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May 30, 2013

The BEST Chocolate Buttercream

Mike doesn't like frosting - isn't that the most annoying thing ever?  He's always telling me to only put a little bit on cakes and cupcakes.  For those of us who have coveted the "corner" pieces of birthday cakes, this request is hard to comprehend (or obey).  When I find an icing or frosting that Mike loves, I know I have struck gold - as I have with this chocolate buttercream.  It is not too sweet, not too chocolately and gloriously creamy.
The Best Homemade
Chocolate Buttercream

1 cup of chocolate chips
1/4 cup of milk
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
4 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
12 tablespoons of butter, softened

In a small bowl, pour milk over chocolate chips.  Microwave for 30 seconds, stir until melted.  Repeat if necessary.  Place melted chocolate in a bowl with cocoa and vanilla, mix.  Add powdered sugar slowly.

Whip together for a couple of minutes until well combined.  

Add butter in 2 tablespoons at a time until incorporated.  Whip for 2-3 more minutes.

Add more milk or powdered sugar to achieve desired consistency.

May 27, 2013

Cape Cod Weekend | A Classic New England Clambake & Emma on the Beach

**I'm re-sharing this post from our trip last Memorial Day Weekend to Cape Cod.  This year in our Cape Cod-style house we've hosted two parties and will have attended two others by the weekend's end of both new and old friends.  While I miss our vacation lifestyle with weekend excursions to fabulous New England locations, I love being settled into our new house in our "home" city.

Emma's on Summer break this week, so my blogging might be sparse... but I'll be sure to take a lot of photos of our projects.  I hope you're having a great weekend!


Last year when we first moved to the Boston area, we drove out the Cape to see what it was all about.  We came across the beautiful Chatham Bars Inn on our driving tour- it was picture perfect Cape Cod.  It went right to my list of 'musts' during our stay in New England.

On Thursday last week I got the itch to get out of town.  I needed that feeling of freedom.  That mind clearing, its the weekend, free from the computer, free from laundry, give me a cocktail feeling that only a vacation can give you.

After a two hour drive we were transported to the grand and stately Chatham Bars Inn.

The moment we entered, I was taking design notes the entire time, noting fixtures, upholstery choices, drapes, the subdued color palate and the refined, yet comfortable feeling the rooms had.  I was thinking, "I would love for our future home to feel like this..." Then the inevitable day dreaming of our future 'perfect' home/life begins.  My mind starts racing- how I long for a stately home to fill with unique finds, comfortable furnishings and pieces full of character... budget?  What budget?  Ah, what a lovely life that would be.

Then we step out onto the beach.  Restored.  My crazy head stops its babbling and I breathe.  Fresh. Ocean.  Air.

I watch Emma smile at the wind in her face.   All of those thoughts about needing, wanting, waiting for more seem distant, almost insane to think that they would make us...


I think God for vacations...

...that remind us to breath.  And smile. 

Maybe that is what vacations are for.  To get rid of the if, when, if only, then, then our lives will be perfect state of mind.  They wake us up- you're already there.

Enjoy the ride.  And so we did...

At our first official clambake.  Clambakes hold a special place in our hearts.  You might remember that Mike and I have hosted a clambake at our house for the last 3 years... in our old backyard, back in the Midwest.

It was our tradition.   Actually, it was my tradition... Mike was a only guest at my first clambake. 

Clambakes throughout the years...

The Clambake of 2012.

It was almost surreal as we sat there feasting in the sand during sunset with living music playing, a bonfire roaring and lanterns lit.  We missed our friends that made those backyard clambakes so great, but loved celebrating our first clambake with Emma.


Snuggled, getting ready to drift off...

Enter: Daddy 

And time for s'mores.

The view as we walked back to our cottage.

 A great weekend.

May 24, 2013

Grilled Romaine Lettuce | Summer Grilling

When I was in college I worked at a Micro-Brewery (Flatbranch for my fellow Mizzou folks...) and there they served a grilled romaine salad.  As this was around 13 years ago, I know that grilled salads are not new to most of you... but I had never actually tried one until a few weeks ago.  We had dinner with my brother and his Claire at one of our local favorite spots - Gram and Dun.  (It is a sort of chic comfort food type place with great drinks.  You might remember, last year I shared my version of their Chorizo & Mussels.)  Along with the mussels (again!), I ordered their grilled salad that I've been anxious to recreate.

My version starts with a basting liquid with rosemary, lemon and garlic that you brush over before and after grilling.  After the grill, I squeezed with fresh lemon and topped with parmesan cheese.  Sooooo good.  The slight grilled rosemary flavor is really special with the freshness of the lemon and lettuce.

Grilled Romaine Salad

1/2 cup of olive oil
1 lemon, juice & zest
1 tablespoon of rosemary, minced
1 teaspoon of garlic, minced
sea salt
cracked pepper
2 small-ish heads of romaine (I used the pre-packaged hearts)
1 lemon, quartered
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese, fresh grated
cherry tomatoes

Start grill or prepare coals.  While the grill is heating up...

Wash and dry the romaine lettuce.  Cut in half length-wise.  Mix together the oil, lemon zest and juice, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.  Brush mixture on the cut side of the lettuce. 

Grill lettuce, cut side down for 2-4 minutes (depending on the temp of your grill) just until grill marks appear.  Remove from grill and brush again with liquid.  Top with tomatoes, squeeze of lemon and parmesan cheese.

May 23, 2013

Grilled Tomato, Goat Cheese, Fresh Sweet Corn & Basil Appetizer

I'm always looking for new fresh ways to serve our favorites - Tomatoes, Sweet Corn & Basil.  During the summer we get tired of just sliced tomatoes and corn on the cob - somehow - though it seems impossible right now.  This little appetizer is an amazing combo of everything we love.  Grilling the tomato adds a slight smokiness, and warms the goat cheese, offset by the cold and crunchy sweet corn kernels and fresh basil.  Though I don't always serve plated starters when we have friends for dinner, sometimes I come across something so special, it is worth washing the extra dish.  You can also serve this as a traditional shared appetizer if you cut it into wedges and serve it with grilled bread... which I think I'll do for a party this Friday.  

 Grilled Tomato, Goat Cheese, 
Fresh Sweet Corn & Basil Appetizer

4 thick slices of tomato - firm enough to grill
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar
1 clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of cracked pepper
4 ounces of goat cheese
1 ear of sweet corn, kernels cut off
2 tablespoons of basil

Place the 4 slices of tomato on a pan or plate ready to go to the grill.  In a small bowl make the brushing liquid by stirring together oil, lemon juice, vinegar garlic salt and pepper.  Brush on both sides of the tomato.

Grill tomato for 2 minutes, then flip.  After flipping, top tomato with goat cheese (a little goes a long way...) and more of the lemon garlic oil.  Grill for 2-3 more minutes until the goat cheese is warm and soft.  Remove from the grill.  Plate and sprinkle on fresh corn cut from the cob and basil.  Drizzle on more of the lemon garlic liquid.

May 22, 2013

The BEST Brownies... Truffle Brownies | LG EasyClean Oven Range

Last month, I shared one of my "Messy Recipes" (a recipe book or card that was splattered with ingredients from being used over and over again) from my little blue book that was my journal during my catering days - it contained all of my favorite recipes that I made over and over for my clients.  Well, this month, I was asked share another sort of "Messy Recipe" by the folks at LG.  

They have recently launched their new generation of LG EasyClean™ Double Range Ovens that can be cleaned in minutes instead of hours... meaning less time cleaning and more time to spend doing, well, anythingelse!    All you do is spray the oven interior with water, press the EasyClean button, then in just 20 minutes, wipe away any residual bits.  I love that there are no chemicals or high heat needed - something I always consider. To learn more about LG EasyClean click here.

1 pound of butter (4 sticks)
2 pounds of chocolate chips
2 1/4 cups of sugar
1 1/4 cup of flour
6 eggs
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sea salt
seeds from 1 vanilla bean

In a microwave safe bowl, place chocolate chips, then top with 4 sticks of butter. Microwave for 1-2 minutes, until butter melts and covers the chips. Stir to melt.

Combine the dry ingredients, then add it to the chocolate mixture in a kitchen aid, fitted with the paddle. 

Add the eggs and stir until just combined. Bake in a large 13x18 baking sheet at 350 degrees for 30 - 35 minutes. I let these cool overnight in the refrigerator to help the cutting process. Then enjoy!

Now it’s your turn to tell me - what is YOUR favorite recipe that leaves your oven messy? Let me know in the comments for your chance to win your own LG EasyClean™ Double Oven Range!
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This sweepstakes runs from 5/22/13 - 7/15/13.

May 21, 2013

Summer Grilling Menu : Tomato, Goat Cheese & Corn, Grilled Romaine Salad, and Grilled Pesto Shrimp

Today, I had a little fun and prepared the freshest, most flavorful, non-traditional grilled menu.  We just set up our grill last week and after making one round of burgers, I was ready to dive into new ideas for the grilling.

I started with this appetizer that is a slice of tomato topped with goat cheese and grilled.  During the grilling process, it is drizzled with a lemon garlic olive oil.  After the grill, it is topped with fresh basil and fresh sweet corn kernels.  I LOVED this... would've been great with some crusty bread.  On the grill, of course.

I recently tried a grilled salad at one of our favorite restaurants and had to try to recreate it.  I brushed mine with an olive oil, lemon, garlic and rosemary mixture, then topped it with tons of Parmesan cheese.

And finally, my favorite grilled dinner - herb shrimp with pasta tossed in a fresh pesto sauce.

I'll post all of the recipes later this week!

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