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Monday, September 30, 2013

Homemade Apple Butter



It's that time of year! The apples are ripe for picking on the trees. If you can't find them from an orchard or farmer's market, there are tons of sales right around the corner as grocery stores get inundated with apples. It's a great time to stock up on apple butter which stays good for up to 2 months in the fridge. Or can it and give it away as Christmas gifts to friends and neighbors. There's just nothing like a piece of toast smothered with apple butter on a cold morning. It just makes you feel loved. 


Ingredients

3 lbs apples, cored, sliced
2 1/2 cups apple cider
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves


Instructions

1. Place the apples slices and apple cider into a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Stir in the honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves. Continue to simmer for another 45 minutes to 1 hour until the apples easily break down.

3. Puree using an immulsion blender, or wait until it cools a bit and puree in batches in a food processor or blender.

4. Store in an airtight container (like a jar) for up to 2 months in the fridge.


Friday, September 27, 2013

Morocco Tacos (Slow Cooker)


Don't let the long list of ingredients fool you. It's mostly spices! This recipe takes less than 5 minutes to throw in the crockpot and will take you under 15 minutes to go from crockpot to table. Super easy!

The flavors of Morocco get all wrapped up in a taco with this quick and easy slow cooker meal. The slow cooker is just the tool to make a nice, tender, shredded meat. This slow roasted shredded chicken is zippy and flavorful and topped with a refreshing yogurt based slaw.  It's a pleasant switcheroo on ye ol' taco and it is dang tasty too! You gotta love fusion! 


Ingredients

2 large boneless-skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 lemon, sliced

For the slaw:
2 cups thinly sliced purple cabbage
2 cups grated carrots (about 4 carrots)
1 tablespoons minced fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
salt and pepper

8 Corn tortillas for serving
2 oz plain goat cheese, crumbled
Hot sauce


Instructions

1. Put the chicken breasts, paprika, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, salt, cinnamon, ginger, vegetable oil and lemon slices in a crockpot/slowcooker. Cook on low for about 6 hours until chicken shreds easily with a fork. 

2. When ready to eat, combine the purple cabbage, carrots, mint leaves, and cilantro in a small mixing bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice over it, add in the Greek yogurt, and season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

3. Serve tacos on tortillas with a heaping pile of shredded chicken, a healthy spoonful of slaw, and a sprinkling of goat cheese. Give it a little shot of your favorite Mexican hot sauce for a nice kick.



***If you are feeling the love, head on over to foodgawker and click the little heart button on my Morocco Tacos. I could really use a trip to Cabo***

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Red Curry Carrot Soup with Raita and Smoked Paprika Oil



I'm in love with this soup. I can't remember ever tasting a soup that was better than this. It is such a complex layering of flavors. You have the carrot soup base with Thai flavors, you have the Indian raita, and then there's the smoked paprika oil which is more of a Moroccan flavor. Talk about fusion! It may sounds totally out there, but the flavors meld together to form this amazing soup. As I was eating it my mind was racing thinking of all the people I wanted to make this soup for. You may read through the list of ingredients and think it is weird, but you should seriously try it. I promise it is amazing!





Ingredients


Smoked Paprika Oil
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
1 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons smoked paprika


Soup
8 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 shallots, sliced
1 onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tsp Thai red curry paste
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream
6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 tsp salt

Raita
1 cucumber, peeled and cut into a small dice
1 cup Greek yogurt
4 mint leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper



Instructions

1. In a small saucepan, combine the red pepper and olive oil. Heat to a simmer and continue simmering for about 5 minutes. Add in the paprika and continue to simmer for about another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside while you make the rest of the soup. Strain before serving.

2. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add in the shallots and onions and saute for about 5 minutes. Season with a little salt. Add in the garlic and thai curry paste and saute for just another minute or two to allow the flavors to be released. 

3. Add in the carrots and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the carrots are soft, about 20 minutes.

4. While the soup is simmering, make the raita by combining all of the raita ingredients in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

5. Use a hand blender to puree the soup, or puree in batches in a food processor or blender. After the soup has been pureed, add in the heavy cream. Taste and add salt if necessary. Hold soup warm to serve.

6. Serve by spooning soup into the bowl. Place a spoonful of raita in the center and drizzle a circle of paprika oil. 


Recipe adapted from Chef Jamie Lauren as seen on Top Chef Season 5, Episode 9: Restaurant Wars






Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Red Curry Pumpkin Pilaf



This is one of those recipes that my husband was totally skeptical of. Pumpkin rice? How is that going to work! Well, you'll never know unless you try. The pumpkin actually did something wonderfully special to this recipe. It gave it a smooth, creamy, cheesey feel to it. My husband was sure there was cheese in the rice, but nope! It was just the pumpkin. While everyone (including myself) are throwing around pumpkin recipes for Halloween and Thanksgiving, it is easy to forget that in some parts of the world pumpkin is a staple squash found in the market. Pumpkin can be made into more things than just dessert breads and cheesecake bars, it can be savory and nutritious. I came up with this recipe inspired by Thai flavors with the red curry paste and coconut milk. So, if you are feeling slightly adventurous, join in and celebrate savory pumpkin possibilities and see that pumpkin totally goes with rice. Whoda thunkit?



Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 tablespoons thai red curry paste
1 1/2 cups rice
2 cups (1 can) coconut milk
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/4-1/2 tsp salt


Instructions

1. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a medium or large saucepan. Saute the onions in the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Stir in the red curry paste and let all the onions turn a nice red. Add in the rice and toast for 2-3 minutes.

2. Add in the coconut milk and pumpkin and season with salt. Give it a stir so that it gets distributed throughout the rice. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. 10-15 minutes. With coconut milk there tends to be residual liquid on the top so don't let it fool you into thinking the rice needs more time. Give it a quick stir if in doubt. Taste and add more salt if desired. 






Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fried Pumpkin Scones with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Butter


I make pumpkin scones once a year. Pumpkin scone day is a day we look forward to. It is a day we crave. It is a day we celebrate and rejoice. I'm serious. The excitement it generates is unbelievable. We just want to shout it from the rooftops to the world. IT'S PUMPKIN SCONE DAY! You would think this was ridiculous unless you tried one. And then, well, then you'd start anticipating pumpkin scone day too, like it's Christmas or something. Pumpkin scones one paper are just fried pumpkin dough, but when you put one in your mouth, all smothered in cinnamon cream cheese butter, and it melts....well, that is just something worth celebrating. So, happy pumpkin scone day! Wherever and whenever you are!


Ingredients

1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup milk, warmed (warm to the touch)
3 1/2 -4 cups flour
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 pinch cloves
1/2 tsp salt
4 tablespoons cold butter, cut in pieces
1 large egg, slightly beaten
1 cup pumpkin puree (8 oz)
oil for frying


Instructions


1. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the yeast, sugar, and warm milk. Let stand a few minutes, until foamy.

2. Meanwhile, in a second mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Add cold butter, and cut in using a pastry cutter until mixture resembles cornmeal.

3. Put dry ingredients in large bowl with the yeast. Mix slightly on a low speed for 30-60 seconds. 

4. Add egg and pumpkin. Beat on low until well mixed.

5. Continue to mix on low (knead), adding small amounts of the remaining flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

6. Knead on a medium speed another 3-4 minutes, and then transfer to a well greased bowl. Cover and let rise until double (about 1 hour).

7. Punch the dough down and transfer to a floured counter. Break off walnut sized pieces. Roll the balls out into flat pieces, fairly thin, but not transparent. 

8. Fry in hot oil (375 degrees) on both sides until golden brown. Cool on a paper towel covered rack. Serve with cream cheese butter.



Cinnamon Cream Cheese Butter

Ingredients

1 8 oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 C butter, softened
1 C powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Instructions


1. Put all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whip with a hand mixer until smooth. 


2. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Peanut Butter Fudge Pie with Pretzel Crust


I've done something bad. Something very bad. I think this pie may be the death of me. You see, last year for Thanksgiving I gave my go at making the perfect peanut butter pie. I thought it was perfect. And then one of my fabulous readers gave me the idea of pairing it with a pretzel crust. You really should just stop reading now because it may be the death of you as well. In my opinion, it is heaven on a plate. You've got the salty pretzel topped with a layer of gooey hot fudge, and then the bulk is the peanut butter custard which is silky and creamy. I'm in love. 




Ingredients

3/4 cup crushed pretzel
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted

1 cup hot fudge sauce, plus extra for drizzling 
3/4 cup sugar 
1/3 cup cornstarch 
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 cup milk 
1 cup heavy cream  
3 egg yolks 
2 tablespoons butter 
1 tsp vanilla 


Instructions

1. Make the crust by stirring together the crushed pretzel, flour, and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add in the melted butter and stir until combined. Press the crust mixture into a 9 inch pie pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool .

2. Pour 1 cup hot fudge sauce into the baked, cooled pie shell. Spread out to cover the bottom and smooth. Set aside. 

3. Combine sugar, cornstarch, milk, cream, peanut butter chips, and peanut butter in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly ,until mixture begins to bubble. This will take several minutes. Once it bubbles continue stirring for 2 minutes. The mixture will begin to thicken. 

4. Mix a little of the hot mixture into the egg yolks (do this part quickly), beating quickly to avoid cooking the yolks with the hot liquid. Stir the warm yolk mixture back into the remainder of the peanut butter mixture and cook for an additional 90 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla and continue stirring until butter is melted and mixture is smooth. 

5. Pour peanut butter custard into the pie shell over the fudge sauce. Allow mixture to cool for 30 minutes before putting it in the refrigerator to finish cooling. Let it cool in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before serving. 

6. Extra fudge sauce can be drizzled over the top for decorating. Add some more crushed pretzel and a little shaved chocolate if desired. Just wait until the peanut butter custard cools before adding the drizzles and toppings otherwise you'll end up with puddles of chocolate. 





Friday, September 20, 2013

Smothered Apple Pork Chops


So, cute story. The first time I ever cooked for my husband I made this dish. Okay, I didn't say it was a long story. This dish just has a lot of meaning to me. It is something I love and it brings me right back to those days of awkward dating, trying to impress each other, and falling in love. Oh, the good ol' days! Granted, these are the good now days because there is no more awkwardness, I already know I impress him pretty much every day, and we just fall deeper in love all the time. Sappy, I know. Food is all about emotion. You can taste the love that is put into it. These pork chops are all about Fall comfort. Bring on the apples, savor the sweet onions, and cherish that wonderful, salty pork. Sweet and salty, always a great combination. 



Ingredients

4 thick cut pork chops (1-2 inches thick)
3 apples, cored, sliced in half and quartered
1 large onion, sliced (white or preferably vidalia when in season)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 cup apple juice
Salt and Pepper

Instructions

1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add in apples and onions, salt them using about 1/4 tsp, and saute for about 5 minutes. Turn heat to low and continue to saute for about 10 more minutes until apples are softened and onions are translucent. During the last 2 minutes add in the brown sugar and stir through. Remove from pan and set aside.

2. Use the remaining olive oil to rub over your pork chops. Season both sides with a little salt and pepper. Remember that pork needs salt so don't skimp. 

3. Heat the pan used to cook the apples and onions until it is smoking hot (a drop of water would instantly sizzle like crazy and evaporate). Put the pork chops in and sear them for about 2 minutes on each side. They'll get a nice brown crust on them so you'll know they are perfect. 

4. Add in the apple juice and turn the heat down to medium. The apple juice will sizzle and reduce fairly quickly as the pork chops finish cooking. This apple juice reduction will serve as a bit of a sauce. The remaining cooking time on your pork chops will depend on how thick they are cut. For a thin cut it will probably only take about 4 minutes per side total. For a thicker cut you'll run 7-8 minutes per side.

5. Add in the apples and onions at the end, smothering the pork, and serve hot. 



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Apple Cider From Scratch (Slow Cooker)


Apple season is already upon us. Can you believe it? Fall and Winter are my favorite when it comes to food. I love the ingredients that are in season. Apple sales are starting up which means you can get killer deals. Now is the time to stock up on your freezer supply of homemade apple cider. Throw it in the crockpot now, and enjoy it all the way through Christmas. It is super easy to make a base apple cider and you can alter it slightly for different occasions. Throw in a splash of orange and cuddle up for your first fireplace start up of the winter. Add some caramel and whipped cream for a dessert drink. Whatever you decide to do, you've got to start with your base apple cider and this stuff is awesome. Super easy and way better than that expensive jug you buy at the store. Go buy your apples by the bushel while the season is in full swing!


Ingredients

8 gala apples, quartered
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 sticks cinnamon
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 whole allspice
10 cups water


Instructions

1. Place your quartered apples into a slow cooker. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Place the cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and allspice in there and pour in the 10 cups of water. 

2. Cook on low for 3 hours.

3. Mash the apples with a potato masher. cook an additional 1-3 hours on low. 

4. Strain the liquids and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week or freeze for later use.




Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Easy Chocolate Souffle


Making souffles doesn't have to be impossibly hard. You just need a good set of instructions. Seriously, read through these instructions. Is there anything really that hard?  I'm being extra wordy in my instructions to help you through the terminology. It's like I'll be there holding your hand the entire way. I think everyone should be able to make a chocolate souffle for dessert once in a while just because they are so dang tasty. And seriously, you are going to be so proud of yourself when you do it. So go! now! Heat some cream, melt some chocolate, whip some egg whites, fold it all together and then bam...gourmet dessert. Nailed it. 


Printable Recipe

Ingredients

1/2 cup heavy cream
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
2 egg yolks
6 egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar
butter and sugar for greasing ramekins


Instructions

1. Prepare 6 ramekins by greasing the bottom and sides with butter. Sprinkle a little sugar on them.

2. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream over medium heat. Put the chopped chocolate into a mixing bowl. When the cream starts to simmer, immediately remove it from the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let it stand for a couple minutes and then stir it until smooth. 

3. Add the vanilla, pinch of salt, and egg yolks to the chocolate and stir until thoroughly combined and smooth. Set aside to cool.

4. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

5. Put the egg whites into the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip on high, gradually adding in the sugar, until the whites form stiff peaks. This should take several minutes. Stiff peaks mean you can stick a spoon or rubber scraper in and pull it out and the egg whites form a little self-holding peak instead of just melting back into place. 

6. Fold the egg white mixture into the cooled chocolate mixture, until it seems pretty well combined. Folding means using a rubber scraper/spatula to scrape down to the bottom and fold it over onto the top, turning your bowl as you go. You'll know it is combined when you can't see bits of the white egg anymore. Folding keeps it fluffy, while mixing would kill the fluffiness. Pour into the prepared ramekins.

7. Put them in the oven and close the door. Reduce the heat setting to 375 degrees. Bake for 15 minutes for small ramekins, and 25 minutes for larger ones. 




Tuesday, September 17, 2013

BBQ Meatball Subs with No Mayo Coleslaw


I almost always have meatballs in my freezer. They provide quick dinners that you'd never know where unplanned or last minute and I make a really tasty healthy baked meatball. I had some surprise guests for dinner a few weeks ago and we had spaghetti with homemade sauce and homemade meatballs. My guests were worried about the trouble I'd gone through to feed them, but little did they know it was all in my freezer, ready to be popped out for just such an occasion. Well, another such occasion popped up on Saturday after we'd spent a day doing chores and running errands. This time I turned the meatballs into a meatball sub. See how versatile they are? But this wasn't just your regular old marinara meatball sub. I had some cabbage that needed to be used up so I figured I'd turn it into a BBQ meatball sub with a little coleslaw topping. It was quite tasty and a pleasant twist on the good ol' meatball sub. It was super easy to make, required very little effort on my part, and even my 5 year old was pleased with the result. "Oh mom, that looks so good!" It even manages to sneak in veggies. 


Ingredients

4 sub sandwich rolls
1/2 head purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced
3 carrots, shredded
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 cup bbq sauce


Instructions

1. Bake your meatballs at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. 

2. Meanwhile, make your coleslaw by tossing together the shredded cabbage, sliced onion, shredded carrots, red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, and 2 tsp olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

3. Toast your sandwich rolls by tossing them in the oven open face during the last few minutes of the meatballs cooking.

4. Pour bbq sauce over the cooked meatballs. Put 4 meatballs on each toasted sub and top with a pile of the coleslaw. 



Monday, September 16, 2013

Roasted Eggplant and Garlic Spread



I went on a much needed girls weekend getaway last week. It was fabulous and exactly the kind of relaxation I needed. We went to an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles called Sprazzo Cucina Italiana. They had the most amazing gnocchi. They were perfect little pillows and I was absolutely thrilled. While I had anticipated their renowned gnocchi, what surprised me was their delicious little spread to go with the table bread. When our sweet host announced it was eggplant I got a huge smile on my face because I knew at least one member of our party absolutely hates eggplant. Every time she gets it in her CSA box she gives it away. I encouraged her to give it a try and what do you know? She liked it! I'm telling you, eggplant is totally under appreciated. It can be absolutely tasty. I knew I could replicate it at home and was totally happy with the result. It's great lathered on bread and I also discovered it makes a great filling on a grilled cheese sandwich with pepper jack cheese. Yumm-o! The moral of the story is that you should give eggplant a try if you haven't already discovered its goodness. It really can be made into so many delicious different dishes. 


Ingredients

1 large eggplant
lots of salt
1 whole head of garlic
1/4 cup olive oil + more to drizzle
1/2 cup crumbled feta 
salt and pepper
basil for garnish


Instructions

1. Peel the eggplant and then slice it into 1/2 inch rounds. Lay the sliced rounds out on a baking sheet and pour a disgusting amount of salt over them. Let stand 30 minutes, rinse, and pat dry. Don't worry, the salt won'tn soak in, it just draws out the bitterness of the eggplant. Rinse your baking sheet as well and put the slices back on the baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.

2. Meanwhile, preheat an oven to 400 degrees. 

3. Chop the tip end off the head of garlic, exposing all of the cloves inside. Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil. Put the garlic in the 400 degree oven and roast for 25 minutes. When done remove the cloves from the shells. 

4. When your eggplant is ready, pop it in the oven and roast it with your garlic for about 15 minutes, until it softens and starts to brown. 

5. Remove from oven and puree the eggplant, roasted garlic cloves. olive oil, and feta in a food processor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If your dip is too clumpy to puree, add a little more olive oil to smooth it out. Serve cold. Garnish with basil if desired. 


Serve as a spread on bread or as a dip. 




Friday, September 13, 2013

Thai Style Heirloom Tomato Salad



Refreshing. Rejuvenating. Vibrant. Healthy. Bold.

I wanted to add some fruits and veggies to my Thai dinner and had a huge success with this heirloom tomato salad. Oh my heavens, it is like a Thai salsa that you can eat alone or put on rice. Shoot, you could probably whisk out the tortilla chips and call it Thai-Mexican fusion. I really wondered how the mint leaves would fare in combination with the tomatoes. Would it be too overpowering? Not in the least. Instead of being blasted with mint, your mouth feels bright, fresh, and clean. It goes amazing in combination with a spicy dish. There is some heat to this salad, but I think that is what makes it pair so nicely with a spicy Thai dish. It offers heat while refreshing the palate at the same time. So simple. It's actually quite beautiful!


Ingredients

1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp minced serrano chili pepper (optional)
1/2 cup mint leaves, coarsely chopped
4 heirloom tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon chili oil


Instructions

1. Combine the crushed garlic, salt, serrano, mint, and diced heirloom tomatoes in a small bowl. Pour chili oil over it and stir to combine. Serve cold. 






Thursday, September 12, 2013

Spicy Ginger Cucumber Salad


I'm on a mission to eat more vegetables!

We had those amazing Thai Chicken Nuggets the other night, but I knew we needed more than just rice and meat for dinner. I ended up creating two Thai-inspired veggie dishes to accompany it. They were both quick and easy and ended up being incredibly refreshing. There's something about eating hot main dishes with cold sides that is just pleasantly rejuvenating. These cucumbers are spicy with the combination of red pepper flakes and ginger, yet at the same time they are light and cool. Low in calories and full of nutrients, it really is a great recipe to keep on hand. 


Ingredients

1 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tsp freshly minced ginger
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
a pinch sugar


Instructions

1. Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir to combine well and let marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving. 


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Grilled Thai Chicken Nuggets with Hot and Sour Dipping Sauce


I checked out a book from the library on the cuisine Southeast Asian. It has been fascinating to read about the peoples and foods of the different regions. My husband and I are hoping to take a trip to the area next year. I'm always dreaming up exotic vacations so hopefully this one pans out. In the meantime, I do what I always do...bring the food to my own kitchen. It's kind of like traveling the world without ever leaving home. I will admit that I was kind of scared for this recipe. Look at the ingredients. That's a lot of fish sauce! Have faith in me though, because the end result is scrumptious. Garlic galore with that beautiful Southeast Asia twist. And then the dipping sauce...oh baby. I wanted to soak my chicken in it.  It's nice to give a twist on the standard chicken nugget. I can wow my taste buds and still give my kids something that looks familiar that they will eat. Enjoy!


Thai Chicken Nuggets


Ingredients

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and cut into 2 inch pieces
6 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp black pepper
3 tablespoons cilantro stems 
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 tsp salt


Instructions

1. Place your chicken breast pieces in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Set aside.

2. Put the garlic cloves, black pepper, and cilantro stems into a food processor. Puree. Slowly add in the fish sauce until you get a nice pasty sauce. Season with salt and pour over chicken. Marinate for 1 hour.

3. Heat a grill to medium high heat. Grill your chicken for about 4 minutes per side until cooked through. Actual cooking time will depend on how thick your chicken is. 



Hot and Sour Dipping Sauce


Ingredients

1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
pinch salt


Instructions

1. In a small saucepan, bring the rice vinegar to a boil. Stir in the sugar and simmer 5 minutes.

2. Remove from heat and whisk in the crushed garlic,  red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. 




Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Eggs Benedict à la Avocado Toast with Lime Hollandaise


Ready for my new favorite breakfast? Eggs benedict meets avocado toast. It's a match made in heaven! Top it off with a lime hollandaise and...oh my goodness. Don't be intimidated by poached eggs or making a hollandaise sauce. It's actually pretty simple when you have good directions. With poached eggs it is all about creating a nice swirl in the water and sliding your egg in from a bowl (don't crack it directly into the water). And as for the hollandaise sauce, I've got a secret weapon: the hand mixer. It makes hollandaise tons easier to make. No tired arms from whisking, no worrying if you'll ever be able to triple the volume of those egg yolks. My hand mixer is my muscle. Take your time with those egg yolks and make sure they triple in volume. That's the key. Not just double, triple. Then it's all about slowly incorporating that butter for that oh-so-delectable rich, buttery, heaven-sent sauce. Can you tell I like hollandaise? I hope you enjoy this breakfast as much as we do!


Ingredients

1 tablespoon vinegar
4 eggs
4 slices bread
olive oil
2 avocados, diced
red pepper flakes
salt
lime hollandaise (recipe below)


Instructions

1. Fill a large saucepan or pot with water. Add in the vinegar. Bring it to an almost boil. You want the water to be simmering, but there shouldn't be much turbulence in the water. Crack an egg into a small bowl. Use a spoon to stir the water into a nice little whirpool. Gently slide your egg into the swirling water. Let cook for 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.

2. Meanwhile, drizzle olive oil on each of the slices of bread. Toast them in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until each side is browned. 

3. Compile your breakfast with a slice of toasted bread, diced avocado (mash it down a bit), season with salt, top with your poached egg and  nice heaping spoonful of lime hollandaise sauce. Garnish with red pepper flakes. 



Lime Hollandaise Sauce


Ingredients

4 egg yolks
1/2 cup melted butter
pinch salt
pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon lime juice


Instructions

1. Bring a pot of water to a simmer. Put the egg yolks into a glass or metal bowl that you can hold over your pot of water (double boiler). Use a hand mixer to whisk the eggs until they have tripled in size as you hold it over the hot water. This will take several minutes to do. They should be quite thick.

2. Slowly beat in the melted butter. The sauce should remain thick and a vibrant yellow. If at any point your egg begins to get cooked pieces from being too hot, remove your bowl from the heat and let it cool down for a minute and return it to the heat.

3. Finish by whisking in the salt, cayenne, and lime juice.







Monday, September 9, 2013

Cookies and Cream Layered Dessert


We've been having a bit of a heat wave. It has been hot, humid, and miserable. So when I came home from sweating/playing at the park with my daughter and my sister announced she needed a dessert to take to work in an hour....well, I wasn't about to bake a batch of cookies.

A year ago I pinned an oreo layer dessert on pinterest. It looked good, but I knew that if I ever made it I wouldn't be using cool whip or instant pudding. I'd rather use real cream and real chocolate pudding to make it a truly delicious treat. The oreos though definitely stay the same. I may love the "from scratch" lifestyle, but I'm a sucker for those little cookies. 

The end result was a refreshing, cool cake that mixed the oreo addiction with cheesecake, chocolate, and mounds of delicious cream. It was fairly quick and quite decadent. I told my sister I'd have to tax her on it and steal a piece before she could take it to her work potluck. She helped and all, but you can't make dessert in my house without letting me keep a piece!


Ingredients

2 tablespoons butter
4 tsp cornstarch
4 cups heavy whipping cream (divided)
4 tablespoons sugar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 package oreos
1/2 cup butter, melted
8 oz cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons sugar


Instructions

1. Make the pudding. by melting the butter in a medium-sized sauce pan over low heat. Once completely melted, add in the cornstarch and whisk until cornstarch is well combined. Whisk in 2 cups of heavy whipping cream, and sugar. Stir continually while slowly increasing the heat to medium-high.  Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Stir in the chocolate chips until completely melted. Pour into a bowl and let cool in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

2. Spray a 9x13 pan with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside 4 oreos from the package and crush the remaining oreos in a blender or food processor until completely crumbled. Stir in the melted butter and press the oreo mixture into the bottom of the pan.

3. In a mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese and powdered sugar. Set aside.

4. Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer), whip the remaining 2 cups of heavy cream in a metal or glass bowl until it forms stiff peaks. Don't use a copper or plastic bowl. Gradually add in the sugar as you whip. The time it takes you to whip the cream will depend on the freshness of the cream as well as the fat content. Fresh cream whips in about 1 minute, while most regular store bought cream will take several minutes to form stiff peaks.

5. Fold half the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture. 

6. Layer the dessert together by first spreading the cream cheese mixture over the oreo crust. Top with semi-cooled chocolate pudding, followed by the freshly whipped cream. Use the reserved 4 oreos to crush on top for a garnish. Let cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour before serving .



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