cups fresh spinach
1 tomato, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup fresh Italian parsley, minced
1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt

Animal-Based Ingredients:
2 lbs. ground beef or turkey
½ lb. Italian sausage
2 eggs

Dairy Ingredients:
½ cup sour cream
1 cup grated parmesan and mozzarella cheese mixture

Gluten Ingredients:
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 box oven-ready, no boil lasagna noodles
1 cup red wine (Some red wines are made with a wheat-based clarifying agent.)
½ cup Tofutti brand Sour Supreme (This is dairy-free sour cream. It does not contain gluten but is manufactured around gluten and can cause a reaction for those who are highly sensitive.)

Instructions:
  1. Begin by browning the meat. I like to add a little olive oil and a dash of salt to get it going. While it’s browning, chop up the onion, bell pepper, mushrooms and garlic. Drain the fat off of the meat and return to pan. Add the veggies and cook until soft
  2. Add wine and simmer. Pour in the tomato sauce. Drain the diced tomatoes and add to pan. Mix in Italian seasoning, oregano and salt. Turn heat to low.
  3. Slice zucchini very thinly and lengthwise. Use a mandolin slicer if you have one. Zucchini can be used instead of noodles for gluten-free lasagna, but I prefer to use both zucchini and noodles. Now is a good time to preheat the oven to 375⁰.
  4. In each casserole dish, add a layer of the meat and vegetable mixture. Cover the meat with zucchini slices. Spread a little of the premade marinara sauce over the zucchini. Lay a couple handfuls of fresh spinach on top of the marinara and cover with hard lasagna noodles.
  5. For the dairy-free lasagna, mix one egg with faux sour cream. Pour this mixture over the noodle layer. For the dairy lasagna, mix one egg with real sour cream and pour over the noodles. Then, sprinkle with cheese.
  6. Start the layers again with the meat and veggie mixture, then zucchini, marinara, spinach and noodles. I stopped after two layers per lasagna. Instead of adding another sour cream layer, I split the remaining meat and veggie mixture between the two lasagnas.
  7. Thinly slice the fresh tomato and lay the slices as the final layer on the dairy-free lasagna. Cover with some bread crumbs and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley. For the dairy lasagna, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and cheese, and top with fresh parsley.
  8. Cover both with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and let the brown for 5-10 minutes.

Substitutions:
  • For those who are making only traditional, restriction-free, veggie-packed lasagna, omit the fresh tomato and faux sour cream. Double the real sour cream.
  • To make only dairy-free lasagna, exclude the cheese and real sour cream. Double the faux sour cream.
  • Vegan eaters can use faux meat; I prefer Yves’ brand meatless ground original. The creamy layer can be omitted which includes sour cream, cheese and egg. Eliminating the creamy layer will not affect the overall flavor. Be sure to use a wheat or rice-based noodle as many are egg-based.
  • For gluten-free lasagna, omit the breadcrumbs and fresh tomatoes; top with cheese instead. DeBoles brand rice noodles are oven ready/no boil. Make sure to get regular sour cream instead of light because it can include gluten. Tofutti brand dairy-free sour cream does not contain gluten but it is manufactured in a facility with other products containing gluten – not ideal for the highly sensitive. Read the labels when selecting red wine as some include a wheat ingredient.
Again, this recipe is enough to make side-by-side 7” x 11” lasagnas – one dairy-free and one with dairy. Note that the recipe can make one large lasagna, and can be adapted for vegan and gluten-free diets as well. It’s packed with veggies to be a well-rounded meal for the family, all wrapped into one square. It reheats easily and tastes delicious with a glass of red wine.


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12.12.2012

Fresh Goat Cheese, Apple, Prosciutto, Pecan Pizza with Balsamic Glaze

Fresh Goat Cheese, Apple, Prosciutto, Pecan Pizza with Balsamic Glaze

I thought I would bring you something savory this week to give everyone a  break from all the sweets. I know we all have to plan dinner in between all our baking. When it comes to making dinner I am looking for quick yet tasty entrees.

During the time my sister and brother-in-law stayed with us, which was for 6 weeks, I prepared a variety of meals. Their first meal I prepared for them were my Cornbread-Stuffed Poblano Peppers. After my brother-in-law finished he asked Ryan if this was the way they were going to eat every night. He thought my meal was fancy and gourmet. I was definitely flattered. 

Ryan just told him that we ate like this all the time and that it was really nothing fancy but always yummy food. :-) It is always nice to hear something nice like that.

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But really, you really do not have to SLAVE in the kitchen to have a fancy gourmet meal. Since I am nearing the end of my pregnancy (I am 7 months now) the last thing I want to be doing is cooking for a long time. I actually did not feel like cooking that much in my last pregnancy but I am quite enjoying it this time. Of course, like I said, the meals have to be quick and based on what I have in my pantry and fridge.

I find myself wanting meat and potatoes all the time but what fun is there in that? So how did this pizza come to fruition? I enjoy reading Simply Life blog. She writes about her life and travels and includes lots of giveaways and great recipes at the same time!

When I saw her recipe for her Apple, Pecan, and Goat Cheese Pizza, I knew I had to make some version of it based on what I had in my fridge. I found My Life Runs on Food and their pizza recipe and meshed the two recipes to make my own.

Sound complicated? Check out how I prepared it:

Pizza prep

It is an easy assembly as well as a quick bake time. Sometimes our toddler is hungrier than we are prepared for so she eats first and plays and then we put her down for the night. It is not always the case but our little one has been teething the last few nights so everything has been moving up a little earlier, which meant a late dinner but a quick prep and baking time! Just what this mother ordered.

The goat cheese is mixed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh basil and placed as the pizza base. I then layer  the apples and spread the chopped prosciutto on top. BAKE!

After the pizza is baked I then sprinkle with crushed pecans and the arugula salad and drizzle with balsamic glaze. It was two-for-one meal. Salad and pizza and it was fabulous. 

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The combination of ingredients in the recipe may sound a little overwhelming but in fact it was SO DELICIOUS! My husband said he could have this pizza often and again. 

Make it tonight! I promise your family will thank you for it!

Fresh Goat Cheese, Apple, Prosciutto, Pecan Pizza with Balsamic Glaze

by Noelle Kelly
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 18-20 minutes


Ingredients (8 slices)
  • 12 oz. fresh goat cheese; room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp. minced fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil; more as needed
  • Fresh black pepper and sea salt; as needed
  • 2 large, firm and tart apples; peeled and cored; sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 6 large slices of prosciutto
  • 1/2 cup pecans, crushed
  • 1 store-bought or homemade pizza dough ( I used Trader Joe's Herby dough)
Salad Topping
  • 2-3 cups fresh arugula
  • juice of 1 orange
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
Glaze
  • Store-bought balsamic glaze
Instructions
If dough is refrigerated, let it sit in room temperature for 20 minutes, then roll out to 12 to 14-inch pizza.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place pizza dough on an oiled baking sheet.

Mix the goat cheese, basil, olive oil, sea salt and fresh black pepper together. Gently spread over the pizza dough about one-inch away from the edge.
Place apple slices over the goat cheese in a angled pattern. Lay chopped prosciutto over the apple slices. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with fresh black pepper.

Bake pizza for 18 minutes or until somewhat golden.
Remove pizza from oven.

Prepare arugula salad with dressing. Top the pizza with the arugula salad, fresh black pepper and crushed pecans. Finish with sea salt and drizzle with balsamic glaze

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BY the way, check out this AWESOME giveaway! This lady worked on my site and I love it!


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12.11.2012

Alfajores and Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from The Cookiepedia {Review + Giveaway}

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More baking!! I am loving it and I hope you are getting in some too! A few weeks ago Quirk Books sent me a few cookbooks to look through and I feel in love with Cookiepedia. Do you have trouble deciding what to make every year and you get stuck making the SAME cookies every year? I felt that way this year even though I did express that I hardly baked last year. It still counts

I perused through the cookbook and stood in the kitchen for a while trying to decide what to make first. Ha! The cookbook focuses on reinventing the classic cookie so I decided to make a classic and a fancy cookie.

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One of my husband's favorite cookies happen to be Oatmeal Raisin so I went with that recipe. The recipe gives you the option for add-ins, like chocolate chips, nuts, etc, but I decided to keep them as is. A note was placed on the recipe stating that refrigerating the dough before baking would make for a taller and chewier cookie, so I went with that recommendation.

Since we moved to our new place it is always hard to get used to your new appliances. While they might not be NEW, they are new to your life. Such is the case with our oven. I believe my oven bakes a little hotter than usual so I have to keep an eye or cook things a little less time that specified. I know I can get this fixed.

I first cooked them a little longer thinking they did not look cooked enough, only to find out that they got a little crunchy. :-(  Luckily I had a second batch of cookies and I baked them at the lowest time recommended and they came out PERFECTLY! Chewy and delicious. Even Ryan liked them.

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What about these beauties? They look perfect for Christmas since they are dusted with powdered sugar. The description read: "A cross between a shortbread and snickerdoodle cookie." Yes please! Since I had dulce de leche left from my Boozy Cake, I decided I definitely needed to make this recipe.

The dough requires refrigeration twice but in essence this recipe is SUPER quick. Even though there is an option to use store-bought dulce de leche, you can make your own crock-pot dulce de leche. These cookies are quite popular in South America even though they originated in Spain. These would be perfect to make with your kids too!

Alfajores

by Stacy Adimando from Cookiepedia
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients (3 dozen)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • store -bought dulce de leche for filling or homemade (see note)
  • powdered sugar for dusting
Instructions

Cream the butter and sugar together for a minute or two, until they look light and fluffy.

In the meantime, sift the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set it aside.

Add in the egg and egg yolk one at a time, mixing after each addition. add vanilla extract and mix briefly. add in flour mixture and mix just until the dough starts to come together.

Working quickly, turn out the dough and use a little heat from your hands to make it a solid ball. pullout a large plastic wrap and flatten the dough on top to make a disk. double wrap it and refrigerate for 1 hour, until firm.

Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. roll dough to 1/4 inch thick on a lightly floured surface. rotate the dough between rolls to make sure it’s not sticking to the surface.
Using a 2 inch fluted or round cutter, cut out cookies and carefully transfer them onto sheets, placing them about 1 inch apart.

Chill sheets again for about 15-20 minutes, until the dough is very firm. then bake cookies for 8-10 minutes, until tops of the cookies have just firmed and bottoms are starting to color slightly.

Cool the sheets on wire racks before assembling the sandwiches.

Drop, pipe or spread a teaspoon of dulce de leche into the center of each cookie, then top with another. sift powdered sugar over the assembled sandwiches.

Note
You can make your own dulce de leche by placing several cans in a crock pot, covering them with water and cooking for 6 hours over low heat. This is what I did and used for the recipe.
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Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

by Stacy Adimando from Cookiepedia
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 13 minutes


Ingredients (2 dozen)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats or quickcooking oats
  • 2/3 cup raisins
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for a few minutes until the mixture is light and fluffy. 

Add the egg and vanilla and mix a bit more.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into a bowl. Pour in the flour mixture and run the mixer motor on low, just to work it in. Stir in the oats and raisins with a spoon.

Scoop out tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto parchment-paper-lined cookie sheets about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, rotating cookie sheets halfway through baking. Let cool and enjoy.
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Want a chance to win ONE of these fabulous cookbooks? Quirk Books was generous enough to offer TWO of my readers a chance to win one of these books.

Use the entry form below. The contest is open to US and Canadian readers.




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12.10.2012

White Chocolate and Candy Cane Dipped Almond Biscotti

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Who all has started their baking yet? Okay, do not answer that one. I am obviously late with my Christmas baking even though I have been baking yummy cakes, like the Boozy Cake I posted last week?

One of my favorite goodies to bake happen to be biscotti. I like them dipped, plain, fruit-filled or even nut-filled. I really do not need coffee to eat them but sometimes it just helps. Ryan does not particularly like them for the same reason I just explained. They happen to be too dry.

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Last year I made Chocolate Pistachio Biscotti and really liked it but I decided to change up the recipe and go a little more festive. I had a bag of white chocolate chips and a box of candy canes ready to be utilized. Even though there was going to be a crunchy factor with the candy canes I still wanted my biscotti to have some sort of nut.

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The combination proved to be delicious and perfect for anytime munching. I quickly divided the batch for my neighbor and for a host whose party we were attending later. These definitely would make great party gifts!

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It is a family tradition to bake several varieties of cookies and while I explained last year how I hardly had time with a new baby and all, this year it is a lot easier. As I bake, Julianne LOVES being in the kitchen. Sometimes she will sit in her high chair and play with her toys as she watches me. At other times she rather sit up higher and be REALLY involved with mommy.

I am training a future baker! 

At other times, Julianne is taking out pots, pans, wooden spoons, and measuring cups. I just love the fact she wants to be near her mommy. I believe the clingy stage might be over. Hmm.

White Chocolate Dipped Almond Biscotti

Make these for special loved ones or for an upcoming party. They will not disappoint!

White Chocolate and Candy Cane Dipped Almond Biscotti

by Noelle Kelly

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients (28 biscotti)
  • 1-2/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened good quality cocoa powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds (optional)
  • 1/4 cup Earth Balance margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 flax seed "eggs" or 2 large eggs
  • --to prepare flax seed "eggs": 2 Tbsp flax seed meal + 6 Tbsp water--set aside for 3 minutes
  • White chocolate chips
  • 6 candy canes (crushed)
Instructions

Preheat oven to 375°. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add almonds, and mix.

In a mixer, mix margarine and sugar on medium speed for 1-1/2 minutes. Add flax "eggs" or eggs, one at a time.

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined to make a dough.

Remove the dough and using your hands, divide the dough into two and form into long flat shapes about 8 long x 1-1/2 inches wide. Place on the lined baking sheets and bake for 20 minutes.

When cool enough to handle, gently cut the loaves on the angle into 1/2 inch slices (a serrated bread knife works best). Return to the baking sheet fitting as many as you can on the baking sheet, you may need to do this in batches. Bake the biscotti for another 3-4 minutes on each side, less if you like it softer. Makes about 28.

White Chocolate
Melt the 12 ounce bag of white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl 4 times in 30-second increments. Make sure to mix at every 30-second increment.

Crush 6 candy canes in a food processor or in a spice grinder for a coarse mix. Place in a small bowl.

Assembly
Once the biscotti have cooled, dip one end of each biscotti in the white chocolate and then into the crushed candy cane. You might need a spoon to spread the white chocolate but either way it works.
You might want to quickly place in the fridge to get the chocolate to harden.

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12.09.2012

A Longwood Christmas Experience

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There seems to be a yearly tradition with most families to drive around neighborhoods to see multiple homes illuminated with fantastic lights and decorations. Other families tend to make Longwood Gardens a yearly tradition because it includes the fantastic Longwood Christmas.

Since moving to Pennsylvania, we have grown to discover great towns and areas with wonderful shows, attractions, and traditions. One that seems to spark a huge interest are the Longwood Gardens that are nestled around Kennett Square that is considered within the Brandywine Valley. They boast the world's "premier horticultural showplace," when it comes to the gardens and the most heralded event of the season when Christmas comes along.

Christmas Holiday Trees


During the year the Gardens are kept in beautiful shape during the year and then they are transformed into a spectacular show of lights, decorations, and Christmas trees.


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There are floating Christmas trees in their lakes and schools come and decorate Christmas trees to place in an aread for the Children's Christmas Tree section. 

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The visit proves to be very kid-friendly with ample space for strollers. Visitors are able to rent strollers or strollers are available for members at no cost.


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The idea of walking around these beautiful grounds than staying in a car and looking at homes lighted up just pales in comparison. The time it took to make the even look so perfect too hours of work but it is worth it when the Longwood Gardens boasts more than 300,000 visitors to visit during this special time. 


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A Longwood Christmas runs from November 22, 2012 through January 6, 2013. This gives plenty of time for locals and members to come any time they want. If one happens to be a member of the gardens there is a special day called Member Mondays where members visit during 5-9pm and receive 20% discounts in the Garden Shop and The Terrace.

On December 10th and 17th starting at 5pm there is going to be a special Garden Pass Member-only Holiday evening, which means ONLY these members will be able to attend. Skip the crowds!

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Even though our little family visited on a Tuesday it was definitely CRAZY busy. The outdoor lights turn on at 3:30pm but it is definitely required to buy a timed ticket. I have driven past the gardens only to see the sign letting the public know that all timed tickets from 1:30pm through 6pm were all sold out on a Wednesday. WOW!


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Timed tickets are required and can be purchased ahead of time and even purchased online at tickets.longwoodgardens.org. Once the tickets are purchased and you arrive, you and your family can stay as long as you want. 

You can also save time by attending on Non-Peak Days which means fewer crowds except during Christmas and New Year's week. A lot of walking is required so comfortable shoes and clothing is recommended.

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My sister and brother-in-law had a blast especially with taking pictures. There are a half a million lights, a ton of handcrafted ornaments and gorgeously decorated Conservatory with a fun Christmas route.

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We cannot wait to get back to these gardens because my husband has YET to see this spectacular event. If you want to know more about being a member check out the General Membership Levels that Longwood Gardens has to offer. There is something for everyone. Check out all the performances for the season as well.

Remember to come during non-peak days which are Mondays thru Fridays. Saturday and Sunday will be the highest peak days so leave it to the visitors. :-)

Here's looking forward to the spring when I have yet to see what it looks like without the lights. I bet it will still be amazing.


Disclosure: In exchange for posting about Longwood Gardens, I received a family membership and attended a special blogger event. All opinions of Longwood Gardens are my own.

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12.05.2012

Droid RAZR Smartphone + $50 Gift Card Giveaway




'Tis the season for amazing giveaways and sweepstakes and boy do I have one for you. It has been a lot of fun being a part of the Midwest Savvy Gourmet Bloggers. 
We have been able to test out a tablet and the LG Intuition and I have to say that I have very much enjoyed the LG Intuition Phablet which is like a phone / tablet. It is smaller than a tablet but also a phone. I have been given such a hard time about how BIG it is but after getting a cover for it, I simply love it and I hope to switch my Verizon coverage to this phone from my old Droid phone.


So what about the giveaway I was talking about? The guys at Verizon have been super generous enough to offer ONE of my readers a chance to win the lastest Droid RAZR HD. Here are a few facts about the phone:

The latest RAZR from Motorola – launched as the most compact 4.7-inch smartphone with a full-screen and edge-to-edge display and has a ton of great features, including:

·      An 8-megapixel camera and HD display that makes movies, photos, magazines and websites appear with vibrant clarity.
·      Circles Widget makes it easy to view battery life, text notifications, missed calls or weather updates, right on the home screen.
·      Near-field communications-enabled, so customers can use Android Beam to share contacts, documents and maps directly to compatible phones. 
·      A battery that allows for up to 32 hours of normal use and double the internal storage (of older RAZR phones) to 32 GB.
·      Runs over 4G LTE, combined with Chrome for Android, meaning customers can enjoy blazing fast speeds that make downloading documents or surfing the Web a breeze.
·      Device is Global Ready, so calling home or sending emails is possible from more than 205 countries around the world.


Not only will the ONE reader win this phone, but they also will win a $50 Verizon gift card to use towards a Verizon bill of phone accessory. 



The giveaway is open to ONE reader in the US and is open from today, 12/5/12 to 12/14/12. 



Note: I am a Verizon Wireless Savvy Gourmet blogger and this is part of my program. I did not receive compensation for this post. All opinions are my own. Please be courteous and only win the phone from one Verizon Blogger. 
Giveaway is open to the continental USA and ends on December 14, 2012 at 12:01 am EST. Winner will be selected at random from all eligible entries and will be contacted by email. Winner will have 24 hrs to respond. Winner may only win one prize pack, if you win on another site, a new winner will be drawn.  If original winner does not claim their prize within 24 hrs, it is forfeit and a new winner will be selected promptly. No purchase necessary to enter or win. Odds of winning are not increased by a purchase.
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12.03.2012

Boozy Cake with Dulce de Leche and Spiked Apricot Filling

 

This cake has been a long time coming. We had two birthdays in the last 10 days and I knew I had to have a good cake for my loved ones.

Growing up my Chilean grandmother would make each member of the family their favorite cake. She would make a 13 to 15-inch cake and fill it with the birthday boy or girl's choice spiked jam. Mine was always apricot spiked with brandy. I even had our wedding cake prepared that way too!


Since my sister has been with us for a few weeks I knew I wanted to do something special. We started talking about cakes and she wondered if I could try my hand at replicating my grandmother's cake. I started 2 weeks ago and really did not have much luck. The cakes came out too dry or I burnt them. I really did not have time to be making multiple recipes.

Well, luckily, Quirk Books sent me Booze Cakes to review, just in time for me to try something on my family. Woohoo!


Even though my mother reminded me that my grandmother's white cake was more like a sponge cake, I decided to try a white cake from this book from the Pina Colada recipe. I actually do not like trying new recipes on trying it on family as a gift but this recipe seemed like a no fail recipe.


The result was a nice and moist cake. It was PERFECT!! The cake was made with coconut rum and coconut cream but I used sweetened condensed milk and regular rum. I found out that 35% of the alcohol is retained in the cake once it is baked. I love this book already!! 

There are so many other recipes I want to try and WILL be trying but I wanted to let the publishers know that this book came in super handy in a time of need.


I mixed apricot jam with brandy and spread it on two layers of the white cake. I then added some dulce de leche on top of the spiked jam layer. I let the cakes soak overnight so that the flavors and filling could seep into the white cake. I then frosted it the next day.


Now I know that my grandmother used Cool Whip for her frosting and even though I contemplated doing that I decided I could make my own LIGHT frosting that was not full of fake ingredients. My mom always made the 7-minute frosting for her cakes and I knew I had to make it for this cake.

The frosting for this cake cannot be too sweet or thick because it is all about the cake and the filling. Even though I have traditionally made the 7-minute frosting over a double boiler I decided to try a new recipe I found on Food.com. It was super easy and foolproof.


My sister and husband were raving over the cake and my sister told me how much the cake reminded her of my grandmother's. My husband did not know he could have such a great cake. He even said this was probably one of my best desserts I have ever made. Wow, that is saying a lot folks since I bake pretty often!

I have to say that this cake was actually made with not only apricot jam and brandy mix but only half the cake was filled with that jam. My husband decided he wanted strawberry jam and Grand Marnier. We had a VERY boozy cake and at the end I believe my husband favored the apricot jam mixture better. 

Boozy Cake with Dulce de Leche and Spiked Apricot Filling


Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes for the cake

Ingredients (10-12 people)
    Cake
    • 1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 3⁄4 cup rum
    • 1⁄2 cup sweetened condensed milk
    • 4 eggs
    • 2-3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
    • 1⁄2 cup milk
    • 1⁄2 cup sour cream
    Jam Filling
    • 12 ounces apricot jam
    • 2 Tablespoons water
    • 2/3 cup brandy
    Dulce de Leche Filling
    • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
    Frosting
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1/4 cup boiling water
    • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
    • 3 unbeaten egg whites
    • food coloring (optional)
    • coconut (optional)
    • Directions:
    • Read more at: http://www.food.com/recipe/no-cook-7-minute-frosting-107841?oc=linkback

    Instructions

    Cake
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.
    In a mixing bowl, beat butter, sugar, rum, and sweetened condensed milk 3 to 5 minutes, or until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together milk and sour cream. Mix in the flour and milk mixtures in three alternating additions.
    Pour batter into pans and bake 30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool.

    Jam Filling
    Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and let sit.

    Dulce de Leche Filling
    Place can of sweetened condensed milk to a crockpot and cover with water. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Let can cool over an 1-2. Remove from can and divide filling between two layers.

    Frosting
    Mix sugar, vanilla and egg whites.
    Add boiling water.
    Beat on high til mixture forms peaks (like meringue) approx 5-7 minutes.
    Read more at: http://www.food.com/recipe/no-cook-7-minute-frosting-107841?oc=linkback

    Preparation
    Place one layer cake on serving platter. Using a serrated knife cut the 1/4 inch of the top layer of the cake to expose layer. Pour half the apricot filling evenly over the cake. Dollop with half of the dulce de leche.

    Repeat the removal of the top portion of the second cake and cut the second layer into two layers. Place a layer on top of the first layer. Repeat the filling as the first time. Place third layer on top and frost with 7-minute frosting.

    This cake can be prepared the night before. For better flavor, fill the cake the night before and frost the next day, Cake also tastes delicious after being refrigerated!
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