Friday, April 18, 2014

Mini Cannoli Bites

It may or may not shock you to know I am not the biggest fan of the cannoli.  Not the traditional way anyway.  I am not a huge ricotta fan and sweetening it, doesn't feel any better to my taste buds!  HOWEVER, my husband IS and I wanted to make a little cheater version, simply because making homemade shells just wasn't in my days plan.  I think these turned out really good AND furthermore, I think they would be perfect for a party!  You have the sweet cream right inside an edible bowl.  Perfection.  No dirty dishes for this girl!

Now don't ask why because I can't explain but I would NOT use a mixer, hand held or a stand mixer to mix the ricotta cheese.  I don't know why, but when you just use a spoon, it doesn't become as thin.  We don't want cannoli sauce here.  When you use a mixer it changes things.  So please, just use a spoon or else, I can't guarantee you will be happy with the outcome.  Although even if it is a bit thin you ARE putting it into a pie crust bowl!  Right?

Enjoy these and make sure to only fill as many as you will need, and don't fill until just before serving! 

15 ounces ricotta cheese
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
mini chocolate chips

Combine all ingredients until smooth, refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pie Crust (I used premade or you can find my fab pie crust recipe here.
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon

Combine sugar and cinnamon until mixed and set aside.  Remove your pie crust and roll out.  Using a small glass or cookie cutter, cut out circles that are big enough to set down into mini muffin cups!  I would say a 2-3 inch in diameter cutter or glass will work.  One pie crust yielded 24 mini cups for me, so you will need 2 pie crusts to make an entire batch.  If you only want 24, half the ricotta mixture recipe. 

Preheat your oven to 425 F.  Spray your mini muffin tins with nonstick spray.  Taking your cinnamon sugar mixture, sprinkle your pie crust circles liberally and then take your circle push it down into one of your mini muffin cups careful not to stretch it a lot.  Just put it in and push it down, so you form a cup. Repeat with all of your circles.  Bake for 10 minutes and then let sit until cooled.  Remove cups carefully and fill with your ricotta cream using a spoon or pastry bag and sprinkle the top with mini chocolate chips.

These should not be filled until just before they are ready to be served!  If you fill your pastry bag it will make much quicker work of it and you can keep it cool before filling.  Just my 2 cents!

If you love cannoli, you will love these little bites of pure bliss!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Peanut Butter Eggs

Hi friends.  I hope you seeing this via the FB link provided but I just can't guarantee it.  With that said, please come to the website, it is as easy as clicking JOIN THIS SITE.  Facebook is going down, and fast, and I know you have all seen it and heard it but the reality is that, it is a huge social medium for bloggers, businesses, etc.  So it hits us really hard.  People undoubtedly prefer everything in one place.  You can go to Facebook and get your links to anyone you like, all on one website but you are no longer able to count on that.  Please consider joining me here, and/or via email updates.  There is NO spam, simply notifications 3 times a week of my new posts in your email.  It is so discouraging, but I am grateful for still being able to chat more "real time" on my fan page there.  Remember you can also find me on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

Disclaimer:  I am NO sculptor so no dogging on my lack of ability to create a proper egg shape, GOT IT? HAHA!

Now for these eggs.  My husband was CONVINCED he could come up with a peanut butter filling that was far closer to the real Reese's peanut butter filling than just a creamy peanut butter.  He wanted the texture and consistency, so on his day off we went at it.  I think we hit it pretty good.  It definitely isn't just creamy peanut butter, and the consistency is fairly nice.  So if you think this is just another peanut butter egg recipe, it is, but it ISN'T! 

Thank you George for your constant inspiration, challenges, love, and support, I never take for granted how blessed I am to have a husband who is in complete support of my life and my life ambitions. 

So, there is only ONE small thing about these eggs.  You need to just free form them, and when you do, put them on parchment and FREEZE them.  Because the filling is a bit of a different texture, they take a bit to freeze well enough to dip.  I would suggest putting them on a fork and then spooning chocolate over the top.  I might even secretly suggest DOUBLE dipping them!  Just make sure you allow a couple of hours for them to set a bit in the freezer before dipping.  No fridge.....FREEZE.

1 cup CREAMY peanut butter
1/2 cup peanuts (chopped FINE)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup powdered milk

Mix by hand until all ingredients are combined.  And JUST IN CASE you were going to ask if you could just use chunky peanut butter, the answer is yes, but you still need to add the chopped peanuts, trust me.

Form into eggs, however you choose and place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and FREEZE for at least 2 hours before dipping. 

2-3 cups of milk chocolate chips, your choice.
vegetable oil (optional)

Melt your chips in a bowl, 30 seconds at a time in the microwave.  When melted, if you need it a bit more runny, add a few drops of vegetable oil and stir well.  You can add it until you have the right consistency that you prefer for dipping.

Like I said, this feeling is a WEE bit soft, but will be so worth your efforts, trust me.  I, again, suggest using a fork to dip, so the entire egg is supported if it is flat on one side.  If you formed regular shaped eggs, you will be find!  Place back on parchment and refrigerate for 1 hour to set.  Decorate how you want, keep them smooth, swirl them on top or use colored melts, melted down to decorate.  Maybe even some sprinkles!

Store in the fridge until time to serve!!


Monday, April 14, 2014

Pork Braciole

Good evening friends, I hope this finds you all relaxing after a day hard at work or play!  Oh, I just considered it might find you with 2 screaming children, a barking dog, a ringing phone, and smoking oven, all at the same time.  Oh dear, if that is the case.... WHY are sitting reading this?!

Braciole.  My mother in law makes ZEE best.  Now I would like to say that this is traditionally made with beef.  Flank steak is my meat of choice on the regular but, I am not sure if that is REALLY traditional or just, what most people do.  Isn't that the same thing? HA!  Hey I had pork loin I wanted to use, so I went with it.  And might I say, I am so very glad I did!

This is a bit of a process, but not to bad.  You can use small pieces of meat and make small braciole, or use a larger piece and slice it to serve several.  What a great idea to get a lot of bang for your buck, one nice thick piece of steak to serve at least 4 adults.  We could be on to something here!  So do not let the size or instruction of the recipe keep you from trying it.  It isn't hard, it is just a few steps to perfection.  I used 2 small pork loins.  Wait, not small, just short.  I by the gargantuan size pork loins and cut them into 3.  This recipe will do a large steak, or 2 pork loins as I did.

First you must prepare the meat.  If you can't find a thinly pounded piece of beef or pork, you will need to do it yourself.  I butterflied my 2 smallish pork loins and then went to town pounding them out with a meat tenderizer.  You could also use a heavy skillet if you want.  Get it about 1/2 an inch thick or less all over.  You know, you can really pound it to whatever thickness you like.   If you do not know how to butterfly a piece of meet, just cut it horizontally, leaving about 1 inch at the end NOT cut, flip it open like a book and then start to pound it thin.  Easy enough?  This filling recipe will make 2 bracioles.  If you are using only ONE piece of meat, HALF the recipe!

1 1/2 cups seasoned breadcrumbs (I use fresh)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 egg
2 tsps. or 2 cloves of garlic grated or VERY FINELY minced
2=4 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
4-5 cups of pasta sauce, homemade or purchased

Combine all ingredients together.  Use more or less olive oil depending on how dry or wet your filling is.  You want it to hold together when you squeeze it.  I trust you can eyeball this little detail.

With your piece of meat laying out flat, top it with your filling, spreading it evenly over the entire thing.  Carefully roll the meat up, and using some kitchen string, tie it in about 3-5 places, holding it together.  (I had already rolled my braciole and had to unroll it for a photo!)

In a large pot, brown the meat for 2-3 minutes on each side until nicely browned.

When browned, add your crushed tomatoes or pasta sauce!  I also add a bit of water to mine.  Cover and let simmer for 1-2 hours depending on the thickness of your meat and size of the braciole!  When it is done, remove and let sit for 10 minutes before slicing!

Use your sauce over some short cut pasta and call it a meal!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Tropical Delight Cookies

Welcome April!  Today is April 1st, not sure what do YOU might see this, but probably a couple of days after.  It is a bit chilly but the sun is so bright, who CARES what the reality is, right?  I hope you stay awhile Mr. Sun, you and I haven't spent time together for a long time!

So when we get that first warm spring day, it immediately puts me in the mood for summer food, summer treats, or anything that reminds me of warm weather!  I also admittedly realized, the freezer had a bit of "a little a' this and a little o' that" that needed used up.  I had found some things that appeared to be the perfect recipe for something tropical and this was it.  These have a delicate coconut flavor, and then WHAM you bite into pineapple and then WHOOSH there goes a macadamia nut and it feels almost like when you eat a York Peppermint Patty.  All KINDS of awesome things could happen!

Enjoy these easy, eggless cookies, that are a refreshing change from chocolate, although don't get me wrong, there IS no replacement for chocolate!  A summery twist perfect for all occasions!

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup coconut milk (divided)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 cup diced dried pineapple
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
1 cup coconut (divided)
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar (for glaze)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.   Line cookie sheets with silicone mats or parchment, or spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

In your the bowl of your mixer or a large bowl cream together butter and both sugars until creamy.  Add in 1/4 cup coconut milk, vanilla and salt, and baking soda, mix again until combined.  Add in flour and mix just until the flour has been all mixed in.  Scrape down the sides and fold in pineapple, nuts, and 1/2 cup coconut. 

Scoop out on to cookie sheets and bake 9-12 minutes, depending on the size you make.  (should make 3 dozen)

Let cool and then make glaze: Combine remaining 1/4 cup coconut milk, and powdered sugar.  You may need to add a bit more of one ingredient or the other depending on the consistency you like.  When you have drizzled them you can use remaining coconut and sprinkle the tops!  Let stand so glaze hardens and...


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

B-E-A-UTIFUL Butterscotch Cupcakes

I am on a mission.  You see, I just cleaned out, organized and purged some of my blogging supplies and props, etc.  Do you know, I came across an entire container of cupcake papers I never even remembered I had?  I have this sick addiction to buying them.  I mean, it is like a SICKNESS!   When I say a "container" I mean a plastic box, twice the size of a shoe box.  Which makes 3 containers in total!  I found some cute Easter looking ones and set out to think up some amazing cupcake I had never made or thought of.  As it turns out, I didn't need to come up with anything, except my frosting. 

You won't believe where I got this recipe.   I got it at a card store!  I did!  I was out shopping with my sister and she was buying some boxed cards.  One of the boxes she got had recipes on the inside of each card.  SCORE!  I was looking through them and when I spotted this one, I HAD to make it. 

The cupcakes are so good on their own, you wouldn't even NEED the frosting, BUT, if you think for one stinking' minute I am not going to frost a cupcake, you are sadly mistaken!  I mean, complete sacrilege there!   If I can't have a mountain of billowy, fluffy, delicious frosting, you can keep the cupcakes!

I did change this recipe just a hair, simply because I thought it would be better with just one flavor.  I will post the frosting recipe at the end.  Now, I processed my chips in my mini chopper, if you want to just put them in whole that is up to you, but I guarantee when you chop them up a bit, they are even better in this frosting!

You WILL need a box mix for this one.  You can not make THIS recipe from scratch.  So here we go! 

1 box of white cake mix, your choice of brands
1 box of instant butterscotch pudding
1 cup milk
3 eggs
1 cup butterscotch chips (keep the leftover you will need them for the frosting)

In a small bowl, combine the pudding and milk, whisk until combined and set aside.  Add the 3 eggs to a large bowl, whisk and then add in dry cake mix.  It will be thick.  Combine as best you can and then add in the already prepared pudding.  Mix to combine.  Fold in the chips at the very end.  Keep these chips whole, do not chop.

Preheat your oven to 350 and line your cupcake pans with liners.  This will yield 24 cupcakes.  Do not overfill, if you end up with a few that aren't full, take some out of the others, they will raise a lot, so don't fret it.  Just make sure to get 24.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.  Set aside to cool.

Butterscotch Frosting
1/2 cup softened butter
1-8oz brick of cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. milk *may use more or less*
butterscotch chips (the remaining amount from your bag of chips)

Chip your chips until they are in smaller pieces.  You can use a knife, or a small food chopper, food processor, whatever you have available.  In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix until smooth and creamy.  You may need more or a wee bit less of the milk, it is just dependent on how you like the consistency of your frosting.  Frost your cupcakes however you choose, pipe it, spread it, or dollop it!  This frosting is creamy and has little bits of butterscotch chips in it and oh my, it is fantastic!

I hope you love these butterscotch lovers dream!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hot Cross Buns

So, is it wrong to mess with tradition?  I mean, putting you own twist on it is one thing but completely omitting things that some say, and surely are, imperative to a dish, is another.  Should I be proud that I did both?

There are as many recipes for "Hot Cross Buns" as there are people who love them.  My husband said in England he doesn't recall them having anything in them.  No dried or candied fruits, currants, raisins, citron, etc.  But I know that is traditional.  I read that in Australia and New Zealand, they do chocolate chips, YUM.  Well I decided to omit all of that.  In fact I even omitted some likely important spices.  No cloves for this girl, and no ginger either.  Cinnamon seems pretty traditional but I didn't want to feel like it was just another kind of cinnamon roll, so I threw that to the wind as well!

These look hard, but they aren't, so give them a try, they are definitely delish.  Share some with a friend, I hear that is good luck for your friendship!

I wrote this in the order of how I made it.  All ingredients are in bold purple.  Go for it!  Get your Hot Cross Buns on!

1/2 cup milk, heated to approx. 110-112 degrees F
1/2 cup flour
1 packet active dry yeast

Mix flour and yeast into heated milk.  Let sit for 10 minutes until it becomes slightly foamy. 

In a large mixing/stand mixer bowl combine:

1 2/3 all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup butter that has been cubed and then brought to room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
yeast mixture
1 egg (egg wash)

Mix all ingredients, except yeast mixture, with a paddle attachment or hand mixer until combined.  When it is mixed, add in yeast mixture and egg and continue to mix until you get a dough.  Using your dough hook or hands, knead for 2 minutes, until a smooth ball of dough is achieved.  (did I just really use the word "achieved" in a recipe? YUCK!)

Butter a large bowl and place dough inside, flipping it a couple of times to coat the entire ball of dough.  Cover and let sit in a warm place approx. 1-1 1/2 hours until it is doubled in size.

Remove dough on to your counter and divide into 12 equal parts.  I rolled it into a log to do this, it just made it easier.  Roll each of your 12 pieces into a ball and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Using scissors or a knife, cut a cross into the top of each one.   Cover with a towel and let raise another 30-45 minutes. Beat one egg with a splash of water and brush over the tops and sides of the rolls.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes.  WHILE THAT IS HAPPENING....

In a teeny weeny saucepan heat together

3 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. water

Bring to a bubble and set aside.

When the roll are done, IMMEDIATELY use a pastry brush and dab all of the tops with the simple syrup mixture.  Let cool 15 minutes before icing!

2/3 cup powdered sugar
1-3 tsp milk

Mix this together until you get a thick icing that you can easily pipe onto the buns!  I used a small tip in my pastry bag but you could use a simple Ziploc as well to pipe a cross on top.

I hope you enjoy these NON-traditional hot cross buns, and make them for your Easter dinner!

Friday, April 4, 2014

BBQ Chicken Pizza (Homemade BBQ Sauce)

Hello friends!  I finally got home from my parents and hubby and I decided to spend the first day we could in the kitchen making OUR idea of the perfect BBQ sauce.  Honestly, neither of us are a huge BBQ sauce fans.  I love Cookies, and that is it.  I was game for making our own, at least we could make it how we wanted.  I whipped up a batch of pizza dough, and while it was raising we went to work!

We both like a bit of sweetness and smoke but it took us a bit to get rid of the plain "tomato base" flavor.  We worked, and added, and discussed and then messed it up and then brought it back about 10 times!  I hope you enjoy this sauce, that is especially incredible with chicken.  As I mentioned we made a Chicken BBQ Pizza out of it,  and it was deeeeee-lish.  When two, NON BBQ sauce lovers tell you it was great, it had to be great!  Right?

I used dehydrated onion in this, feel free to mince an onion and sauté it before adding it.  I don't groove hugely on onions so I opted for dehydrated so I had a bit of the bit, but none of the slime.  Hot sauce is also optional, use it to your taste or leave it out completely!

2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp. vinegar
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. dehydrated onion
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tbsp. molasses
1 tsp. liquid smoke
1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. teriyaki sauce
1/4 cup water

Combine a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, stir constantly.  When it comes to a boil, turn burner off and let sit to cool.   This will yield just about 2 cups of BBQ sauce!

For the pizza (it will make 2) you will need:

4 large chicken breasts, roasted and sliced thin
4 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 recipe of my Pizza Dough

Follow instructions for pizza dough.  When the dough has doubled in size, divide in half and spread out between 2 pizza pans.  Add half of the sauce to each pizza, and spread it out.  Lay sliced chicken on top, and finally sprinkle with cheese!  Bake at 450  degrees F for 15-20 minutes!

Slop it, slap it, and smack it good!