Double Chocolate Espresso Almond Cookies

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grilled shrimp tacos with green apple salsa

Grilled Shrimp Tacos with Green Apple Salsa (adapted from myrecipes.com)

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 teaspoons fresh lime juice, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 Granny Smith apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 minced Thai chile pepper
8 (6-inch) whole wheat tortillas (recommend: Toufouyan Soft Wheat Tacos)
1 ounce crumbled queso blanco
Tomato Salsa, optional

1. Combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 teaspoons lime juice, cumin, paprika, and red pepper in a small bowl. Combine shrimp and spice mixture in a zip-top plastic bag, and seal. Let stand 15 minutes.

2. Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, 2 teaspoons juice, onions, 1/8 teaspoon salt, rind, apple, and jalapeño; toss.

3. Remove shrimp from bag; discard marinade. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle shrimp with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Arrange half of shrimp in pan; grill 2 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining shrimp. Toast the tortillas in grill pan, if desired.

4. Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates, and divide shrimp evenly among tortillas. Divide salsa evenly among tacos, and top with queso blanco. Pop it under the broiler to slightly melt the cheese. Serve with Tomato Salsa, if desired.

 

espresso coffee chiffon cake with chocolate glaze

Espresso Coffee Chiffon Cake
This cake is my mother-in-law’s recipe. It is a long-time family favorite always requested at birthdays and other special occasions. I usually bake it at least once a year. I’ve altered the recipe with the addition of a teaspoon of cocoa powder for I find chocolate intensifies the coffee flavor.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 55-60 minutes

Ingredients
2 cups all purpose flour (2 cups plus 4 tablespoons cake flour)
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar, divided
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, optional
1/2 cup vegetable oil
7 egg yolks
3/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons vanilla
7 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Preparation
Preheat oven to 325˚F.

Whip egg whites. Put egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating at high speed until blended. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until whites turn smooth and silky. There’s no need to clean the beaters for the next step.

Make the batter. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder if using, and 1 cup sugar in another large bowl. Make well in center of the dry ingredients and add oil, egg yolks, water, dissolved coffee, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until all ingredients are moistened.

Combine the batter and whipped whites. Scrape the batter into the whipped egg whites. By hand gently fold egg yolk mixture into beaten egg whites. Cut the center of the batter with a spatula and drag it along the bottom to the side of the bowl then turn the spatula over. Rotate the bowl one quarter turn and repeat the process until the batter and whipped egg whites are blended. When white streaks remain, stop mixing. Pour batter mixture into an ungreased tube cake pan. Cut the batter with a sharp thin blade to eliminate air pockets.

Bake and unmold the cake. Bake 55-60 minutes. If the pan has no “feet” invert the cake pan over a funnel to cool. Cool thoroughly before unmolding and frosting. To unmold, use a sharp thin blade to loosen the sides. Push straight down and forward, away from the side. Remove the knife and repeat. To loosen the center, use a skewer, applying the same motion. Gently remove the sides of the pan. Then support the cake with the center-piece in one hand; this prevents the bottom from tearing as you release the cake.  Insert the blade between the bottom of the pan and the cake, applying the same motion. Remove the center-piece.

When the cake is cooled frost it, if desired. Or pour on a chocolate glaze.

Chocolate Glaze (from America’s Test Kitchen)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3-5 minutes
Standing Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup heavy cream, hot
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt

Preparation
Heat the cream on medium low heat in a small saucepan until it bubbles, 3-5 minutes. Put the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the milk. Whisk all ingredients until smooth and let it sit until thickened, about 25 minutes. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, letting the glaze drip down the sides. Let the glaze set before serving, about 25 minutes.

Snickers Delight

Looks so decadent!

Can't Stay Out of the Kitchen

This is a spectacular chocolate dessert that unbelievably delicious. It’s actually a knock-off from my Butterfinger Delight recipe substituting chocolate pudding and ice cream for the vanilla, and substituting Snickers Bars for the Butterfinger Bars in the recipe. It is rich, decadent, creamy, and has a delicious peanutty caramel taste that you expect from eating Snickers Bars. W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L!!!!!!! It is as delightful as the name and relatively easy to make, all things considered.

My inspiration for this recipe is Erma Thorn’s Butterfinger Delight recipe as I said earlier. Erma brought the Butterfinger Delight recipe to a potluck at Colonial Hills Baptist Church in Cedar Hill one day and I sampled a little bit of it. Boy, am I glad I did. It was fantastic. This recipe takes the same basic idea as Erma’s Butterfinger Delight and by making a few changes it becomes another decadent and fabulous dessert with a…

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italian egg strata with turkey sausage and vegetables

 

Italian Egg Strata with Turkey Sausage and Vegetables (adapted from Dash)
It’s so nice not to have to rush to get dinner on the table. How I love the weekends! The nice thing about this dish is that it can be prepared ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator, then baked for a weeknight dinner. For a Sunday night dinner, it is the best. According to the original recipe, each serving is 380 calories, but since I made substitutions like nonfat milk instead of 2% and whole wheat bread instead of white, that lessens the calorie count. To reduce calories further, substitute part-skim mozzarella cheese for the Monterey Jack cheese.

Servings: 8
Prep Time: 20 minutes plus  20 minutes resting time
Cook Time: 1 hour
TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 40 min (includes resting time)

Ingredients:
1⁄2 cup sliced scallion
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini, chopped
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1 lb sweet turkey sausage, casings removed, broken into bite-size chunks
7 eggs
3 cups nonfat milk
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan-Romano cheese
1⁄4 tsp black pepper
1 half loaf whole wheat baguette (about 5 cups), cut into large chunks
1 cup grated reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
Salt and pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes, optional

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and a large skillet with cooking spray. If using a glass dish or a pan with a dark nonstick finish, reduce heat to 325˚F and bake for 55 minutes.

2. Sauté scallion, red pepper, and zucchini in the skillet for 4 minutes. Add sausage and continue cooking until sausage is browned. When the meat is almost cooked through, add the spinach. Cook until the spinach is wilted. Turn off the heat. The meat and vegetable mixture will spring water, so drain it well and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs. Add milk, Parmesan-Romano, and black pepper.

4. In the prepared baking dish, layer half the bread, half the egg mixture, and half the drained sausage-vegetable mixture.  Repeat layers.

5. Press down the top to make sure the bread is completely submerged. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and if desired, with crushed red pepper flakes too.  Let the strata rest for 20 minutes. At this point, you can prepare the strata up to a day ahead and store, covered, in the refrigerator.

6. Just before baking, sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese. Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown and puffy.

apple dumplings with cider sauce

Apple Dumplings (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
America’s Test Kitchen says: Use a melon baller or a metal teaspoon measure to core the apples. We like to serve the dumplings warm with vanilla ice cream and Cider Sauce (see Cider Sauce recipe below). Other sweet, moderately firm apples, such as Braeburns or Galas, can be used in this recipe.

The Cake Baker says: Use frozen puff pastry to make this dessert quick, easy, and less fuss. I prefer cranberries to raisins so I made that substitution. I had left over cinnamon sugar and butter-cranberry mixture because I didn’t cut down the recipe. But I had another use for them as you’ll see in the cider sauce below.

Servings: 2
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 frozen puff pastry squares
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons dried cranberry raisins, chopped (can use raisins)
  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten

Preparation

  1. Prep Apples. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine sugar and cinnamon in small bowl. In second bowl, combine butter, cranberry raisins, and 3 tablespoons cinnamon sugar mixture. Peel apple and halve through equator. Remove core and pack butter mixture into each apple half.
  2. Assemble Dumplings. On lightly floured surface, roll each dough square approximately 4 inches by 4 inches. Working one at a time, lightly brush edges of dough square with egg white and place apple, cut-side up, in center of each square. Gather dough one corner at a time on top of apple, crimping edges to seal. Using paring knife, poke a small vent hole in top of each dumpling.
  3. Finish Apples. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange dumplings on prepared baking sheet, brush tops with egg white, and sprinkle with 1/2 tablespoon each of the remaining cinnamon sugar. Bake until dough is golden brown and juices are bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on baking sheet 10 minutes. Serve with Cider Sauce.

Cider Sauce (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
America’s Test Kitchen says: To make this sauce up to 2 days in advance, reduce the cider mixture until it measures 1½ cups, then refrigerate. When ready to serve, return mixture to simmer and whisk in butter and lemon juice after the heat is turned off.

The Cake Baker says: I left out the cup of sugar in the apple cider reduction. It was tart and slightly sweet because of the cranberries.

Servings: about 1 1/2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
  • about 1/2 cup butter-cranberry mixture in cinnamon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice

Preparation
In a small saucepan, bring to a boil cider and water  plus what’s left of the cinnamon sugar.  Simmer in saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until thickened and reduced to 1½ cups, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, whisk in the remaining butter-cranberry mixture from the apple dumplings then add the lemon or lime juice. Drizzle warm over dumplings to serve. A scoop of frozen vanilla yogurt is recommended!

sriracha-cheddar biscuits with black bean veggie burgers and mango tomato salsa

Sriracha-Cheddar Biscuits (adapted from Savory Simple)
Sriracha is the name of a town in Thailand that is famous for its reddish-orange hot sauce. This recipe takes me back to the days I lived in Thailand, and the spicy flavors of the food. I served it with homemade black bean veggie burgers and a mango tomato salsa on a bed of arugula. Aroy.Delicious!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 10 biscuits

Ingredients
2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
2 cups all purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup butter, cut into cubes, chill in fridge until ready to use
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese (can substitute other cheeses)

for brushing the biscuits:
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon Sriracha

Preparation
Preheat oven to 425˚F. Line a large baking sheet with a Silpat liner or parchment paper. Set aside.

Mix the milk and Sriracha sauce until well blended. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder. Add the cold butter and cut with a pastry blender until the butter resembles small peas. Pour in the milk-Sriracha mixture all at once and stir until the milk is absorbed. Mix in the cheese, this time using your hands and being careful not to over mix. You’ll know the dough is ready to roll out when your hands and the sides of the bowl are clean.

Turn out half the dough onto a floured surface and roll into a round about 1/2 inch thick. Cut out the biscuits using a 3 inch round biscuit cutter. Place each round on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Brush the tops of each biscuit with the reserved milk-Sriracha mixture.

Bake in the preheated oven 14-15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.

Homemade Black Bean Veggie Burgers (adapted from allrecipes.com)
While the biscuits are in the oven, make these black bean veggie burgers. These “burgers” are quick and easy to make, and have a mild flavor despite the Sriracha sauce, chili powder, and cumin.

Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Ready In: 35 Minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients
1 (16 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 egg
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1/2 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

Preparation
1. If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and lightly oil a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.
3. In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic. Then stir into mashed beans.
4. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.
5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties. I scoop up 1/2 cupful, turn it out onto the prepared pan, and flatten and shape it with a spatula.
6. If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on greased baking sheet and bake about 5 minutes on each side.

Mango-Tomato Salsa (adapted from allrecipes.com)
This is a mild salsa; to spice it up add a Thai chile pepper or tone it down with a jalapeño pepper instead!

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: none

Ingredients
1 large mango diced
1 medium tomato, seeded and diced
1/2 cup sweet onion
1 chile pepper, optional
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime

Preparation
Combine chopped mangoes, tomatoes, onion, chile pepper, and cilantro in a medium bowl. Squeeze two halves of a small lime over the bowl. Toss and allow to stand until ready to serve.

pappardelle with spicy sausage, green beans, and mushrooms

Pappardelle with Spicy Sausage, Green Beans, and Mushrooms (adapted from Savory Simple)

This is a deliciously simple weeknight meal and it only takes less than half an hour. This is truly “quick and easy” in my book! The mushrooms have a nice smoky flavor that contrasts nicely with the spiciness of the sausage. I added the green beans–we all could use more fiber anyway–and their bright green color was a lovely contrast with the golden noodles.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 8 -8.8 ounces pappardelle
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4-6 links hot Italian sausage, casing removed (can use sweet Italian sausage)
  • 7 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced (can use shiitake)
  • 8 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed and sliced into 2 inch lengths
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • juice of 1 lime (lemon in the original recipe)
  • 6 ounces homemade chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, optional
  • salt to taste
  • fresh grated Parmesan for garnish, optional

Preparation

  1. Cook pappardelle according to the instructions on the box.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, heat up the oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. When the pasta has cooked, reserve a cup of the cooking water. Drain the noodles and set aside.
  3. Remove the sausage casings and discard.  Crumble the sausage stuffing into the hot oil.  Reduce heat to medium and brown the sausage.
  4. If the sausage sticks to the pan, add a tablespoon of water and scrape up the brown bits called fond, tossing them with the sausage. Fond adds flavor.
  5. Once the sausage is cooked and (mostly) browned, add the sliced mushrooms and chopped green beans.  Sauté for two minutes, then lower the heat and add the garlic.
  6. After the garlic has cooked, about 60 seconds, sprinkle sausage mixture with the red pepper flakes and squeeze on half the lime or lemon juice. Remove the sausage mixture to a bowl and set aside.
  7. Add the chicken stock to the skillet to deglaze it, scraping up any  fond from the bottom of the pan. Allow the stock to reduce slightly, a minute or two.
  8. Stir in the cream, if using. Add a 1/4 cup of reserved cooking water to the pasta. Toss to separate the noodles. Add more water, 1/4 cup at a time, if needed.
  9. Return the sausage and mushroom to the pot with the pappardelle. Toss. Taste, and add salt if needed.
  10. Garnish with crushed red pepper flakes and Parmesan, if desired.

plum-berry galette

Plum-Berry Galette

I hate to waste food! Don’t you? So I made these mini-galettes because I had some  fruit that nobody wanted to eat and I couldn’t throw it away. This recipe is a combination of two recipes, one from Swerve magazine and the other from the Martha Stewart Baking Handbook.  I liked the Swerve because the crust is made from frozen puff pastry and was therefore easy to make. The Martha Stewart recipe I liked for the sweetness. 

6 frozen puff pastry squares, thawed
all purpose flour for dusting
1 plum, seeded and chopped into large chunks
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
dash of salt
1 large  egg white
1 tablespoon milk

Preheat oven 375˚F. Prepare a large baking tray and line it with a silicone mat or a sheet of parchment paper.

Put fruit in a medium bowl.  In a measuring cup, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add to the fruit and toss gently. Set aside.

On a well floured board, roll out each dough square until it is about 4″ square. Mound the fruit in the middle of the pastry. There should be a border of about 2 inches. Fold up the edges and make pleats. It doesn’t have to be neat; it should look rustic. Pick up the “packet” and place it on the prepared baking tray. If it is too hard to pick up with your fingers, use a large spatula.

Brush the pastry edges with a mixture of egg white and milk.

Place the tray in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden and flaky. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Slide the galettes off the mat/parchment onto the cooling rack to cool completely.

casuyon chicken menudo pie

Casuyon Chicken Menudo Pie (adapted from a recipe by Claire Casuyon’s Mom)
If you subtract the pie crust, bacon and leeks you have Menudo, Filipino style. Either one is a great dish, very easy to make for a Sunday supper with an accompaniment of a simple salad of fresh greens and grape tomatoes.

2 slices smoked bacon, chopped
3 cups leeks, sliced thin (about 2 leeks)
1 smashed garlic clove
1 tablespoon canola oil, optional
4 inch ginger root, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
4 boneless skinless thighs, trimmed of visible fat and chopped into 2 inch chunks
2 boneless skinless breasts, halved into 1 inch thick fillets and sliced into 2 inch chunks
1 1/2 cups red potato, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 cups baby carrots (1/2 bag of baby carrots), sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
2 cans of tomato sauce (preferably Hunts)
1 bay leaf
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Menudo Seasoning, or to taste

Menudo Seasoning (from The Cook’s Thesaurus)
Combine two parts oregano, two parts onion flakes or powder, one part crushed coriander seed, one part cumin, and one part crushed red chili pepper. Store in a jar.

Pie
1/2 package of frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator
1 tablespoon fat free milk
1 large egg white

  1. In a dutch oven, cook bacon over medium high heat until brown and crisp. Then sauté leeks and garlic with the bacon and fat until slightly soft; if necessary add more oil. Add ginger and sauté for 2 more minutes.
    Add chicken thighs and stirfry. Reduce heat to medium. Let the meat cook until the outside turns white, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper for taste.
  2. Stir in two cans of tomato sauce and the bay leaf. Add water if the sauce seems too thick, then let sauce simmer for 15 minutes. Add menudo seasoning. If a stronger, thicker tomato sauce is desired, add the tomato paste.
    Preheat oven to 450˚F.
  3. Add chicken breasts, carrots, potatoes and bay leaf. Cover and let simmer until chicken is cooked and veggies are soft, about 20-25 minutes. Stir every 2-3 minutes. Add the peas. Adjust seasoning.
    Pour meat and vegetables into a 9.5 inch pie plate.
  4. Roll out pie crust onto a well-floured board so that there is an inch overhang. Loosely roll up the pie crust onto the rolling pin and roll it out on top of the meat and vegetables. Tuck the edges under on the rim of the pie plate. Either pinch the edges between thumb and forefinger or crimp with a fork. Mix water and egg white together and brush the top with the mixture. Poke the top with a knife to make slits or use the tines of a  fork to make vents. Bake 20-30 minutes or until the crust is golden. Remove the pie from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
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