Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tiramisu Cake Balls

These tiramisu cake balls taste exactly like the real deal.  They are bite sized, decadent and simply delicious.

1 box angel food cake mix
16 oz bag chocolate
8 oz packet cream cheese
8 oz cup coffee
6 lady fingers, or Pirouette cookies (I used vanilla)
1T coffee grounds
1tsp rum
2 T cocoa powder

Bake angel food cake as directed.
Allow cake to cool as directed.* Mash cake in bowl with cream cheese. Mix in four mashed lady fingers.
Pour 6 oz coffee over cake.  Blend.  Mix in 1T cocoa powder.
Melt chocolate, mixing in remaining coffee and rum.
Roll balls in chocolate.
Mix remaining cocoa powder, coffee grounds and two ground Pirouette cookies.  Use this mixture to top off balls.

For more of my original cake ball recipes from king cake to s'more, click here

*Cool as the box says, not as I did.
Apparently, you don't grease the bottom of the pan.
I was able to salvage the cake, thank goodness it was for cake balls!
Just remember, it's easy to let a kitchen mess ruin your day ...
But when life hands you lemons, make cake balls. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Southwest Brussels Sprouts & Avocado Pasta

Reasons I love this meal ... 

1) It is a crowd pleaser. My best friend Emily and my sister have now both requested I blog on this meal. Making this my third request.
2) It is filling and can be entirely prepared with vegetables. 
3) The avocado pasta serves as a healthy alternative to a cream sauce. 
4) ... But if you want to be bad, the avocado pasta tastes good topped with cheese and turkey bacon or crisp prosciutto. 
5) These are not your mama's flavorless brussels sprouts. 

Photos by Emily Slack.

For the Brussels Sprouts … 

1 standard, fresh bag Brussels Sprouts, halved
1 Sweet Potato
Garlic, 2T minced
1 Red Pepper
3 bunches Green Onions
Cilantro (as an optional topping)
Jar of Jalapenos (not going to use to whole jar, but will need the juice)
1 can black beans
Tony’s (Red Pepper)
Garlic Powder
Italian Seasoning
Lemon Juice
Lime Juice
Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 425.
Chop sweet potato and half brussels sprouts. Place on cooking sheet and coat in olive oil.
Add a generous amount of cumin, salt, pepper and red pepper.  Add a dash of garlic powder and Italian seasoning.  
Now generously throw on the juices … A couple tablespoons lemon and about three lime.  About 3 tsp jalapeno juice and about 12-15 jalapeno slices.
Mix all of this together on the pan, spreading juices and spices.
Place in oven for 20 minutes and add what has been cooking on the stove-top, roast for about 10 more minutes until veggies have cooked through.

What has been on the stove-top …
Brown sliced red pepper on stove-top. Then allow it to simmer with chopped green onions and minced garlic.
Heat can of black beans in a separated pan for 8 minutes, I like to season with red pepper. 

So to recap … After 20 minutes, blend oven and stove-top mix.  Add more of the aforementioned seasonings to taste and allow to bake for 10 more minutes.

For the Avocado Pasta …

1.5 – 2 Avocados
Tony’s (Red Pepper)
Garlic Powder
Italian Seasoning
1T Lemon Juice
2T Lime Juice
Whole wheat spaghetti or spaghetti squash

Make guacamole …
Mash avocado and blend in the above seasonings and juices to taste in an oversized bowl.
Cook pasta or spaghetti squash (though I used spaghetti in this photo, I prefer to make this a 100 percent vegetable meal).
While the spaghetti is still warm (after being drained), mix it in with the guacamole until pasta is covered in a cream-like sauce. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Pistachio Macarons & Mother's Day

Pistachio Macarons 

Pistachio Macarons by Robert Giglio. 

·       1 cup confectioners sugar
·       1/4 cup almond flour – ground almonds
·       ¾ manually shelled pistachios
·       2 large egg whites, room temperature
·       1/8 tsp cream of tartar
·       1/4 cup sugar – ground for 20 seconds in a food processor

Fill a measuring cup ¼ of the way up with almond pieces.  Now fill the remaining ¾ cup with pistachios — there should be a total 1 cup of nuts. Grind this mixture into a flour-like powder in your food processor. Mix in confectioners sugar using the food processor, until pistachio flour and confectioners sugar are combined.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and whisk until soft peaks form. Add superfine sugar on low. Increase speed to high, and whisk until stiff peaks form, 6-8 minutes. Fold flour mixture over whites, until mixture is “smooth and shiny.”

Transfer batter to a pastry bag pipe 3/4-inch dots 1 inch apart on parchment*-lined baking sheets. Let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes – on a cool space. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Bake 1 sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until macarons are crisp and firm, about 10 minutes. After each batch, increase oven temperature to 375 degrees, heat for 5 minutes, then reduce to 325 degrees.

**I say parchment paper because I had some trial and error my first time making macarons. I used aluminum foil. Don’t do that. I also used the pan with grease. Definitely, don’t do that. BE SURE TO LINE WITH PARCHMENT PAPER. And make small dots of batter.  The dough spreads which makes the patties too flat. Small dots are your friend.

Let macarons cool on sheets for 2 to 3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. If sticking to paper, transfer sheet to cool surface. Allow them to sit and firm up for 15 minutes on the cool surface.
Find like size macarons and sandwich them with filling.

For the filling … 

-       Remaining pistachios in bag, about 3T
-       1 stick butter, room temperature
-       4 oz almond bark or white chocolate
-       1T arak or almond extract
-       1.5 cups confectioners sugar

Grind the pistachios in processor. Pour in bowl with butter, arak and confectioners sugar. Melt bark or chocolate and immediately beat with other ingredients. 

Because this is my first crack at macarons, I used Martha's recipe as a guide for baking instructions. 

Mother's Day 

This Mother's Day was different for many reasons. It was, most importantly, our first Mother's Day without Oma. And the first Mother's Day where my mom travelled to us — as I recently moved to DC.  

We celebrated by catching a couple of shows in town, including Showboat at the Kennedy Center. We all had a lot of fun. But after my mom left, I think we all missed Oma.

I had to think about last year's Mother's Day when I cooked a brunch at my mother's house for Oma, my mom, my Dad's mom (Gammie) and me.  We had a nice time, though neither Oma or Gammie were quite their old selves.  I started my oral history project that day, interviewing Gammie and kicking off the next year of my life. 

I started thinking about this last year and all of its change and fondly remembering the past.  I decided to keep thinking of Oma when I can, which is a huge part of this blog and why I decided to make pistachio macarons.  Oma simply was crazy about pistachios — I also threw in a little arak for good measure. 

Oma home from the hospital with her first baby, my aunt. 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Strawberry Jalapeño Cupcakes with Buttercream Lime Frosting ... What the what?!

My sister hosted a Cinco de Mayo party on Saturday. So, I decided to put on my chef's sombrero and whip up some festive cupcakes.  I came up with a strawberry jalapeño recipe that is simply amazing! They are sweet but pack a little punch with the candied jalapeños and the lime frosting compliments the heat perfectly. 

For the Strawberry Jalapeño Cupcakes ... 

·       3/4 cup strawberries
·       1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
·       1 teaspoon baking powder
·       1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
·       1/4 cup milk, room temperature
·       1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
·       1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
·       1 cup sugar
·       1 large egg and 2 large egg whites, room temperature
·       candied jalapeños*

Before we get started.  Here is how I candied the jalapeños …

-       12 slices of jalapeños from a jar
-       Pinch of salt
-       3T vinegar
-       ¼ cup sugar

Bring sugar, salt and vinegar to a boil. 
Add jalapeño and simmer for six minutes. 
AFTER THE STRAWBERRY IS PUREED, puree the candied jalapeños.
Set aside.

OK now back to the batter …

Puree strawberries.  Then, pour them in a bowl milk and vanilla, set aside.  
Combine flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
Cream butter and sugar, slowly add in eggs.
Slowly blend in milk mixture. Then dry ingredients.
Before totally mixed, blend in candied jalapeños.
Bake for about 20 minutes at 350 in lined cupcake pan. 
Allow to cool and add icing. 

For the Buttercream Lime Icing ... 

1 cup unsalted butter, softened  
3 cups confectioner's (powdered) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt – I may have sprinkled a tad more, to taste
1 tablespoon flavoring extract (Arak; but since it is scarce almond can work)
3.5 T lime juice

Mix it up. (If too runny, add more sugar. If too thick, add a splash of milk.)
Decorate! I topped mine with lime and strawberry slices. 

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