Jan 03
2012

Top 11 of 2011

When Satisfy My Sweet Tooth came into existence this past summer, I had no idea where this adventure would take me.  What I started as something to share recipes with friends and family and hone my photography skills has slowly developed into a full-time obsession that I just can’t get enough of!  Experimenting, writing, taking photos and sharing all of it with you has been such a pleasure and I thank you sincerely for following along with my on my culinary adventures!

I thought I would sum up my first 6 months of blogging with some highlight of my favorite recipes and yours.

1.  Possibly my most popular recipe are these Coffee-Spiked Chocolate Caramel Bars.  Rich and buttery graham cracker crust topped with homemade caramel, chocolate ganache and sea salt.  Need I say more?

On another note, did you know that “espresso” is one of the most commonly mispronounced words?  I read a list of words in the newspaper this week.  People usually stick a “c” in there to make it “ek-spress-oh”.  Just thought you would want to know.

2.  I was surprised how gaga you all went for these sweet and salty beauties.  I mean don’t get me wrong, I drool over these Peanut Butter, Pretzel and Chocolate Chip Cookies, but I am so happy at how many of you lovelies have let me know that you have made and enjoyed these as well.

3.  Next are these Coconut, M&M Cookie Bars.  These bars combine two of my favorite ingredients:  chocolate and coconut.  The flavor of these cookies is almost like the Samoas Girl Scout cookies and they are just so chewy and addicting.

4.  One of my favorite savory recipes that I have shared with you is this pasta with Red and Green Pesto.  I can’t believe I have only made it once and I also just realized that this would be a very festive Christmas recipe!  I really should start making a list for next year’s holiday season already…..

 

5.  And of course, my all-time favorite pasta, Grandma Suzy’s Fettucini Freddi.  This sauce is so clean and simple, yet every time I eat it, I cannot stop oohing and aahing over it.  And especially now that I received the pasta maker attachment for my mixer, I cannot wait to make homemade noodles with this silky, delectable sauce!

6.  I was so thrilled when I stumbled upon this Crock Pot Apple Butter this fall!  Talk about an easy food gift to share with others.  This will be a staple that I make every fall when friends and family give me apples from their fall harvests.

7.  Nothing really satisfied my craving for crunch like these Heath and Macadamia Nut Blondies.  Chocolate, toffee and nuts are such a rich combination and all of the textures together makes these bars particularly drool-worthy.

8.  I took my first cooking class in 2011 with Emily.  The recipe that I have made the most often from that evening of learning is these Fresh Spring Rolls.  I love how diverse they are because of all of the possible fillings and the sauce is so perfect that I do not even want to order them out at restaurants anymore!  And they are a perfect healthy recipe to start off 2012 right.

9.  I never realized how starting my own blog would lead to an obsession with other blogs!  There is just so much inspiration to be found by browsing through other people’s creative ideas.  No ingredient was more prominent in the blog world during the fall than pumpkin.  I have a few pumpkin classics that I make each year and possibly my favorite is this Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cake.  It is so moist and incredible.

10.  Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Granola Bars.  These bars are a perfect example of how i see a recipe and then brainstorm about how I can change it to fit my preferences.  These are chewy, nutty, filling and healthy.  A breakfast treat or snack that you can really feel good about.

11.  And finally, one of my favorite combinations, chocolate and peanut butter combined in these soft and chewy Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Cups and Sea Salt.  Cookies are my absolute favorite dessert!  I’ll take a perfect cookie over a rich chocolate tart or cake any day.  They are also very dangerous though because I can never eat just one!  This is a cookie that you could easily put your own spin on with several different ingredients.  Let your creativity shine!

I am not big on resolutions, but a new year does make me think about what improvements I would like to make in my life.  As always, I know that I want and need to exercise more.  I actually feel excited about it after lounging non-stop and eating way too many holiday delights.

I have an email folder, Pinterest board and cookbooks full of recipes that I cannot wait to try this year.  I hope that you will continue to join me on my adventures in the kitchen.  I do so appreciate your readership and support.  I always love hearing from you and please let me know if there is anything special you would like me to share with you in 2012.  Happy New Year sweet teeth!

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I’m declaring a savory week here on Satisfy My Sweet Tooth.  A few weeks ago, I made Vegan Gluten-free Brownies and then a few hours later proceeded to make Babybel-stuffed meatballs.  I love all food.  I don’t discriminate.

I grew up eating my grandmother’s to-die-for Italian red sauce with meatballs.  Since she is gone 🙁 no one can quite replicate the amazing flavor of her “gravy” but I am able to take myself back to sitting around her table with these meatballs.  My grandmother did not stuff meatballs with cheese but Giada does, so I figured combining two of my favorite cooks versions of meatballs could only result in a small meaty miracle in the shape of a ball.  And I was right.

Pasta is easily my single favorite savory food and while I do not feel the need to add a protein to top my noodles, my husband is never quite content with a meatless dinner (Waah).  So, as I mentioned after experimenting with vegan gluten-free baking during the first part of the day and watching his nose turn up with the addition of each “weird” ingredient, I knew that a meaty meal was the way to his heart.

Babybel cheese wheels are a favorite of mine.  I can remember my mother packing them in my lunchbox as a child and even now when I am hungry for a snack I love to eat a couple of the Babybel Lights for a low-calorie high-protein snack.  I wasn’t sure how the Babybel would melt in the cooked meatballs, but I was pleasantly surprised when I cut into a meatball and was met with a gooey string of cheese.  Cook up some pasta with your favorite red sauce and whip up a batch of these meatballs and you will be satiated and comforted in no time.

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dry ingredients

quarter Babybels

combine all ingredients, roll into balls and make indentation into each ball

stuff quarter of a Babybel into each ball and roll to seal

bake


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As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received some great products from Newman’s Own.  I really like the Newman’s Own products that I have tried and I appreciate that they use natural ingredients.  One staple that is always in my refrigerator is Newman’s Own Lighten Up Italian Dressing with Lemon.  Their dressing is one of the key ingredients of the Antipasto Pasta Salad that I am sharing with you in my video debut!  It’s a recipe that is very customizable to the tastes of you and your family which you know I love!  I hope you enjoy it!

Antipasto Pasta Salad

by Mercedes Porter

Keywords: appetizer entree pasta

Ingredients

  • 1 pound tortellini
  • 3/4 cup Newman’s Own Italian Dressing
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives
  • 1 whole roasted red pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 cup pepperoncinis, sliced
  • 1/2 cup boccaccini (miniature mozzarella balls)
  • 1/4 pound genoa salami, sliced into strips
  • 1/4 cup red onion, sliced

Instructions

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add tortellini and cook until al dente.

Drain pasta and place into serving bowl. Immediately toss with 1/2 cup of the dressing.

Combine all other ingredients with pasta.

Pour remaining 1/4 cup of dressing over pasta salad and toss to coat.

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Try to settle down.  The American Academy of Motion Pictures will be accepting Oscar nominations for several months yet.  😉

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Come share in the tomato love at the Tomato Love Recipe Exchange, hosted by Gimme Some Oven & Bake Your Day, sponsored this week by KitchenAid.  Also visit Recipe for Change to learn more about how to support tomato farmers.

Do you ever wonder if our brains are more active today than in the past?  Lately, I find that I cannot only complete one task at a time.  I have to be multi-tasking.  I write my blog while I watch TV.  I check my email and Twitter while I am on the elliptical machine at the gym.  I write to-do lists while I listen to a seminar.  I am not proud of this multi-tasking.  Sometimes it makes me feel a bit dizzy.  Is this healthy that our brains are constantly whirling from one thing to the next?  Is it some form of an attention deficit that we have all developed due to all of the elements of society that compete for our attention at once?  Or do I just need to give up my morning latte??  What do you think?

Ok, let’s just focus on two things:  the upcoming holiday weekend and bruschetta.  Labor Day weekend is a great time to decompress from the craziness of summer and focus our minds to get geared up for the impending fall and winter.  I will be headed to the lake cabin for “one last hoorah” with the family.  I have spent all evening baking so that I have a hearty stock of treats to feed all of those sweet teeth.  An easy appetizer that I will make for the weekend that takes advantage of the late summer’s bounty of produce is classic bruschetta.  When I lived at home with my mom, all summer long she kept a jar of bruschetta ready-to-go in the refrigerator.  That way, if an unexpected guest stopped by, she always had something fresh to serve them.  As she would deplete the jar or tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil, she would chop and mince a few more ingredients and add them back to the jar.  To me, nothing tastes like summer as much as tomatoes and basil.  And for the perfect cocktail to accompany this simple appetizer, Emily’s exquisitely refreshing Champagne Mojitos are a must.

 

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Aug 26
2011

Bar La Grassa

Bar La Grassa has earned itself quite a reputation around the Twin Cities.  The Italian restaurant has boasted several local and national “best” restaurant awards over the past couple of years.  And Chef Isaac Becker was named the 2011 James Beard Best Chef in the Midwest.  Awards like that are nothing to overlook.  The atmosphere at Bar La Grassa is exactly what you would hope and expect to find at an Italian restaurant in the warehouse district of Minneapolis.  It is hip, packed and loud (in a good way).

I always enjoy the feeling of an open kitchen with a bar that allows you to belly up and watch the masters at work.  I went to Bar La Grassa last weekend expecting to have quite a wait since I had not made a reservation, but I was pleasantly surprised to be offered immediate seating at the bar overlooking the kitchen.

When we sat down we were met with some marinated peppers and butter beans and wonderful focaccia that had a topping of salt and herbs.

After ordering some wine, it was time to explore the menu.  Bar La Grassa is known for it’s homemade fresh pastas among other things, and being the pasta lover that I am, I knew that I wanted to sample some fresh noodles.  However, that did not narrow down my decision much as the restaurant offers about 12 different fresh pasta selections.  We decided to start with the Crispy Insalata Saporoso Vinaigrette which was a lovely green salad with frisee, fennel, pine nuts and cheese.  It was an unique, fresh and light way to begin our meal.

I was lucky that my company also wanted to sample fresh pasta dishes.  That way I got to try 3 different pastas without feeling totally gluttonous.  I had read about the Mushroom and Taleggio Agnolotti, so that was the decision for me.  The rich flavor of the mushrooms was amazing, but I am glad that the plates come in half or whole orders because a little bit of this dish goes a long way.

My mother is unable to eat cheese, so the Crab Ravioli was perfect for her.  The Ravioli was paired with a rather simple cream sauce.

Finally, my husband needed some meat and so he sampled the Pappardelle with Veal Ragu.  The sheets of fresh pappardelle were perfectly delicate and light, but the veal ragu was sweet, somewhat one-note and left me wanting for something:  salt, spice, garlic, something.

We were too stuffed for dessert, but lucky for me, Bar La Grassa Satisfied My Sweet Tooth anyway.  The check was brought with some almond brittle with a hint of chili pepper for a surprisingly warm and lovely slow burn.

What is your favorite pasta dish and/or restaurant?

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