Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cooking with my best Foodie Friends!

Few things are more inviting than a steaming bowl of pasta!
Especially if your best friend is right there making it with you!

Recently, we tried several tasty treats that have been featured on fellow foodie blogs. I don't think I ever need to buy another cookbook, there are so many wonderful dishes to choose from! My "pan pals" whose recipes I'm using are Donna-FFW of My Tasty Treasures and Reenie from Cinnamon Spice & Everthing Nice.

We started off with Smoked Paprika Flank Steak from Donna at My Tasty Treasures. Boy, was this ever a winner! Tendery, juicy, with out-of-this-world flavor. This would be my pick to serve at a romantic dinner for two.

To get started, the flank steak is scored lightly (uh, I didn't exactly have success with that) and then marinated in a delicious concoction of balsamic vinegar, smoked paprika, and olive oil.

It is then, ideally, prepared on an outdoor grill, but since I don't have one, I used my trusty iron skillet.

While it's grilling, to make it even better, you baste it with the marinade (I just poured what was left of mine in the skillet!) And if this weren't delicious enough, it's served sliced across the grain with a marvelous compound butter that includes basil, garlic, smoked paprika, and dijon mustard.

Not the most beautiful photo of this wonderful butter, but the final plating was not photo-worthy at all, LOL! (We didn't so much have strips as chunks)

I served the steak along with Braised Fingerling Potatoes with Thyme and Butter, also from Donna's blog. These are Russian Banana Fingerlings. I don't know why these babies are so much better than other potatoes, but they are! Since usually we only get them in the spring, I snatch these darlin's up whenever I see them.

Delicious!! I could not stop eating them!

I cannot recall what we had for a veggie (obviously not memorable) but of course, I do remember dessert.

Before I started blogging, I had not thought of cupcakes for years. Probably because I cannot abide any kind of grocery-store baked goods with frosting, which tastes like sweetened Vaseline to me. I never seem to be offered a cupcake that didn't come from the Teeter, Food Lion, or Kroger.

But OMG, everyone around here makes such fabulous cupcakes-- I drool for Kat's over at A Good Appetite; evidently Friday is cupcake day. We are still reeling from her Dark Chocolate Azteca Cupcake with Cinnamon Buttercream Frosting.

But these-- these are not to be missed!!! These are Donna's Raspberry Cream Cupcakes, a snap to make and as pretty as a picture. Looks like you fussed, but you totally didn't. They are so light and fluffy, perfect after something rich like steak. I was smart and only filled a few, so when DS got home from school, I could make fresh ones for his snack (instead of having to give him soggy leftovers). The raspberry filling keeps surprisingly well in the fridge; and could probably keep even longer if I'd stabilized it with a little gelatin. These cupcakes are filled rather than frosted-- an idea I am looking forward to experimenting with!

Here the cupcakes are, baking:

(You can see getting the batter into the cups so it looks pretty is not my strong suit.)

This is our whipped cream for the filling:

And the raspberries!

You got cupcakes:

You got filling:

Who could ask for anything more? I forgot to take photos of the filled cupcakes, but you can see Donna's lovely photo below. They were much prettier than mine anyway. They really are delicious, so light and pretty! (My guys ate them without complaining. DC did not even say he had lost a corner off his "man card", which he is wont to do.)

Now I made several mistakes in preparing the flank steak dish, and it was still utterly delicious. It's a very forgiving recipe.
I didn't have much time once I got home from the store, so the flank steak did not get a chance to really soak up that wonderful flavor, though evidently it soaked up enough! I am new to flank steak, and I didn't so much score the meat as cut it into little checkerboard squares like you do for a fresh mango you don't want to peel. Finally, because I had made my cuts too deep, it was kind of hard to slice and serve. It wasn't pretty, so I didn't take pictures of that part (FFFO: fit for family only)-- but it was FABULOUS!! The recipe is of course available on Donna's blog, but also here:

Smoked Paprika Flank Steak With Basil Butter

This savory steak is ideal for toting in a cooler ...

See Smoked Paprika Flank Steak With Basil Butter on Key Ingredient.

Here is the recipe for the fingerling potatoes: don't miss it!

Braised Fingerling Potatoes with Thyme and Butter

See Braised Fingerling Potatoes with Thyme and Butter on Key Ingredient.

And here is the recipe for the Raspberry Cream Cupcakes:

Raspberry Cream Cupcakes

Light and airy cupcakes with a delicious raspberry fresh cream ...

See Raspberry Cream Cupcakes on Key Ingredient.

Pasta e Fagioli Soup
Soup, glorious soup!! I am addicted to soup. Winter, summer, it doesn't matter. And this one really is a gem! So, so, good! Don't miss it!

Here are my prep photos:

I can bring home the bacon, cook it up in a pan, and never never--- whoops, sorry.

The "Fazool": I love cannellini beans! Very hard to find here.

We love chopping, yes we do! We love chopping, how about you?
The fresh oregano smells so good!

Browning the aromatics: if only you could smell my kitchen!

The Fabulous, The Glorious, The One and Only Donna's Pasta e Fagioli

This is a happy, happy bowl:

If there is an award for weirdest menu combinations, I would win it for sure.
To say it was fusion cooking would be stretching it. But as I was happily cooking Donna's soup, I noticed something on the counter. Something I had been waiting on for literally 10 days to be ready to eat.

Something I had to cook NOW before they went bad:

Fried plantains!

Yes, dear friends, those ARE plantains! I'd been lovingly ripening them for a Cuban food feast, and forgot about them.

So, for dinner we ate a positively ambrosial Italian soup, some plain but tasty dinner rolls, and ta-da! fried plantains. What ELSE would you serve with that meal? :)

When you think Pasta E Fagioli, think fried plantains!

Pasta E Fagioli

Comforting soup that is out of this world delicious!!

See Pasta E Fagioli on Key Ingredient.

The final food experience from fellow bloggers that I wanted to share is Reenie's scrumptious Fuhgettaboutit Meat Sauce. I have been looking for a good one for years, and this fits the bill!

We brown our meat (ground sirloin, in this case)

Cook the pasta

and finish our DEE-licious sauce:

And now, it's time to eat!

Reeni's Fuhgettaboutit Meat Sauce

Simple, delicious meat sauce

See Reeni's Fuhgettaboutit Meat Sauce on Key Ingredient.

These recipes are wonderful. It's amazing how much talent and creativity there is out there in foodie blog land! Reenie and Donna are both phenomenal cooks. There is always something irresistible, and beautiful on Reenie's blog. Her photos are always amazing! Donna's family is so lucky to have a mom who goes to the trouble to cook so wonderfully. I wish I could eat at Donna's house every night! Donna, do you offer a meal plan??

I am giving both of you an award:
Pass it on! Donna, this is for all the recipes I've shared in this post. Reenie, this is for your terrific meat sauce!

But the best part about these recipes? Even though Donna & Reenie both live far away from here, cooking their unique recipes with their uniqiue flair is just like having them with you in the kitchen! And boy, did we have fun!


  1. Karen.. you humble me by all the compliments. I am truly honored that you like my recipes, it makes my day, really really does.. will be posting your award on my sidebar. Thank you.. This really does make me so happy:)

  2. Karen, great post and the food all looks so good!!!! Awesome use of the award, how cool!!

  3. Wow, so many delicious eats! Everything looks terrific!

  4. How sweet you are! I'm honored that you tried my recipe. Everything looks so good! I will post the award on my blog, thanks so much!!

  5. Thanks so much for visiting me! What a fun idea to do a blog post of your favorites. I find SO MANY that are worthy that I'm ending up with a huge bookmark folder. I should just start knocking some off like you! I love your blog background. I makes me happy.

  6. Donna-- you are entirely welcome. Your food is terrific, and you make me laugh. Thanks for sharing your recipes and your great sense of humor. And for always encouraging me about my blog :)

    ChefBliss-- Awww, you are so sweet! Thank you. I appreciate the support.

    Natasha-- it was a blast making the food, and I hope you'll get a chance to try some of these!
    Thanks for your kind words.

    Reenie-- You are so welcome, and the award is well-deserved. I love all your dishes!

    Joie de vivre-- Thank YOU for visiting me! I'm so happy you like the background-- that's why I picked it! I know-- everyone here is just a genius, it's so hard to pick! I am currently trying to read about 40 blogs a day and don't get around to making nearly as many comments as I would like.

    Thanks, all! Your comments really, really make my day-- I LIVE for comments, LOL!

  7. It's so much fun to try recipes from other bloggers. Everything looks delicious!

  8. Sara,

    Thanks for visiting! These are some GREAT recipes!

    :) Karen

  9. Just stopping by from SiTS, and I'm glad I did! Can't wait to bake those cupcakes. Have a good Friday.

  10. I found you on SITS and now I'm hungry! (even though I just ate!)

  11. From SITS, stopping by to say hi! Everything looks delicious, I'm hungry now!

  12. All these sound yummy.I wish I could grab them and have them.

  13. Karen- Please come pick up an award I left for you at my blog.


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