"For I was hungry & you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty & you gave me something to drink..."

Matthew 25:35

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

summer = lemonade. it also = strawberry & basil. so mixing all of them together = a no brainer.

Strawberry Basil Lemonade (this makes 2 glasses)
Pink or Yellow Lemonade (i used Newman's Own)
2 large fresh strawberries, sliced
handful of frozen strawberry slices (i slice them, pop them in a ziploc bag & freeze them to use all summer)
5 basil leaves, per glass

Fill each glass about 1/3 of the way with lemonade. Add the basil leaves & fresh strawberries & muddle (i have a muddle stick i use for making mojitos)
Add a handful of frozen strawberry slices to each glass, top off with more lemonade, add a straw & enjoy.

i like to add the frozen strawberries because it keeps the lemonade cold without watering it down. or go ahead & make lemonade ice cubes in advance (which is what i would do if i was making a large batch of this)

what's great is that, unlike the mint & limes in mojitos, you can go ahead & eat the basil & strawberries. Waste not.
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Sopapilla Cheesecake

so you want cheesecake right now, but don't want the hassle of actually making cheesecake?
then this recipe is for you.
quick, easy, freaking delicious, quick...right.

Sopapilla Cheesecake
2 cans Cresent Rolls
3- 8 oz packages cream cheese (softened)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter (melted)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup slivered almonds (optional)

Directions: Pre heat oven to 350

Roll out 1 can of cresent roll into a 9x13 in rectangle (or just press it into the bottom of a 9x13 in baking pan) and press into the bottom of a 9x13 in baking pan (i used a Pyrex dish)
Cream together the cream cheese, vanilla extract & the 1 cup of sugar.
Spread the mixture over the cresent roll layer

Roll out the 2nd can of cresent dough & place on top. Mix together the 1/2 cup sugar + the cinnamon. Drizzle the melted butter over the top & sprinkled with the cinnamon & sugar mixture. Sprinkle with the slivered almonds (i sprinkled 1/2 of the cheesecake) Place in the oven & bake for 40 minutes (until pastry is puffy)

Remove & let cool for at least 2 hours (i let it sit out for about 4ish)- slice & serve. This is good @ room temp or straight out of the fridge.

i love this because it taste sort of like cheesecake- but it's not overwhelmingly cheesecake'like. and since i'm not the biggest fan of cheesecake- that works for me.

i may or may not have had 2 pieces for breakfast the next day.
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Mocha French Macarons with Marshmallow Filling

what's that? you think i'm obsessed with making macarons???

...well you're correct. i am. and the fact that i all but failed on my latest attemp makes me even more determined to perfect my macaron making.

i'm not sure what i did- but i think i whipped my egg whites too much & then proceded to deflate the batter by overmixing.

they looked pretty good on the Silpat (wonderful investment):

but hardly any came out with "feet" and they pretty much all cracked on top.
however they still tasted amazing & had that wonderful crispy/chewy texture.

so my fingers are crossed for next time.

Mocha French Macarons with Marshmallow Frosting
You Need (my base recipe)
110 g slivered almonds (this is how much they weigh AFTER you grind them)
200 g powdered sugar (minus 2 tblsp & 1 tsp)
2 tblsp cocoa powder
1 tsp instant coffee
50 g of sugar
100 g egg whites (about 3 egg whites, aged for at least 12-24 hours, @ room temp)

Pulse the almonds in the food processor until finely ground. Add the powdered sugar, cocoa & coffee & pulse until well blended.
Sift (sifting was a PITA for me. the almonds = a bit moist after griding, so make sure you have a good sifter or big enough metal sieve)
Whip the egg whites until foamly & gradually add the granulated sugar until you get a shiny meringue (don't whip them too much- like i did- or they get too stiff & dry)
Add the almond mixture to the egg whites & incorporate quickly but gently. (again, quickly but not too much- like i did- just until no streaks remain & you have a batter that "ribbons" off your spatula)
Pipe your batter out on Silpat (or parchment paper) lined baking sheets & let the shells sit @ room temp for 30- 60 min (until they develop a hard shell)
Pre heat oven to 300 & bake for 8-10 min (depending on size- i had to bake this batch for 15 min! again, i effed it up. my batter was too wet)
Allow them to cool & remove from baking sheet (pairing them up to size)

Fill a pastry bag with the marshmalow filling (recipe below) and pipe onto the rounds.
Pop them in an airtight container & into the fridge. Allow them to come to room temp before serving.
I think (with this marshmallow filling) that putting them in the fridge overnight = success.
The filling can get oozy in the heat- so getting them cold & then to room temp = a nice melding of flavors & firmed up filling. these were SO good the next day!

Marshmallow Filling (or frosting)
4 large egg whites (room temp)
1 cup granulated white sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place all of the ingrediants (sans the vanilla) into a bowl that you can place over simmering water (or use a double boiler)

Whisk the egg white mixture (over simmering water) constantly until the sugar has dissolved & it's hot to the touch (takes about 4-5 min)

Pour into a larger bowl (stand mixer bowl), add the vanilla & and whip for 3+ minutes (until fluffy. mine took about 5 minutes)

Done! (i used a pastry bag with a round tip to fill my macarons)

Dude- this frosting taste just like marshmallows. Or fluff- but not as sweet. the husband licked it off the beaters (it's that good)

I have a little leftover- i intend to send it to work with the hubs to make fluffernutter sammies for lunch.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Quinoa Side Dish

quinoa seems to be the new cous cous. or rice. or whatever. i've been meaning to try it...but i mean to do a lot of things.

finally i found an organic bag for $2.99 (score) at my local grocery store, so i decided to whip some up.
i shall have you know that we LOVE IT! it's heartier than cous cous, has a nice nutty flavor & is so freaking easy. it also cooked up perfectly...unlike rice seems to.

Quinoa Side Dish
1 tblps butter
1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups chicken broth
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tblsp fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1 tblsp onion powder
dash of lemon juice

Directions: Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the quinoa & toast, stirring now & again, until lightly browned (about 5 min) Stir in the broth & bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover & cook for about 15 min until quinoa is tender (you'll know it's ready because you'll see these little squiggly lines coming out of the quinoa)

Toss the quinoa together with the garlic, parsley, thyme, onion powder & salt. Sprinkle with the lemon juice & serve.

So simple & really good. We ate this, alone, for dinner.
Tonight i'm going to make quinoa again & toss in some smoked turkey (that the husband smoked this weekend) & fresh basil.

I think i'll add some toasted pine nuts (if i feel like dropping the $ on them) as well.
You can pretty much do whatever you want with this stuff.
go & buy thee some quinoa!

Notes: for the chicken broth i used 2 cups of water + 2 chicken boullion cubes. Next time i'm only going to use 1 cube because it was a bit salty.
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Vanilla Bean French Macarons with Nutella Filling

french macarons are the new cupcakes it seems. there are so many variations & flavor combos to choose from that it seems you could eat them daily & never tire of them.

well, up until this past Sunday i had never eaten a macaron. GASP. i know. what???
i've never seen them in my neck of the woods & my last trip to Paris was when i was 14 and french macarons were not on the list of things to consume.

so thanks to a few cracked eggs, i had some aged egg whites just waiting to be used. i've been toying with the idea of whipping up a batch of macarons but frankly i was a bit intimidated. everything i've read states that they're testy, finnecky, a pain in the ass, doomed to fail- etc etc etc.

finally i decided to bite the bullet & try my hand at these. and so i did. i'll give a little recap at the end.

(the measurments are in grams because that is the way it's done. when in Rome.)

Vanilla Bean French Macarons with Nutella Filling
110g of slivered almonds
200g powdered sugar
50g of sugar
100g of egg whites (about 3 eggs whites, aged for at least 12-24 hours @ room temp)
1 tblsp vanilla bean paste (or the seeds from 1 vanilla bean)

Pulse the almonds in a food processor until finely ground. Add the powdered sugar & pulse until well blended.
Whip the egg whites until foamy & gradually add the granulated sugar while whipping until a shiny meringue forms (you want firm peaks but not dry peaks. feel free to turn off the mixer & check your peaks. basically- when you lift your whisker out of the bowl the egg whites should stand in a firm peak- not fall over to the side)
Sift the almond mixture into the egg whites & incorporate quickly but gently (don't over mix- fold them in until no streaks remain) You want a thick batter that "ribbons" or flows from the spatula for a good 5 seconds.
Pour the batter into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain round tip & pipe small rounds onto a parchment (or Silpat) lined baking sheet (use a good quality/heavy baking sheet that won't warp in the oven) The rounds should be 1 1/2 in diameter & at least 1 inch apart (the batter will spread a tad after piping so keep that in mind. trial & error)
Let the shells sit at room temp for 30-45 min until the develop a hard shell

Preheat oven to 300 & bake for 8-10 min (depending on the size) Allow the cookies to cool & the remove the from the baking sheets.

Fill a pastry bag, fitted with a small round tip, with Nutella.
Pair the macarons up (by size) and pipe a circle of Nutella around the edge. Then fill the circle with more Nutella (not a ton, but a good amount)
Store in an airtight container at room temp
makes about 24-30 (depending on size)

RECAP: Ok, so these were not nearly as difficult as i feared they would be. yes you have to use a scale & yes you have to be patient- but they are so worth it.
A few tips:
- SIFT your almond/sugar mix into the egg whites. i didn't sift & i ended up with lumps that i had to break up with a toothpick (PITA). so sift, sift, SIFT!
- please let your egg whites age for at least 24 hours. i swear it makes a difference in the way they whip up. i let mine age for 48+ hours & they came right up with no issues.
- Silpat vs. Parchment: well i don't have Silpat- but i'm going to invest in some. the parch. paper worked- but it's kind of a pain because it's off the roll & it doesn't lay flat- so i had to finagle with tape. so i guess we'll see on this one.
- let your macarons sit for at least 30 min! they need that hard shell!
- watch them. trial & error. if at first you don't succeed, try again!

i admit, i was worried that i'd screwed them up- but when i took them out of the oven & saw the little "feet" on them:

i was estatic! go me! even with 2 whining children & a sulky husband (because i wanted him to handle the said whining children) i still managed to get these babies to turn out right. of course my rounds left something to be desired (not exactely even or the right shape) but come on- i was doing this with a baby on one hip.

and when i tasted the first one- OH MY GOD! so good. light & crispy, but a little chewy & so sweet & yummy.
i sent some off with the husband (to work) & brought some with me to a get together with a few close lady friends & everyone loved them.

and now i'm a bit addicted. i cannot wait to make some more this weekend!

so there you have it. my first attempt at french macarons. win.
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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Potato Bites with Spicy Sour Cream Dipping Sauce

last night the husband asked me if there is anything that cannot be wrapped in bacon.

after a good 7 minutes of thinking i couldn't come up with a single thing that would not be made better by bacon.

hell, you could wrap a rock in bacon & i'd probably eat it.

i found these via Pinterest & decided to make them for a backyard wedding this weekend.
i'm not one to boast- but they were, hands down, the favorite. people attacked me as i was carrying them outside- true story.
the bride's brother dropped one on the ground (the muddy ground) picked it up, looked at it...and ate it anyway.

people- there was straight up mud on it. didn't matter. bacon conquers mud. done.

Bacon Wrapped Potatoe Bites with Spicy Sour Cream Dipping Sauce (adapted from thekitchn)
You Need:
1lb red potatoes
1 tsp dried rosemary (or 1 1/2 fresh)
1 tclsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1lb thick cut bacon
1 cup sour cream
hot sauce
salt & pepper
smoked paprika
liquid smoke
maple grill seasoning (opt)

Directions: Pre heat oven to 400
Peel potaotes. Chop them into i-inch size pieces (keeping the chunks roughly the same size). Put the potatoes in a pot of cold water- salt the water & bring to a boil. Once the water comes to a boil- boil for about 3-4 minutes. The potatoes should be all but done- but still firm enough to hold up to some handling (4 minutes was perfect for mine).

Drain the potatoes & in a large bowl, toss with the olive oil, salt, pepper & rosemary until evenly coated.

cut the strips of bacon in half (horizontaly) & then in half again (vertically):

Wrap each piece of potato with a piece of bacon & secure with a toothpick. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.

Cook the potatoes for 15 min & then flip each piece. Cook for another 10 minutes until the bacon cooked through & crisp.

For the dipping sauce:

Mix the sour cream with a few teaspoons of hot sauce & about 1/2 tsp liquid smoke. Add the spoked paprika, maple bbq seasoning (opt), salt & pepper to taste (i pretty much eyeballed everything & kept tasting until it was as i liked. nice & smokey with a bit of heat. perfect!)

Pile the potatoe bites onto a plate around the bowl of dipping sauce. Serve warm.

(i made these in advance & then re-heated them by broiling for about 3 minutes in the oven. just enough to crisp the bacon back up. i also made a double batch for the wedding- of both the bites & the dipping sauce.)

I won't lie. Because i only got 2 of these at the wedding party- i came home & promptly made another batch that evening. then the husband & i proceded to eat them all for dinner.

I do not feel the last bit guilty.

i balanced it out by eating a handful of the chocolate chip filled raspberries i brought as well. cause they're healthy.

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Nutella & Chocolate Frosted Homemade Brownies

we've already been over my love for Nutella. and brownies. and Twilight.

so this was a no brainer.

Nutella and Chocolate Frosted Brownies
You Need:
Homemade Brownie recipe (make them)
1 cup Nutella
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions: Make the brownies. Immediately upon removing them from the oven, spread them with the Nutella. then sprinkle on the chocolate chips.

Place them back in the oven for 1-2 min (until chips are melty looking)
Remove & spread the chips out (kind of mixing them in with the Nutella)

Place in the fridge to cool (for at least 1 hour)

Cut & serve. to others. no just yourself.
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