Sunday, May 27, 2012

152. Mango's and Capital Style Magazine-May 2012

Have you ever received a call and when you hung up you cried?  This happened to me recently.

Oh rest assured, those tears were tears of JOY!

I submitted a picture, was asked a question, got a call and cried.

Called everyone I knew to tell them the news only to be met  by voice mail after voice mail..even the hubby…LOL

So, I sat and enjoyed every minute until I could tell someone that I was being asked and given the opportunity to be the food writer for Capital Style Magazine in Annapolis, MD.

Why the tears?

Hard work!  I started this blog in June of 2011 not having any one area of focus (writing or photography) of what I would do with it in a year.  I worked really hard to maintain updates on the blog, worked on recipes, took pictures and just keep going.  I wanted the process to be "organic" in the sense that I wanted the opportunity to find me and it did.

Do you have a little voice that speaks to you?  Well, I do.  It kept telling me to "build it and they will come".  Yes, I just used an old movie quote…but it is true.

I knew that if I stayed focused and did my very best that something would come my way, and it has.

To write about food, create recipes and share this all while living in a place that I love…is a dream come true.  This is my first set of recipes for Capital Style Magazine.

I put together a set of recipes that could be a "mix and match" for one meal or they could be prepared individually and used at separate times.  I chose to use Mango's because they were one of the first foods that I remember, as a child living in the Philippines with my parents, eating right off of the tree.  I have remained a fan of this fruit my whole life.

Mango's are best eaten when they are fully ripe.  Even when they look over ripe their fruit inside will be so sweet and juicy.

Here is a link showing you how to cut a mango.  They even have a short video you can watch.

1.  Mango Salsa:  This is wonderful served with a batch of warm chips OR it could be used as a relish for your favorite grilled fish OR to add a tropical flavor to your favorite salad.

2.  Parmesan Croutons:  We eat these in soups (usually tomato bisque), like crackers by the handful or served with your favorite salad to add that extra crunch.

3.  Mango Marinade/Dressing:  Just as the title says, it can be used as a marinade for shrimp or chicken OR as a salad dressing.  Our favorite way to enjoy the recipe is warming it first.

Mango Salsa

Makes 2 cups

1 mango...very ripe, cubed

1 slice of pineapple or a small can of tidbits, drained

1/4 cup of red onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup of red bell pepper, finely chopped

2 T. cilantro, finely chopped

In a medium size bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix well and serve with chips or as a side with fish.

This will show you how each of the ingredients were prepared before I combined them.

Parmesan Croutons

Makes 4-5 cups of croutons depending on how big your cubes are.

4-5 cups of cubed stale bread. French bread works great.

1/3 cup of olive oil

1/4 teaspoon of ground pepper

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon of dried basil

1/4 cup of fresh parmesan, grated finely

Preheat oven to 275 degrees.

Combine the bread cubes, olive oil, herbs and cheese. Mix well until each crouton is tossed with herbs, oil and cheese.

Pour the entire bowl onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.

Toss the croutons every 10 minutes until they turn a golden brown and are crunchy. The tossing will allow the melted cheese to stick to the croutons and bake into the bread cube.

Estimated cook time is 45 minutes. Store croutons in a brown paper bag. They may be served with a salad, soup or just by themselves as a snack.

Mango Basil Marinade/Salad Dressing

Makes about 2 cups

2 ripe mangos, peeled and seed removed

1/3 cup of fresh basil

1 tablespoon of fresh oregano

2/3 cup of orange juice

2/3 cup of sweet chili sauce. I used Mae Ploy.

1 teaspoon of soy sauce

Using a blender, combine all ingredients. Blend the marinade/dressing until you have small flecks of herbs.

To use as a marinade: In a bowl with your desired meat (pictured is shrimp), let marinate at least 4 hours in the refrigerator. If using raw meat, do not serve the marinade as a dressing. This should be thrown away.

To use as a dressing: My family loved this dressing served warm over their shrimp salads. It will last one week in the refrigerator.
Here, I marinated the shrimp, skewered them, and grilled them on the BBQ for about 3 minutes on each side.
I served the shrimp with a huge salad.  My family used the mango salsa, croutons and the warmed up dressing to combine all of the flavors to create a mouth watering dinner.

Monday, May 21, 2012

153. Brown Butter Rice Crispy Treats

I am convinced that once you have brown butter, you will never go back to using plain butter.

Ok, so I am exaggerating a bit.  There are a few things that plain butter is best used for, but at the moment I am finding it hard to remember exactly which recipes.  

All I can see are those little brown specks of deliciousness, the aroma of nutty flavors wafting through my house and my teeth sinking into one of the yummiest desserts I have had in a while.

I grew up on Rice Crispy treats.  They were a staple for classroom parties, sleep overs and church bake sales.  

Who didn't like the snap, crackle, pop of this yummy rice cereal?  In fact, I just introduced the cereal to my 5 year old and actually held my ear down to her bowl and gave her instructions to be quiet and to listen.   We laughed and she said she could hear every word.  I could when I was 5 too…LOL

So why not take this treat of my childhood and bring it into the 21st century with brown butter?  I am not the first to have thought of this over the top spin of a simple treat.  I don't know who did it first but all I can say is THANK YOU!

I will warn you that it's near impossible to eat just one.  Trust me I know these things.  

This is not a snack you want to eat's called brown butter for a reason, there is a lot of butter in the recipe.  

Recipe:  Brown Butter Rice Crispy Treats with Chocolate

Makes one batch of treats. 

1/2 box of Rice Crispy Cereal or 5-6 cups of cereal
1 bag of mini marshmallows
1 stick of butter, browned
1/2 stick of butter, browned for the top (optional)
1/4 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips (optional)

I used parchment paper to line my pan.  It made removing and cutting the treats so much easier.  If you use a 9X13 your treats will be thinner than what you see in my picture.  I have an odd size pan it's like 7X11.

To brown the butter.   In a large pot, melt your one stick of butter.  With your heat on medium, watch your butter slowly start to turn a caramel color, it will also bubble and foam right before it transforms to the desired brown butter.  I use a spatula to stir the butter so that it does not sit and burn.  The color will get darker and the aroma will become very nutty.  

Remove butter from burner after you have reached the desired color.  You don't want it to burn.
Immediately add your bag of marshmallows and return to the heat set to medium. Stir until they are melted. When the marshmallows have melted, add the cereal.

Dump your cereal into the prepared pan and with buttered fingers or spoon, press the treats into the pan.  I don't like to do this too hard.

At this point you can stop BUT to have the FULL flavor of the brown butter, it needs a bit more.
While those are sitting for a minute, melt the 1/2 stick and brown the butter.

I took a spoon and went for the dark flakes of brown goodness at the bottom of the pan and drizzled them on top of the already prepared crispy treats.
Those brown circles under the chocolate are brown butter spots.

I then melted the chocolate chips in the microwave and used a baggie with a small hole in the corner and piped the chocolate back and forth.  This created a thin layer of chocolate.  You can definitely add more, but I really wanted to taste the flavor of the brown butter more so than the chocolate.

 If you are in a hurry and want one immediately, I would suggest popping them in the freezer for about 10 minutes to cool the treats and firm up the chocolate.  Don't leave them in or they will become very hard (again, I know this from experience…LOL)


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Avocado Fries with Basil Ranch Dressing

I have never cooked so many recipes out of one cookbook….EVER.  I am usually all over the place and just jump from one idea to the next.  My inspiration comes from many sources: TV, Pinterest, Internet, blogs, family and friends.

I have to admit, that it's been nice to work through Joy's book, Joy the Baker, because it has allowed me to learn about new ingredients(leeks), try new skills (puff pastry) and try new concepts…Fried Avocado's.

I first saw this tasty appetizer a few months ago on Pinterest and thought it sounded amazing.  Why?  Because I love avocado's!  I remember living in California and having an avocado tree in our neighborhood.  Oh, how I would love to have one of those now.

I enjoy the creamy texture of an avocado.  I like to use them in salads, dressings or just plain.  I grew up eating avocados with salt and pepper and then drizzled with Catalina salad dressing.  I ate them this way for years…and years.

My new favorite way of having an avocado is simply cutting it in half and serving a big spoonful of marinated cucumbers and red onions on top.  There is something about the tartness of the cucumbers that marries so well with the smooth and subtle flavor of the avocado.  It's a delightful snack about midday.

Joy's recipe is great, I did have to embellish just a bit.  I think my taste buds are very active because I like flavor and lots of it!  I like spices. I want to taste those spices in the things I cook.

I love that Joy's recipes keep inspiring me and pushing me to think outside the box.

I am a dipper.  I honestly don't remember a time when I was not dipping.  I believe it all started when I was a toddler eating hotdogs…I dipped my hotdog bites into a huge pile of ketchup.  I then graduated to fried eggs with soft yolks.  My favorite was an English Muffin torn into bite size pieces and dipped into the soft, warm yolk…my mouth is watering!

It just progressed from there.  I dip sushi in soy sauce.  Pork Tamales into ketchup.  Chicken tenders into ranch.  Apples into fruit dip THEN popcorn.  The list is endless.

And yes, I have even skinny dipped at the embarrassment  of my children and the delight of my husband.  That is actually a funny story.  Cory's family has frequented the same camping spot for years.  It is very secluded, mostly family with a few friends.  One hot day, all of the Mom's swam out to the "LOG" and took our tops off and threw them on the log.  We felt so "wild".  Our daughters were mortified (they were 12).  We never left the water and from shore you could see nothing. It was a good 100 feet away.  You could just see our arms waving and a ton of laughing. This is a memory that our daughters still bring up to this day.  I just laugh.  See all of my memories are associated with food…LOL

Notes:  Joy's recipe calls for 2 avocados, but for my family we only made one and it was plenty as a test.  I wasn't sure if the big kids would eat it or not.  They did and loved it.  The 5 year old, she tried it but passed on seconds.

Recipe: Avocado Fries with Basil Ranch Dressing
Fried Avocado recipe adapted from Joy the Baker

1 quart of canola oil
1 avocado, medium firm to the touch
2 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
dash of salt
1/4 teaspoon of pepper
dash of cayenne
1 Tablespoon finely grated Parmesan Cheese
2 cups of Panko

In a large pot, heat oil to 375.  I recommend using a thermometer.  If you don't have one then you can test the oil, by taking a small piece of avocado and preparing it as instructed below and gently placing it in the oil.  If it is bubbling, it is ready…if it is not, then you will need to wait a few minutes.  It will take about 5 minutes for the oil to get to temperature if your heat is on medium, although all ovens are different so be prepared and stand by.  You can usually see the oil start to swirl in the bottom of the pan and this is a good indicator that the oil is almost ready. BE CAREFUL WITH THE HOT OIL.

While your oil is warming up, prepare the three bowls.  You will need one bowl with the beaten eggs.  One bowl with the Panko bread crumbs.  The final bowl will have your flour with all of the spices and parmesan cheese.  Make sure you blend this bowl well.

Once your oil is ready, slice open your avocado, remove the seed and slice down..from top to bottom.  You want long and narrow strips.  I was able to get 5 slices out of each side.

I double dipped my avocado.  Some of the ladies did the single layer and they look great.  Because I added the parmesan cheese I wanted to make sure that everything stuck to the slice.  It did.

This is the process:  Dip in egg, dip in flour/cheese mix, dip in egg and then roll in Panko.

Fry for a quick minute.  It doesn't take long to get them golden brown.  Flip them over if you like.

The Panko will fall off into the oil and I just strained out the extra.  Otherwise it could burn and make your oil taste funny.

I also cooked one slice at a time because they cooked so fast I was afraid to have too many in the pot at once.

I lined a cookie sheet with paper towels and layed my cookie rack on top.  As they came out of the pot I set them on this.  The paper towels caught the extra oil and the cookie rack allowed the whole fry to cool an stay crisp.

Joy recommends keeping them warm in the oven until ready to serve.  You can preheat your oven to 200 for this step.  We ate ours so fast that this was a step we skipped, this time…LOL

Recipe:  Ranch Basil Dressing
Sherron Watson

Note:  This dressing can be made the day of, it should sit for at least 30 minutes in the fridge, but I believe it taste so much better if made the day before and allowed to rest for 24 hours.  When using the fresh herbs and garlic you need time for the flavors to bloom.

1 cup of sourcream
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1/2 cup of milk
1 teaspoon of minced garlic
1 tablespoons of fresh, finely chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons of fresh, finely chopped basil
1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
1/2-1 teaspoons of salt, taste as you go
1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper
1+ teaspoon of lemon juice, start of small and add more to your taste buds

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let sit for a minimum of 30 minutes in the fridge.

This is great as a dip or as a salad dressing.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

150. Puff Pastry and Joy's Quiche

I am a little bit late in getting out last weeks post for our group, Sundays with Joy…better late than never is what I say.

I actually debated about even posting at all because I was so late in the game.

Then I thought to myself, I better write and let everyone know that the idea of making something so delicate and HUGE in the baking world was not as hard as I had expected it to be.

Oh it was scary at first because of the time necessary to make the pastry, the amount of butter that could potentially be wasted (butter can be expensive in some places) and then would it actually work.

Would it?

Could it?

Did it?

WORK!  Yes, it did.

Will I make it again?  Absolutely!  It was easy.  The time issues were irrelevant because I am already spending most of my day in the kitchen.  I just used a timer and kept track of what I needed to do next.

If this is your first time then do some homework first.  Study, prepare and watch.  I would never suggest that you take a test without studying first.  This recipe is similar to taking a test.  It's something that most "home" bakers would not attempt, we save these types of recipes for the professionals.  Well you are in luck, because I happen to know a professional that has put together a fabulous video of how puff pastry is made.

This is Jenny from Pastry Chef Online and she will show you step by step how to make your own puff pastry.

I know of two ladies that used this video to make their own puff pastry with excellent results.

I chose to try a different recipe because I had already found a recipe that I knew would work for me.  I found some that wanted you to set aside 36 hours, um I don't think so….maybe next time.
I chose to go with Emeril Lagasse's recipe.  The recipe can be found here.  I will tell you the recipe has been given a level rating of difficult.  I think this is a time rating, not an ability rating.  If you can use a rolling pin and keep track of a clock your good.

I will show you below, step by step, just how easy this will be for you to make yourself.  

Be inspired to try something new every once in a while, you might just surprise yourself, I know I was and still am each and every time I venture into the unknown.

Puff Pastry can be used in a variety of ways.  I used it for Joy the Baker's recipe, Leek and Asparagus Quiche that can be found in her new cookbook.  You can purchase the cookbook here if you have not already done so.

I made a crustless version too.  It baked up wonderfully and I was able to enjoy this guilt free, well sorta of guilt free.  It still has cream in it but not a pound of butter…LOL

Recipe:  Emeril Lagasse's Puff Pastry

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter (3 1/4 sticks) (see note)
1 cup ice water, plus more as needed (I needed about a 1/2 cup more water, but added it gradually.)

NOTE:  I used Kerrygold butter in this recipe.  I was unable to find unsalted and so I used salted and the puff pastry turned out great.  I reduced the salt amount from 1 1/2 teaspoons to 1/2 teaspoon.  When not using the butter that is required in the recipe at the time, ALWAYS keep it chilled in the fridge.  It needs to stay as cold as possible.

Sift together the flour, cake flour, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Grate 6 tablespoons of the chilled butter and add it to the flour mixture.  Using your fingers, mix and crumble the butter into the flour.  Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the water.

To make my water as cold as possible, I added ice to a glass and let it sit.  When I needed it, I measured out the amount I needed.
 Use a rubber spatula to gradually blend the water with the flour mixture, mixing just until a rough, combined dough ball comes together.  Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap.

Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.

While the dough is resting in the refrigerator, create your butter brick.  Using your palms and fist mold the brick into a 5X5 square.  You can see below that my thickness was about an inch.  Return this to the fridge, wrapped in saran wrap.  COLD COLD COLD is how you want your butter to stay!

Remove the rested dough from the refrigerator and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out dough into a 12-inch circle, being careful not to pull or tear the dough.  You will see chunks of butter in you dough, this is okay.

Remove your butter brick from the refrigerator and place in the center of you round dough.  Wrap the dough and seal the edges by gently pinching. 

You should now have a square of butter wrapped in dough.
Add caption
Now you are ready to start the layering process of rolling, folding and turning.  This process will be done 6 times over the course of the next 24 hours.  The first 4 will take place in the first 2 hours, the dough will rest over night and then you will do the final 2 rolls, folds and turns.  This is how you accomplish this.

Using your rolling pin, roll out the dough package (butter inside).  This may take some muscle because your butter is very cold.  Using a bit of force roll your dough until it reaches 16X8.  The 16 inches will be rolled away from you.  The width is 8 inches.  Take the side closest to you and fold in thirds to the middle, take the top portion and fold that into the other fold.  Think in terms of folding a letter to put into an envelope.  Turn the dough so that the folds are facing you.  See picture below.  This is the first turn, 5 more to go.  Repeat the rolling, folding and turning.  This is the second, 4 more to go.

Wrap dough and return to refrigerator for one hour.  Take dough out and repeat the rolling, folding and turning two more times.  Two more turns to go.

At this point you can return the dough to the refrigerator and let it sit overnight or up to 2 days before the final two turns.

I chose to let it rest overnight and in the morning, I rolled, folded and turned my dough for the final two.  Return to the fridge and let rest for 2 hours.

Your dough is now ready to be used.

On a floured surface roll you dough out gently.  You don't want to rip the layers.  As I have already stated, I was using this dough for a quiche.  The pictures are below, showing the steps that I took to make the quiche.

NOTES:  I would like to say several things about rolling the dough and baking the dough in the quiche.  I am making these notes because as a newbie to this puff pastry stuff, I had no idea of how thin or thick to roll the dough or cutting the edges.

When you are rolling out your dough, try to go as thin as you can.  If you do not do this, then your dough may not cook up flaky, but more steamed like on the bottom of the quiche. 1/8 inch or a little more is ideal for the quiche only.  Hopefully if you use the pastry for other recipes they will instruct you on how thick to have your pastry for that specific recipe.

Your knife should be sharp.  You want to cut the extra dough, not push the knife through.  By having a sharp cut you will allow the layers to puff up.  If you push your knife through the dough, you may seal the layers.  

Roll our your dough and place in your desired dish.  I used a 10inch pie plate.  Trim off all the extra dough until about a quarter of an inch is hanging over.  I chose to do a little bit more because we like the puff pastry.  Return pie plate to refrigerator until you are ready to fill your quiche.

This picture is showing the dough before I trimmed off the excess.

Recipe:  Leek, Bacon and Asparagus Quiche
Adapted from  Joy the Baker Cookbook 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes

1 recipe of all butter puff pastry (try the one above or buy one pkg. of premade)
1 cup of leeks, thinly sliced and rinsed well
2 cups of asparagus, sliced  I kept the tops about 2 inches and the rest I diced into small circles
6-8 slices of bacon, cooked until crispy
3/4 cup of milk
3/4 cup of cream
5 eggs
1 teaspoon of salt
Pinch of nutmeg
1 cup of grated Jack Cheese
3/4 teaspoon of pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

I sauteed the leeks and asparagus before adding them to the quiche.  The leeks should be a bit transparent, similar to cooking onions.  Fry up your bacon until crispy.

Start layering:  Leeks and Asparagus


In a large bowl combine the cream, milk, eggs, 1/2 of the cheese and spices.  Mix well and top your bacon, leek and asparagus filling.  Add the final 12 cup of cheese to the top.

Bake the quiche for 40 minutes.  Make sure your quiche is not to close to the top of your oven.  It may burn or get your puff pastry too dark.  I like to place my oven rack towards the bottom.  You want the crust to be a nice golden brown.

I would recommend that you take all of the scraps and cook them on a cookie sheet.

To make the crustless version.  Use the ingredients above, minus the puff pastry.  You also should check the quiche after 25 minutes.  It does not need to cook the full 40 minutes.


Friday, May 11, 2012

149. Black Bean Brownie Delights

I am always on the look out for recipes that are made without flour, especially those in the department of desserts.

My search is not only personal but one that motivates me by the fans, friends and family  that follow my blog.

We all know that gluten is a serious health issue for many individuals.

We all need a "treat" once in a while.  Heck, some of us, like me, need it more often.  LOL

I have heard and seen several food blogs talk about these wonderful litttle morsels of deliciousness called Black Bean Brownies.  I can tell you that after spending the last two years using every kind of flour and starch out there and making some pretty incredible recipes, I was not one bit shocked when this recipe worked.

Cooking is a science that brings a smile to my heart.  You take the right elements and marry them together and you get fireworks, take another combination and you can get something entirely different.

This is true with cooking too.  By altering the quantities and methods of the same ingredients you can create many different varieties of the same thing.

I would have to say this is true with the Black Bean Brownie.  When I searched this recipe I found bakers that had used 1/4 cup of black beans all the way up to 2 cans of black beans.

Which one do you think I went with?

The two cups of course!  If I am making black bean brownies I want the whole bushel in my brownie friends…LOL

I came across this recipe by Scarletta Bakes.  I will admit the first thing that caught my eye was the picture.  It was simple, yet beautifully styled.  The colors of chocolate from dark to light were showcased in the image.  These brownies were dressed to impress from the very beginning and I knew this would be a winning recipe. Please go visit Scarletta and check out her blog…it's fabulous!

I do have to confess at this point in time to something that may make you gasp….it's true….I don't own a 9X13 pan.  Something so basic to every kitchen has failed to make its way back into my new home.


I am a rebel.  I want to be different, it forces me to use my cute set of twin glass oblong dishes that measure 6X10.   I love these!  It makes my life so much easier when I am making dinners.  I make these two up, one goes in the fridge for left overs and the other goes on the table.  I don't have any need for lots of plastic storage containers.

I even recently went to a garage sale and spotted one, I turned my back friends and walked away.  I think I heard a tear fall that day from glass.  It will happen, I just have to find the right match or recipe.

Well, out of necessity you find ways of adapting.  From this, was born the Black Bean Brownie Delight.  I ended up using a cookie sheet.  By using this said cookie sheet, I created a thin brownie, or cookie like layer.

I could no longer call something that was a quarter of an inch thick, a brownie.  The little gears in my brain started to slowly move in rotation and I found myself thinking COOKIE.  I would make a cookie type of dessert with a filling and some chocolate drizzled over the top.


Yes, delight in the fact that I had created one of the best little flourless desserts I have ever had.  I had to get a second opinion and so I shared.  My neighbors and family were shocked after they oohed and aahed that what they were actually eating was created with black beans.

I left them craving more!

So, with out further adieu, may I introduce you to this very delightful dessert!

Left overs, these were just as good just not as pretty!
Recipe:  Black Brownie Delights
Adapted from Scarletta Bakes. Original Black Brownie Recipe is Scarletta's the Peanut Butter Filling is by Simply Gourmet Photography

1/4 c. cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 c. salted butter, melted
2 c. black beans, drain and rinse beans
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
1/4 c. instant espresso powder (This amount makes a very strong flavored brownie, for the faint of heart I would reduce this by half, 2 T.)
4 large eggs
1 c. honey (Honey taste a bit different in different regions, taste yours before you use it in this recipe.  You are looking for a subtle flavor.)
Peanut butter filling (see below)
Your favorite chocolate for drizzling

Preheat oven to 350°.

To achieve the thin wafers, you will want to line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  The ends won't be perfect and this okay because you will be using a circle cutter.

You will want to puree the ingredients together.  I used a small food processor and did mine in batches.  If you have a larger one, this would be much easier.

Add the cocoa powder, melted butter, black beans, vanilla, espresso powder and eggs into the processor.  Blend until smooth.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in the honey.  Your batter will be runny.  Don't worry this will work!

Pour the batter on to the cookie tray and bake for 30 minutes.  You want the brownie to be firm when you touch it. Depending on oven temperatures, you may need to add a few more minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool.  The brownie will be slightly sticky when you work with it.  Don't worry because once you make the cookie, and you put it in the fridge, it firms right up.

Using you preferred size round cookie cutter, start making circles.  I did two sizes.  One that was bite size and one that would be a three biter.  I liked the smaller one myself better.  They are rich!

As you cut the first circle, set it aside and cut the second.  Add the filling and place on a wire rack.  Once all of the black brownie delights are made, drizzle them with your favorite melted chocolate and refrigerate.

NOTE:  I used milk chocolate because I wanted the light and dark contrast.  You can use which ever one your family enjoys the most.  I also used the microwave method to melt my chocolate.  Add chips to microwave safe bowl and nuke for 35 seconds, stir and repeat until chocolate is melted.  I used a baggie to drizzle the chocolate over the top in a back and forth method.

You want to refrigerate these for at least 4 hours, overnight would be best.

You will have left over scrap pieces.  I dug out the big pieces and smeared them with peanut butter filling and drizzled chocolate…..these were great too, just not as pretty.  

The left over, left overs…could be made into cake pops….OH YEAH BABY!

Recipe:  Peanut Butter Filling

1/2 cup of peanut butter, smooth
1 stick of butter, softened
dash of vanilla
1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

Blend until smooth.  If you have leftovers, spread it on graham crackers and you have a tasty treat.

Monday, May 7, 2012

148. Sunday's with Joy and Blueberry Love

First, I must say how happy I am sharing this experience of cooking through Joy's cookbook, Joy the Baker.  I have met some of the nicest people.  It's been fun to share our passion of cooking in an open forum.  Share our ideas, thoughts and experiences of making the same recipe.  

I honestly did not know how much this experience would drive my love of cooking even more.  It's a positive experience being shared by passionate, caring people.  We encourage each other, praise their work, offer guidance and laugh.  This is the best part for me.  We are silly and not afraid to let our hair down.  I LOVE that!

I have cooked with fresh blueberries before and my family does enjoy this fruit.  In fact my 5 year old was eating them straight out of the plastic container.  I was thrilled to see that of course.

Blueberries are what we call a "super food" or a "power hitter" because they are filled with an assortment of health benefits.

I found this site from the Blueberry Council to be an excellent source of information about the benefits of eating blueberries.

A favorite in the media is Dr. OZ and he also has some great recipes to try that include blueberries.

Ronald Prior, Ph. D. from the USDA Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center has this to say about the benefits of eating blueberries:

“We analyzed the antioxidant activity of 100 foods and found blueberries to be one of the richest sources of all. Antioxidants are important because they reduce oxidative stress that can cause damage to cells, leading to cancer, cardiovascular disease and other diseases of aging. While the antioxidant activity of a food may not tell us directly how effective it is in fighting disease, it does provide us with strong clues and a basis for further research.”

Blueberries are one of the foods that can be enjoyed in sauces, in drinks, in pancakes, as syrup, in cookies, on salads and fresh.  I believe the list is probably longer than this, but this gives you a good idea of how user friendly this little blue gem is.

Blueberries can be frozen, canned, juiced or eaten fresh.

To learn how to freeze blueberries, go here.
To learn how to juice blueberries, go here.
To learn how to can blueberries, go here.
To learn to make syrup, go here.

Of course you can find all kinds of resources on the internet but I have used these sites before and have been very happy with my results.  

In our group, Sunday's with Joy, we made her Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins.

I must give you a warning.  In the event that you buy the book  and make these be prepared to EAT at least 4 right out of the oven…I can give you the names of at least 6 women you can vouch to this warning, myself included. LOL

They are awesome!  They are heavenly!  They are so good that Joy made us pinky swear…LOL

I made two batches.  The first one was a gluten free version.  I used almond meal and this gave the muffin a whole grain look…brown with lots of texture.

The conversion for making these muffins gluten free is below.

Joy recommends 1 1/2 cups of flour.  I used 1 cup of almond meal, 1/4 cup of white rice flour and 1/4 cup of tapioca flour (starch).  For the topping she also recommends a combination that includes flour.  I chose to add almond flour as the substitute along with a handful of oats.  The oats will cause your muffins to not rise as tall in the center because they are heavy, but it does not make the muffin any less delicious. I did have to cook my muffins about 8 minutes longer and as usual with gluten free cooking, let them cool for a few minutes before digging right in.

LOOK at those fresh blueberries baked into the gluten free muffin….hello deliciousness!

After seeing everyone's beautifully topped Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins I wanted to try the original recipe too.  

I had just enough blueberries to make a second run at these yummy treats.   These were incredibly good!  I will have to say that these are the best blueberry muffins I have ever had. Both versions turned out very nice, the flavor of blueberry was right there in every bite.

See picture below for pictures of original recipe:

Some of the ladies that have posted their images and recipe modifications are below: by Hugs & Cookies xoxo

Sundays with Joy- Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins by Kitchen Adventures with Lucy

Bakeaholic Mama: Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins Week 2 Sundays With Joy by bakeaholicmomma

the traveling cupcake: Sunday's with Joy - Browned Butter Blueberry Muffins by Have cupcake will travel

Sundays With Joy: Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins | The Sweet & Salty Life by The Sweet Salty Life

The Italian version: Remena Nena: MUFFINS DE NABIUS I "BROWN BUTTER" & NEWS  by It's Yummilicious (Becca)

My final thought would be, eat your blueberries.  They are very good for you!


Friday, May 4, 2012

Rob's Chili

Rob's award winning chili.
Cory is the second oldest in a family of 6 boys and one girl.  Amy was right in the middle and yes she is pretty tough after growing up with all of those boys. She has turned into an excellent Mom and has 5 kids of her own.  She is a hard worker and I can't believe she was 16 when we got married.

What really shocks me is Cory's youngest brother, Rob, was 7 or 8 when we first met.  That was a life time ago.  Rob is an amazing young man, husband and father now.  He is a soon to be a college graduate, return missionary (Germany) and a musician.

In the picture below he is wearing the plaid green long sleeve shirt.  CUTIE PATUTIE, huh?  He was just a little guy.  My Isabella is almost his age now and she seems little to me…LOL

BUT, then he grew up and met the love of his life, Colette.  Are they not a beautiful couple?  Colette has the prettiest eyes, she is super smart, plays the flute beyond fabulous and is a mother of three darling kidlets.

 Here they are with their three sweet children.  

Rob and Colette have always held a special place in my families heart.  Not just because they are family but more importantly because they are some of the best human beings that we know.  They are compassionate people.  Funny too.  

One of my fondest memories was when we shared Christmas Eve together a few years back and we ate cheese fondue by candlelight.  Oh, such wonderful memories with this cute family.

I was so pleased when Rob said that he won a chili cook-off.  I asked him if I could make and share his recipe.  He immediately sent it to me.  I made it this week, last night to be exact, and it's really, really good!

I loved it alone, dressed up with cheese/sour cream/avocado and served over a hotdog.  Yes, I had to try it all. 

Recipe:  Rob's Chili

1 lb. of ground hamburger
1 small onion, diced
1 16 oz. can of diced tomatoes
1 16oz can of kidney beans, drained
1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
1/3 cup of ketchup
1 16 oz can of chili beans (I used Bush's Chili starter, mild)
1 pkg of chili seasoning (I made my own, see below)
1/2 tsp oregano (1 T. if using fresh)
1 tsp of salt
2 oz. diced green chili peppers (in the can)
2 oz of jalapenos (add more if you want it to be spicier)

NOTE:  In place of the seasoning packet, I substituted this:  4 T. of chili powder, 1T of cumin and 2 tsp. of minced garlic.

Cook hamburger and onion together until meat is no longer red.

In your crockpot, while the meat and onions are cooking, add the remaining ingredients.  Stir well.

Add meat/onion combo and stir again.

Turn your crockpot to high and cook for a minimum of 4 hours.

NOTE:  I don't know what it is, but cooking chili in the crockpot is the best.  It blends the flavors so well, cooks down the chili a bit and creates the best flavor.  Obviously, Rob won first place…LOL

Rob says this makes 8 servings of 1 cup each.  You can also double the recipe with no problems.

Serve your chili with: avocado, sour cream, corn chips, crackers, onion or CHEESE….lots of cheese!

I mentioned that Rob was a musician.  I don't remember when he started playing the guitar but I do remember when he went to Austin, TX to follow his dreams and to play live music and record some music.

I think that is awesome when young adults "just do it" and jump right in.

Rob writes his own music and his songs can be found here.  This was his first album and he is currently working on his second one.  

He has a fan page on FB and that link is here.

I can't wait to hear his second album and we wish him the best of luck in following his dreams of writing and playing music.

Donut Breakfast Casserole

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