Summer Cobb Salad

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big fan of California Pizza Kitchen, and I crave their CPK Cobb on a daily basis. Until recently, little ‘ole Jacksonville, Florida didn’t have the restaurant, and I felt deprived. Oh, so deprived. So, I had to be crafty.

This here salad is a dead ringer for their delectable Cobb, and the perfect dish for the hot summer months. It has great seasonal veggies like tomatoes and avocados which is why I have dubbed my rendition a “Summer” Cobb. I know. My imagination blows me away, too.

On a completely unnecessary side note, I just wanted to share with you my deep loathing for salads that contain huge, leafy scraps of lettuce. How am I supposed to fit a ginormous leaf into my mouth while also including all the trappings that inevitably make up any salad worth its salt? Nightmare. This is why chopped salads are completely and utterly perfect. So, I chop the heck out of my lettuce. Thank you for listening.

The basil in this salad is, in my opinion, what makes it so unique and delicious. It adds a fresh, summer flavory that not every salad contains. I chop the heck out of that too, to make sure there’s basil in every bite.

This salad is an absolute cinch to throw together, friends. This portion makes about 4 small salads, or two large, entree-sized portions. It’s perfect for a light lunch but even filling enough for dinner. It’s even been proven man-worthy! My brothers have all given it the thumbs up. Seriously, I could eat this every day. Here’s the recipe!

Summer Cobb Salad

2 heads of romaine lettuce

1/2 cup of finely chopped, fresh basil

1 tomato, chopped

1 avocado, sliced and chopped

4 slices of cooked bacon, roughly chopped

1 grilled chicken breast, chopped

1 hard-boiled egg, chopped

4 tablespoons of gorgonzola cheese

1/2 cup of blue cheese dressing

Chop the romaine and basil with a large knife and place into a large bowl. Toss with the blue cheese dressing. Add the tomato, avocado, bacon, egg, and chicken breast. Sprinkle generously with gorgonzola cheese, and salt and pepper to taste. Give another quick toss and serve.

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Birthday Cake Martini

What better way to apologize for my recent lack of posts than a delicious offering of vodka and chocolate?

For my birthday last month we had a few friends over for a casual celebration with an abundance of cocktails and yummy food. We made this martini on a whim, and let me be frank in saying that not everyone was a fan. It’s sweet and girly and has a tendency to ward off any and all males in the vicinity. But don’t let its innocent facade fool you. It packs a punch!

There are a multitude of flavored vodkas out there now, including whipped cream, chocolate, etc. But since it was a birthday celebration and all, we went with birthday cake vodka and creamy, silky Godiva white chocolate liqueur that I could absolutely drink by itself. But mix the two together with a dash of cream and you have a killer martini that masquerades as a birthday cake.

To make it pretty, I rimmed the martini glass in multi-colored sprinkles. Just dip your glass in some milk, then dip the glass in a bowl of sprinkles. I also added a few shaves of white chocolate and milk chocolate, just for an extra pop of color and texture. I’ll try to give as exact a recipe as I possibly can, but to be quite honest I  absolutely winged it. I poured a dash of this, and a little dash of that until it was just right. (With lots of taste-testing along the way… Hey! It was my birthday after all!) The exact amount will probably depend on the hour and how many drinks the birthday girl (or guy) has consumed at this point, etc.

If you have a special occasion coming up to celebrate someone special, this is the perfect martini for you! Here’s the recipe 🙂

Birthday Cake Martini

You will need:

Birthday Cake Vodka (I used Pinnacle)

White Chocolate Liqueur (I used Godiva, I’m not sure how many other varieties there are anyway)

Cream (Half-and-half, heavy whipping, whatever!)

A martini shaker

Fill the martini shaker with ice cubes. Then fill the shaker half-way with the vodka. Add a tablespoon of the white chocolate liqueur and a dash of cream. (See? Not very exact.) Adjust as needed, according to taste. Shake thoroughly then pour into rimmed martini glass. Enjoy!

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Strawberry Cream Pie

Strawberries, mmm. Don’t you just love ’em? They’re just so pretty. And not to mention tasty.

The past two weeks have been quite hectic; I worked non-stop at the The Players Championship last week and then proceeded to get my wisdom teeth out the very next Monday. Needless to say, I haven’t been cooking anything worthy of mentioning. Think soup. And lots of smoothies. Ouch.

But today I finally felt like my usual self and was itching to whip something tasty up in the kitchen. I really want to work on my photography skills and wanted to make something that was visually appealing as well as delicious. Strawberries cover both issues for me, and ever since Southern Living came out with this scrumptious-looking Strawberry Pie recipe, I knew I had to try my hand at it! Strawberries are a great spring and summer fruit that are really abundant during this time of year.

I learned how to make a version of a fruit tart while I was in Italy, and the cream that fills this pie is very similar to the pastry cream I was taught there. Lots of cream and eggs whisked with tons of vanilla and thickened with some flour and sugar. It’s creamy and subtle, the perfect accompaniment for the lush strawberries. The crust is made from chocolate wafers and chocolate. I can’t resist the combination of strawberries and chocolate!

The strawberries are brushed with a strawberry glaze that just consists of the some strawberry jelly reduced and mixed with some orange liqueur. It’s really a simple recipe. The only hard part is waiting for the pie to set! You really have to make this. It’s the perfect dessert.

Strawberry Cream Pie slightly adapted from Southern Living Magazine

3 tbsp. cornstarch

2 tbsp. flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup sugar

3 cups half-and-half

6 egg yolks

2 tsp. vanilla extract

2 sleeves Oreo cookies, cream removed

1/2 4 oz. package of semisweet chocolate baking bar, chopped

1 stick butter, melted

16 oz. strawberries

1/4 cup strawberry jam

1 tbsp. Triple Sec

In a medium saucepan, combine the cornstarch, flour, salt, and 2/3 cup sugar. In another bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, egg yolks, and vanilla. With the heat on medium, slowly pour in the cream mixture to the sauce pan, whisking constantly. Continue to whisk together and slowly bring to a boil. Be careful not to burn! Once the mixture is boiling it will thicken significantly. Cook for at least 1 minute at this temperature, whisking constantly, until the mixture is a thick cream. Take off heat and pour into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.

Meanwhile, pulse the chocolate and chocolate cookies in a food processer until finely crumbled. Pour into a large bowl and add 1/3 cup sugar and melted butter. Mix together and then press into a lightly greased 9-inch pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes in a 350 degree F oven. Take out and let cool completely.

Once the pie shell has cooled and the cream is chilled, pour the cream over the pie shell and spread around. Slice the strawberries and decorate over the cream any way you’d like. In a small saucepan, melt the strawberry jelly until liquid, just a few minutes. Then add the liqueur. Brush over the top of the strawberries for a sweet glaze and a glossy finish. Chill at least for another 30 minutes until the pie is firmly set. Slice and enjoy!

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Zucchini Potato Pancakes

I made these delicious zucchini pancakes for lunch the other day, and I was oh, so happy.

One thing I have definitely learned while away at college and living by myself is how hard it is to cook for only one person. Coming from a large family of seven (five out of which are big, hungry boys), I’ve learned how to cook for a whole bunch of people and absolutely love it. But I am constantly making too much food for myself!

However, this recipe is easy to halve or duplicate according to your needs. Just heat up some olive oil and let the cakes sizzle away, a couple of minutes on each side until they are crisp and golden. Zucchini is one of my favorite veggies and they’re a great summer produce find!

Drop a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle of paprika, and you have a delicious and easy lunch or snack in no time! Here’s the recipe 🙂

Zucchini and Potato Pancakes slightly adapted from Joy the Baker Cookbook

1/2 chopped onion

2 cups grated zucchini

2 cups grated potatoes

2 eggs

1/3 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

olive oil

salt, pepper, and garlic seasoning

Grate the zucchini and potatoes and let sit in a strainer over your sink or a large bowl for about 10 minutes. Press down lightly with a paper towel. Try to get as much moisture out of the mixture as you can. Meanwhile, sautee onion in about a tablespoon of olive oil until translucent. Add a dash of garlic seasoning and set aside. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Then add the flour, baking powder, and season with salt and pepper. Add the zucchini and potato mixture and the sauteed onions. Mix everything together. In a medium skillet, heat up two tablespoons of olive oil on medium high heat. When the oil is sizzling, drop mixture by rounded tablespoons into the skillet and press down with a fork. Cook for a couple of minutes on each side or until golden brown and crisp. Top with sour cream and serve immediately. Enjoy!

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Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cake

Happy Graduation to me!

Yes, folks, you heard it right. Next Saturday I will officially be a college graduate from the University of Florida. Ecstatic. Overjoyed. Confused. Scared out of my mind. These are all common emotions that cross my mind at least once a day. Needless to say, I’ve been extremely busy finishing up the last few weeks of classes (ever), coordinating graduation activities, and generally freaking out about the what the heck I’m going to do next. (No real progress on that one, yet.)So, from the bottom of my heart, I apologize for the past couple weeks of no posts. I’ve just been too dang busy. But in my opinion, this cake makes up for my silence and then some.

Peanut butter cake with peanut butter cream cheese frosting from a recipe in my new Joy the Baker cookbook. I’ve been eyeing this baby ever since I purchased the book, and thought why the heck not? It’s my graduation and I’ll eat cake if I want to. Also, I added chocolate chips to the batter because, well, I wanted to. I’m so glad that I did. The touch of rich, sweet chocolate adds just the right amount of contrast to the salty peanut butter.

This cake is really easy to whip up, but the only thing I didn’t have in my fridge was buttermilk. (I hardly ever do, it freaks me out.) So I solved that small crisis by mixing a tablespoon of vinegar with a cup of milk. Let it sit for a few minutes and you’re good to go!

The frosting is also delightful. Salty peanut butter with tangy cream cheese whipped to perfection and slathered over the top and sides. Eating this cake with a cup of milk is a must!

Thanks for bearing with me the last few weeks, friends. I’m so excited to find out what God has in store for me next! Here’s the recipe 🙂 Now go eat cake!

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cake with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting from Joy the Baker Cookbook

For the cake:

2 1/4 cup flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter

3/4 stick butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 eggs

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

1 cup chocolate chips (optional, but highly encouraged)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium-sized bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together and set aside. With an electric mixer, beat the butter, peanut butter, sugar, and brown sugar together until fluffy, at least for a couple of minutes. Add half of the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Slowly add in the buttermilk and beat until barely incorporated. Then add the rest of the flour mixture and mix until smooth. With a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips. Divide evenly between two 8 or 9 inch greased and floured cake pans. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely.

For the frosting:

1 stick butter

8 0z. cream cheese

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons peanut butter

2 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

With a mixer, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Then add the butter and beat until both are incorporated. Add the peanut butter and mix. With the mixer on low, add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Add the last two tablespoons of peanut butter and fold in with a spatula. This will give the frosting a pretty, marbled look. Frost the cake. Eat the cake. Enjoy!

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New Book Review Feature!

This post is mainly an announcement about a new feature I’ve added to A Slice of Bri! I’ve always thought my blog needed a little bit more focus and have been contemplating this idea for a while now. As you can see, I’ve added a new page at the top, titled Book Reviews. I’ll be discussing cookbooks and possibly other types of books periodically whenever I come across something I’ve just got to share. I thought it would add a uniqueness to the site that would make a more enjoyable reader experience. Check out the section and the new post I’ve added underneath! It’s a great cookbook that I’m thrilled to share with you guys. Please bear with me as I figure out just how I’m going to continue doing these reviews, I’m still playing around with the format. As always, feedback is most welcome! Have a fabulous Sunday 🙂

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Triple Chocolate Salted Cookies with Guinness Frosting

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, friends!

These cookies are my delicious ode to this raucous holiday, without the green food coloring. However, I added something that is just as important in celebrating today: beer. But just a little bit 🙂

These babies are packed with rich, chocolate flavor and have the fudgy consistency of a small brownie. The sea salt sprinkling the top is the perfect element to balance the sweetness of the Guinness frosting.

If you’re making these for children, or just don’t prefer to use the Guinness, these cookies would be just fine without it, but I really think the Stout beer creates an amazing rich flavor.

These were the perfect way to tip my hat off to the fun-loving, green-beer-drinking, Irish holiday. Whip these up in no time for a special treat. Here’s the recipe!

Triple Chocolate Salted Cookies with Guinness Frosting slightly adapted from The Daily Meal

For the cookies:

1 ½ cups of butter, softened

¾ cup of dark brown sugar

¾ cup of sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

¾ cup of unsweetened cocoa powder

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups dark chocolate chips

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Sea salt, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl with a mixer, combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar. Beat until smooth. Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until incorporated. In another bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the batter until all is included. The batter will be thick. With a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips. With an ice scream scoop or large spoon, placed rounded scoops of batter onto a greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let cool completely before drizzling with frosting.

For the frosting:

3 1/4 cups of powdered sugar

1/3 cups of beer, Guinness stout for great flavor

Stir the ingredients together until a liquid frosting is formed. Drizzle on cooled cookies. Sprinkle with more seal salt for extra contrast.

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