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Share a Spoon Theme - FIESTA

Saturday, April 30, 2011

 Think Tank Momma

Share a Spoon Theme


This Thursday falls on May 5th, so there is no other theme we could do this week right?  Bust out your best Mexican dishes or drinks and share them with us this week.  It's a party up in this hizzy this week!

Do you have a great salsa recipe?  Guacamole?  Margaritas?  Chimichangas?  Tacos?  Carne Asada?  Tamales?  Share how you'll be throwing your fiesta for Cinco de Mayo!

Share a Spoon - HAPPY BIRTHDAY

Thursday, April 28, 2011

 Think Tank Momma



I can't believe it has been a year already.  I have enjoyed every single minute of Sharing over the past year.  We've seen some amazing recipes.  My family has enjoyed trying recipes that others have shared, and they certainly have enjoyed me making new dishes to share based on the themes.  

This year has brought new friends.  I truly appreciate each and every single recipe that has been shared.  The friendships I have made are priceless.  Food really is the universal language of sharing.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your support and sharing this past year!  Here's to another year of great food, shared love, more great themes, and yummy recipes!

I decided to do something special for the big bash.  Many of you guffawed and belly ached when I didn't share my top secret carrot cake recipe way back when.  I figured if I got enough participation and could keep this thing going for a year that you all deserved the recipe.  So for Share a Spoon's Big Birthday Bash I give you my most sought after recipe.

Brandee’s Carrot Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon ground Saigon cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups canola oil
4 eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups chopped matchstick carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray 2, 9in round cake pans with cooking spray.  Cut wax paper to fit the inner circle.  I use the cooking spray around the rim as a guide.  Line the bottom with the wax paper circle and spray lightly with the cooking spray.

In a bowl mix together flour, salt, baking soda and all five spices.  Whisk together until well combined.  Set aside.  In another bowl mix the raisins and walnuts.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture over the nuts and raisins.  Set aside.

In a large bowl or counter top mixer add the sugars and oil and mix on medium speed.  Add the eggs one at a time.  Mix until smooth.  Chop the matchstick size carrots roughly and add to the mix.  Slowly incorporate the flour/spice mixture.  Leave the mixer running and slowly incorporate the chopped walnuts and the raisins.

Divide batter evenly into the two prepared pans.  Lift the pans and drop on the countertop to allow air bubbles to rise to the top.  Bake for 35-45 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

Allow cakes to cool in the pans for 15 minutes.  Turn the cakes out and wrap with aluminum foil.  Allow them to cool completely. 

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 8oz blocks of cream cheese softened
1 stick room temperature butter
3-4 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
4 ½ cups confections powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Cream together butter and softened cream cheese.  Slowly incorporate sugar a little at a time.  Add vanilla.  Add the whipping cream a tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is achieved.

Place cooled cake on cake plate or board. Add a layer of frosting and top with second cake.  Frost cake top and work down the edges and around the cake. 

Now, I decorate this cake with two cups of pecans.  I chop the ones that I put on the sides of the cake a little finer than the top.  The top I leave larger pieces and a few whole halves.

This is MY favorite cake, and the one that I talked about when we did cakes the first time on Share a Spoon.  This is the cake recipe that people have begged for, and tried to replicate.  I hope you enjoy and give it a try.  It’s not a quick fix, and it’s a little work, but it’s TOTALLY worth the effort!

Now it's your turn to share your favorite birthday dish.  I don't care if it's cake or not, just share what you have to have on your birthday!

Share a Spoon Theme - It's a PARTY!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

 Think Tank Momma




This Thursday is the 1 year anniversary of Share a Spoon!  52 weeks of recipes, sharing, caring and fun!  Can you believe that?  That's a whole lot of recipes.  In honor of our first birthday I'd really like to celebrate with great birthday cakes!

So, I don't care if you have to beg, borrow or steal your favorite cake recipe, I want to see them!  What is your favorite cake the special "born naked" day?  If you are one of those people who would rather have pie or cheesecake or some other special dessert for your birthday you can share that instead.


Share a Spoon - Hot Off the Grill

Thursday, April 21, 2011

 Think Tank Momma

Share a Spoon


This week's hot theme is brought to you from THE one and only Duckalicious.  If you don't know The Duck you have been living under a rock you need to head on over and check out her sass.  She's a funny one.

I love grilled food.  I used to be "the grill master".  It was a title I was quite fond of and proud to call mine.  Then one time I was grilling out at my parents' house.  They live in the sticks.  Literally....the sticks.  They have creepy crawlies.  It was hot out (it's FLORIDA) and when I came in I thought sweat was running down the back of my neck.  I went to wipe it away and was instantly stung with pain.  I immediately started hyperventilating looking around for the little black and yellow beast that was sending me immediately to the emergency room.  To my horror, and relief it was no bee, it was a scorpion!

I grabbed some Benadryl and popped two quickly.  Meanwhile my mom called the physician she was working for at the time.  I'm allergic to bee stings and was afraid we needed to drive as quickly as possible to the nearest ER as I don't carry an epi pen.  Doc said I wouldn't necessarily have the same reaction.  I didn't feel my throat or tongue swelling and I could still breathe.  However, I got sick.  Fever, chills, and puking for two days.  Needless to say...I'm no longer the grill master.  I marinade, I brine, I chop, and I skewer.  I do not however stand outside in the heat to fight with the creepy crawlies.

During the summer we enjoy eating lighter.  Most people do I think, but when you live on the surface of the sun, eating light isn't just because you want to look good in bikinis and short shorts.  You eat light because the heat just kills any desire to eat much.

It's not uncommon for us to eat only salad or grilled veggies several nights a week when it's hot.  God love BDC, he doesn't mind braving the heat to fire up the grill in the summer.  When it doesn't fall below 90 degrees until after 10pm, that's saying something.  Have I mentioned I love that man?

I thought I would share my kids' favorite grilled treat this week though.  Their favorite thing from the grill is pineapple.  It's actually fabulous.  I usually pair it up with chicken.

Hawaiian Grilled Chicken

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 soy sauce
1 lemon juiced and zested
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 cup brown sugar

In a bowl whisk together pineapple juice, soy sauce lemon juice and zest.  Add the spices and whisk until well incorporated.

Liberally salt and pepper the chicken and drizzle with a little olive oil.

In a zip top plastic bag add seasoned chicken and pout the marinade over.  Zip up the bag and massage the marinade into the chicken.  Make sure to coat all the chicken well.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Grill the chicken over medium heat for 15-20 minutes until it's no longer pink.

Grilled Pineapple

1 Ripe Fresh Pineapple
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Peel and core the pineapple.  I usually remove the skin.  Cut the pineapple in half.  Cut the halves into quarters.  Then cut the core out on the diagonal leaving the spears.

Sprinkle the spears with brown sugar and cinnamon.  Gently rub the mixture in with your fingertips until all the pineapple is covered.  The brown sugar and cinnamon will become liquefied when mixed with the natural juices of the pineapple.  

Grill for 2-3 minutes on each side.

I usually grill some red onion slices and a red pepper with this.  Chop them and add to some cooked orzo.  Add a vinaigrette and a few fresh cherry tomatoes with fresh chopped parsley or basil for a nice Orzo salad.

We never have left over pineapple.  It's really THAT good cooked this way.

Alright Smackers, that's my grilled story and I'm stickin' to it!  It's your turn to share your grilled masterpieces! Link up and then go visit The Duck!

As always, I'm taking submissions for themes.  What do you want to see recipes for?  Leave it in the comments or email me!

PINT - I'm going to need a dentist for my eye!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Only Parent Chronicles

Yeah, yeah, I know.  I've been slacking on the PINT posts.  Gimme a break. 

Share a Spoon Theme - Fired Up

Saturday, April 16, 2011

 Think Tank Momma

Share a Spoon Theme

"Fired Up"

Provided via Google Images

This week's theme is GRILLED!  My FABULOUS BFF, The Duck, asked for this theme.  She, like me, is so glad the weather is turning nice and the veggies have started to pop up, and we can start spending time outdoors.  There's something about food that comes off the grill.  The marks, the smell, the oh my gosh it's so good!

We're lucky here in FL.  We can grill most any time of the year.  It's usually not too cold, but it's often too hot.  However, you don't have to grill outdoors anymore.  There are portable indoor grills, grill pans, etc.  

So this week, I want to see some great recipes for marinades, BBQ sauces, kabobs, and whatever else you like on your grilled menu.  I'm super excited about this theme.  I LOVE GRILLED FOOD!  

Share a Spoon - Surf hold the Turf

Thursday, April 14, 2011

 Think Tank Momma

Share a Spoon

"Surf not Turf"


This week's theme is brought to you courtesy of the outrageously sweet and thoughtful Michelle of Momma's Pixie Dreams.  I love her.  Her honesty is riveting.  She shares her triumphs and her despairs in a poignant and heartfelt way, and she moves me.  When I get all growed up, I want to be a photographer the likes of her because the moments that she captures on film are always AH-MAZING!

BDC and I used to dine out quite a bit for date nights when I was gainfully employed.  However, those days are long since gone.  Not only did we dine out, we DINED OUT.  We frequented establishments that were about the experience as much as the food.  Exceptional service, unbelievable food and unforgettable dates.   Unfortunately, that kind of dining experience costs roughly what you and I probably spend on groceries for the month.

Needless  to say, we don't do that kind of dining out these days.  We don't do much dining out period.  However, I do make an effort to come up with recipes that pay homage to some of the best dishes we've dined on in our frivolous days.  While I don't consider myself a Seafood Maestro, the simplicity of seafood lends itself well to easy dishes that let the ingredients shine through.

This is a recipe that pays homage to one of the appetizers BDC still talks about to this day.  We ordered on several occasions this rock shrimp dish in a tarragon butter sauce that was simply to die for.  I tell you that it was to die for, and I'll give you one better, I don't even really like shrimp!  That's how good this dish was!  Yeah!

So this is my interpretation made on a larger scale for a pasta dish.  Same flavors.  Add pasta.  Not as refined and "fancy" as the original, but for you seafood lovers out'll definitely please the palate.

Image provided via Google Images.

Shrimp Pasta with Butter Tarragon Sauce

2 large shallots minced
1 clove garlic finely grated
1 stick butter
2 Tbsp fresh chopped tarragon
3 lemons juiced (zest of 1)
1 Tbsp capers
12-15 cherry tomatoes
3 Tbsp butter
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp heavy cream
20-25 large shrimp peeled and deveined

1 box Thin Spaghetti boiled al dente in heavily salted water.

In a large skillet heat olive oil and half of the butter over medium heat.  Add the shallots and saute until just softened (3-4 minutes).  Add the garlic, capers, lemon zest and juice, red pepper flakes and tarragon and bring to a simmer.  Halve the tomatoes and stir them into the sauce.  Liberally salt and pepper the shrimp and add them to the pan.  Add remaining butter and cream.  Shrimp will only take about 3 minutes to cook through.  Toss the pasta in the skillet and coat all the pasta with the sauce.

Garnish with a bit of fresh chopped flat leaf parsley and more tarragon.  Add a few lemon wedges to the pasta serving dish as well!

Link up and share your favorite swimming dishing this week!  Let me know what you want to see here on Share a Spoon too!


Wordless Wednesday - Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

As a child of a family who loves Disney, when the weather is perfect and the birds are chirping, and the sun is shining, and it's beautiful, there's only one thing that comes to mind.

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-A-Dee-A
My oh my what a wonderful day
Plenty of sunshine headed my way
Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-A-Dee-A

Mister blue birds on my shoulder
It's the truth
It's actual
Everything is satisfactual

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-A-Dee-A
Wonderful feeling
Wonderful Day
Yes Sir

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-A-Dee-A
My oh my what a wonderful day

O plenty of sunshine headed my way
Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-A-Dee-A

Mister blue birds on my shoulder
Its the true--------------UH HUH!!!
Its actual
Everything is satisifactual

Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-A-Dee-A
Wonderful feeling
Feeling this way

Mister blue birds on my shoulder
It is the truth
It's action
Huh........Where is that blue bird?
Everythin is satifaction
Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Zip-A-Dee-A
Wonderful feeling
Wonderful Day 

Happy Wednesday Smackers!

Share a Spoon Theme - Ahoy Matey!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

 Think Tank Momma



O.k., if you can't guess with all my silliness.  This week's theme is SEAFOOD.  I know you're thinking what the hell?  Think Tank Momma doesn't do seafood,  we've done almost an entire year without this theme.  Well, Smackers....the lovely Michelle of Momma's Pixie Dreams asked for this theme.  While I am not the biggest seafood fan, I have gotten better about trying to incorporate it into my own diet, and you should too.

You Smackers are always looking for quick fix meals. Let me tell you, there is nothing that cooks quicker than seafood.  It's quick.  It's easy.  It's healthy.  Why don't we eat more of this again? 

So this week, as long as it lives in the water you can share it.  Shrimp, scallops, fish, lobster, clams, oysters, or crawfish.  I don't care if is fried, broiled, baked, or boiled.  I don't care if it's scampi or salad.  Clam Chowdah?  Bring it on.  Let's have it Smackers, put your best fish forward! 

Share a Spoon - Baked Spaghetti

Thursday, April 7, 2011

 Think Tank Momma

Share a Spoon


This week's theme is probably second nature to those of us with large families, but not everyone is used to cooking for the masses and on a budget.  However, the larger the family, often the tighter the purse strings.  I was thrilled when Kim over at Foodies Unite suggested this theme.  She's such a faithful and loyal Share a Spoon participant and follower.  I just love her!

Like I mentioned when I posted this week's theme, just because you don't have to feed an army doesn't mean you can't take advantage of this week's recipes.  The thing about these recipes usually is you can scale them up or down without changing the integrity of the dish.  The other thing, which is my favorite part of this week's theme is, you can make these meals for a smaller family and freeze them.  Pastas freeze well.  Chili freezes fabulously.  Soups freeze well.  Cook once, eat multiple times.

Image provided via Google Images.

Baked Spaghetti

1/2 cup Olive Oil
1 large yellow onion diced
3-4 medium carrots shredded
4 cloves garlic minced
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano (1 tsp dried may be substituted)
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper
2 large can San Marzano tomatoes (crushed - I squeeze mine in my hands, but feel free to blitz them in the food processor)
1.3 lbs mild Italian sausage (use whatever you like turkey or otherwise)
1 Tablespoon fresh basil julienned
1 Tablespoon fresh flat leafed parsley

1 lb cooked spaghetti (5-6 minutes)
The spaghetti should be under done.

1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large heavy bottomed pot.
Add onions, carrots, garlic, red pepper flakes and oregano.  Salt veggies liberally.
Cook veggies over medium heat until browned (10-15 minutes).  Be careful not to burn this mixture or the garlic will become bitter.

Add sausage and continue cooking until the sausage is browned.  Stir in tomato paste and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Add a cup of water or white wine and allow to reduce by half.

Stir in tomatoes.  Allow sauce to simmer for 30 minutes. Stir frequently so that tomatoes don't stick to the pan.  These tomatoes have a high sugar content, they will stick and burn if you don't stir these while they simmer.

Boil the spaghetti in heavily salted water.  Pasta should be under done.  If the directions say 7 minutes, cook it 5.

Remove half of the sauce from the pot.  Add the undercooked spaghetti.  Toss until all the pasta is coated in sauce.

Pour the spaghetti into a large casserole dish.  Cover with remaining sauce.  If you are going to freeze half use two small casserole dishes.   Allow the freezer portion to cool completely before freezing.

Top casserole with parmesan and shredded mozzarella.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes until cheese is nicely browned and bubbly.  Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting.

This is fabulous served with a fresh salad and vinaigrette.  I usually throw some veggies in the oven to roast while the sauce is simmering.  Asparagus, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a bit of salt and pepper and a little fresh grated garlic.  Roast for ten minutes.  Allow to cool.  Toss with some chopped romaine lettuce, shaved parmesan and a fresh vinaigrette.

The roasted veggies really give the otherwise boring romaine some hearty flavors.  You can really stretch your dollar with the veggies adding them to a nice salad rather than serving a side of asparagus along side the baked dish.

Now it's your turn Smackers!  Link up and share your favorite feed the masses dishes!

Share a Spoon Theme - Feed an Army

Saturday, April 2, 2011

 Think Tank Momma

Share a Spoon Theme

"Big Meals for Big Appetites"

This week's theme is a fun one I think.  Kim over at Foodies Unite posed this theme several weeks ago.  I know that we all have occasions where we need to feed a bunch of people on a limited budget.  An army travels on it's stomach, or so the saying goes.  Really though, cooking in quantity is really about making great tasting food while stretching a buck.

I have three tween boys, Belly, plus my husband, my sister, her husband and me to feed all the time.  Coming up with meals that are hearty but stretch a buck is definitely second nature to me.  We have friends over pretty often, or family, so cooking for lots of people is an everyday occurrence here at Casa di Romano.  I also have learned how to scale meals catering for parties, weddings, etc.

Just because this week's theme is "feeding an army" doesn't mean you can't participate if you only have a few people to feed.  One of the great things about making large scale meals when you have a few people is you can freeze half, or more, of the meal and then you have meals for those nights you don't feel like cooking.  It's healthy, you know the ingredients, and it will help you avoid that drive-thru urge!

So join us Thursday and share the recipes you love when you are feeding the masses, or stretching a buck, or just plain hearty meals!

Happy Saturday Smackers!