Parade Magazine: Watermelon and Shrimp Salad with Vanilla Balsamic Vinaigrette

Watermelon and Shrimp Salad with Vanilla Balsamic Vinaigrette

As we’re at the height of Summer’s juicy bounty, we’re also a few weeks away from the start of a crisp autumn. Continue to savor the taste of summer in a leafy salad tossed with juicy cubes of watermelon, sweet shrimp, and creamy feta cheese with a few crunchy pistachios and celery pieces. While you’re at it, drizzle a lovely Vanilla Balsamic Vinaigrette to bring out summer’s juicy flavors, because autumn is still weeks away.  Read more

A Surprise Birthday Cake with Mango Cream Cheese Icing

Cupcakes with Mango Cream Cheese Icing and Pistachio Crumb
Cupcakes with Mango Cream Cheese Icing and Pistachio Crumb

Here’s the truth. I suffered from severe nervous anxiety when making this cake for the boyfriend’s surprise party one Saturday. Initially, a nine-inch, two-layer cake was made. Then fears of running out of cake during the party increased, thus cupcakes were made that reduced those concerns. Worries still persisted, because the cakes had to be made when the birthday boy left the house for long periods of time. I was consumed with the coming up with logical excuses of why there’s a cake baking, in case he walked in the house unexpectedly. Plans were developed strategically, for cakes were hidden in neighbors’ houses. They were baked in the morning, so faint vanilla smells would dissipate by the evening. Cake dishes were washed, dried and put away to avoid suspicion.

Here’s a bit of advice when making food for a party: Always go with the most familiar recipe that has been proven error-free. For two years, this cake was made with chocolate icing. As a special surprise for this year, I wanted to change the icing to a cream cheese flavor. Adding to the audacity of the decision, the icing was made on the day of the event. Early in the morning, the cream cheese and butter was taken out of the refrigerator to soften to room temperature. Of course, they were hidden in pots and pans in the cabinets. A quick breakfast was made for the boyfriend as I patiently waited for him to leave the apartment for the day. We parted ways with a kiss, “See you tonight, hon.” I smiled sinisterly and wondered if he knew. Read more

Blood Oranges, Grapes and Italian Pistachios in Rose Water

Blood Oranges, Grapes and Italian Pistachios in Rose Water

Blood Oranges, Grapes and Italian Pistachios in Rose Water

May we ring in the New Year on a refreshing start. The holidays gave me a few extra pounds that I intend to give away by Spring. I forgot we were invited to a Kwanzaa celebration. That means, I don’t have to cook a New Year’s dinner. After the midnight champagne toast, it’ll be nice to wake up to a citrus salad and lounge around the house until it’s time to socialize. Happy twenty-ten.

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