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Goat Cheese Purses with Apricot Syrup and Almonds

This was a fun recipe to cook up on a relaxing Friday evening for weekend snacking. The problem you will have, is that these won’t last past that relaxing Friday evening. Be prepared to make a few batches!

This was adapted from a recipe featured on Nadia G’s cooking show Bitchin’ Kitchen. I didn’t have all of the ingredients, so I combined some of my favorite ingredients to make this yummy sweet.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 14 dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry jam
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • pinch ground cinnamon
  • 3 sheets phyllo dough
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • handful crushed slivered almonds
  • 2 sheets crispy prosciutto

METHOD

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

SYRUP

Bring water and sugar to a boil, then simmer over medium heat. Add dried apricots and reduce to low heat. Add the balsamic vinegar, strawberry jam, vanilla bean (seeds scraped from pod and added to pot, and pod thrown in), and cinnamon. Simmer for 10 minutes until it has a nice syrup consistency, strain the syrup, setting aside the apricot pieces. Throw vanilla pod away. You will be left with an amber- colored syrup with visible vanilla bean seeds.

CRISPY PROSCIUTTO

Take 2 pieces of prosciutto and place them in a frying pan. You don’t need to add any oil. Fry them on medium heat until they crisp up so you can crumble them over the top of your purses.

PHYLLO PURSES

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Stack the 3 sheets of phyllo dough, brushing with melted butter in between. Be sure to get the corners as they will dry out. Once stacked, cut the phyllo sheets into thirds lengthwise using a pastry wheel. Cut the goat cheese into small 1/2″ rounds, and using your hands, form them into balls. Add a few pieces of the reserved apricot pieces. THEN, fold the phyllo dough over the goat cheese and apricots where the bottom right meets the top left of the mixture. This is the first fold of your purse, or triangle. Continue to fold the dough back and forth until you reach the end of the dough and have a nice looking triangle. They don’t have to be perfect. If your purses look like logs, that’s ok. Brush once more with melted butter just to seal it all up, and put them in the oven for 18 minutes or so. Note: I actually cut these into thirds and then I cut those in half, so that I could make 6 total purses. The original recipe calls for only making 3.

ASSEMBLE

When your purses are done, let them cool a bit, then place them on a serving tray. Drizzle with the syrup, and sprinkle with crushed almonds and prosciutto.

OPTIONS

1) There will be more syrup than you need. I used it the next day for a baked salmon. I just poured the syrup onto a large salmon filet and baked it for 30 minutes. It was yummy!

Almond Butter Protein Bars {Recipe}

These protein bars are care of my friend Jill. I went to a party she was having in May, and she served these bars made out of protein powder. They are delicious, and your kids will never know they are healthy!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup Almond Butter
  • 1/4 cup Honey
  • 1/4 cup Agave
  • 9 oz. Protein Powder (we use Arbonne)
  • 1 1/2 cups Quick cooking Oats
  • 1 Tbsp. Cocoa Powder

METHOD

  • Mix Almond Butter, Honey and Agave in a microwaveable dish and heat for a minute or so.
  • Mix well and stir in protein powder.
  • Add Oats and Cocoa Powder and mix gently.
  • Spread into an 8×8 baking dish
  • Refrigerate for 1 hour.

That’s all there is to it. No baking!!

VARIATION

One of my other friends made this recently and used Nutella in place of the Almond Butter. I used straight Agave, just because I don’t have the patience to wait for the Honey to drizzle out of its container, and I added Cinnamon. I omitted the Cocoa Powder this time around. I will probably be making these again tomorrow…and the next day!

Mini Lemon Curd Tarts {Recipe}

For weeks I have been making Lemon Curd Tarts for different events with friends. My “go to” recipe is care of the one and only Barefoot Contessa. I’ve adapted this recipe for mini tarts, because I thought these would be more fun to eat, and less messy.

I was excited when these mini tarts arrived from Amazon (click on the image of the mini tarts in the sidebar for more details.) They were smaller than I was expecting, but they worked out perfect for both the mini lemon curd tarts, and the flourless chocolate cake recipe (which I’ll post later this week).

This set comes with 36 tins, and this recipe will make double that. Plus, you can make the lemon curd a few days ahead of time, and just spoon it out onto the tarts when they finish baking.

I will say, that this was a tedious project, and by the time you finish pressing the dough into each of the tins, you’ll be tired of doing it. I suggest grabbing a chair and a friend so you can work and chat.

TART SHELL

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • pinch of Kosher salt

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix butter and sugar until combined
  • Then add vanilla
  • In a separate bowl, sift the flour and salt
  • Add sifted ingredients to the butter, sugar, vanilla mixture
  • After everything has been mixed and incorporated, you will have a nice, smooth ball of dough
  • Place dough on a floured surface, and roll to 1/8″. Just eyeball this, you will need to press them into the tins anyway
  • Take a knife, or pastry wheel, and cut flattened dough into 1″ wide strips

METHOD FOR PRESSING DOUGH INTO TINS

  • Place the tins onto a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray to prevent tarts from sticking
  • Take a tin and, depending on the size, cut a piece of dough from your 1″ strips.
  • Take your piece of dough, and lay it inside the tin, and start pressing. The idea is to leave a hollow space for the lemon curd.
  • Once you have all of your tins pressed with dough, put the baking sheet in the oven for about 12-14 minutes. I had to test this with my oven to make sure I didn’t undercook or overcook them. I think it turned out to be around 14 minutes for me.
  • Let them cool for 5 minutes, or until you can handle them without burning your fingers, and gently pop the tarts out of the tins. I used a toothpick to do this, and once I got the hang of it, they popped out just fine.

At this point, you can place your mini tarts in a container and leave overnight, or until you are ready to fill them with the lemon curd.

LEMON  CURD

  • 4 lemons at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 4 large eggs at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

METHOD FOR LEMON CURD

  • Zest all 4 lemons with your Microplane, this way the zest stays small
  • Squeeze the lemons to make 1/2 cup of lemon juice, set aside in a measuring cup
  • Mix the sugar and lemon zest together until you can see small flecks of lemon throughout
  • Then add butter
  • Then add eggs one at a time, and only after each is incorporated
  • Then add lemon juice
  • Then add salt
  • Pour this mixture into a pot over low heat. Stir constantly for about 10 minutes, or until thickened.

METHOD FOR ASSEMBLING TARTS WITH LEMON CURD

  • You’ll want to find a serving tray with edges if you want to transport these little goodies anywhere. That way the lemon curd won’t stick to the plastic wrap.
  • Also, once these are assembled you shouldn’t ever refrigerate them. They’ll be fine for a day or two if they last that long!
  • Take a mini tart and fill it with a dollop of lemon curd
  • Once you’ve done this for all 72 tarts…you may want to celebrate
  • Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top of these just before serving
  • Pop one in your mouth
  • Repeat!

I’m sorry that I didn’t get any pictures of these tarts! It turned out to be a busy event and I didn’t have time. I will be making them again soon and will update with more photos. This recipe seems complicated with a lot of steps, but you will be glad you made them, and once you do it the next batch will be easier, plus it is a perfect do-ahead dessert!

Ginger Turkey Chili {Recipe}

Here is a Turkey Chili with the addition of Ginger to help fight the cold that is making its way around our house. I hope you enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Ground Turkey
  • 1 Tb. Tomato Paste (in the tube)
  • 1 Tb. Cumin
  • 1 tsp. All-purpose Curry Powder (made from a recipe in Spice Bible)
  • 1 tsp. Paprika
  • ~Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 Celery Ribs
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1 Leek
  • 1 1/8″ Piece of Peeled Ginger
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1 Can Kidney Beans
  • 1 Can Diced Tomatoes
  • 1-2 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 1 Tb. Brown Sugar
  • 1 Bunch Parsley

Method:

Brown the Turkey, then add Spices and Tomato Paste. Splash in a bit of Stock just to get the paste and spices going. Once it’s all incorporated, take the meat out and set it aside. Add the chopped Celery, Carrot and Leek to the pot and saute until soft, but not brown. Now, add the meat back in to the pot with the veggies, and add the Beans and Diced Tomato. Grab the Garlic and Ginger and add it to the pot with your Microplane (The microplane minces better than a knife, and eliminates little pieces that might be too strong.) Add the Chicken Stock to your liking (depending on how wet you like your chili), and add the Brown Sugar. Let this simmer over low heat  for about 30 minutes.

Garnish with chopped Parsley and Cheese if you want. Simple and Fast!

Orange Cream Cake {Recipe}

It all started one night when I was lying in bed using Stumble Upon on the iPad, dazzled by each blog story sliding across the screen with the tap of my thumb.

One site caused me to linger for a moment longer, caught up in the uniqueness of the concept and my imagination. It’s called Handwritten Recipes and you can link to it here.

Michael Popek describes his website as “A collection of the handwritten recipes I’ve found in books.” What a great concept, and one we can all relate to. How many of us have ripped off a corner of paper, hastily written down a recipe on it, then later shoved it into a book?

Michael has asked for people to make some of the recipes to get a sense for how they actually taste, and I took the challenge of making this Orange Cream Cake.

This is a picture of the recipe posted on the website. It was found in The Two Vanrevels, a book published in 1902. Notice that there aren’t any instructions for what kind of dish to cook it in, or at what temperature, or for how long.

My imagination gets the better of me sometimes, and I imagined that this woman probably made this recipe a million times and therefore the dish, temperature, and baking time was already safely stored away in her mind.

I also imagine her to be somebody living out in the country, much similar to myself. The  handwriting looks circa 1950′s to me, and I guess the age of the woman to be somewhere around seventy. I imagine her to be a sweet and kind grandmother, great grandmother even, with a life behind her which is full and pleasing.

And then while I was sitting down this morning to finish this post, I saw it…there on the top right corner. In parenthesis, my long lost grandmother wrote “Mystery Chef.” Come to find out, the Mysery Chef was a television show featuring John MacPherson in 1949. It was also a radio show prior to that from 1931-1950. (I promise, I guessed the approximate year of handwriting before I found out this little tidbit).

THE RECIPE

After creaming together the butter and sugar, it was time to separate the egg yolks from the egg whites. These days recipes will tell you to whisk the egg whites into soft or hard peaks. This recipe just stated to cut and fold them into the recipe. I opted to whisk them into soft peaks and added them to the batter.

That morning when I first saw the recipe, I was excited to note that I had all the ingredients, except the orange extract. So I opted to use freshly squeezed orange juice instead. From this, I also made an orange glaze to go on top of the cake by mixing the juice with powdered sugar. I decided to bake this cake in a pie dish, in a 325-degree oven for approximately 1-hour.

The cake was a hit with my family, and I enjoyed the first slice with a bottle of lavender soda on a warm, breezy August afternoon sitting by an open window. I encourage you to do the same! See the recipe below.

Orange Cream Cake (Mystery Chef)

  • 1/4c. butter
  • 1 1/3 c. sugar (I used raw, organic)
  • 3 eggs (separated)
  • 1 1/2 c. sifted flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/3 tsp. salt
  • 2/3 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. orange extract (I used about 1Tb. of freshly squeezed orange juice)

Cream butter and sugar, beat egg yolks and add. Sift flour, baking powder and salt, add alternatively with milk.  Whisk egg whites into soft peaks and fold into the batter.

Bake in a buttered pie dish in a 325-degree oven for 55-60 minutes.

Orange Glaze

  • Mix together the remainder of the freshly squeezed orange juice with powdered sugar to the consistency you like. When the cake is cooling, poke holes in the top with toothpicks, and pour the glaze over the top.

Kale Chips

I confess: these are not my favorite. I’ve made them a few times, and there is something inherent in the flavor that I can’t get past. But I did discover a new way to use them: sprinkled atop salads.

Here is how to make these very healthy Kale Chips:

~1 Bunch of Kale

~Sea Salt (use sparingly)

~Olive Oil

Heat your oven to 400 degrees, tear up the Kale into pieces, toss with 2 Tb of Olive Oil and Salt (I mix it all together in a bowl), spread out on 2 cookie sheets, bake for 5 minutes, alternate your cookie sheets so the bottom one is now on top and the back is now facing front, bake for another 5 minutes, serve, or…

Crinkle over salads like I had to do today. Since I have a bowl of these, I’m going to crinkle over the foam of my next smoothie. Let me know what you think!

Homemade Mini Pizza

OK, so you’re tired and don’t want to make dinner. It’s summer and the days are busy, what with keeping up the daily chores, meals and fun.

But why spend upwards of $30 on pizza delivery when you can make your own pizza dough? Trust me, your kids will have more fun building their own pizza pie, then waiting for delivery. Plus, it’s much healthier because you control the toppings.

I literally just made this Lavender/Basil mini pizza for lunch in the time it would’ve taken delivery to get here.

The trick is making the dough ahead of time. This recipe is courtesy of Jamie Oliver. It’s a proven recipe and works without much effort at all. After the dough is done, the rest is up to you.

By the way, this recipe makes up to eight medium-size pizzas, and probably 25 mini pizzas.

You can also take the dough rounds and BBQ them for a delicious and charred taste. Here goes:

~7 cups of Bread Flour

~1 level TB of fine Sea Salt

~2x 1/4oz. packets of active dried Yeast (*hint* if you buy yeast in bulk like me remember 2 1/4 teaspoons = 1/4oz.)

~1 TB raw Sugar

~4 TB extra virgin Olive Oil

2 1/2 cups of luke warm water

Method:

~Sift the flour into the bowl of your KitchenAid stand mixer attached with the dough hook.

~In another bowl, add luke warm water, then sugar, then olive oil, then yeast. Mix it quickly then let it bloom for a few minutes to give the yeast time to start eating the sugar.

~Turn the mixer on and slowly pour in the yeast mixture.

~Let it mix for just a few minutes until the dough is smooth and all incorporated.

~Shape the dough into a ball and dust it with flour. Put it in a flour-dusted bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave it for an hour or so.

*note* If you don’t have a mixer, you can do it buy hand right on your counter top, or a large bowl.

~After an hour punch the dough down and reshape it. You can wrap it in plastic and freeze or put it in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

Now you get to use your imagination:

1) Pull off some dough and roll it out for pizzas. Put on your toppings and bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes

2) Pull off a small piece of dough and roll it out for a mini pizza. Add toppings and broil for 3-5 minutes

3) Pull off some dough and roll it out, fill it with veggies or meat, fold over like a calzone and bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes

4) Pull off some dough, roll it out, set it over your BBQ for just 30-seconds, flip and repeat. Serve like Naan bread, tearing off a piece and dipping into your favorite sauce.

I hope you have fun! Let me know what your favorite combination is!

Homemade Strawberry Soda

In the spring our neighbors had us over for dinner and introduced us to the Soda Stream soda making machine. It seems to be everywhere now, and for good reason: Not only can you make your own soda for pennies a can, you can even make your own recipe for just about any type of soda you can think of.

Yesterday we decided to make Strawberry Soda because I had leftover reduced Strawberry Syrup we made a few days ago.

The process is very easy, and you can do this without the machine of course, just buy your favorite Club Soda, and mix in your own syrup. Here’s how we did it:

Mascerate:

We purchased local Stawberries in season here in Seattle, and after slicing them in half, adding sugar to mascerate them, and putting them in the refrigerator overnight, we got some delicious natural syrup.

Reduce:

I put them in a pot on the stove, added more sugar (you could use Agave, Honey, Water w/ Liquid Stevia drops, or omit sweetener if you don’t think it needs it).

Mix:

After cooling the syrup, use the Soda Stream as directed, then add your syrup by capfuls. We discovered that one capful wasn’t enough, and ended up just pouring the syrup in to our liking. This is the fun part of making it all yourself.

I have so many ideas now for making our own soda. Here are just a couple:

~Black Cherry Mint

~Peaches with Pineapple Sage

~Blueberry Basil

~Chocolate Mint

*A basic recipe would be:

In an 8 oz. glass, fill 3/4 full with crushed ice, pour in Club Soda to top of ice, add your reduced and cooled syrup – probably about 1/4 cup. Enjoy!

Peruvian Tofu Salad

It was one of those nights, the kind where you find forgotten treasures on trash night while cleaning out the refrigerator.

Instead of finding stranded Parsley heads and coils of withered Onion, I had the good fortune of finding a block of firm Tofu I purchased only a week prior.

The following is a recipe “from the hip” that you might enjoy.

You will need:

~10 oz. Firm Tofu

~1TB Squeezed Lemon/Lime Mix (just the juice of 1 Lemon and 1 Lime in same bowl)

~ Fresh Mint to your taste ( I actually have a ton of dried Mint which I rehydrated in the Lemon/Lime mixture)

~ 1 TB Tamari

~1 TB Peanut Butter

~1 Tsp Garlic/Shallot/Ginger mix (Slice ingredients, Bake at 200 for 4 hours, Grind)

~6″ piece of Lemongrass

~ 3 Strands of Chives

~ 1 TB Walnut Oil (more for drizzling at the end)

~ 1/4 C Chardonnay to deglaze

~ 2Tsp Peanut Butter add after pan is deglazed to make a sauce

~ Spinach, Romain, Butter Lettuces (use your favorite)

~ Plain Greek Yogurt

~Agave

And always a pinch of S&P

Method:

1) Cut your Tofu into cubes like this

2) Mix Parsley, Lemon/Lime Mix, Tamari, Peanut Butter, Ground Mix of Garlic-Shallots-Ginger, Lemongrass, Chives like this

3)Pour dressing over Tofu, toss and marinate

4) Brown in saute pan

5) When the Tofu is brown on all sides, deglaze with Wine, then add Peanut Butter, S&P

6) Assemble Lettuces, top or mix with Tofu and sauce, drop a dollop of plain Greek Yogurt, Agave or Honey and a drizzle of Walnut Oil

Enjoy!

Creamy Chicken Casserole

I’m terrible at memorizing recipes, so I’ve been trying to come up with easy ones with numeric properties one can easily memorize. This is a place for me to keep track of hits or misses.

If I’ve linked to somebody else’s recipe via epicurious or another blog, those will be part of a blog post and will show up here and on the home page.

Creamy Chicken Casserole

I get my Chicken from Firsthand Foods, so I just take the whole roast and simmer it for a couple of hours in Water, Wine, Lemon, Garlic or whatever you feel like. When it’s done, I shred it.

Here is the base: 1/1/1/ [Chicken Stock/Salsa or Pepper Relish/Cream Cheese]. The “1″ measurement is in Cups.

I’m trying to get all of the recipes to work like this, so I can easily remember them.

~First heat all the “1″ ingredients in a pot on the stove

~Next stir in 1/1 [Softened Butter/Flour]. Make a paste and add it to the pot. Let it bubble. (You could use some cornstarch for thickening as well).

~In a mixing bowl stir the Shredded Chicken with the Sauce from the pot. Save some for the next step

At this point, I just ad lib with everything else. I had some leftover Tortillas so I placed those on the bottom and poured a bit of the sauce on top. Then:

~Pour in the Chicken mixture (I had leftover Cilantro, Tomatoes, Green Onions and Beans from Tacos earlier in the week that I mixed in)

~Add Cheese of your choice. I had Aged Cheddar

~Tear up one last piece of Tortilla if you have it

~Sprinkle on Cilantro and a few dashes of hot sauce

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes (the first 10 minutes without tin foil, then put it on for the last 15)

RECAP

1 Chicken

1/1/1 Stock/Salsa/Cream Cheese

1/1 Flour-Butter Paste

Ad lib…enjoy!

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