Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mini Chocolate Cocadas

I came across a recipe for basic Cocada that looked amazing. Cocada is a Brazillian recipe that is typically made as a custard. This is a super-simplified version that can be whipped up in no time. It’s also a great accompaniment to your next fiesta! It comes together quickly but looks impressive. Plus, these little desserts are amazingly delicious.

The sweetened, condensed milk mixes with the coconut to make a crispy, chewy treat. These are not traditionally topped with chocolate, but I think the semi-sweet chocolate makes it extra special. To me, they taste like an incredible homemade Mounds bar. Next time, I may just top with some crushed almonds to make my very own bite sized Almond Joys!

If you don't want mini cocadas, you can always skip putting them in a mini muffun tin. Just use a regular 8x8 baking dish and spread the mixture evenly and cook as you normally would. I'm sure in bar form these would be just as amazing and disappear just as fast!

Mini Chocolate Cocada

1 bag sweetened coconut, about 5 1/2 cups
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 c. semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut and sweetened, condensed milk. Mix well.

Grease mini muffin tins with nonstick spray. Spoon the coconut mixture into the mini muffin tins. Bake until the cocadas are firm and lightly golden brown, about 15minutes.

Top with chocolate chips and return to the oven until the chocolate softens, about 1-2 minutes. Using the back of a spoon, spread the chocolate evenly . Allow cocadas to cool. (I popped mine into the fridge to help the chocolate set up). Remove from the tin and serve at room temperature. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Garlic Lime Chicken Quesadillas

I was thinking about the last time I made quesadillas and how amazing they turned out! The problem is, I really try to stretch myself as a cook and don’t repeat recipes too often unless I get a craving or a special request from my husband! So, I decided to put a new twist on my quesadillas.

I came up with Garlic Lime Chicken Quesadillas because I love the combination of flavors and they were all things I had on hand tonight! I always see Garlic Lime entrees at restaurants and they are always yummy. So, I wanted to try to recreate those same flavors in a quesadilla because I think everything is better with cheese!

A lot of what I put into my quesadillas can be adjusted based on your tastes or what you happen to have in your pantry. I hope you like these quesadillas as much as we did!

Garlic Lime Chicken Quesadillas

spice mix:
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. minced onion
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. cilantro
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper, optional
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 C. lime juice
1/4 C. orange juice
3 chicken breasts, cubed
1 medium bell pepper
1/2 medium onion
1 c. corn
1 sm. can mild green chiles
1 1/2 to 2 C. Mexican blend cheese (I like my quesadillas very gooey and cheesy so I used 2 cups)
6 flour tortillas

In a small bowl, mix lime juice, orange juice, and the spice mix. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade. Place the pieces of chicken in a large Ziplock bag or shallow dish. Add the remaining marinade and turn to coat well. Allow the chicken to marinate at least 30 minutes.

Heat a skillet to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and cook until browned and cooked all the way through, about 4 minutes. Remove from skillet and place in a medium sized bowl. Add the onion, bell pepper, chiles, corn, and remaining marinade. Cook until the onions are tender and most of the liquid has been evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add to the chicken mixture. Add the cheese and mix well.

Using a paper towel, wipe the skillet (You will be using it to sear the outside of the quesadillas so it doesn’t have to be cleaned, just most of the moisture removed). Heat the skillet to medium-high heat.

Evenly distribute the mixture on one side of the 6 quesadillas (about 1/2 cup of filling), fold in half. Place quesadillas, one at a time, in the skillet to brown the quesadillas and melt the cheesem flipping once.

Cut each quesadilla into 3 triangles and enjoy!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Almond Cake with Fresh Blueberry Sauce

My husband and I recently invited my parents over for dinner. They do so much for us, that I wanted to make somethine special. I also tried to keep the meal healthier...until dessert, that is.

I made almond cake with fresh blueberry sauce and it was INSANE! I think we all blew our healthy eating out of the water when we kept eating this moist, almondy cake. The blueberry sauce is the star of the show here, too. You can use frozen blueberries, but I think fresh really lend the best flavor. You can also adjust the amount of sugar you use in the sauce, depending on how sweet or tart your blueberries are. I hope you fall in love with this cake as much as we did!

Almond Cake with Fresh Blueberry Sauce

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ground almonds
1 cup milk

Fresh Blueberry Sauce:
2 Cups Fresh Blueberries
1 T. sugar
1 tsp. corn starch dissolved in 1 T. of water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and ground almonds. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the almond extract and vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with 1 cup milk, mixing just until incorporated (Batter will be slightly lumpy). Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and invert on a wire rack. Serve warm or room temperature.

For the blueberry sauce:
In a small saucepan, combine the blueberries and sugar. Add the cornstarch/ water mixture. Slowly bring to a boil, stir until thickened. Pour over slices of almond cake and ENJOY!!

*If you do not have or like blueberries (are you CRAZY?!) you can also make this glaze for the almond cake that is amazing!
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Homemade Soft Pretzels with Sweet Mustard Dipping Sauce

A few weeks ago I went to Weber Grill for a baby shower and they had the most amazing pretzel bread. My love affair with pretzel bread started a loooong time ago, but it was just recently that I have felt brave enough to try bread. You see, I have a long history of lost bread battles.

I once had a recipe for dinner rolls but they turned out more like hockey pucks. Not so yummy...For whatever reason, homemade bread has not been my friend. But, after much thought, amazing reviews online, and one too many delicious pretzel rolls, I decided to try out Alton Brown's recipe for homemade soft pretzels.

This recipe is SO worth it! Actually, it's pretty easy too. There are a few weird (to me, the novice breadmaker) steps, so I tried to photograph many of the steps to share with you. I hope they help! Like I said before, this recipe is far simpler than it seems at first and is a great way to begin making bread.

I also decided to forgo using all of the dough for traditional looking pretzels. Plus, I got bored with rolling and twisting. So, half of the dough was used to make pretzels and the other half was used to make rolls.

These are so perfect that I will definitely be making them again. Next time, though, I think that I am going to top them with cinnamon and sugar instead of the finishing salt - YUM!

Homemade Soft Pretzels

1 1/2 cups warm (110 to 115 degrees F) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil, for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt (I just used Kosher salt from my salt grinder and it was perfect!)

Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top.

Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.

Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place (I used the warming drawer on my oven set on LOW) for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan. *(This is where you can either make pretzel shapes or rolls...your choice!)

Place the pretzels into the boiling water, one at a time, for 30 seconds.

Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt.

Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving

Sweet Mustard Dipping Sauce

1/2 C. Dijon Mustard
1/4 C. Maple Syrup
1 T. Brown Sugar

In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients together until smooth. Enjoy with Homemade Soft Pretzels!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Blueberry Crunch Muffins

This summer, my husband and I took our 4 month old son to Michigan for a short, little weekend getaway. We had an amazing time fishing, swimming, and soaking up the sun.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was going blueberry picking. All along the winding roads of Michigan, there are blueberry farms that allow you to pick as many blueberries as you want! It's so economical too, compared to the grocery store prices! Plus, these blueberries are bursting with flavor! So, I picked blueberries until my fingers were purple and now I have a good stash in my freezer.

They are perfect to use in recipes like my Blueberry Crunch muffins. These are a surprising little muffin because they are cakey, tender, and so delicious. I really like the fruit combined with the crunchy, cinnamon-sugar topping. So whether you just want some muffins for yourself, are bringing them to a neighbor, or want to impress houseguests...give these a try!

Blueberry Crunch Muffins

1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
1/2 C granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 large egg
3/4 C milk
1/3 C unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 C. fresh blueberries

For the crunch topping:
1/2 C granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 C unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan.

Mix dry ingredients together, set aside. Beat egg and milk together in small bowl, set aside. Beat softened butter until light and fluffy. Alternate adding in egg and flour mixtures, mixing after each addition. Gently fold in the blueberries.

Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan, filling each cup about 2/3 full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool 5 minutes, turn pan over onto a wire rack removing all muffins then turning them over with tops up. Let them cool enough so they may be handled.

For the crunch topping:
Melt the butter. Mix together sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl.

Once muffins have cooled dip the tops (or all sides, if you want it extra crunchy!)in melted butter then roll in cinnamon sugar mixture. Place on wire rack to finish cooling.

May be served warm or cool. Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Steaks with Sun-dried Tomato and Herb Butter

When I was in college, I studied abroad in Spain. It was life-changing, wonderful, and so freeing. I can't wait to go back and explore more of Spain because it was so magical for me. The food in Spain is insanely good too. But, one thing I did learn throughout my travels there was how much I love steak. You see, my entire trip there I spent tasting new, exotic foods and delicious seafood options. It was great! But by the end of my trip, all I wanted was STEAK! I could have eaten an entire cow by the time I came home.

So, here you will find a recipe for the meat-lover in you. A simple steak that is transformed into a rich, culinary treat by piling on a sun-dried tomato and herb butter. If you ever have the chance - go explore Spain - you will love it. And when you get home and need to satisfy your craving for beef, try this recipe'll be glad you did!

Steaks with Sun-dried Tomato and Herb Butter

4 steaks, any cut you like
2 T. steak seasoning
1 stick of butter, room temperature
1 tsp. rosemary, chopped
1 tsp. thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
2 T. sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 T. basil, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped

Sprinkle steaks well with steak seasoning. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine the remaining ingredients: butter, rosemary, thyme, pepper, salt, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Mix until incorporated and refrigerate until needed.

For indoor cooking: Preheat large skillet to medium-high heat. Spray pan with non-stick spray and sear steaks 6 min. on each side or to desired doneness, turning every 2 minutes (you may need to cover pan to prevent splattering). If you desire steaks well done, after searing steaks, place steaks in a 350° oven for 10 minutes.

To grill steaks outdoors: Preheat grill to medium-high. Cook to desired degree of doneness, about 5-6 minutes per side for medium. Remove from heat and allow to sit for five minutes before serving.

Top each steak with a dollop of herb butter. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Pizza Bites

This is yet another recipe from my summer party - we had quite the spread! These pizza bites are fun and super easy. They are great make-ahead snacks too. I assembled them and then put them in the freezer until I was ready to bake and serve! There aren't any real measurements in this recipe because the pizza bites are really filled with whatever you want - so go crazy!!

The pizza bites are also really kid friendly. What kid doesn't like pizza?! But, if you are looking for something a little more "adult" and elegant, play with the toppings/fillings that you put inside. The biggest hit at the party was the italian sausage and tomato - this combo is definitely a winner. But, whatever toppings you like, go for it, I promise it will be good!

Pizza Bites
1 roll refrigerated pizza dough
pizza sauce for dipping
2 T grated Parmesan cheese
1 T olive oil
1/2 t garlic powder
1 t dried Italian seasoning
mozzerella cheese
Pizza toppings of your choice: ham and pineapple, pepperoni slices, italian sausage, tomato, etc.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Unroll your pizza dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat or roll the dough so it's about 12" by 8". Use a pizza cutter to divide the dough into 24 squares.

Place cheese and desired toppings on each square. (*Remember NOT to add any pizza sauce's for dipping afterward and will ooze out everywhere if you add it here! Trust me, I tried it.) You can add as much filling as your want, I added about a teaspoon each of cheese and pepperoni and then cheese, italian sausage, and tomatoes for the others.

When all of your dough squares have cheese and toppings on them, carefully lift up each square and wrap the dough around the toppings. Pinch to make sure each ball is sealed shut and then place them seam side down in a lightly sprayed pie pan. They will be tightly packed.

Brush the tops of the dough balls with olive oil and then sprinkle with the garlic and Italian seasoning and top with Parmesan cheese.

*If freezing, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and freeze until needed. These are great because they can be cooked from frozen whenever you want a pizza snack!

Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on top (this time will be longer if frozen). Serve warm with warmed marinara sauce on the side for dipping.

Adapted from Our Best Bites

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Ham and Cheese Sliders

When figuring out recipes for our latest summer party, I wanted something that would be delicious, fun, but simple for me to throw together. I don't know about you, but I think food is so much more fun and cute when it's smaller! These Ham and Cheese Sliders were perfect because they are so easy to put together and everyone loved them. I had to hide a few in the fridge to make sure I got one at the end of the night. And on that note, these are amazing as late-night snack food!

You might not think that Ham and Cheese sandwiches are very special, but the sauce that you drizzle over these babies is amazing. It really takes this recipe from plain ham and cheese sammie to irresistible party food. Plus, the sweetness of the Hawaiian rolls cute the tang of the mustard to strike a really nice balance. If you don't have poppyseeds or don't want to spring the extra cash for them, don't worry. They are just to make the sandwiches a little more pretty and fun...besides, if you leave them off you won't have to worry about poppyseeds in your teeth!

Needless to say, everyone kept coming back for more and I hope you give these Ham and Cheese Sliders a try!

Ham and Cheese Sliders

For the sandwiches:
24 mini Hawaiian rolls
24 slices honey ham
24 small slices Swiss cheese
Miracle Whip (or mayo if you're one of THOSE people - hehe)

For the topping:
2 tbsp. yellow mustard
8 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tbsp. finely minced onion
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Poppy seeds, for sprinkling

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Split the rolls and spread both sides lightly with Miracle Whip. Fold a slice of ham to fit on each slider bun, and top with a slice of Swiss cheese. Replace the top bun to assemble the sandwiches. Place the sandwiches on a baking sheet, very close together (See picture below).

To make the sauce, combine all ingredients except the poppy seeds in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Drizzle the sauce over the tops of the slider buns. Sprinkle with poppy seeds. Cover with foil and bake 10 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Remove the foil and bake 2 minutes longer. Serve warm.

Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything