Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Salted Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies?   If a vote were taken for favorite cookie they would probably win by a landslide, and it seems as though every cook has their favorite recipe for making them.   Mine would have to be the traditional Toll-House cookie, so I don’t usually look at other recipes for chocolate chippers.   But you know how popular the addition of salt has become in the dessert world, so when I happened on this recipe for Salted Chocolate Chip cookies, I was curious what they would be like and had to try them.

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A sprinkle of salt on the cookies before baking is the finishing touch that brings out the chocolate flavor and tones down the sweetness, creating the ultimate sweet and salty snack.  We found these cookies to have a very nice taste, but they do flatten out quite a bit as they bake.  I normally like a thick, chunky cookie with lots of depth to bite into, and these were not that, but I did enjoy that hit of salt against the sweetness of the chocolate.  These cookies are crisp on the outside but chewy on the inside; a nice contrast in textures.  We both liked them enough for me to make them again, so I would recommend you try them especially if you would like to experience that sweet and salty combination.

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After baking the first sheet of cookies and seeing how they turned out, I put the remaining two sheets in the refrigerator to chill the dough and firm up the butter, before they hit the heat of the oven.  It’s important also be keep your oven at 375*F  throughout the baking time. For best results  bake only one sheet of cookies at a time, instead of two and rotating them, as the recipe suggests.

When using salt on your desserts, a sprinkle of one of the following will get the job done—just don’t use table salt.   Kosher salt, large crystals, dissolve quickly;   flaky sea salt,  light, crunchy texture, provides ideal finishing touch on cookies, etc.;  coarse sea salt,  grains are crunchy, but don’t dissolve as quickly, good with assertive flavors and textures.

SALTED CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES

YIELD:   makes about 30 cookies

INGREDIENTSIMG_3423

  • 1  1/2  cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup  ( 1 stick ) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup ( packed ) light brown sugar
  • 1/2 granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • flaky sea salt

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Prepare baking sheets with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper.

2.  Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl; set aside.

3.  Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, sugar, and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, 3-4 minutes.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Beat, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl, until mixture is pale and fluffy,  4-5 minutes.  Reduce mixer speed to low; slowly add dry ingredients, mixing just to blend.  Using a spatula, fold in chocolate.

4.  Spoon rounded tablespoons full of cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 1″ apart.  Sprinkle cookies with sea salt.

5.  Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until just golden brown around the edges, 10 – 12 minutes.  Cookies will firm up as they cool.  Let cool slightly on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks;  let cool completely.   Store airtight at room temperature.

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SOURCE:   adapted from Bon Appetit,  January, 2013

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Sauteed Cabbage and Kale

Cabbage and Kale Sautee

Cabbage and Kale Sautee

Kale seemed to be the darling vegetable of 2012, and its popularity does not seem to be letting up in 2013.  Whether cooked in soups or with other vegetables or eaten raw in salads, this is one vegetable that packs a nutritious punch.

For years I wouldn’t even look at kale.  I thought it was only used as a garnish in fancy restaurants. Its leaves and surface are so rough, all I could imagine was trying to eat a brillo pad.  Until last year I had never even purchased kale.  But being a person who does not want to be left out of a good thing,  I realized that I owed it to myself ( and the people I cook for) to at least give it a fair chance.  So my first endeavor was to put some in a soup, where I would not have to meet it face-to-face.   I could tolerate that because it was mixed with the other vegetables, and every thing tasted quite good.  My second encounter with kale was not so successful.  I made Kale Chips.  So many articles and blogs raved about baked kale chips; crispy, a little salty, addictive.  Yup, they certainly were—-and I over did it.  Unpleasant side effects!  Mr. D. had the same reaction, so there has been a lengthy time lapse since that experience.

Where food is concerned, a good picture will get me every time.  So when I saw a picture of this dish on My Gourmet Connection of kale sautéed with cabbage, onions, and scallions, I decided to give it one more chance.  This time it was a winner.  If you are a fan of this leafy green vegetable that becomes soft and silky smooth when cooked, you must give this recipe a trial run.

Because you want to caramelize rather than brown the cabbage in order to develop its natural sweetness, this dish takes a little time to prepare, but I think you will find that the flavor is well worth the extra effort.  It is a great side dish that goes with all sorts of entrees.

SAUTEED CABBAGE AND KALE

Take time to slowly cook the cabbage until it is browned.

Take time to slowly cook the cabbage until it is golden.

YIELD:   about 4 – 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 small head of cabbage, chopped or roughly cut
  • 1 lb. fresh kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 bunch scallions, ( 4 – 5 ) chopped
  • salt and pepper

1.  Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until it begins to soften.  Add the garlic and continue cooking just until fragrant, 1 minute longer.

2.  Add about 1/3 of the chopped cabbage, season with a pinch of salt and cook until wilted and reduced in bulk.  Repeat with the other two batches of cabbage, being sure to season with a bit more salt each time.

3.  Continue cooking, stirring often until the cabbage is caramelized and golden in color, 15 to 18 minutes.  Add the butter, a few grinds of black pepper, and adjust the salt  to taste.

4.  Add the kale and continue cooking until it’s wilted and tender, 3 to 4 minutes, then add the scallions and cook until they’re slightly softened, but still bright green.

Add kale and scallions to the pan.

Add kale and scallions to the pan.

Transfer to a serving dish.

A great side dish ready to be enjoyed with any entree.

A great side dish ready to be enjoyed with any entree.

SOURCE:   MyGourmetconnection.com

Puttin’ On The Ritz

Puttin' on the Ritz Stuffed Shrimp.

Puttin’ on the Ritz Stuffed Shrimp.

Whenever I hear the song “Puttin’ on the Ritz” I think  of this recipe, so I have given it the name “Puttin’ on the Ritz Baked Stuffed Shrimp” and because I served it with a pilaf of Israeli couscous, that recipe is included here also.   This meal was a really nice combination of flavors and textures.  I hope you will like it.

A large bag of raw shrimp was  being featured at a terrifically good price at the supermarket this week, so I bought some.  Not having any specific plans for using them, I like to keep shrimp in the freezer because they are so versatile, and quick cooking.  But since I’m currently trying to incorporate at least one seafood meal per week, I decided to make baked stuffed shrimp with some of my ‘loot”.  Now I’m sure they are many, many ways to make the stuffing, but over the years I’ve developed a recipe that we both love, and its become my reliable way to pair any kind of fish with a stuffing.IMG_3286

What I do is make the stuffing (see recipe below), spread it in the bottom of a baking dish, and place the fish/seafood on top.  Drizzle a little melted butter over the top and sprinkle with seasonings.  Bake until the fish is tender.  This particular recipe may be called Baked Stuffed Shrimp, but it’s my version;  not the usual offering you would expect in a restaurant—same ingredients, but different look.

PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ BAKED STUFFED SHRIMP

SERVINGS:    about 4    To make more adjust ingredients accordingly.

INGREDIENTS

  •  1 pound large shrimp, cleaned and deveined
  • 20 – 30  Ritz crackers, crushed
  • 1 stick butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion, or green onions
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.   Lightly grease a baking dish.

2.  Crush crackers and set aside in a bowl.

3.  Melt 6 Tablespoons butter in a skillet over low heat.  Add the onion, celery, and garlic and sauté lightly till onion is translucent. and celery is beginning to soften.

4.  Pour the vegetable mixture over the cracker crumbs, stirring until the crumbs are completely moistened.   Spoon the crumb mixture into the bottom of the baking dish, and spread in a flat layer.

5.  Arrange shrimp attractively on top of stuffing.  Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoon butter and add the 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice.  Drizzle over the shrimp.  Sprinkle with seafood seasoning.

Make a layer of stuffing on the bottom, and place seafood on top.  Drizzle with butter and sprinkle with seasonings.

Make a layer of stuffing on the bottom, and place seafood on top. Drizzle with butter and sprinkle with seasonings.

Bake till shrimp have turned pink and are tender, about 20 minutes.

In place of shrimp you could substitute tilapia, flounder, or sole fillets.  Also the stuffing can be expanded by adding in some finely  chopped shrimp, crabmeat, or small bay scallops.

While shrimp are baking, prepare the pilaf:

ISRAELI COUSCOUS PILAF

Israeli Couscous, tri-colored.

Israeli Couscous, tri-colored.

SERVINGS:   about 4

  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1  1/4 cups boiling water

1.  In a medium skillet, heat the olive oil.  Add the chopped shallot and red pepper.  Saute over medium heat till vegetables start to soften. Add the couscous and cook to lightly brown the couscous.

Saute onion and pepper, then add couscous.

Saute shallot and pepper, then add couscous.

2.  Carefully add the boiling water.  Turn down heat to low simmer, and cook covered for about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Cook couscous to al dente, or desired degree of doneness.  Remove from heat and leave covered another 3 – 4 minutes before serving.

Israeli couscous pilaf.

Israeli couscous pilaf.

This is a delicious meal.

This is a delicious meal.

SOURCE:   Carolyn’s Originals

Chicken Crescent Ring

Chicken Crescent Ring

Chicken Crescent Ring

I made this recipe just recently for a birthday party where the menu consisted of appetizers, finger sandwiches and desserts.  I’ve had this recipe for a long time and had completely forgotten about it until I read a blog posting over at the Rantings of an Amateur Chef where he describes this sandwich.  I suddenly knew it would be perfect for the birthday party we were going to.  So, thank-you to Pat for his post and for reminding me of this great sandwich idea.

Many years ago I went to a Pampered Chef house party.  The hostess was preparing baked items on a pizza stone, and talking about how useful the stone is in addition to making pizza on it.  I was one of many who purchased the pizza stone that evening.  I’ve used it often and always have success in getting a nice crispy crust on my pizzas, but I don’t think to use it for much else, until I made this sandwich. It is not essential to have a pizza stone, so if you don’t have one don’t worry,  you can use a metal pizza pan just as well.

When you serve this, your guests will be impressed with your creativity, and how delicious the sandwich is.

CHICKEN CRESCENT RING

SERVINGS:   about 16

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 can chicken, broken up  ( about 1 cup )
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon green onions, sliced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, sliced vertically into wedges
  • 1 medium red pepper
  • 2 cups lettuce, shredded
  •  2 rolls, refrigerated crescent rolls

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Lightly grease a pizza pan or stone,

2.  Mix mayonnaise, mustard, parsley, and sliced green onion.   Set aside.

Make the dressing with mayo, mustard, parsley and green onions.

Make the dressing with mayo, mustard, parsley and green onions.

3.  Mix chicken, bacon, 3/4 cup cheese and 1/3 cup mayonnaise mixture.

Mix together, chicken, bacon and shredded cheese.

Mix together, chicken, bacon and shredded cheese.

4.  Unroll crescent dough, separating into triangles.  Arrange in a circle, overlapping wide ends in and points hanging out over the edge.  Leave a  5 – 6 inch circle empty in the center.  ( see picture )

Lay out triangles in a circle with wide ends toward the middle, and points out.

Lay out triangles in a circle with wide ends toward the middle, and points out.

5.  Spoon chicken salad onto rolls at the wide ends.

Spoon chicken salad onto wide ends of triangles.

Spoon chicken salad onto wide ends of triangles.

Wrap the points over and tuck underneath.

Wrap points over and tuck under.

Wrap points over and tuck under.

6.  Slice tomatoes into wedges and tuck one piece into each open space in the ring.

Tomato wedges tucked into each open space.

Tomato wedges tucked into each open space.

7.  Bake 20 – 25 minutes.  Just before end of baking time, sprinkle remaining cheese on top and allow to melt.  Remove from oven to cool slightly.

8.  To serve:  Cut top off red pepper, remove ribs and seeds.  Spoon in remainder of dressing.  Place pepper in center of ring, and garnish around pepper with shredded lettuce.  Cut into servings so that each one has a piece of tomato.

Serve with red pepper in the center and garnished with shredded lettuce.

Serve with red pepper in the center and garnished with shredded lettuce.

I must apologize for the poor quality of the pictures of the finished dish.  In my hurrying I forgot to bring my camera, and so these pictures were taken by someone else with their  camera and then sent to me via e-mail.  I think you can still get the idea of how attractive this is to serve, however.

SOURCE:   Pampered Chef,   via The Ranting Chef.com

Pistachio Cupcakes

Pistachio Cupcakes

Pistachio Cupcakes

This is a very good recipe for cupcakes that just happen to be green.  If you’re looking for something to bake for that St Patrick’s Day event, or just for your family, these might be what you’re looking for.

The inclusion of Pistachio pudding mix into the cupcake batter is what gives them the green color, plus a mild flavor of pistachio.  I wanted a stronger flavor in mine so I added a tiny bit of almond flavoring, and that, for me, was just enough.  The frosting is a white butter cream that I tinted green and then sprinkled the tops with green decorating sugar.  The cupcake itself is very moist because of the addition of sour cream or yogurt.

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I plan to keep this recipe handy because I think I will try substituting other flavors of pudding mix for the pistachio, and varying the frosting to match the cupcake.  It has the potential for being a basic cupcake recipe that lends itself to many variations.

PISTACHIO CUPCAKES

SERVINGS:     Makes  12

INGREDIENTS  and  DIRECTIONS:

You will need to have ready 3  mixing bowls;   a large mixer bowl,  and 2 other smaller bowls.  A muffin pan with paper liners, or well sprayed.  Preheat oven to 350*F.

1.  In your large mixer bowl, beat together all the following till thoroughly combined.

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oilIMG_3359
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond or pistachio flavoring, optional

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together—

  • 1  ( 3  1/8 oz. ) package pistachio instant pudding mix.  Sugar free is OK.
  • 1  2/3 cup flour

3.  In a small bowl, whisk together

  • 1/2 cup plain or vanilla yogurt,  or sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk

4.  3/4 cup chopped pistachio nuts,  optional

5.  Starting and ending with flour, alternately beat in flour and yogurt/milk mixtures, scraping down the bowl several times.

6.  Stir in chopped nuts, if using.

7.  Spoon into paper-lined muffin pans, and bake at 350*F for 18 – 22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean.

8.  Remove from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes in pan, then remove to a wire rack for complete cooling before frosting.

Butter cream frosting tinted green.

Butter cream frosting tinted green.

BUTTER CREAM FROSTING

  • 1/2 cup  ( 1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon flavoring;  vanilla, almond, or pistachio
  • 2  1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 – 2 Tablespoons milk
  • 2-3 drops green food coloring

1.  With an electric mixer, beat the butter till very soft and pale.  Beat in flavoring.

2.  Gradually sift in the confectioners’ sugar, beating well after each addition.  The more you beat at this stage, the lighter and fluffier the frosting will be.  Add milk a little at a time to achieve desired consistency for spreading or piping.

3.  To color, add drops of food coloring, and beat in to achieve desired level of color.

4.  Cover frosting with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator for at least an hour to firm up.  It will keep up to a week stored in the refrigerator.  Bring to room temperature before using.

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Decorating Tips:  Green decorating sugar is a nice touch for green/ St Patrick’s Day cupcakes; or, if using pistachio nuts in the cupcake batter, a few chopped pistachio nuts sprinkled on top would also be nice.

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SOURCE:   The Cupcake,  by Angela Drake,   for Paragon Books

Apple and Sage Pork Chops

Apple and Sage Porkchops

Apple and Sage Porkchops

When I was a young girl, my family lived next door to a farm, and on this farm they raised some pigs.  No, their name was not McDonald, but in addition to the pigs they raised cows for milking.  They also grew strawberries, and other fruits and vegetables and my family was often the lucky recipient of their over abundance.  Well one year I was witness to their slaughtering one of the pigs.  I won’t go into details, but suffice it to say that I will never forget it and for a long time afterward I would not eat pork of any kind.  As I grew older and became responsible for preparing meals for my family, the vivid memory faded, and I gradually got over it.  Pork came back into my diet and now I can say that it is a meat I like very much and look for different ways to prepare it.

I just got around to making this dish, but I’ve had the recipe for quite some time now.  Don’t know why I waited so long.  Actually it seems  like the perfect fall meal, and that’s about when I clipped out the recipe.  But some things just take time to get to.  No matter, it is outstanding whenever you make it.

Pork chops—I used the boneless variety—apples, onions and a highly seasoned sauce.  Not a big time investment to make but a hugh payoff when you sit down at the table for dinner.  Wow! they were delicious.

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APPLE AND SAGE PORK CHOPS

SERVINGS:   4

YOU WILL NEED:

Cider, apple, onion and seasonings.

Cider, apple, onion and seasonings.

  • 4 pork chops, 1-inch thick, about 1 1/4 pounds
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rubbed sage
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 red apples, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup apple juice or cider
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar

DIRECTIONS

1.  Whisk together the flour, salt and all the seasonings in a small bowl.   Sprinkle both sides of pork chops with 1 Tablespoon of the seasoned mixture.  Pat lightly to make it adhere.

2.  Cook pork chops in hot oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat until browned on both sides.

Season chops and brown on both sides.

Season chops and brown on both sides.

Remove from the skillet to a plate.  Add onion to skillet; cook and stir 3 minutes or until tender.  Add the apples;  cook and stir 2 minutes.

Add onions, then apples to skillet.

Add onions, then apples to skillet.

3.  Stir in juice, sugar and remaining seasoned flour until well mixed.  Return pork chops to skillet.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 6 – 8 minutes or until desired doneness.

Return chops to skillet and continue cooking till done.

Return chops to skillet and continue cooking till done.

4.  To serve, arrange chops, onions and apples in a shallow bowl.  Pour sauce over all.

Arrange in a serving dish with apples and onions poured over chops.

Arrange in a serving dish with apples and onions poured over chops.

Served with broccoli and sweet potato.

Served with broccoli and sweet potato.

SOURCE:  Bon Appetite.com

Bread Pudding with Irish Cream Sauce

Bread Pudding with Irish Cream Sauce

Bread Pudding with Irish Cream Sauce

Bread pudding!  An old-fashioned dessert that many of us grew up with.  A way to use up bread going stale.  Break or cut the bread up, pour a warm custardy mixture over it and bake till brown and fragrant.  Served warm with a little cream poured over it,  it became comfort food in a bowl.

So why haven’t I made it in such a long time?  Maybe because other more flashy desserts got my attention. What ever the reason I was reminded of bread pudding just recently when I was looking through a magazine in a waiting room  (dentist appointment, Ugh).   Coincidentally I had a large French baguette that I wanted to use.  The light bulb went on and when I got home, I started in making this version of  bread pudding.  When my mother made bread pudding she often made a lemon sauce to pour over it,  but I decided to make a sauce using some of the Irish Cream that I wrote about here.  To make the sauce compatible with the pudding, I used some sliced almonds in the pudding along with some raisins, since there is almond flavoring in the Irish Cream.  A match made in heaven,  thank-you very much!

Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding

Please note in the photos you see here, I made half the recipe by cutting all ingredients in half, except I used 3 eggs; and I baked mine in an 8-inch round cake pan, overlapping the top slices of bread for a “shingled” effect.

BREAD PUDDING WITH IRISH CREAM SAUCE 

SERVINGS:    9

For the Pudding

  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2  2/3 cups  2% milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 long French baguette,  dark crusts removed, sliced about 1/2-inch thick
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 Tablespoons raw sugar (demerera sugar)
  • cooking spray

For the Sauce:

  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup  2% milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Irish Cream Liqueur

1.  To prepare the pudding:  Combine 2/3 cup sugar and eggs in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Heat   2 2/3 cups milk, vanilla, and cinnamon in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium heat until tiny bubbles form around edge–do not boil!

2.  Gradually add hot milk mixture to egg mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Return milk mixture to pan;  cook over low heat 6 minutes or until mixture coats the back of a spoon.   Remove from heat.

3.  Spray an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray.  Cover bottom of pan with bread slices, fitting them close together.

Fit bread slices snugly for a bottom layer.

Fit bread slices snugly for a bottom layer.

Sprinkle on half the raisins and half the sliced almonds.  Repeat the layers again:  as much bread as you can fit, raisins, and almonds.

Add almonds and raisins.

Add almonds and raisins.

4.  Pour milk mixture over the bread and allow the bread to absorb some of the milk.  Wait about an hour before baking.  Before baking sprinkle top of pudding with the 2 Tablespoons raw sugar.

repeat layers and pour egg-milk mixture over the top.

repeat layers and pour egg-milk mixture over the top.

5.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Place baking dish in a 13 x 9 inch baking pan;  add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch.***  Bake, covered, at 350* for 20 minutes.  Uncover and continue baking an additional 40 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Bread Pudding, warm and custardy.

Bread Pudding, warm and custardy.

***Cooking the pudding in a water bath ensures creamy results.

6.  To prepare the sauce:  Combine 2 Tablespoons sugar and egg yolks in a medium bowl,  stirring with a whisk.  Heat 1/2 cup milk in a small, heavy saucepan over medium heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges—do not boil.

7.  Gradually  add hot milk to egg yolk mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Place milk mixture in pan; cook over low heat 6 minutes or until mixture coats back of a spoon. Remove from heat and stir in the liqueur.   Allow sauce to cool to room temperature.  This may be hastened by placing the pan in an ice-filled bowl and stirring constantly.

8.  To serve, cut pudding into  9 squares, and serve with sauce over warm pudding.

Bread Pudding with Irish Cream Sauce

Bread Pudding with Irish Cream Sauce

SOURCE:  Cooking Light Annual, 2007

Spicy White Bean Dip

Spicy white bean dip with crudités.

Spicy white bean dip with crudités.

Most times when you hear the word “dip” you think, appetizer. Well, so do I, mostly. However I also think of a dip as lunch or on its way to becoming lunch. What I mean is that when you combine a really interesting, tasty dip with raw veggies and some whole-grain crackers, or pitas that becomes lunch; at least for me it does.

Another way to enjoy this dip is to use it to appease your appetite, when you’re starving. Like you just came home from work, ravenous , you could eat shoe leather, but instead here you have a nutritious fill-in to snack on while you make dinner. I know you are going to like this, because I do, and I didn’t think I would. I was so wrong!!!! Give it a try, it might just become you’re new favorite food.

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SPICY WHITE BEAN DIP

YIELD: makes about 2 cups

  • 2 cans canneloni beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce ( reduced sodium, if possible)
  • 1/4 cup Sirracha Sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • up to 1/4 cup water, as needed
  • cilantro for garnish

In the work bowl of a food processor, place all the ingredients through lime juice. Process to blend well. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add water, a little at a time, to achieve a smooth consistency. Spoon into a serving bowl and garnish with cilantro.

Serve with raw vegetables, crackers, pita chips, etc.

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This is sooooo good that once I started on it I did not want to stop. Luckily I was eating it with raw veggies, so I at least got in a fair share of my allotted requirement of vegetables for the day, a la the food pyramid.

Spicy, but not too spicy--just right!

Spicy, but not too spicy–just right!

SOURCE: Annieseats.com

Knock-off Bailey

Homemade Irish Cream

Homemade Irish Cream

What better way to start the first week of March than with a recipe for Irish Cream Liqueur.  I for one love Bailey’s Irish Cream in my coffee.  This is not an indulgence I have often because of the added calories.   The recipe for the original B.I.C. is closely guarded but I love the fact that people try to duplicate some of these products and come pretty close to the originals.  That gives us at home the opportunity to try them out, maybe tinker with the recipe a little and even improve upon it, or match it to our own taste buds.  This being the month for all things Irish, I decided to try making my own Bailey’s.

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If you have never had Bailey’s, it is a creamy, mocha-kissed, drink that can be enjoyed poured over ice, or added to coffee.  It is seriously delicious.  One sip will leave you wanting more, and before you know it, a bottle full will be gone.  So it pays to know how to make your own.  It is very easy to make– takes about 30 minutes–from readily available ingredients. It contains none of the artificial flavorings or coloring agents or preservatives used in commercially prepared Irish creams. Serve or give this to someone you know and make them very happy.  Irish eyes will be smiling when they’re drinking this!

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Some recipes call for mixing all the ingredients in a blender, but made that way it doesn’t stay thick very long. This recipe, on the other hand, takes a  slower approach, warming it over low heat.  As the cream heats up the mixture thickens and seems to remain that way a longer time.  Also it is important to use a good quality Irish whisky.  It’s flavor comes through in the finished drink.  Using an inexpensive whisky, will not give you the same flavor.   Please be aware of the alcohol content in this drink.  If it is too strong for your taste, feel free to decrease the amount of alcohol called for.

IRISH CREAM LIQUEUR

YIELD:   Makes about 6 cupsIMG_3200

  • 1 cup strong coffee
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon dark cocoa
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1  14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 cups Irish whiskey

1.  Bring the coffee to a gentle simmer in a medium saucepan.

2.  Add the cream, cocoa, sugar, honey and extracts, and whisk thoroughly.

3.  Simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, whisking frequently, until the mixture begins to thicken.

Bring  ingredients to a simmer.

Bring ingredients to a simmer.

4.  Remove the saucepan from the heat;  whisk in the sweetened condensed milk.

5.  Transfer the mixture to a heat-safe bowl, and set aside to cool for a while.

6.  Whisk in the whiskey until completely blended.

7.  Store in the refrigerator in a lidded container or decorative bottle.  Serve over ice.

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Reminder:  This beverage has no preservatives and isn’t shelf stable.  It must be kept refrigerated.  Remind any recipient of that, if it lasts that long.  🙂

SOURCE:  designsponge.com

Lemon Curd Filled Poppy Seed Muffins

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins with lemon curd filling.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins with lemon curd filling.

Some muffins can be boring, especially if you’re used to making them from a boxed mix, and your choices are somewhat limited.   If I’m putting in the time and effort to bake muffins then I want them to be special and worth the effort that went into making them.  I can say that these little gems are way special and way good.  I will even go so far as to say they are elevated to greatness by the addition of lemon curd baked in the middle of each one and fresh lemon zest in the batter and lemon juice in the icing.

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This is how I used some of the curd that I made and wrote about here.

Is this extra work?   Heck, no!  I like to see the flecks of lemon zest in the dough and taste that deep lemon flavor in every bite.  Most people would probably  agree that muffins are a breakfast ( or brunch) food, but I say eat them anytime you heart desires.  Think afternoon tea and a lemon muffin.  Oh,  yeah,  they’re that good!

LEMON CURD FILLED POPPY SEED MUFFINS

YIELD:    a dozen muffinsIMG_3299

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
  • lemon curd

For the icing:

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1.  Preheat the oven to 400*F.  Place paper muffin cups in a regular-sized muffin pan.   Place muffin pan on a baking sheet.

2.  In a large bowl, rub the sugar and lemon zest together with your fingers until the sugar is moist.  Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Thoroughly mix lemon zest with the sugar.

Thoroughly mix lemon zest with the sugar.

3.  In another bowl, whisk the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon juice and melted butter together until well blended.  Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and quickly stir to blend.  (Be mindful not to over do it here)  Stir in the poppy seeds.

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix gently.

Add wet ingredients to dry and mix gently.

4.  Fill muffin cups with half of the batter and put a teaspoon full of lemon curd in each one.

Place half the batter in muffins cups and add a teaspoon of lemon curd.

Place half the batter in muffins cups and add a teaspoon of lemon curd.

Fill in with the rest of the batter.

Fill with remaining batter.

Fill with remaining batter.

Bake for 18 – 20 minutes or until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean.  Cool muffins on a rack completely before icing them.

5.  When the muffins have cooled, put the confectioners’ sugar in a bowl and add about 1 1/2 Tablespoons of the lemon juice.  Stir together and keep adding small amounts of the juice until you get a drizzly consistency.  Use a spoon to drizzle icing over the tops of the muffins.

Drizzle lemon icing over cooled muffins.

Drizzle lemon icing over cooled muffins.

Just right with a cup of tea.

Just right with a cup of tea.

SOURCE:  adapted from   Baking:  From my home to yours  by Dorie Greenspan