Mar 31, 2010


It’s the most wonderful time of the year – and I don’t mean Christmas time – it’s Maple syrup time!!   In celebration of Maple Weekend, these were the perfect cookie to bring along on our exploration of various local maple farms.   They are perfectly soft with a crunchy maple crust.   


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 Tbsp. corn starch
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. real maple syrup
  • 3 Tbsp. warm water
  • 1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

for rolling your cookies:

  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup maple sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon


1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

2. Stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, 1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, cream of tartar, and corn starch.  Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 1 cup of white sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the maple syrup, water, and vanilla.

4. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients until just mixed.

5. In a small dish, mix together the remaining 1/2 cup white sugar, maple sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon.

6. Roll your cookie dough into 1-inch balls, and roll the balls in the sugar mixture.

7. Place cookies 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

8. Bake for 8-10 minutes in the preheated oven.

9. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks.

As seen on Branny Boils Over, adapted from Cookies and Candids

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Mar 30, 2010

Buttermilk Biscuits

One of the most common cooking related questions that I see is – what to do with leftover buttermilk?   Well, I usually don’t have that problem since I don’t buy buttermilk that often (I keep this on hand for some recipes).  Well I did buy a quart of it for the vanilla bean cupcakes I made recently.   So in the effort to not waste it – I was looking for a quick and easy way to use up exactly 1 cup.   This recipe is a great solution – they are super easy to whip up and they freeze and re-heat really well.   I served them with my favorite chili-rubbed salmon, but they would go well with just about anything!  Enjoy!


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, chilled
  • 8 tbsp. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus 2 tbsp. extra for brushing


1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, soda, sugar and salt together in a large bowl. 

3. In a medium bowl, stir the melted butter and chilled buttermilk together until the butter forms small clumps. 

4.  Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture, just until incorporated.

5. Using a 1/4 measuring cup or ice cream scoop, drop mounds of dough onto parchment lined baking sheet. 

6. Bake until golden brown, 12-14 minutes, rotating halfway through baking.

7. Brush baked biscuits with additional melted butter, before serving.


Source: The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book, pg. 27

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Mar 29, 2010

Corn and Black Bean Quesadillas

After trying this recipe a few years ago – it became my very favorite way to make quesadillas.  It is definitely more complicated than just slapping some cheese between two tortilla shells.  But the flavor and texture of these is completely worth the extra effort.  Believe me – this are a must try!  I served them with some homemade guacamole and salsa – so yummy! 


  • 2/3 cup frozen corn kernels , thawed
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil , plus more for brushing tortillas
  • 2/3 cup (1 small) minced red onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • juice from 1 lime 
  • kosher salt
  • 4 plain flour tortillas , eight-inch
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese



1. Heat 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Add corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until kernels begin to brown and pop, 3 to 5 minutes; transfer corn to medium bowl.

2. Heat  vegetable oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering; add red onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.

3. Add garlic and chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 1 minutes; stir in beans and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

4.  Return corn to skillet and toss to combine; gently press mixture with spatula to lightly crush black beans. Transfer mixture to now-empty bowl, stir in lime juice, and season to taste with salt.

5. Wipe out skillet with paper towels and return pan to medium heat until hot, about 2 minutes.

6. Place 1 tortilla in skillet and toast until soft and puffed slightly at edges, about 2 minutes. Flip tortilla and toast until puffed and slightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Slip tortilla onto cutting board. Repeat to toast second tortilla while assembling first quesadilla.  Repeat with remaining tortillas.

7. Sprinkle 1/3 cup cheese and one-quarter of the corn and bean mixture over half of tortilla, leaving 1/2-inch border around edge. Fold tortilla in half and press to flatten. Brush surface generously with oil, sprinkle lightly with kosher salt, and set aside. Repeat to form second quesadilla.

8. Place both quesadillas in skillet, oiled sides down; cook over medium heat until crisp and well browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Brush surfaces with oil and sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Flip quesadillas and cook until second sides are crisp and browned, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer quesadillas to cutting board; cool about 3 minutes, halve each quesadilla, and serve.

9. Repeat steps 7 and 8 with remaining two tortillas.  Keep quesadillas warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to serve. 


Source: Cooks Illustrated

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Mar 27, 2010

Daring Bakers: Orange Tian

The 2010 March Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Jennifer of Chocolate Shavings. She chose Orange Tian as the challenge for this month, a dessert based on a recipe from Alain Ducasse’s Cooking School in Paris.


What a beautiful and tasty dessert!  I decided to use blood oranges as my citrus fruit of choice.  I have always wanted a reason to use them – so this was the perfect opportunity.   There are five main components to this dessert – the pate sablee (the pastry crust), the marmalade, caramel sauce, segmented oranges and stabilized whipped cream. 

I loved this challenge since I got to learn new techniques in the kitchen that I’ve never done before – I have never segmented an orange or made my own marmalade.  I watched this video to learn the proper technique to segment an orange.  Once I started – it was pretty easy to do.   And the marmalade was even easier to make.

I halved the recipe for the pate sablee, whipped cream, oranges and caramel, to make this for just the two of us.  I used my miniature tart pan to make the crust and to construct the tian.   It made for a really pretty presentation.  And by halving the ingredients – it was the perfect amount for two!

My only apprehension about this recipe was the stabilized whipped cream.  Last year, my husband and I went on a cruise for our honeymoon and all of the desserts and whipped creams were really a jello-y texture, you could tell they had lots of gelatin in them to stabilize them – and we were really put off by it.  So I was concerned that this wouldn’t be light and fluffy and smooth – like real whipped cream is supposed to be.   Luckily, the small amount of gelatin really did not do much other than help the cream keep its shape in the tian.   Good thing – because after a few days on our cruise – we would only eat the ice cream for dessert – since the texture of everything else was so strange! 


For the Pate Sablee:


  • 2 medium-sized egg yolks at room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons Unsalted butter
  • 1/3 teaspoon salt
  • 1.5 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

1. Put the flour, baking powder, ice cold cubed butter and salt in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

2. In a separate bowl, add the eggs yolks, vanilla extract and sugar and beat with a whisk until the mixture is pale. Pour the egg mixture in the food processor.

3. Process until the dough just comes together. If you find that the dough is still a little too crumbly to come together, add a couple drops of water and process again to form a homogenous ball of dough. Form into a disc, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat your oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit.

5. Roll out the dough onto a lightly floured surface until you obtain a ¼ inch thick circle.

6. Using your cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough and place on a parchment (or silicone) lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until the circles of dough are just golden.

For the Marmalade:


  • ¼ cup + 3 tablespoons freshly pressed orange juice
  • 1 large orange used to make orange slices
  • cold water to cook the orange slices
  • 5 grams pectin
  • granulated sugar: use the same weight as the weight of orange slices once they are cooked


1. Finely slice the orange. Place the orange slices in a medium-sized pot filled with cold water. Simmer for about 10 minutes, discard the water, re-fill with cold water and blanch the oranges for another 10 minutes.

2. Blanch the orange slices 3 times. This process removes the bitterness from the orange peel, so it is essential to use a new batch of cold water every time when you blanch the slices.

3. Once blanched 3 times, drain the slices and let them cool.

4. Once they are cool enough to handle, finely mince them (using a knife or a food processor).

5. Weigh the slices and use the same amount of granulated sugar . If you don’t have a scale, you can place the slices in a cup measurer and use the same amount of sugar.

6. In a pot over medium heat, add the minced orange slices, the sugar you just weighed, the orange juice and the pectin. Cook until the mixture reaches a jam consistency (10-15 minutes).

7. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge.

For the Orange Segments:

For this step you will need 8 oranges.

Cut the oranges into segments over a shallow bowl and make sure to keep the juice. Add the segments to the bowl with the juice.

For the Caramel:


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons orange juice


1. Place the sugar in a pan on medium heat and begin heating it.

2. Once the sugar starts to bubble and foam, slowly add the orange juice. As soon as the mixture starts boiling, remove from the heat and pour half of the mixture over the orange segments.

3. Reserve the other half of the caramel mixture in a small bowl — you will use this later to spoon over the finished dessert. When the dessert is assembled and setting in the freezer, heat the kept caramel sauce in a small saucepan over low heat until it thickens and just coats the back of a spoon (about 10 minutes). You can then spoon it over the orange tians.

For the Whipped Cream:


  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons of hot water
  • 1 tsp Gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon of confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange marmalade (see recipe above)


1. In a small bowl, add the gelatin and hot water, stirring well until the gelatin dissolves.

2. Let the gelatin cool to room temperature while you make the whipped cream.

3. Combine the cream in a chilled mixing bowl. Whip the cream using a hand mixer on low speed until the cream starts to thicken for about one minute.

4.  Add the confectioner sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high. Whip the cream until the beaters leave visible (but not lasting) trails in the cream, then add the cooled gelatin slowly while beating continuously.

5. Continue whipping until the cream is light and fluffy and forms soft peaks. Transfer the whipped cream to a bowl and fold in the orange marmalade.

Assembling the Dessert:

Make sure you have some room in your freezer. Ideally, you should be able to fit a small baking sheet or tray of desserts to set in the freezer.

Line a small tray or baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. Lay out 6 cookie cutters onto the parchment paper/silicone.

Drain the orange segments on a kitchen towel.

Have the marmalade, whipped cream and baked circles of dough ready to use.

Arrange the orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter. Make sure the segments all touch either and that there are no gaps. Make sure they fit snuggly and look pretty as they will end up being the top of the dessert. Arrange them as you would sliced apples when making an apple tart.

Once you have neatly arranged one layer of orange segments at the bottom of each cookie cutter, add a couple spoonfuls of whipped cream and gently spread it so that it fills the cookie cutter in an even layer. Leave about 1/4 inch at the top so there is room for dough circle.

Using a butter knife or small spoon, spread a small even layer of orange marmalade on each circle of dough.

Carefully place a circle of dough over each ring (the side of dough covered in marmalade should be the side touching the whipping cream). Gently press on the circle of dough to make sure the dessert is compact.

Place the desserts to set in the freezer to set for 10 minutes.

Using a small knife, gently go around the edges of the cookie cutter to make sure the dessert will be easy to unmold. Gently place your serving plate on top of a dessert (on top of the circle of dough) and turn the plate over. Gently remove the cookie cutter, add a spoonful of caramel sauce and serve immediately.

Thanks to Jen at Chocolate Shavings for this months challenge!

Mar 25, 2010


I have been craving Mexican food lately, and after making the pork tostadas, which I topped with a diced avocado – I really wanted some homemade guacamole.  And considering I had a huge bunch of fresh cilantro to use up – this was perfect timing.   Well there is not much that compares to the taste of fresh guacamole, and this was so good that I actually made another batch of it again already!  I am getting way ahead of my blog! 
The great thing about guacamole is that you can really customize it to your tastes and what you have on hand.  The recipe below is what I consider the perfect combination of ingredients.  Enjoy! 


  • 2 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • 1/2 – 1  jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 small tomato, seeded and diced
  • juice of one lime
  • dash of cumin powder
  • salt and pepper


1. Cut the avocado in half and remove the pit.  Cut the avocado while it is still in the skin (check this out if you’ve never diced an avocado) then scoop the avocado out and into a bowl. 

2. Mash it with a fork and then add the onion, jalapeño, and garlic and mash a little more.

3. Stir in the cilantro, tomatoes, lime, cumin, salt and pepper to taste.

4. Refrigerate to let the flavors meld.  Place plastic wrap directly on the guacamole, and stir again when ready to eat (it’s ok if it turns brown).

Adapted from Elly Says Opa

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Mar 24, 2010

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Do you see the lovely vanilla bean flecks?   so pretty…

Do you want to taste the best vanilla cupcakes imaginable?  Did I hear you say - Yes – well try this recipe, all of your expectations will be met.  The addition of the real vanilla bean, buttermilk and 5 eggs in the batter – make this flavorful, light, fluffy cake.  I cannot wait to try this in the form of a layer cake.  And of course, I top them with my standard favorite swiss meringue buttercream recipe (fold in some cooled, melted chocolate to make it chocolate). 
It is seriously a heavenly combination!  That is very hard to resist (luckily we gave most of them away- or we would have eaten them all !)
  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 16 tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line three cupcake pans with paper liners.  Set aside.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt.  Whisk together and set aside. 
3. Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (I have this and I LOVE it).  Scrape the vanilla bean seeds into the bowl of the mixer with the butter and discard the pod.
4.  Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.
5. Add the sugar to the butter mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. 
6. Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. 
7. Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup. 
8. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
9. Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full.
10.  Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. 
Makes 36 cupcakes

Source: Annie’s Eats
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Mar 23, 2010

Pork Tostadas

As I mentioned once before, my husband is not a huge fan of pork, although – he likes pulled pork.  So when I saw this recipe I thought it would be something he might like and it sounded very intriguing to me.  When I was actually cooking it – he voiced his displeasure that it looked ‘strange’, especially when I said that you top this with feta cheese.  Similarly to the recipe for beef tacos – the addition of your own fried corn tortilla – completely take this meal over the top.   We ate this for three days in a row and I was excited to eat it each time.  I actually wish I was eating it right now.
Tinga (spicy shredded pork):
  • 2 lbs. boneless pork butt, cut into one inch pieces
  • 2 medium yellow onions, one quartered, one minced finely
  • 5 garlic cloves, 3 peeled and smashed and 2 minced
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • table salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 chipotle chili in adobo, diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 12 (6-in) corn tortilla
  • salt
  • feta cheese or queso fresco
  • fresh cilantro
  • sour cream
  • diced avocado
  • lime wedges
  • diced tomatoes
1. Bring pork, quartered onion, smashed garlic, thyme, 1 tsp. salt and 6 cups of water to a simmer in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, skimming off any foam that develops.
2. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover and cook until tender – 75 –90 minutes.
3.  Drain pork, reserving 1 cup of the liquid.  Discard onion, thyme and garlic.
4. Return pork to pan and shred with two forks or a potato masher.
5. Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high.   Add shredded pork, chopped onion and oregano and cook until browned and crisp, 7 to 10 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
6. Stir in tomato sauce, chipotle pepper, reserved liquid and bay leaves.  Simmer for at least 10 minutes, until almost all liquid has evaporated. 
7. To fry tostadas: Heat oil in a medium sized stockpot over medium heat until it reaches 350 degrees.  Poke a few holes in the center of the tortilla.  Fry one at a time, using a potato masher to keep submerged.  Should take 45 to 60 seconds each.  Place on a towel-lined baking sheet. 
8. To serve: place pork on top of tostadas and top with garnishes.

Source: Cooks Illustrated March/April 2010
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Mar 19, 2010

Butterscotch Pudding

I've been wanting to try this recipe ever since I made Dorie Greenspans' Chocolate pudding.  I never got around to making it until I finally got to the liquor store to buy Scotch - I ended up getting one of the mini bottles, since I don't think we will ever drink a big bottle (and it's really expensive!).   And I love those mini bottles - they are so cute :)  
This recipe was absolutely delicious - it was pretty boozy though - you really could taste the Scotch.  The only issue I have with the method that Dorie uses - is that I had issues transferring the pudding back and forth to the food processor.  Needless to say some (maybe more than some) of this pudding ended up on my countertop.  But it all worked out in the end - and we got three big bows of this - so next time I just have to be more careful! :)
  • 1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons water
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoons Scotch whiskey (preferably a strong single malt)
1.Have six ramekins or pudding cups, each holding 4 to 6 ounces 1/2 to 3/4 cup), at hand. (yeah - you are going to want more than this serving so use bigger cups)
2. Put the brown sugar and water in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, put the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Stirring and lowering the heat if necessary, boil for 2 minutes. Add 1 and a 1/2 cups of the milk and the cream and bring to a boil--don't worry if, as it's heating, the mixture curdles. 
3. While the milk is heating, put the cornstarch and the salt in a food processor and whir to blend. Turn them out onto a piece of wax paper, put the sugar and egg yolks in the processor and blend for 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the remaining 1/4 cup of milk and pulse just to mix, then add the dry ingredients and pulse a few times to blend. 
4. With the machine running, very slowly pour in the hot liquid, process for a few seconds, then pour everything back into the saucepan. 
5. Whisk without stopping over medium heat--making sure to get into the edges of the pan--until the pudding thickens and a couple of bubbles burble up to the surface and pop (about 2 minutes). You don't want the pudding to boil, but you do want it to thicken, so lower the heat, if necessary. 
6. Scrape the pudding back into the processor (if there's a scorched spot, avoid it as you scrape) and pulse a couple of times. Add the butter, vanilla and scotch and pulse until everything is evenly blended. 
7. Pour the pudding into the ramekins. If you don't want a skin to form, place a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of each pudding to create an airtight seal. Refrigerate the pudding for at least 4 hours.

Mar 18, 2010

Chicken French

This recipe is actually called - Chicken French with White Wine Butter Sauce.  But it is a surprisingly simple dish with such a fancy name!  I served it alongside some simple pan-roasted red potatoes and some carrots sauteed with some lemon juice and honey.  This was a delicious meal and would be fun to serve to dinner guests.


  • 2 medium boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise and pounded thin 
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • juice of 1 lemons 
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
1. In a shallow bowl combine flour, salt, pepper, paprika and garlic, stirring to combine. 
2. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. 
3. In large, heavy bottom skillet, add olive oil and heat over medium-high heat until almost smoking. 
4. Meanwhile, pound chicken breasts to even thickness and season liberally with salt and pepper. 
5. Dredge chicken breasts in flour mixture and place, breast-side down, into preheated skillet. 
6. Cook over medium-high heat until breast side is nicely golden browned, about 7-10 minutes. 
7. Flip chicken breasts and cook until golden browned and chicken is cooked through, about 7-10 more minutes depending on thickness. 
8. Remove chicken from pan, place on platter and into preheated oven to stay warm. 
9. Add white wine to skillet and stir to deglaze, scraping all browned bits up from bottom of pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 2-3 minutes. 
10. Add lemon juice and stir, cooking until reduced by at least half, about 2-3 minutes. 
11. Remove from heat and stir in butter to thicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove platter from oven, top with sauce and serve immediately.

Mar 17, 2010

Asian Beef Noodle Soup

This was an easy, flavor-packed soup.  It uses the old stand-by Ramen noodles (without the seasoning packet!).  The recipe also called for 1/2 tsp. of Chinese five-spice powder, but when I looked at the ingredients  which contain- clove, anise, fennel - which are all favors I don't really care for, I decided to use soy sauce instead.  I was so happy with this decision - this soup turned out to be really great.  I'll definitely try this again when I need a quick meal.

  • 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 4 (3 oz.) packages of ramen noodles, broken into large pieces, seasoning packets discarded.  
  • 1 small flank steak (1 lb.) cut lengthwise into thirds and crosswise into 1/4 inch slices.
  • 1/2 head of Napa cabbage, shredded (about 6 cups total)
  • 1 carrot finely shredded 
  • 1 stalk celery thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1. Bring broth, ginger, garlic, fish sauce and soy sauce to a boil in a dutch oven.
2. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
3. Add noodles to simmering broth and cook until nearly tender, about 2 minutes. 
4. Add in beef, napa cabbage, celery and carrot and cook until beef is done, about 2 minutes.
5. Add fresh cilantro and serve.

adapted from Cook's Country magazine Feb/March 2010

Mar 16, 2010

Chocolate Chip Treasure Cookies

I have professed my love for chocolate and coconut on this blog several times before (here , here and here).  This recipe is very similar to my all-time favorite dessert - Hello Dollies, except these are in cookie form.   These cookies come out so soft and delicious.   They did not last long!  I could eat one of these every day and never get tired of them. 

  • 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded coconut
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
3. In a small bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, flour and baking powder.  
4. In a large bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk and butter until smooth.  Add graham cracker mixture; mix well.   
5. Stir in coconut, chocolate chips and walnuts.  
6. Drop by rounded scoops onto prepared cookie sheets.  Bake 9-10 minutes or until lightly browned.

Source: Annie's Eats, originally from My Kitchen Cafe

Mar 15, 2010

Southwest Turkey Burger

One of my favorite things to cook for a quick weeknight meal is a spin on different types of burgers.  You really can't go wrong - I've made Italian, Greek and Black bean so far to share on my blog, and these Southwestern burgers were right up there as one of our favorites.   Just wait until the summer and I start grilling - I have so many more fun burgers recipes I can share!   The snow is all melted - I might just have to start up the grill soon!  

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • salt and pepper
1. Preheat the grill or grill pan.
2. Combine turkey, black beans, onion, egg and mix gently to combine.
3. Mix in spices and season with salt and pepper. 
4. Shape into 4 - 5 patties.  And cook until done on the grill or grill pan.

adapted from My Kitchen Cafe

Mar 12, 2010

English Muffins

Who knew that homemade english muffins were so easy to make!  Not really any more difficult than any other yeast bread recipe.  My husband and I both really enjoyed these - I made a ham/egg/cheese sandwich with mine and he likes just butter on his.  Any way you cut it - these will surely brighten up your morning routine.  Enjoy!

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. butter (at room temperature)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup milk (at room temperature)
  • cornmeal for sprinkling
1. In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast.  Mix in the butter and 3/4 cup of the milk.  Add the remaining milk if the dough is too dry.
2. Switch to the dough hook and knead over med-low for about 6 -8 minutes. 
3. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and roll to coat.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise for about an hour or until doubles in size.
4. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and shape into balls.  Lay parchment paper on a baking sheet and spray or lightly coat with oil and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Move the dough balls to the baking sheet evenly spaced apart (giving them room to rise more). Cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap and allow them to rise for another hour.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 350 F and heat up a skillet on medium heat on the stovetop.  
6. Brush the skillet with oil and gently transfer the dough balls to the skillet three at a time.  Allow them to cook on the skillet for 5-8 minutes, until the bottoms are nicely browned.  Carefully flip and cook the other side for about 5-8 minutes more. They should flatten as they cook.
7. When the muffins look as if they are about to burn, remove them from the skillet with a spatula and transfer quickly to a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 5-8 minutes. Do not wait until all of the muffins have been cooked on the skillet before moving them to the oven – as the first batch is baking, move the second batch of muffins to the skillet.
8. Transfer the baked muffins to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing or serving.
Source: Peter Reinhart - The Bread Bakers Apprentice

Mar 11, 2010

Dulce de Leche Brownies

Dulce de Leche seems to be all the rage lately - so when I saw a can of it in my grocery store - I boughtit just to have on hand.   When I felt like baking - I wanted to make something with that can that was taking up room in my pantry.  So when I found this recipe - I knew it was the perfect choice!  They were on the cakey side of brownies - but they were delicious with the carmely dulce de leche.   I know why that stuff is so popular now! 

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup Dulce de Leche
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees .
2. Line a 8-inch square pan with a long sheet of aluminum foil that covers the bottom and reaches up the sides. Grease the bottom and sides of the foil with a bit of butter or non-stick spray.
3. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the chocolate pieces and stir constantly over very low heat until the chocolate is melted. 
4. Remove from heat and whisk in the cocoa powder until smooth. 
5. Add in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the sugar, vanilla, then the flour. Mix in the nuts, if using.
6. Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. 
7. Drop one-third of the Dulce de Leche, evenly spaced, over the brownie batter, then drag a knife through to swirl it slightly. 
8. Spread the remaining brownie batter over, then drop spoonfuls of the remaining Dulce de Leche in dollops over the top of the brownie batter. Use a knife to swirl the Dulce de Leche slightly.
9. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The brownies are done when the center feels just-slightly firm.  Remove from the oven and cool completely.  Remove from pan and cut into squares. 

Mar 10, 2010

Tin Roof Ice Cream

I had exactly 1.5 cups of heavy cream left after making Tiramisu for the Daring Bakers challenge - when looking through my recipes to figure out what to do with it - I went back to an old stand-by ice cream!  Now, this is not just any ice cream - this is homemade tin roof sundae ice cream - which combines a custard base, chocolate covered peanuts and homemade fudge ripple.  It is hands down the - best - ice - cream - E -V -E -R!  
I've made this a few times before - and the last time - I was out of town - and my husband ate this every night for dinner while I was gone! Enjoy - it won't last long.

for the ice cream
  • ¾ cup whole milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
for the fudge ripple
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
for the chocolate covered peanuts
  • 4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup roasted, unsalted spanish peanuts
1. Warm the milk, sugar, salt and 1/2 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan. With a sharp paring knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add them, along with the pod, to the hot milk mixture. Cover, remove from the heat, and let steep at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. Rewarm the vanilla-infused mixture. 
3. Pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a mesh strainer on top.
4. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
5. Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a heatproof spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. 
6. Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream to cool. Remove the vanilla bean, wipe it clean of any egg bits, and add it back to the custard. 
7. Stir in the vanilla and stir until cool over an ice bath. Chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.
8. Then ready to churn the ice cream, remove the vanilla bean. Freeze the ice cream in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
9. While the ice cream is freezing, chop the peanuts into bite-sized pieces.  Fold the peanut pieces into the frozen ice cream as you remove it from the machine, and layer it with Fudge Ripple. (recipes for both below)

Chocolate-Covered Peanuts
1. Put the pieces of chocolate in an absolutely dry heat proof bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water to melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth.
2. In the meantime, stretch a piece of plastic wrap over a dinner plate.
3. Once the chocolate is melted, remove it from the heat and stir in the peanuts, coating them with the chocolate. Spread the mixture on the plastic-lined plate and chill.

Fudge Ripple
1. Whisk together the sugar, corn syrup, water, and cocoa powder in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble at the edges.
2. Continue to whisk until it just comes to a low boil. Cook for 1 minute, whisking frequently. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and let cool. Chill in the refrigerator before using.
Source: David Lebovitz The Perfect Scoop

Mar 9, 2010

Cajun Chicken Pasta

This is an easy, fun pasta dish if you are looking for something different.   This was actually the first meal I cooked after I recovered from PRK eye surgery - once I was finally able to see something - it was nice to be able to cook again!   I'm still recovering from the surgery- but it is amazing to be able to see without contacts/glasses anymore! Enjoy!

  • 1 lb. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Cubes
  • 3 tsp. Cajun Spice Mix
  • 1 pound Fettuccine pasta
  • 2 tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp. Butter
  • 2 whole Red, Orange or Yellow Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
  • ½ whole Large Red Onion, Sliced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 4 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
  • 2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • ½ cup White Wine
  • dash Cayenne Pepper
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Salt
  • Chopped fresh Parsley
1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain when pasta is still al dente.
2. Sprinkle 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun spice over chicken pieces. Toss around to coat. 
3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add half the chicken in a single layer; do not stir. Allow chicken to brown on one side, about 1 minute. Flip to the other side and cook an additional minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a clean plate.  Repeat with remaining chicken. Remove chicken, leaving pan on high heat.
4. Add remaining olive oil and butter.  When heated, add peppers, onions, and garlic. Sprinkle on remaining Cajun spice, and add salt if needed. Cook over very high heat for 1 minute, stirring gently and trying to get the vegetables as dark/black as possible. 
5. Add tomatoes and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Remove all vegetables from the pan.
6. With the pan over high heat, pour in the wine and chicken broth. Cook on high for 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to deglaze.  Taste and add freshly ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, and/or salt to taste.
7. Finally, add chicken and vegetables to sauce, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until mixture is bubbly and hot. 
8. Add drained fettuccine and toss to combine.
9. Top with chopped fresh parsley. 

Source: adapted from the Pioneer Woman 

Mar 8, 2010

Mac and Chicken

On an average week we order-out or go out to eat at most one day.  Some weeks we don't go out at all - especially if I have a good meal plan that week!  So when I go out of town for work - it's really hard for me to eat out for every meal.  Mostly because I am so unimpressed by most foods at restaurants and I get sick of it really quickly.   I always try to order things that I would likely not make for myself at home - and I don't mind being adventurous when I'm on per diem :)  But Macaroni and Cheese - I mean Macaroni and Chicken - is not really an adventurous meal - but it was SO GOOD!  I was at Rock Bottom Brewery when I ordered this - first time I went there - and I really enjoyed the food.  So I tried to create a replica of this dish for us at home - and it was a success!  Not exactly like Rock Bottom - but still fantastic.

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 pound pasta (I used whole wheat bionaturae globbetti)
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp. flour
  • 1 tbsp. powdered mustard
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 large egg
  • 8 ounces mild white cheddar, grated
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, grated
  • 2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • fresh black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp. grated parmesan
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Trim the fat from your chicken and cut in half longways. Set on a baking sheet and season generously with paprika, 1 tsp. seasoned salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes.
2. When chicken is halfway done, set a large pot of water to boil for the pasta and add pasta once it’s boiling - cook according to package directions -less 1-2 minutes and drain, set aside.
3. In a medium size pot, melt the butter. Whisk in flour and mustard powder – keep the mixture moving. Once it’s lump-free, stir in milk, onion and paprika. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes.
4. When the chicken is done set it aside to cool and turn down oven to 350 degrees F.
5. Stir in the cheese to the milk/onion mixture. Season with additional 1 tsp. seasoned salt and pepper, then fold the cooked pasta into the mixture.
6. Shred cooked chicken and incorporate with the pasta and mixture. Pour into a large casserole dish.
7. Melt the butter for the topping in a microwave safe bowl, and add the parmesan and bread crumbs. Sprinkle over pasta.
8. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before serving. 

adapted from Dinner Cakes, inspired by Rock Bottom

Mar 5, 2010

Greek Turkey Burgers

This is one of my all-time favorite burger recipes.  They are so easy to make, very tasty and healthy too!  I used my grill pan to cook them - but they are even better on an outdoor grill (when is it going to finally warm up - I want Spring!)  This is one of my favorite easy weeknight meals - and its even easier when I have the extras in the freezer! :)  

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup katamala olives, chopped 
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  •  1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried basil 
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.   Gently form into 4-5 burger patties (depending on how large you want them).
2.  Cook on a pre-heated grill pan or outdoor grill. 
3. Serve on rolls or pita, with lettuce, tomatoes, crumbled feta, greek dressing or tahini. 

Adapted from Recipezaar

Mar 4, 2010

Mexican Lasagna

If you want a different type of lasagna - you should definitely try this mexican version.  It is a very versatile recipe - there are lots of ways to change it up and make it your own.  I think it would be a great recipe to make to bring over to new parents or someone who is not able to cook - just pop this in the oven and serve!   Enjoy! 

  • 1 cup rice, uncooked
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 -14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 - 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained 
  • 5 tbsp. taco seasoning
  • 1/2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 chipolte peppper in adobo
  • 1 tbsp. reserved adobo sauce
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 2 cups mexican shredded cheese
  • 2 - 7 oz. cans of salsa verde
  • flour tortillas
  • 1 - 10 oz. can enchilada sauce
  • sliced green onion, for garnish

1. Prepare rice with chicken broth.
2. In a large saute pan, heat oil until shimmering.  Then add onion, garlic and diced tomatoes and cook until onions have softened. 
3.  Add in beans, 2 tbsp. taco seasoning and chili powder - stir to combine. 
4.  In a separate bowl - combine cooked rice with bean/onion/tomato mixture - set aside.
5.  In the same pan, brown the ground beef until completely cooked.
6. Once cooked add in chopped chipolte pepper, adobo sauce, corn and 3 tbsp. taco seasoning and 3 tbsp. water.   Cook until sauce has thickened. 
7. In a 9 x 13 inch pan begin layering the lasagna as follows:
  • 1 - 7oz. can of salsa verde in the bottom
  • flour tortillas (may have to cut them to size)
  • 1/2 of the rice mixture
  • 1 cup of mexican cheese
  • more flour tortillas
  • 10 oz. can of enchilada sauce
  • beef mixture
  • 1/2 of the rice mixture
  • more flour tortillas
  • 1 -7oz. can of salsa verde
  • 1 cup of mexican cheese
8. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 30 minutes - or until completely heated through. Top with sliced green onions.

Adapted from the Pioneer Woman

Mar 3, 2010

Baked Ziti

I've always been very intrigued by this version of baked ziti - by the infallible Cooks Illustrated test kitchen - but the addition of cottage cheese in place of ricotta always frightened me.  I mean - I don't hate cottage cheese - but I really don't eat it often and I've never used it in my baked ziti or any dish for that matter.  But the test kitchen cooks are emphatic that you cannot substitute ricotta for the cottage cheese in this recipe - so I decided to give it a try. 
I never told anyone that I served this to that there was cottage cheese in it - and no one asked or wondered if anything was 'different'.   I thought it tasted fantastic - it was cheesy, full of tomato flavor, and very fulfilling.  I would definitely make this recipe my new stand-by baked ziti - and the perfect dish to feed a crowd!

  • 1 lb. 1% cottage cheese
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 cups), divided
  • Table salt
  • 1 lb. ziti noodles
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 20 oz. turkey/chicken Italian sausage (you can leave this out if you want to)
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 5 medium cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves, divided
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 8 oz. low-moisture part-skim block mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F (unless you are making this in advance).  
2. Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 cup Parmesan together in a bowl; set aside.  
3. Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta; cook until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5-7 minutes.  Drain the pasta and leave in colander.
4. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Crumble in the turkey sausage and cook until nearly browned (if using).  
5. Add in the onion and garlic and continue to cook until the onion is softened and the sausage is completely browned.  
6. Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.  
7. Off the heat, stir in 1/2 cup basil and the sugar, and season with salt and pepper.  
8. In a small bowl stir together the cornstarch and milk.  
9. Transfer the milk mixture to the now-empty stockpot over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes.  
10. Remove the pot from the heat and add the cottage cheese mixture, 1 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce and 3/4 cup mozzarella.  Stir to combine.  Add the pasta and toss to coat thoroughly with the sauce.
11. Transfer the pasta to a 9×13″ baking dish and spread the remaining tomato sauce evenly over the top.  
12. Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan over the top.  Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
13. Remove the foil from the pan and continue to cook until the cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer.  Cool for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons basil and serve. 

Source: Annie's Eats, originally from Cook’s Illustrated