Monday, March 14, 2016

Irish Cream Cake Bites

These treats will brighten your "dreary, rainy, Monday-tired from the time change" day. I have been thinking about a St. Patrick's Day dessert to make with the bottle of Irish cream sitting in the fridge. I also have zero motivation to go to the grocery store, Irish Cream Cake Bites were born and I never left the house or turned the oven on! I have a terrible history with Cakes Pops, they always end up disastrous for me, luckily I had this random box of Nilla Wafers sitting around with nothing to do! 
I wasn't sure if it would work but it did and they are so good. Feel free to play around with the measurements , I was winging it and had good luck. 

Here's what I used:
1 box of Nilla Wafers
1 cup confectioners sugar 
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
4 oz cream cheese 
1 tsp vanilla
1/2- 1 cup Irish Cream Liquor 
Chocolate for melting
In a food processor, crush the wafers until they are tiny crumbs. Pulse in sugar and cocoa until combined. Add cream cheese until incorporated. With the processor on high, drizzle in the liquor until it forms a ball. You want it be pretty dense so it holds together. I didn't measure this, I'm sorry. You'll know if it's right. If by chance to add to much liquid you can use more confectioners sugar to tighten it up. 
Use a melon baller or small scoop and form mixture into balls. I made approximately 40. Set them in the freezer for 20 minutes or so and start melting the chocolate. 

Using a skewer, dip them one at a time in chocolate. Use another skewer to help drop them on a parchment lined tray. I used baking melts and white chocolate chips because it was what I had. 
Once you get a few done, decorate with sprinkles before the chocolate sets. 
I had one casualty, it was my taste test and it was good. 
Now let them set at room temp or if you're in a rush, you can chill them. That's it, you're done. Yummy, boozy treats!

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Portabella & Arugula Pasta

This is a quick and easy weeknight pasta and it's not all that bad for you. It will be done in the time it takes to boil water and cook pasta. Make sure you save some of the pasta water, you may need it at the end. Here's what you'll need:
1 lb pasta
Olive oil
4 cloves garlic crushed 
4 scallions cut up
8 oz pkg baby Bella's chopped
5 oz bag of washed arugula
Salt and pepper 
Red pepper flakes
Grated or shredded Parmesan 

Start boiling pasta water. 
Crush garlic, chop mushrooms and scallion and set aside. 
Heat a large nonstick skillet with approximately 3 TBSP oil and cook the garlic and red pepper for a minute. 
Add the mushrooms and scallions 
Cook until the mushrooms get a little color
Season with salt and pepper. Add cooked pasta and arugula. 
Keep tossing together until the arugula wilts. At this point you can add a little water if needed and a drizzle of olive oil. 
Sprinkle a good handful of Parmesan and serve. Easy and good!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Spicy Chicken & Sausage

This is a family favorite, chicken thighs with sausage and hot cherry peppers! It's pretty spicy but can easily be tamed by swapping mild sausage and sweet cherry peppers. 
Here's what you'll need:
1 package of skinless chicken thighs with or without the bone
1 lb hot Italian sausage links 
Jarred hot cherry peppers and some of the liquid 
6 cloves garlic peeled
2 onion sliced
1 cup dry white wine
Olive oil
Salt, pepper
Fresh or dried herbs: parsley, rosemary, basil
Preheat the oven to 375. Working in batches, brown the seasoned chicken, cut up sausage and garlic in olive oil over medium high heat. 
When all sides are brown, transfer to a large roasting pan. In the meantime, prepare the peppers by removing stems and seeds and give them a rough chop. Use as few or as many as you'd like. 
When everything is browned and removed to roasting pan add the sliced onion and peppers to the sauté pan and cook for a few minutes. 
Add the wine and a splash of the jar liquid. Scrape the bits from the pan and reduce a bit. 
Combine peppers with the browned chicken  
and bake uncovered for approximately 45 minutes until the chicken is very tender
All you need is some crusty bread and a bottle of wine!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Friday Friendly Food

We love pasta with peas, usually I make it with prosciutto or pancetta and a little cream but for Friday during lent it goes meatless. It also went without cream because I didn't have any. It's still a great dish! Here's what you need:
Olive oil
Dry white wine
1-2 onions sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, crushed
I pint of grape tomatoes halved ( I had 3 plum tomatoes laying around that I added)
1 cup frozen petite peas
1 lb pasta
Grated cheese
Fresh parsley and basil chopped
Red pepper flakes, Salt and pepper

Heat pasta water. 
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large skillet and add the onions and garlic. Season and sauté until they wilt. 
Splash some white wine in the pan and add the tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes start to collapse. 
Add the peas and chopped herbs and keep the heat on low while waiting for the pasta to cook. 
Reserve some of the water and add a bit when combining pasta to the sauce. Sprinkle a good handful of grated cheese on and serve. 

Broccoli Cheddar Soup is nothing new, you can google it and find a bunch of recipes. I like to add potatoes to thicken it.  This is how I make mine:
2 lbs broccoli cut up
2 onions diced
3 carrots diced
3 celery diced
3 garlic cloves crushed 
4 whole potatoes peeled
8 oz shredded cheddar 
2 qts Chicken stock
2tbs butter
2 tbs flour
1 cup milk 
Thyme, salt, pepper

Sauté onion, carrot and celery in a heavy soup pot until they sweat. Season with salt and pepper and add the whole potatoes and the broccoli
Cover with chicken broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add thyme and check seasoning. In the meantime shred the cheese and gather remaining ingredients 
Heat the butter in a small pan and cook the flour for a few minutes. Whisk in the milk and add the cheese, whisk until smooth. 
Blend the soup as smooth as you'd like and return to heat. 
Add the cheese sauce to the hot soup and combine. It's not a pretty soup but it's delicious!

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Before it was trendy, Kale Soup

I love this Portuguese kale soup, I haven't made it in forever. Decades ago I rented an apartment owned by a Portuguese family, everything they cooked (except for grilled sardines) was amazing and it was always a treat when they would invite me down or drop off a dish. I especially loved this soup, it's hearty, a little spicy and it features kale, which thirty years ago wasn't loved like it is today. There are a few different ways to make this soup, some use beans or tomatoes but this is how I learned to love it and a pretty close replica of what Maria made. 
Here's what you need:
2 onions diced
3 carrots diced 
3 celery diced 
3-4 potatoes peeled and chopped 
3 cloves garlic crushed 
1 bunch of kale
1 lb Chorizo, casing removed and cut in bite sized pieces 
2 quarts chicken stock
Salt and pepper 
Poultry seasoning 
Brown the sausage in a soup pot with a bit of olive oil, add all vegetables except potatoes. Cook until they soften and season with salt and pepper and a generous teaspoon of poultry seasoning. You can substitute with rosemary and  thyme if you'd rather, I really like the way the poultry seasoning works in this soup though. 
While that is cooking, wash and chop the kale, removing the center stem. You can also buy a bag of kale... Back in the olden days you couldn't. Add the kale to the pot along with stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. 
Add potatoes and continue to simmer until they are tender making sure you have enough broth to cover. Other variations include adding diced tomato and using beans instead of potatoes. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Cheesy Chicken Eggrolls

Eggroll wrappers are my current food obsession. I've tried a few different experiments lately, this was the latest.
Here's what I used:
10 eggroll wrappers
1 1/2 cups of cooked, shredded chicken breast
6 oz. softened cream cheese
1/4 cup each shredded cheddar and Monterey jack
2 jalapeños diced
salt, pepper, garlic powder and a dash of cayenne

Mash all of that together and divide into ten equal logs. Wrap each log into eggroll wrapper as directed on package. (note that I unwrapped this one for its photo op)

Heat a non stick skillet with a tablespoon of vegetable oil and place the rolls open flap down. Brown all sides until they are crisp and golden.

If you were deep frying them they would be hot enough inside but these will need to go in a 350 degree preheated oven for approximately 10 minutes. I've tried them just baked and not fried at all but they just aren't the right texture for me. I made a quick dipping sauce featuring my new favorite condiment from Trader Joes.

Green Dragon Hot Sauce is so good! I mixed a few spoons of sour cream, a few splashes of green dragon and chopped cilantro, yummy.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

15 Bean and 2 Greens Soup

Here's a super healthy one for you! My excuse for soup today is that I'm feeling a little under the weather and even if it doesn't make me feel better, I won't have to cook tomorrow. I bought both of these this week:
A big giant bag of baby spinach and kale and these beans. I didn't plan on putting them together but it seems like a good match. Let's talk about beans and rules. Every bag of beans has the same directions; soak overnight or boil and simmer for an hour. I'm a big fan of rules but I am going to disregard bean rules from now on. They taste so much better if you just go ahead and cook them in the soup. I'm not even sorry. 

Here's what you need:
20 oz. bag of 15 bean mix
Big bag of greens
1 quart chicken or veg stock 
2 onion chopped
2 carrots chopped
3-4 celery chopped 
2 garlic cloves chopped 
2-3 TBS tomato paste
Herbs de Provence 
Salt and pepper 
Start the soup as usual; heat a bit of oil in a heavy soup pot and cook the vegetables until they start to soften. Season with salt and pepper, add broth and beans. 
Apparently these beans came with a ham packet... I'm going to take that out.  Add water or more broth if needed to cover beans. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 1.5 to 2 hours until beans are tender, adding liquid as needed. While that is happening give the greens a rough chop. When the beans are cooked check seasoning, add paste, herbs and finally the greens. 
They will wilt immediately. Soup is ready, enjoy!