……………………………………………………. Baking our mark

Cool Avocado Soup July 31, 2012

I rarely pull recipes off restaurant websites – I always feel like they’re going to leave off a key ingredient in order to inspire me to come back to their spot instead of making a dish myself. But, when I got this recommendation, it sounded too good to pass up.

Before I made this, I’d never eaten a cold soup. Now, I basically want to live off cold soup all summer long. This was incredibly refreshing, all while being incredibly creamy and decadent.

Plus, we finally got to use the antique cold soup china tureen that’s been in the basement for a year. Classy business, this soup.

Plus it’s green. Which is awesome.

Cool Avocado Soup from Panera

2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1/2 English cucumber, partially peeled, then chopped (I used a little cucumber from my garden!)
4 scallions, green parts only
2 cups vegetable broth
Juice of one lime
1/3 cup packed cilantro (leaves and stems)
1/2 – 1 jalapeño pepper, depending on your taste preference, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 – 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1/4+ tsp. cumin
1/4+ tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt

Throw everything in the blender and puree for 2-3 minutes. Let it sit for a few hours, then blend again for a few minutes before serving. Garnish with additional cilantro as desired.


Simple Appetizer: Goat-cheese wrapped grapes June 14, 2012

My favorite food group is snacks. I love tasting menus and happy hours and tapas and cocktail hours at weddings. Snack-sized things allow me to taste as many things as possible before I get too full to move.

And, when I headed to a friend’s house after work to look at vacation photos, I had the perfect excuse to make a lovely, simple snack / appetizer (an idea I borrowed from A Daily Something).

Grapes, wrapped in goat cheese, rolled in chopped pecans.

Not only do these involve some of the best parts of a cheese plate, they are also perfect for popping into your mouth whole, which makes you seem lady-like and prevents you from making a mess when you bring these to someone else’s house.

In case you were wondering, getting the goat cheese to stick to the grapes is not difficult; it’s kind of like playing with play-dough. Also, don’t make these too far ahead of time – the nuts will get a little soggy (and you will have a longer period of time to resist eating them all yourself).


Pink Hummus: Beet, Chickpea and Almond Dip February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day, y’all.

Yup. It’s pink hummus. And it’s delicious. Bam.

Beet, Chickpea and Almond Dip from B.A.

1 large (8-ounce) beet, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 cup garbanzo beans (from 15 1/2 oz can), drained and rinsed
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup slivered almonds
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 Tbs red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil beet until tender, about 12 minutes. Puree in food processor. Add garbanzos, olive oil, almonds, and garlic, and puree until smooth. Blend in red wine vinegar, then add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with pita and crudités.


Spicy Ginger Carrot Soup September 1, 2011

Filed under: Appetizer,Dinner,Lunch,Side dish,Soup,Vegetarian — Michelle Jackson @ 10:41 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

A spicy-sweet and light end-of-summery dish that’s easy to make with the help of an oven and a blender (or food processor).

1 lb carrots (I used peeled baby carrots)

1 1 1/2 inch piece of peeled fresh ginger

1 small sweet potato, cut into smallish pieces

3 cloves garlic

1 medium onion

2-3 cups vegetable broth (or water)

Salt, pepper, paprika, and Sriracha to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and roast the carrots,  garlic, and chopped sweet potato for about 45 minutes, rotating so they don’t burn on one side. I wrapped the unpeeled garlic gloves in aluminum foil to roast them separately. Saute the ginger and onion in a small skillet until the onions are translucent and the ginger is fragrant (don’t let anything blacken.) When cool enough to handle, transfer the sautéed ingredients and roasted ingredients to blender (or food processor) in batches and puree with vegetable broth (or about 2-3 cups of water) to desired thickness. Season to taste with black pepper, salt, paprika, and hot sauce. Best eaten cold with a toasted baguette.


Summer Crostini – Four Variations July 13, 2011

The way to trick people into eating whatever weird flavor combination you feel like is to serve everything in small pieces, hence why I love tasting dishes. It’s also the reason that I currently love crostini.

At a recent brunch, I got to make 4 different kinds – both sweeter and more savory, which made for a nice brunch combo.

People ate all of them.

I’d recommend these at all hours. (Also, the basic ingredients needed are portable enough you can assemble and eat them at work.) Put some together immediately.

These ingredient recipes are written as they are assembled, from bottom to top.

Peach and Proscuitto Crostini

Sliced baguette
Ripe peach slices
Strips of prosciutto (stays on best when wrapped around the peach slice)
Freshly ground black pepper
Drizzle of honey

Thyme Apple Crostini

Sliced whole wheat or rye baguette/small pieces of bread
Gruyere (preferably melted on top of the bread in the broiler)
Fresh thyme leaves
Apple slices

Goat Cheese and Tomato Crostini

Sliced baguette
Goat cheese (do not buy the pre-crumbled kind – you need to be able to spread this)
Fresh basil leaves
Sliced sundried tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper

Pear Walnut Crostini

Sliced whole wheat baguette
Pear slices
Large walnut pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Drizzle of honey


Goodbye Spring Dinner: Chocolate Cupcakes with Fresh Berries June 21, 2011

I know everyone else wants June 21 to be the first days of summer…but I think of it as a farewell to spring. Not that I love spring or anything, but I just really don’t like summer. (For everyone with a vision of beaches dancing in their heads, I now want you to think about walking 3 miles in business attire every day. I also want you to think about how you didn’t actually do all the pushups you intended to do, so you don’t look any better in your summer outfits this summer than you did last summer.)

Anyways – to say farewell to the cool(er) days of spring (and to accommodate the busy schedules of our socializing compatriots), I had a little weekday dinner with some lovely friends who were brave enough to try whatever the heck I wanted to serve and nice enough to bring some really delicious beer.

Goodbye Spring Dinner Menu

Burrata, Strawberry and Basil Salad  [in case you haven’t heard, burrata is quite the “in” thing right now–this was my excuse to serve one]

Squash Salad

Apricot Chicken over Ginger Rice

-Summer cupcakes: Chocolate cupcakes with fresh berries

Summer cupcakes

Starting with your favorite chocolate cake base (homemade or from a box, whatever suits you), whip up a batch of mini-cupcakes. Mini-cupcakes are best since it allows you to stack more berries on top…without making the desserts so large that no one can bite them. Plus, as I’ve pointed out before, where a girl won’t eat a full cupcake, she’ll eat a mini-cupcake or two since they’re small.

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pint fresh berries of your choice (Raspberries and blackberries are lovely)
And if you’re feeling fancy:
3 oz. chocolate
1/2 Tbs. butter

If you’re doing the fancy version, first melt the chocolate and butter, blending well and being careful not to burn or otherwise destroy the chocolate. Spread this nice, shiny mixture on top of each cupcake and let it cool. It doesn’t need to be pretty, since you’re just going to cover it up with whipped cream.

In a large bowl using a handmixer, or in the bowl of your large mixer using the whisk attachment, combine whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla. Whip the cream until it becomes fluffy. Be careful not to over-blend, or you’ll make butter. The amount of time needed will vary largely based on the tool you’re using.

Scoop the whipped cream into a large ziploc bag, close the top, then cut off one corner of the bag to make a handy piping bag. (If you have a piping bag, go ahead and use that.) Pipe the whipped cream onto each cupcake, putting enough on to allow the berries to stick to something.

Top with as many berries as will fit on the top of each cupcake.

[Ok, ok, it’s not really a recipe – you know how to do all this stuff already – but maybe you just needed a new idea for an easy summer dessert that looks much more elegant than the effort warrants.]


Watermelon Cucumber Salad June 2, 2011

This recipe is quite similar to the recent post on a cold strawberry-quinoa salad, but I’m omitting the grains here and switching up the fruit. An easy (and really pretty) dish that can add some cool tanginess to a hot day.

For the salad:

1/2 sugar baby watermelon, diced into 1- or 2-inch chunks

1-2 seedless cucumbers, w/ seeds scraped out and thinly diced

1 bunch scallions, diced

4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

4 tablespoons lemon juice (or lime juice)

1-2 teaspoons black pepper

Prep the watermelon and cucumbers and place in a bowl or tupperware. Add the diced scallions. Pour the vinegar and lemon juice over the mixture until everything is evenly coated, but not saturated. Spice with black pepper to taste. (I just added a pinch or so.) I wanted to add fresh mint to this, but didn’t have any on hand… other cool accents could be fresh dill or rosemary, or some kind of infused balsamic vinegar instead of the regular (such as pear-infused white balsamic or raspberry-infused red). Also, according to K (and the larger foodie community), feta cheese is apparently the thing to pair with watermelon. So if you’re inclined, please crumble some on top!  The salad should keep for 2-3 days.