Mint Milano Cake

I'm posting something sweet because I hope you all had a really nice Valentines Day. Jessi and I sure did! We did not do too much. We don't buy into the Hallmark holiday a whole lot. It seems like going out to eat is a chore in itself due to the hoards of people who all feel the need to do so on this one night. If there was ever a reason to cook a meal at home Valentines day is that reason. Cooking is relaxing (most of the time) and you get to spend time with your loved one. The trick is finding a meal that does not consume your whole evening or stress you out too much so you still get time to enjoy with each other. For us that was a quick filet mignon on the grill, a sweet potato, salad and a quick molten lava cake for two for dessert.

However this cake is not molten lava. This is actually a cake I made for Jessi's 29th birthday last September. Yes, I know, I just posted her 28th birthday cake about a week ago. Well, I've got to get all these old cakes out of the way because we've got a new one coming-up real soon! Mine, Michael's, the big dirty thirty! I don't why it's dirty but it sure does feel old! I even been finding some grey hairs lately.

This was a great cake the only thing was that it was a little dry. It's basically a marble coffee cake with a bunch of Pepperage Farm Mint Milano cookies on top (one of my favorites). I think I might have cooked it a little longer than I should have but I also might add a little more sour cream next time. However, it's nothing some vanilla ice cream can't fix. While it was a great cake I miss the icing for birthdays. From now on I will stay true to the icing for all birthdays. Recipe from Jane's Sweets and Baking Journal.

Orecchiette with Peas, Shrimp, and Buttermilk-Herb Dressing

Thought we'd go ahead and get all of these pasta dishes out of the way because we've got a lot of gluten-free dishes coming down the pipe! This is more of a light, summer dish that goes great on a cool spring evening with a nice glass of chardonnay. Though it's not quite summer yet (okay so not even close), this nice summery meal will get you in the mood for warmer weather.  It's super easy to make and delicious. Healthy too to boot! Modified from Cooking Light. Serves 4.

On another note, this red plate should get you in the mood for some v-day action. We hope you've all got some sort of plan to spend tomorrow night with your loved ones. Valentine's day is not a big holiday around our house — it just seems like such a Hallmark holiday. We definitely won't participate in the whole crowd fighting, mad house restaurant scene. We will however, eat a nice dry-aged filet mignon, sweet potatoes, side salad and a quick molten lava cake in the comfort of our dining room—these are the best valentines day dinners in our opinion. Most important is to at least indulge in some sort of awesome chocolaty dessert, because that's what this holiday should be about. =)

Sausage, Mushroom and Spinach Lasagna

It seems like winter makes for a lot of great time in the kitchen. It makes sense, I mean the days are a lot shorter, and with as drafty as our house is sometimes I just like standing over a warm stove. All the extra kitchen time allows for more devotion to creating some wholesome dishes. Jessi and I have recently been toying around with a paleo-esque diet. While we're not firm believers that this is the best way to live and most healthy diet around, we do believe that it has some valid parts. Most importantly the reduction in gluten (the paleo diet however omits all gluten) and processed foods. I, Michael, am no doctor or nutritionist, but have seen some digestive benefits in just a week of drastically reducing gluten/refined flours from my diet.

This recipe is not gluten free and certainly not Paleo, but is quite delicious. Be forewarned — this recipe takes some time. The original instructions said 30 minutes of prep time. It took me an hour. Then it has to bake for almost 1.5 hours. Best to make it on a weekend. You can always knock off a little time by using the no-cook lasagna noodles. It serves around 10, so there lots of leftovers! Ole! Modified from Eating Well.

Tempeh Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans

We give this one a 3 out of 5. So many great ingredients and so much preparation and pot dirtying for it not to be better. We don't know what went wrong, or what was missing rather. We modified the recipe from Whole Foods. Their recipes never seem to turn out very flavorful, so I don't know why we keep trying them. Has anyone else had this problem with Whole Foods? It really seemed like it was just missing a little sauce or something and it could've been good. Maybe worth a re-try if we're feeling up to the chopping challenge. If you do make it, don't do all the chopping first - do it once you've got the rice and tempeh started to save some time.

Snickers Cake

Here's a post of a Snickers Cake I, Michael, made for Jessi for her 28th birthday. That was about a year and a half ago—oops. I told you that I had a backlog of posts to get through and I'm damn determined to do so. This means getting all the oldies up and posted no matter how embarrassing it may be. I can be vague with the age of most of them but these landmark ones like birthdays are hard to hide.

This was a doozy of a cake that definitely took some time and a little frustration to make. So the fact that I can't seem to find the recipe may or may not be a blessing for you. However, if you wish to embark on a Sinckers cake making adventure there are about a thousand renditions out there littered across the internets. They're all super unhealthy and probably all just as good as this one. Jessi loved this cake for number 28 and I have to admit that it trounced my attempt at 29 (I'll post that one in a week or so). Hope you're not craving sugar or you might have a breakdown after viewing these pics.