Wednesday, December 29, 2010

All The Rage?

I am absolutely in love with chocolate bark. Since I have discovered the idea of chocolate bark I have been making it non stop, how could i when there are endless possibilities and combinations of this savory treat. While I have been busy cranking out variations among variations of this chocolate delight it seems that others have been also discovering their inner bark fascinations. I have come across the bark delights in various food magazines and blogs I also recently visited a local chocolate shop where they were selling bark for a hefty price. I highly recommend to everyone to make your own Bark! Its so easy, cheap and you get to pick you own toppings not to mention people will be impressed with your trendy creation.

First pick what kind of chocolate to use: White, Semi-sweet, Bitter Sweet,
you will need 1 pound of it cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

Next melt 1 cup of chocolate in microwaveable container for 30 seconds, then stir do this 2 more times stir and then add the remaining chocolate (from the original pound)

Place the melted chocolate onto a baking sheet covered foil and spread out till 1/4 inch thick around. Next pick your toppings, I recommend using 3 to 4 toppings that are crunchy or chewy this is your chance to get creative! 


After adding you topping make sure they are in the chocolate deep enough to stay put when dried, then let dry for an hour in at room temperature.
After you Bark has dried , drop the baking sheet above a counter and let the bark break into smaller pieces and enjoy!

Featured:  First picture: white chocolate bark with coconut, toffee, and almond.
Second picture: swirled white and bitter-sweet chocolate with dried Craisns and cranberries, coconut, and almonds.
Third Picture: semi-sweet chocolate with figs, pistachios, and crystalized ginger.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Breakfast Anyone

I've been stumbling upon some amazing breakfast recipes and I thought that they needed to be shared with my fellow foodies. so far these are the contenders for the breakfast i will make christmass morning for my family, I have yet to decide which one I will be cooking and I would love to hear some ideas from my food lovers.

Baked French Toast Casserole with Maple Syrup
Ingredients:
1 loaf French Bread (13 to 16 ounces)
8 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
dash salt
parline topping, recipe follows
maple syrup
Directions:
Slice French bread into 20 slices, 1 inch each
arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13- inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overalpping the slices
in a large bowl, combine the eggs, half and half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a rotary beater or whisk until blended but not too bubbly. pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. cover with foil and refridgerate overnight
the next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
spread praline topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. serve with maple syrup.
Praline Topping:
1/2 pound ( 2 sticks) butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well. makes enough for baked french toast casserole. 

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon

Ingredients:
1/4 pound sliced smoked salmon
12 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
12 to 15 blades of fresh chives, finely chopped
directions:
reserve 2 slices of salmon for garnish. chop the remaining salmon into very small pieces.
whisk you eggs and cream together. add 1/2 cup of your chopped chives and season eggs with salt and pepper. preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. melt butte in the pan and add eggs. scramble eggs with a wooden spoon. so not cook eggs until dry. when eggs have come together but remain wet, stir in chopped salmon. remove pan from the stove and place on a trivet. garnish the eggs with remaining salmon and chives and serve right out of the warm pan. 


Sunday, December 19, 2010

A return from my hiatus

I've been out of touch for almost a month now due to an unimaginable amount of school work including finals and term papers. But now school has subsided and ended for the semester, i have returned home to New York and once again find myself in my mothers kitchen wondering what kind of goodies i can whip up. The holiday season is now in full force but i haven't had a change to really get in the spirt yet, so i  decided what better way to get back into the swing of things then to gather up some festive holiday recipes. so i begin my return from the underworld of finals, endless papers and sleepless nights with a slew of recipes that is sure to get anyone in the holiday spirt! 


Salty Caramel Croquembouche with Ricotta Cream
Check out the full recipe in fine cooking magazine or on their website at: finecooking.com


Snow Capped Macaroons
check out the recipe at: foodnetwork
Stylish Gingerbread men and women
love these twists on the classic gingerbread cookies from food network magazine, start off with any gingerbread cookie recipe then dress em up in these sweet outfits!

mini marshmallow: snip mini marshmallows in haf with scissors; toss in colored sugar ( it sticks to the cut side). attach with royal icing


fruit leather: cut fruit leather into pants and dresses and attach with royal icing. use thinned icing to make a shirt.
Sour belt: cut sour belts into strips and squares to make shorts or layered dress. attach the pieces with royal icing.

Triple-shot eggnog
serves eight:
3 large eggs, preferably pasteurized, separated
1/2 cup granulated sugar
kosher salt
1/2 cup dark rum
1/4 cup bourbon
2 tbs. brandy
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg, plus extra for garnish
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
direction:
whisk the egg yolks in a large bowl until they just begin  to turn a lighter shade of yellow add the sugar and a pinch of salt and whisk until thick pale yellow. whisk in the rum , bourbon and brandy until well combined and then whisk in the milk, cream, nutmeg, and vanilla until blended. chill the mixture, covered, for 4 hours or overnight. keep the egg white chilled separately in a medium bowl.
before serving, ship the egg whites to stiff peaks with a hand-held electric mixer. fold the whipped egg whites into the chilled yolk mixture. serve immediately, sprinkled with a a little freshly grated nutmeg, or chill for up to 4 hours. whisk the eggnog until smooth before serving.

Mix and Match Chocolate Bark
love this idea, gives you plenty of options you are sure to find one that suits your taste buds, plus these easy creations makes for prefect homemade gifts!
first: prepare the pan line a baking sheet with foil, shiny-side up; smooth out the creases
 second: pick your ingredients,
1 pound chocolate (whatever kind you like), 
1/2 cup, chopped crunch toppings: 
1/2 cup chewy toppings, chopped
spices (optional)
Third: melt the chocolate, check out foodnetwork.com for full instructions
fourth: spread it out
fifth: add your toppings 

Candy Cane Cooler
For Fusion:
2 cups fresh mint leaves, de stemmed
1 bottle quality vodka
directions: throughly wash mint leaves and place in a decanter or jar. empty vodka into container and muddle slightly to release the essential oils. store in a cool, dark place for at least three days- longer if you want a stronger taste.
for cocktail:
1tbs. crushed candy cane or peppermint candy
1 1/2 oz. mint-infused vodka
1/2 oz. B&B (benedictine and Brandy)
1/2 oz. half and half
ice
peppermint stick
mint sprig for garnish
place crushed candy cane bits into pint glass. muddle the candy can slightly, breaking up the bigger plieces. do not muddle into a powder. add vodka, brandy and half and half and stir. our into a shaker with ice. shake lightly to chill and strain into old-fashioned glass full of ice. add a peppermint stick and stir. garnish with a mint sprig.

















Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Lull Before the Storm

D-day is right around the conner, and i thought before my family and gorged ourselves silly with meat, bread and other not so healthy accompaniments I would whip up some fresh seafood. If anyone hasn't already realized , I am quite a fan of scallops so when i found a recipe in Fine Cooking magazine i was eager to try it out. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes scallops plus it only took about 30 minutes to prepare!

Seared Scallops with Cauliflower, Brown Butter and Basil
serves 4
3 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 small head cauliflower trimmed and cut into bit size florets
1 lb. all natural dry packed scallops
2 tbs. unsalted butter
1 large shallot, minced
1/2 dry vermouth ( i used white wine)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 large fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
directions:
1. heat 1 tbs. of the oil in a 12 inch non-stick skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. add the cauliflower and cook, stirring often until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. transfer to a bowl.
2. add the remaining 2 tbs. oil to the skillet . when simmering hot, add the scallops in a single layer. cook until golden-brown, about 2 minutes. flip and cook until the scallops are barely cooked through, about 2 minutes more, if you cut into one it should still be translucent in the center. transfer to another bowl.
3. swirl in the butter into the skillet, add the shallot and cook stirring often, until the shallot softens and the butter begins to brown, about one minute.
4. add the vermouth( or pinot grigio) and bring to a boil, scarping up any bits in the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon. return cauliflower to the skillet and season 1/4 tsp. each salt and pepper. cover the skillet and reduce the heat to medium. cook stirring once or twice, until the cauliflower florets are tender, about 6 minutes.
5. return the scallops to the pan and toss to heat through, about 1 minutes. remove from the heat, sprinkle with basil and serve.
Delicious and Easy! I also paired this with some endives and hummus for a nice fresh crunchy side enjoy!
-Snacks

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Giving Thanks With Roommates

The tests have temporarily subsided and the work load has been paused as we enter into fall break. To celebrate this much needed relief from academic insanity i will be returning home to New York to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my family. Before parting Boulder my roommates and I wanted to jump start the holiday by cooking thanksgiving dinner together. My roommates consist of three other girls plus myself , we also share our triplex with two other units consisting of four boys in each unit who we also invited to dinner. So here we are my roommates and I who had never cooked an entire thanksgiving dinner on own before cooking dinner for fourteen people, let the games begin. ( I will only be featuring a few of the recipes the others will be posted after making thanksgiving dinner i make with my family).

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake
  

what you will need:
I doubled the recipe to make two pies, but the original calls for:
2 ( 8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup homemade whipped cream
Directions:
1. preheat the oven to 325 degrees
2. in a large bowl combine the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. beat until smooth. blend in one eggs at a time. remove one cup of batter and spread into bottom of crust; set aside. ( before adding to the pie i recommend taking a little egg and brushing it over the pie crust and putting it in the oven for 5 minutes it makes the crust crunchy).
3. add pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg to the remaining batter and stir gently until well blended. Carefully spread over the batter in the crust.


4. bake in preheated oven for 30- 40 minutes or until center is almost set. don't worry if there are cracks when you refrigerate it they will close up. allow to cool, then refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight, i recommend over night but if your in a crunch 3 hours should do the trick. garnish with whipped cream when serving. Enjoy! remove from fridge about an hour prior to serving, this was one of the biggest hits at our gathering! recipe adapted from http://thegirlwhoateeverything.blogspot.com

Baked Artichokes with Mushroom Stuffing
This is an all time classic, I cook it every year at home for thanksgiving so i had to share it with the roommates. I wish i got a better pic of the finished product. 
What you will need:
4 artichokes
juice of  1 lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 shallots chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 table spoon chopped fresh mint 
salt and pepper 
1/3 cup fine dried bread crumbs
4 slices bacon
2 cups chicken stock
directions:
1. preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. steam artichokes, cut off the entire steams of the artichokes so they will sit upright cut 1 inch off the top of each artichokes and the remove the touch outer leaves. place the articokes upright in the saucepan and add lemon juice. reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. remove the artichokes and invert to drain well. when cool enough to handle, gently separate the leaves of each artichokes to expose the prickly choke. using a spoon, scoop out the choke. set the artichokes aside.
3. heat 2 table spoons of the oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add the garlic, shallots and mushrooms and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. add 2 tablespoons of the parsley, the mint and salt and pepper to taste. mix in the bread crumbs.

fill each artichoke with an equal amount of the mixture. warp a pice of bacon around the waist of the artichokes and secure with a toothpick. place upright  in a baking dish and pout the remaining 1 tablespoon oil around them. pour in in the stock. bake until the artichokes are tender about 30 minutes. Enjoy! ps. you can prepare this recipe ahead of time and bake the artichokes prior to serving.
there will be much more to come, as the holiday progresses and I am finally home and have all the time in the world!
-Snacks
Food for thought:
 Don't cook a turkey upside-down, a given right? well somehow our turkey ended up in the oven upside-down don't ask... and to top it off someone who still remains unknown accidentally shut the oven off for 2 hours. So once we realized the oven had been off for two hours we also realized the turkey was upside down and it was 7:3o and the guests were supposed to arrive in 3o minutes. To say the least our turkey was quite rare and provided each person with very little meat. regardless it was a learning experience and a good time, you always have to start somewhere and learn from you mistakes.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

busy busy busy

It's that time of year again where midterms are taking over my life! thanksgiving break is about to happen and all my teachers take this opportunity to squeeze in as many papers, tests, and projects as they possibly can before the break starts. unfortunately for me this means i haven't had much time for new creations. Instead i've decided to feature some blogs that I've been gathering inspiration from, as i continue to live vicariously through their wonderful creations . 
-Snacks 


Potato Leek Soup

Ingredients: 
3 to 4 cups or 1lb. peeled, sliced or diced potatoes
3 cups or 1 lb. thinly sliced leeks, including the tender greens
2 quarts water ( recommended using 1 quart broth + 1 quart water)
2 teaspoons slat
6 tablespoons heavy cream

Preparation:
simmer the potato and leek in the water, partial covered, for 40 minutes or until the vegetable are tender
mash the vegetables in the soup with a fork or pass through a food mill. season to taste ( ground pepper)
set aside uncovered until just before serving, then reheat to a simmer
off heat, before serving, stir in the cream. garnish with parsley or chives , if desired. 
Hands down one of my favorite soup recipes, it's just so easy and so tasty! i adapted this recipe from: http://www.goodlifeeats.com


Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar
Ingredients:
1 pound Brussel sprouts, rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
kosher slat and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preparation:
1. preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. cut off the ends of the brussels sprouts. if the brussels sprouts are large cut in half. if small leave them whole
3. place sprouts in a medium bowl. toss with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. season with salt and pepper.
4. pour sprouts on a baking sheet and roast 30-35 minutes or until sprouts are tender. make sure you stire them a couple of time while they are roasting. serve warm. 
serves 4.
Some people love em some hate em, I am definitely a lover of Brussels Sprouts and i love finding new ways to cook them! this recipe is very simple and quite delicious. adapted from http://twopeasandtheirpod.com
- Snacks


Cheesy Grits with Leeks and Asparagus
Cheesy Grits:
2 cups water
2 cups milk
3/4 cup cream of wheat
Fresh corn : I cut the kernels from 2 ears and it was the perfect amount
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
3 T butter
3/4 cup sharp cheddar
Bring liquids and salt to a boil. Slowly add grits while whisking to prevent lumps. Add fresh corn and cook for 2 1/2 minutes. Turn heat off and add butter, pepper, and cheese.
Shrimp with asparagus topping:

1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
3 slices bacon, diced
1 1/2 cups asparagus spears
1/2 cup leeks, sliced thinly
1 T butter
1 T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a large saute pan add 1 T oil and 1 T butter. Saute bacon and leeks until bacon begins to brown. Add asparagus and garlic. Add shrimp and cook until light pink on both sides, season to taste.
This recipe is sure to become an all time favorite for me, i love the combination of leeks and shrimp in any dish. over grits it gives a nice texture and adds a buttery flavor that is sure blend well with any topping. cant wait to try it, this inspiration came from http://littlespatula.blogspot.com/ check out the site lots a great ideas!

seared scallops with spring onion and tarragon cream

When i found this i couldn't resist i love making scallops, my roommates on the other hand don't quite enjoy the house smelling so fishy so i am forced to limit my scallop intake. check out the recipe at http://www.food52.com/recipes/4080_seared_scallops_with_spring_onion_and_tarragon_cream.  keep in mind this can be made as an appetizer or entrĂ©e, always recommend using fresh scallops they just taste better.


Monday, November 8, 2010

celebrations

One of my best friends Yevy turned 21 this past week and i wanted to make her something special. There are two things in this world that  Yevy is obsessed with Ferrero Rocher chocolates and Nutella. So i set out on a mission to incorporate both of these ingredients into some type of treat! I came across a few nutella themed cupcake recipes and took it from there, the end result was amazing nutella fudge cupcakes topped with ferrero rocher chocolates!!  A simple and utterly delicious recipe that is sure to please any chocolate lover!

What you will need:
1/2 cup Nutella spread
1 large egg
5 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 large box of  Ferrero Rocher chocolates ( which can be found at most grocery stores)
*I doubled the recipe to make larger cup-cakes*

Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.   Line a 12-cup mini muffin pan  with paper or foil liners.
2.  In a medium bowl, whisk the Nutella and egg until smooth and well blended.  Add the flour and whisk until blended.
3.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tins (3/4 full) and bake until a pick comes out with wet, gooey crumbs, 11 to 12 minutes.  Set on a rack to cool completely. 



the end result.....highly addictive cupcakes eat with caution 
-Snacks 

Monday, October 18, 2010

halloween compilation

Food for thought....here is a compilation of my favorite halloween recipes, ideas, and trends! Here you will find some classics mixed in with some unique creations enjoy!
- Snacks


Trick-or-Treat-tini


SERVES 1, EASILY DOUBLED OR TRIPLED
  • 1 1/2 ounce Midori
  • 1 1/2 ounce Malibu Rum
  • 1 1/2 ounce Special Sour mix (see recipe below)
  • Black Lava Sea Salt for rim
  • Gummy eyeball (optional)
  1. Rim a martini glass in black lava sea salt if desired. Fill a shaker halfway with ice cubes. Add equal parts Midori, Malibu Rum, and Special Sour mix. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Sprinkle a few grains of salt into your glass if desired, for a dramatic, Halloween-y effect. Eyeballs optional. ENJOY!
  2. SPECIAL SOUR MIX: 2 cups coconut water + 1/3 cup agave + Juice of two Meyer lemons Combine ingredients in a glass jar with a lid and stir to mix. Refrigerate until chilled. Use as needed for Trick-or-Treat-tinis.
Read more: http://www.food52.com/recipes/7151_trickortreattini#ixzz131ME4JM4


"Great Pumpkin" Truffles

makes 30-40 truffles 




8 ounces top quality 70% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
7 teaspoons pumpkin spice blend* (or more to your taste)
1 tablespoon salted butter, softened
1 cup dutch process cocoa powder (I use Valrhona)
6 ounces toasted pecans, finely chopped in a mini-prep

  1. * In a small bowl make the pumpkin spice blend by sifting together 1 tablespoon cinnamon, 1 tablespoon ginger, 1/2 tablespoon nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon allspice. Set aside.
  2. Put chocolate into a large heatproof bowl. Bring the cream, the corn syrup and the 7 teaspoons of the pumpkin spice mix to a light boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; pour over the chocolate in bowl. Let stand 5 minutes, then gently stir until smooth. Add the softened butter and stir gently until it is fully incorporated. Let stand uncovered to cool, stirring occasionally to keep a skin from forming.
  3. When the ganache has cooled to the consistency of toothpaste, scrape it into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe 1-inch-diameter mounds spaced 1 inch apart on a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. To pipe the mounds, hold the pastry bag at a slight angle and allow the tip to touch the parchment as you begin to pipe. Once you have formed the mound, stop squeezing and lift the tip straight up, leaving a small tail on the top of each mound, like a hershey’s kiss. You can also use a spoon and drop small mounds of ganache onto the baking sheet. Let the truffles harden at room temperature for a couple of hours (or in the refrigerator for 15 minutes), until they are hard enough to roll with your hands.
  4. Place the cocoa powder, and the chopped pecans in separate bowls.
  5. Roll each cooled ball of ganache between the palms of your hands to form into a sphere and to soften the outside of the ball. Immediately drop them into the “topping” bowl of your choice, and roll them around with a fork or spoon to evenly coat the ganache with either the cocoa or nuts. Move to a parchment covered sheet tray, then to the fridge for about 15 minutes to set. Recover any extra cocoa and minced nuts for future use.Read more: http://www.food52.com/recipes/7149_great_pumpkin_truffles#ixzz12jmZIMnI


Pumpkin pie cheesecake 


although this dish may go a bit better on the thanksgiving table I couldn't resist adding it! many thanks to http://closetcooking.blogspot.com for the idea!

Ingredients:
2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
6 tablespoons butter (melted)
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese (room temperature)
3 eggs (slightly beaten)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:
1. Mix the gingersnap cookie crumbs, ginger and butter and press into the bottom and up 1 inch along the sides of a 9 inch spring form pan.
2. Bake the crust in a preheated 350F oven for 5 minuters and set aside.
3. Cream the cream cheese.
4. Mix in the eggs one at a time followed by the sugar, pumpkin puree, vanilla and then the spices.
5. Pour the mixture into the spring form pans.
6. Bake in a preheated 350F oven until it is set, about 60-70 minutes.
7. Let it cool completely.
8. Chill the cheesecake in the fridge overnight.