A Bridal Shower and Pizza Puffs


Last weekend we threw a bridal shower for my sister so I had an opportunity to try a few new recipes. We featured mostly finger foods so guests could enjoy them while playing games and sipping on our signature cocktail for the afternoon. The spread included:

Nummy Pesto Sammie
Pizza Puffs
Double Broccoli Quinoa
Prosciutto & Gruyere Palmiers
Orzo with Everything Salad
Raspberry Lemonade Mini Cupcakes
Brownie Pops


These pizza puffs were well received and I personally enjoyed the bite size pizzas almost more then a regular pizza - which further supports my infatuation for all things cute and little. These would be great to serve for any party as an appetizer and they come together fast. The best thing is they freeze beautifully and your guests will never know :)


The bridal shower was a success and the bride was B&B (beautiful & buzzed) opening gifts and spending her last days as a single woman with good friends.


Pepperoni Pizza Puffs
24 mini pizza puffs
Recipe from Rachael Ray


3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup 2% milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 oz about 1 cup 4-cheese blend (Trader Joes) can sub mozzarella
4 oz pepperoni, small dice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup pizza sauce (Trader Joes)

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Mix in the milk and egg. Stir in cheese and pepperoni. Turn oven to 375 degrees and let batter sit for 10 minutes while oven heats to temp.
When oven is ready, stir batter and fill 24 mini-cup greased muffin cups about 3/4 way full – sprinkle tops with parm cheese. Bake 20 - 25 minutes. Serve pizza sauce on the side for dipping.
Note: These can be made ahead of time. Place baked puffs on a baking sheet and put in the freezer until frozen about 25 minutes. Transfer to a storage bag. When ready to eat, preheat oven to 350 degrees, place puffs on a baking sheet, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until warm and heated through.




Orange Sherbert


One of my favorite ice cream flavors growing up was orange sherbert. There was always something about that bright vibrant hue of orange that would catch my eye. Back in the day when an ice cream cone was .35 cents was a real treat, now you can pay anywhere up to $5 bucks for it! My goodness - how old do I sound! Making it at home brought back all those loving childhood memories and then some. The sherbert was very refreshing and sweet but with a bit of tartness. Not so tart where your lips pucker, but just the perfect amount. I had an abundance of super tart oranges that were going to waste since they were too sour to eat, but made for the perfect sherbert. So depending on how sweet your oranges are, the results may vary a bit, but will be fantastic nonetheless. Enjoy!


Orange Sherbert

Recipe from Alton Brown
Makes about 1 quart

  • 7 ounces sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, approximately 2 to 3 pounds oranges
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups very cold whole milk*

Directions

In the bowl of a food processor combine all of the ingredients except the milk and process until the sugar is dissolved, approximately 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and whisk in the milk. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator until the mixture reaches 40 degrees F or below, approximately 1 hour.

Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process until it is the consistency of soft serve ice cream. You may serve now or transfer to a lidded container and place in freezer until firm, approximately 3 hours.

*I used 2%

Grilled Portobello "Benedict"


As I've mentioned before, breakfast is one of my favorite meals and this portobello "benedict" reminded me of the many reasons why I enjoy it so much. Anytime I order eggs benedict I can never seem to get past the over easy egg and always find myself eating around the yolk. This "benedict" however was right up my alley with the addition of pesto and scrambled eggs - YUM MAY! Substituting the english muffin for the portobello mushroom was a brilliant idea as well and added a bit of "meatyness" to the dish. Make your breakfast a little extra special and give this a try :)


Grilled Portobello "Benedict"

Adapted from Ellie Krieger, So Easy via Apple a Day Blog

Ingredients:
cooking spray
2 portobello caps (about 4 oz. each)
1 tsp olive oil
S&P
4 slices Canadian bacon (1/8" thick)
Store-bought or homemade pesto, to taste
2 large eggs
4 large egg whites
1 TBSP milk or water
freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbs. freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
3-4 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

Directions:
1. Preheat a grill or grill pan sprayed with cooking spray over medium-high heat.

2. With a spoon, gently scrape out the gills from the inside of the mushroom caps, taking care not to break the caps. Brush both sides with the oil or spray with PAM olive oil and sprinkle both side with S&P. Grill the mushrooms until they are tender and their juices begin to release, about seven minutes per side or until cooked all the way through. Transfer each mushroom to a plate, top side down.

3. One the same grill or grill pan, cook the Canadian bacon slices until they are warm and grill marks have formed, about 1 minute per side. Place one to two slices of bacon on each mushroom cap. Spread pesto over the Canadian bacon.

4. While the mushrooms are grilling, whisk the eggs, egg whites, and water/milk together in a medium bowl until well combined. In a medium-sized skillet over medium-low heat, scramble the eggs until cooked through. Mine took about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add basil and cheese.

5. Divide the scrambled eggs over the pesto and if so desired, sprinkle more cheese. Serve immediately.

Involtini di Pesce Spada - Stuffed Swordfish Rolls


I've been eating an obscene amount of glutinous food lately so I thought I'd make something healthier for a change. Apparently I'm trying to eat my way to utter oblivion so this dish stopped the madness. I had this meal for the first time when lobster and I were in Rome on our honeymoon. We ate at a restaurant called Sicilianbocca and the food was absolutely AMAZING. I still dream about our meals till this day. One dish I remember in particular were these stuffed swordfish rolls. They were thin slices of swordfish stuffed with raisins, pine nuts and cheese. I found a similar recipe online and it was a close rendition of the original but does not compare to the dish we had in Rome. Nonetheless, it was tasty, light and good for the waistline.


Involtini di Pesce Spada
Adapted from Epicurious
3 to 4 servings

For the involtini:
1/2 cup of breadcrumbs (freshly ground, if possible, made with day old bread with crust removed)
1 tbs of fresh young Pecorino cheese
2 tbs of grated Parmigiano reggiano
1 tablespoons pine nuts (pignoli), toasted
1 tablespoons raisins
1 cloves of garlic, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
About 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 pounds swordfish steaks, pounded thin*
Olive oil to fry

1. Place the breadcrumbs in a medium sized bowl. Add the Pecorino, parmigiano, pine nuts, raisins, garlic and parsley into a food processor and chop very finely. Toss together and season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
2. Drizzle the mixture while tossing with 1 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and toss. The olive oil will help to hold the filling together but should not leave the filling soaked – use your discretion.
3. Flatten the swordfish slices further between 2 pieces of wax paper, pounding with the side of a mallet or heavy cleaver very gently so you don’t break through the flesh. Each slice should be about 5 1/2 x 3 1/2 inches.
4. Season each slice of fish with salt and pepper and spoon about 2 tablespoons of the filling on top of the fish. Be careful not to overdo it with the filling….a little goes a long way.
5. Fold in the sides of the fish. Tuck in the end nearest you and roll up the slice. Secure with a toothpick or kitchen twine
6. Repeat for remaining slices.
7. Brush some olive oil all over swordfish and season with salt and pepper. Prepare skillet at medium high and cook fish for two-three minutes. Rotate 90 degrees and cook one to two more minutes, then repeat twice to cook on all sides.
8. Plate and serve with slices of lemon

*Next time I think I'll try to freeze the fish for about thirty minutes and then slice it. Let me know if you try the recipe and it works out for you. Or ask the fish monger to slice it as thin as possible


Mesclun Salad Vinaigrette
Adapted from Ina Garten

2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix all ingredients together.

Feta Sun-Dried Tomato Turkey Burger Sliders



Feta, sun-dried tomatoes, and turkey. I don't know why I didn't realize I've made something similar to this in the past. I guess when you try a different recipe for every meal, some of them are bound to overlap - especially when they feature my favorite ingredients. If you've ever tried The Ultimate Meatloaf Sammie or the infamous 50,000 Burger, then you are sure to love these sliders. While the recipes are quite similar, the preparation and condiments are different so I thought it deserved its own NuM NuM post. These little sliders would make great party food and I think all things served in "mini-me" versions always please a crowd - or maybe just pleases me :D



While the burgers were full of flavor, I wasn't really a fan of the slider buns. While they were cute to look at, they were really dense so we removed some of the crumb and turned our sliders into turkey cups, which gave a better burger to bread ratio. These are also delicious topped with Trader Joe's Cheddar Jalapeno Pub Cheese which is HIGHLY ADDICTING if you wanted to forgo the aioli! Enjoy!



Feta Sun-Dried Tomato Turkey Burger Sliders
Adapted from Picky Palate
Makes about 10 sliders


1 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
10 oz ground turkey
1/4 Cup + 1 tbs crumbled feta cheese
2.5 tbs sun-dried tomatoes, jarred in olive oil, drained and finely chopped
1/4 Cup+1 tbs fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped
Pinch of Kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper and Garlic Powder with Parsley

Sun-Dried Tomato Aioli
1/4 Cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil, drained finely chopped
Baby hamburger buns or dinner rolls, split and warmed (Trader Joe's slider buns)
1/2 Cups fresh baby spinach leaves

1. Place turkey, feta, sun dried tomato, spinach and seasonings into a mixing bowl. Mix until just combined. Make a test patty and cook and check for seasonings. I had to add more garlic powder and S&P. Using a heavy duty baking sheet, remove meat from bowl and pat it down into a square using the baking sheet as your guide to about ¾-inch thick. Using a 2 inch cookie cutter cut out meat. Or you can also use a 1/4 cup measuring cup and shape into little patty’s and place onto a cookie sheet. Once all are formed, place under broiler and cook to 165. To broil burgers, turn the broiler to high in stove and let it heat up for a few minutes. Put the patties on the broiling pan and position the pan about 4 to 5 inches below the broiler. Flip the burgers once the first side gets brown, maybe about three minutes. Cook until the inside reaches the desired temperature. Or you can cook these on a grill or skillet using the 1 tbs of EVOO.

2. Toast buns then place mayonnaise and tomatoes into a bowl; mix to combine. Spread over insides of toasted warm rolls. Layer bottom roll with spinach and the burger. Close with top roll and eat.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake



Ever since I saw this dessert on Mel's Kitchen, I knew one day we would meet again. The hardest part about making a cheesecake is that it feeds an army! Which is fine if you have an army to feed, but when it's just the two of you, it's mucho difficult-o. I even cut the recipe in half and we still had 3/4 of it left. I served this for Valentine's Day and it was the perfect ending to the rich and hearty Osso Buco.


While I thoroughly enjoyed the cheesecake, I would have liked more of an even distribution of cookie dough balls in the batter, so I made my reflections below. While the cheesecake part was nice and tangy, some of my bites consisted of only cookie dough and it was a bit of an overkill - so I had to fish around my slice for an equal ratio of cheesecake to cookie dough. I think perhaps even using half the amount of cookie dough would work as well. Also during baking the top of the cake browned a bit too quickly - might have been due to cooking it in my toaster oven - but it did not affect the end result whatsoever. Rich, decadent and oh so sweet!


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake
One 7-inch cheesecake
Recipe adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe


Crust:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/4 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (I like to use chocolate Teddy Grahams but you could use any chocolate wafer cookie or even Oreos)


Filling:
2 (8-ounce) blocks cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream (I used light and it worked just fine)


Cookie Dough:
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon water or milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips


For the cookie dough: In a medium bowl, combine the butter and sugars for the cookie dough. Add the water (or milk), vanilla and blend. Mix in the flour, salt and 1/2 cup of the chocolate chips. The dough will be fairly soft. Gently roll the dough into small balls (about a teaspoon size, maybe a bit larger) and place them on a wax paper lined plate or baking sheet. Place them in the freezer to harden while making the rest of the cheesecake.


For the crust: Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 7-inch springform pan and wrap outside with foil to prevent any water from leaking into the pan. In a medium bowl, combine the butter with the chocolate cookie crumbs (you could easily use a food processor to crush the cookies and incorporate the butter). Press onto the bottom and about halfway up the sides of the prepared pan.


For the cheesecake: Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the cream cheese, sugar, eggs until smooth. Add flour and blend until smooth. Add the vanilla and sour cream and mix just until blended. Be careful not to overmix – incorporating too much air into the batter can contribute to a cheesecake cracking on top during baking.


Pour half the batter into the prepared crust. Drop half of the cookie dough balls into the batter that is in the pan distributing them evenly in the pan. Gently stir in the remaining cookie dough balls and remaining half of mini chocolate chips into the remaining batter. Pour into the pan, spreading the batter to the sides of the pan and evening it out across the top (it is ok to see bumps of cookie dough here and there, smooth it the best you can). Place in a water bath using cold water. Bake the cheesecake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes to one hour. Cake should slightly jiggle in the middle. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool completely on a wire rack. Refrigerate until chilled (ideally, overnight). To serve, cut into slices.


Recipe Source: adapted from Nate and Kylie W. (my brother and sister-in-law)




Osso Buco with Olives, Lemon, and Parsley


Lobster and I opted to stay in for Valentine's Day and dined at Chez NuM NuM. Our menu consisted of:

Bruschetta with Burrata and Heirloom Tomatoes
Osso Buco with Olives, Lemon, and Parsley
Rissoto Milanese
Sauteed Baby Broccoli
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake

Lobster always orders osso buco any time he sees it on a menu, so I thought I'd try to recreate it at home. I was a bit timid at first, but it turned out to be a total success! Ranked as one of the top recipes of all time on Epicurious, it was utterly foolproof. The meat was fall of the bone rich, tender, and juicy. The gremolata was a lovely surprise and a definite must since it cuts the richness of the meat. I did not try the bone marrow inside the veal shank ,but Lobster said it was delicious - it grosses me out - so I'll take his word for it. Risotto Milanese is the traditional accompaniment served with osso buco and it did not disappoint either. We finished our meal with a decadent Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake, not for the faint-hearted, and it was the perfect ending to Valentine's Day.


Osso Buco with Olives, Lemon, and Parsley

Recipe from Epicurious
Serves 2


Ingredients


For stew

  • 2 (10-12oz) meaty cross-cut veal shanks (osso buco; 2 to 2 1/2 lb total), each tied with kitchen string
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 (15 oz) can whole plum tomatoes with juice (not in purée), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata or other brine-cured black olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 3/4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprig
  • 1/2 Turkish or 1/4 California bay leaf
  • 1 (2- by 1/2-inch) strips fresh lemon zest , cut crosswise into fine julienne
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste


For gremolata

  • 1.5 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh fresh lemon zest

  • Special equipment: heavy ovenproof pot (wide enough to hold shanks in 1 layer)

Preparation


Make stew:

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Pat shanks dry and season with salt and pepper. Divide shanks and flour between 2 large sealable plastic bags and shake to coat, then remove shanks from bags, shaking off excess flour. Heat oil and 1 tablespoons butter in ovenproof pot over moderately high heat until foam subsides, then brown shanks well in 2 batches, 10 to 12 minutes per batch, transferring to a plate.

Reduce heat to moderate and add remaining tablespoon butter to pot along with onions, carrot, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring, until onions are pale golden, about 5 minutes. Add remaining stew ingredients and bring to a boil, stirring. Arrange shanks in pot in 1 layer and return to a simmer. Cover pot and braise shanks in middle of oven until very tender, (about 2 1/2 hours) Remove strings from osso buco and discard along with parsley sprig and bay leaf. (If cooking day ahead – remove parsley sprig and bay leaf – remove strings just before serving.


Make gremolata and serve osso buco:
Stir together gremolata ingredients in a small bowl and sprinkle over osso buco. Serve immediately.

Cooks' notes: • Osso buco (without gremolata) can be made 1 day ahead. Cool completely, uncovered, then chill, covered. Reheat, covered, in a 325°F oven 30 to 40 minutes. (mine took a bit longer)

• Osso buco can also be cooked in a large roasting pan. Straddle pan across 2 burners for browning and boiling, then cover pan tightly with foil for braising.


*With leftover use pasta and eat with sauce too


Risotto Milanese


Risotto Milanese is the traditional accompaniment served with osso buco in Italy. The creamy rice is the perfect counterpart to the tender fall off the bone veal shanks. Normally risottos are made with chicken stock, but this recipe called for beef broth. The beef broth added a hearty deep flavor to the rice making it rich and velvety which I enjoyed with every returning bite.

I've made risotto in the past however I made this one a little "differently." Usually I'm like a hovering parent with the pot attached to my hip, stalking and stirring - literally for the entire 40 minutes. But this time I used more broth with each addition to the risotto and only stirred it a few times every few minutes. What transpired was a wonderful risotto cooked in less time then the past. Win - win! Risotto really is a labor of love, but when executed properly, it is well worth it!
Enjoy!


Risotto Milanese

2 servings
Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

• Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 4-5 cups beef broth (low sodium)
• 3 tablespoons unsalted butter or I can’t believe it's not butter
• 1/4 cup minced shallots (1 large)
• 3/4 cup Arborio rice
• 1/4 cup dry white wine
• 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
• 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, heat the beef broth in a small covered saucepan. Leave it on low heat to simmer.
In a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and saute the shallots on medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until the shallots are translucent but not browned. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains with butter. Add the wine and cook until evaporated. Add 2 full ladles of stock to the rice plus the saffron, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Stir, and simmer until the stock is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes. Continue to add the stock, 2 ladles at a time, stirring every few minutes. Each time, cook until the mixture seems a little dry, then add more stock. Continue until the rice is cooked through, but still al dente, about 30 minutes total. Off the heat, add the Parmesan cheese. Mix well and serve.

Note: When plating risotto, the rice should spread a little on the plate. Not like a soup, but not a clumpy mess either.

Soba Noodles with Ginger Scallion Sauce, Pickled Cucumbers and Tempura


The February 2011 Daring Cooks’ challenge was hosted by Lisa of Blueberry Girl. She challenged Daring Cooks to make Hiyashi Soba and Tempura. She has various sources for her challenge including japanesefood.about.com, pinkbites.com, and itsybitsyfoodies.com

For this month's Daring Cooks' challenge we made cold soba and tempura. I've made soba in the past, but the extent of my "cooking" was boiling noodles and mixing it with a bottle of soba noodle soup base. While it is quite satisfying and refreshing on a hot day, no real "recipe" is involved. I found a recipe for David Chang's Ginger Scallion Sauce with Quick Pickled Cucumbers and he suggests serving it with noodles. While the cucumbers were a nice contrast to the noodles, the sauce itself lacked a bit and I was forced to reach for my old ye faithful soup base - which elevated the dish to an edible state. To round out the meal, the second part of our challenge was to make tempura. I've never really liked tempura so I used a recipe I found on the Internet. I was not a fan of the end result so I'll spare you and not provide the recipe. Oh well, at least it photographed well :)


Ginger Scallion Sauce Adapted from David Chang
Makes about 1 cup
1 ¼ cups thinly sliced scallions (greens and whites; from 1 to 2 large bunches)

1/4 cup finely minced peeled fresh ginger

2 tbs grapeseed or other neutral oil

1 teaspoons soy sauce, preferably usukuchi (light soy sauce), found in Asian markets

1 tsp sherry vinegar

½ teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

12 oz soba noodles

Soba soup base/sauce

Mix together the scallions, ginger, oil, soy, vinegar, and salt in a bowl. Taste and check for salt, adding more if needed. Though it's best after 15 or 20 minutes of sitting, ginger scallion sauce is good from the minute it's stirred together up to a day or two in the fridge. Cook soba noodles and drain under cold water and mix with sauce. Add soba soup base to taste. Top with cucumbers and tofu if desired.


Quick Pickled Cucumbers

3 Kirby/Persian Cucumber, cut it's 1/8" slice discs

1 tablespoon sugar, or more to taste

1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste

1. Combine the vegetable with the sugar and salt in a small mixing bowl and toss to coat with the sugar and salt. Let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Taste: if the pickles are too sweet or too salty, put them into a colander, rinse off the seasoning, and dry in a kitchen towel. Taste again and add more sugar or salt as needed. Serve after 5 to 10 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours *Recipe from David Chang

Strawberry Tiramisu


Lobster made this strawberry tiramisu for Valentine's Day and it was heavenly!! If you're a fan of tiramisu like me, this is a wonderful spin on the traditional "pick me up" dessert. The strawberry puree lightens up the dish and adds a bit of freshness to this mountain of love. I thought it tasted fantastic the first night, but the next day it was insanely good! Even though the recipe states it feeds four, I somehow managed to eat half of it by myself in one sitting. Needless to say, this did not last long in our house. Enjoy!


Strawberry Tiramisu
Recipe from All Recipes
4 servings

• 1 pint fresh strawberries
• 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
• 1 cup mascarpone cheese
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 2 tablespoons Kahlua
• 18 ladyfingers
• 1/3 cup chilled espresso
• 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions

1. Cut off the tops of the strawberries and slice the berries. Reserve 2 large whole berries for garnish.
2. In a blender, place 2 cups of strawberries and 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar; blend to puree and set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, combine mascarpone cheese, 1/4 cup cream, 1/4 cup confectioners sugar, and liqueur; beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes until thickened.
4. Place espresso in a bowl. Drop half of a ladyfinger horizontally into the espresso quickly roll and remove. Place 6 ladyfingers on a serving plate, spread or pipe out 1/2 of the cheese mixture over the ladyfingers, and layer with half of the sliced strawberries.
5. Repeat with the next 6 ladyfingers, espresso, remaining cheese mixture, and sliced strawberries; top with remaining 6 ladyfingers.
6. In a small mixing bowl, combine 1/4 cup heavy cream with 2 tablespoons sugar; beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until just whipped, approximately 1 minute. Spread cream evenly over top layer of ladyfingers.
7. Dust cocoa over whipped cream, and garnish with 2 reserved strawberries. Pour strawberry puree onto two serving plates. Cut tiramisu in half, and place onto puree.

Parmesan Puffs


Parmesan puffs, parmesan puffs, parmesan puffs! Warning: these are highly addicting and you will not be able to stop at just one! All will power goes out the window when it comes to these bad boys! Lobster made dinner the other night and served these miniature marvels as our appetizer. They were so delicious, I asked him where he bought them from? To my surprise, he made them from SCRATCH! Yes ladies, the Lobster can bake too. What a wonderful hubby! Okay, I'll stop being disgusting now.


These parmesan puffs are quite similar to the gougeres I've made in the past, but I think they're even better! With the gougeres the cheese flavor is a bit milder since the inside is hollow, but with these babies, they're denser so there's delicious cheesy-ness (is that a word?) all over. Both would serve as a great appetizer, it just depends on the theme of your party. Parmesan puffs: barbecue. Gougeres: cocktail party. Heck.....mix and match and serve them both, 'cuz who wouldn't want to eat a delicious ball of cheese! Enjoy!



Parmesan Puffs

Serves 4

Adapted from All Recipes


  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup marinara sauce


Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Lightly grease a medium baking sheet.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring milk and butter to boil over medium high heat. Stir in flour and reduce heat to low. Vigorously stir until thick enough to form into a ball. Remove from heat.
  3. Beat eggs into the mixture until smooth. Stir in Parmesan cheese.
  4. Drop the dough by rounded teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven 15 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Serve warm with warmed marinara sauce for dipping.

Note: Lobster would suggest to use less butter then the original amount

Cornbread and Fun Math


If you are like moi and always on the lookout for a tried-and-true cornbread recipe, well look no further because this one's got it all. It's perfectly sweet with a crumbly texture and stays nice and moist during baking. I have one more cornbread recipe in my files, so I'll have to do a taste comparison,- but I'll definitely be returning to this one again and again.


Since it was just Lobster and I eating the cornbread, I made a smaller amount then the recipe called for. I discovered an amazing website that converts any recipe to fit whatever baking dish you have in your kitchen - which will help reduce having to buy a bajillion different pan sizes. You simply figure out the volume of the pan you are using and divide it by the volume of the pan in the original recipe. Multiply that number with the measurement for each ingredient in the original recipe and voila: your recipe is scaled down for you. It may sound a bit daunting, but seriously, math and I have never gotten along, but this is the type of math even I can do.


Here's an example with the pan I used for this recipe. The original recipe called for an 8-inch square pan which is equal to 8 cups in volume. The pan I used was a 1.2 qt baking dish which is equal to 5.76 volume. So you take 5.76 and divide it by 8 which equals .72. Now all you have to do is multiply each ingredient by .72 and you have your new converted amount. In hindsight, I could've just cut the recipe in half and made cornbread muffins, but then how would you have learned this cool new trick :D Apply this method to any recipe you'd like to convert and you'll be excited to do math again. Good luck!



Cornbread

Recipe from Mel's Kitchen

To convert a recipe click here and here


½ cup cornmeal

1 ½ cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup oil
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 ¼ cup milk


Add dry ingredients, make a well and add oil, butter, eggs, and milk into the center. Stir until just mixed (batter will be runny – don’t be alarmed!). Bake in an 8” square pan at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. This doubles perfectly for a 9X13-inch pan.


Honey Butter:
2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup marshmallow fluff

Whip all together with an electric mixer and serve at room temperature (can be refrigerated and softened).


Recipe Source: Nate and Kylie


Note: I did not try the honey butter but read great reviews about it.

Raspberry Pecan Bread


With Valentine's Day quickly approaching, why not make your honey breakfast in bread and surprise them with this marvelous raspberry pecan bread. Just look at those gorgeous flecks of red, not to mention the beautiful raspberry river running through the middle. Who wouldn't want that from their special someone :)



This bread has a wonderful delicate flavor with the perfect amount of sweetness, along with a lovely hint of orange and a bit of tartness from the raspberries - there's a lot of delicious elements goin' on in this simple loaf! The taste and aroma is heavenly and fills the house with the smell of sweet berries, so no need to splurge on scented candles for the big day either...two-fer!! So make your Valentine's Day extra special and whip up a batch of this bread. You'll be praised from your special someone and hopefully in return they'll clean the mess you made in the kitchen - fingers crossed :)


Raspberry Pecan Bread
Recipe adapted from Ocean Spray via Food Bride Blog
Makes one large loaf or two smaller loaves

2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup orange juice
1 Tbsp orange zest
1 egg
1 1/2 cup raspberries or cranberries
3/4 cups pecans, chopped and toasted
1/4 cup demerera sugar


Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 9 (or 10) x 5 loaf pan (or 2 smaller loaf pans).

Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in the bowl of your stand mixer. Turn on medium and add shortening until combined. Add orange juice, orange zest, and egg. Mix until well-blended. Stir in berries and nuts. Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Spread demerera sugar evenly over the top.

Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Mini loaves should take 35-40 minutes. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely. Wrap the cooled loaf tightly with plastic wrap or foil to keep it moist.



Pea Pesto Crostini

Pea Crostinis - not to be mistaken for green booties :)


Since I'm on a new healthy kick, I thought I'd make an ass friendly dip to munch on before my meal. Who knew the taste of
sweet peas, tofu (shhh...it's a secret, no one will be the wiser) and a little Parmesan cheese could transform into such an appetizing appetizer. Appetizing appetizer, appetizing appetizer, say that three times fast - I'm having difficulty just typing it.

I don't know why the idea of a pea dip seemed so strange to me. Perhaps since peas are a vegetable they had no place being the star of a dip! I thought: peas in a dip - ew, no way. Yet, I have no qualms eating a spinach artichoke dip - and that's a double whammy of veggies! But after eating these little veggies in a dip I am now a convert! Go ahead, make this dip and give peas a chance :)


Pea Pesto Crostini

Adapted from Gimme Some Oven
Makes 2 cups

  • 1 baguette (sliced thin on a diagonal)
  • 1 (10 oz.) package frozen peas, thawed and drained
  • 1/2 cup extra firm/firm tofu - squeezed dry
  • 1 ounce Parmesan, grated
  • one squeeze of fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • salt and pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to taste

Method:

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Toast until golden, about 10-12 minutes. (Watch carefully so they don’t burn!)

Place tofu between paper towels and squeeze as much liquid out as possible

Meanwhile, in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, puree the peas, and tofu. Place mixture in bowl and add parmesan and lemon juice, salt (about 1/2 tsp.), and pepper (about 1/4 tsp.) to taste. I ended up adding more lemon juice, and S&P. If you feel the dip is too chunky or taste a little gritty add olive oil until it reaches the consistency you like.

Spread the pea mixture on the crostini and top with grated Parmesan, if desired.

Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Bread Crumbs


Did you know when you roast cauliflower it becomes a little sweet?
Roasting the cauliflower imparts a sweet nutty taste to this underused vegetable turning it from "eww cauliflower," into a welcoming weeknight side dish. If you've never had roasted cauliflower or broccoli before, you are surely missing out my friend. The gremolata is a unique addition and the lemon, garlic and panko add another dimension of flavor and texture making these little white trees anything but boring. This is best served at room temperature, but I found it equally delicious straight from the fridge - with fork in hand.


Roasted Cauliflower with Gremolata Bread Crumbs

Recipe from The Thin Chef via Food 52 Blog
Serves 3


• 1 large head cauliflower
• 2 tbs plus 1 tablespoons olive oil, divided
• 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
• 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 1/4 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
• Zest of 1/2 lemon
• 1 cloves garlic, finely minced
• 1 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Trim tough stem and core from cauliflower and discard. Using a paring knife, cut cauliflower into smaller spears. Place in a large bowl. Add 2 tbs oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper; toss to combine.
3. Spread cauliflower out on a large, rimmed baking sheets. Roast until edges start to brown, about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
4. Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add panko and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and stir to coat in oil. Cook, stirring constantly, until bread crumbs are golden. Add lemon zest and garlic and toss until mixture is very fragrant and bread crumbs are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Place in a medium bowl and add parsley, stirring to combine. Set aside. (I also added a fresh squeeze of lemon juice as well)
5. Remove cauliflower from oven and place on serving platter. Top with bread crumbs and serve immediately.

*if you wait until the cauliflower is cool to sprinkle the bread crumbs on top, they'll stay good and crisp

S'mores Brownies



S'mores brownies anyone? Don't you hate it when you find a brownie recipe and the person neglects to describe what the brownie tastes like?! Well fear not friends, these brownies have a lovely chocolatey flavor, are not super dense or fudgey and fall a little more on the cakey side rather than chewy. My favorite parts were the crisp, chewy edges - they were the jam - so I found myself eating around the perimeter of the pan. I'm more of a chewy brownie girl myself, so I popped them in the fridge to rest overnight in hopes of changing the texture. What arose were perfectly dense, fudgey chewy brownies - problem solved :D These were fun to make and a welcomed change to the traditional brownie. I brought these to a potluck and they were well received but one friend suggested adding chocolate chips to make them oooey and gooey (note to self for next time) which I think would make a fabulous addition. Enjoy!



Similar recipes you might enjoy:
Peanut Butter Chocolate Cheesecake Brownies
S'mores Bars
Fatwitch Bakery's Chocolate Coconut Pecan Congo Bars
Chewy Brownies


S’mores Brownies

Adapted from Bon Appetit, October 1991 via Joy the Baker


  • 3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2.5 large eggs
  • 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker, roughly crushed with your hands
  • 9 big marshmallows (I also diced 3 additional marshmallows and stirred them into the batter. These marshmallows dissolve when baked, so you can leave them out, or throw them in. Up to you!)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 8x8-inch baking pan with 2-inch-high sides. Combine first 3 ingredients in small bowl. Stir butter and chocolate in a medium sized bowl over a heavy saucepan of simmering water. Stir chocolate and butter in this double boiler until melted and smooth.

Beat eggs, sugar and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Stir in warm chocolate mixture, then dry ingredients. Fold in graham crackers. Pour batter into prepared pan. Dot with 9 large marshmallows. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out with moist crumbs attached, about 30- 35 minutes minutes.

Marshmallows will be browned and puffy but will deflate as the brownies cool. Cool for at least 20 minutes than slice with a sharp knife, plastic knife will give you cleaner edges. Serve or wrap individually in wax paper for storing.