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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pineapple Lime Rum Popsicles

So I just planted some pineapple sage on my back porch a few weeks ago and have been wanting to make something edible with them... I decided that since the leaves smell like a tropical fruit drink (they are unbelievable) that I would make a fruity popsicle and use the leaves in it somehow. I added a dash or two of rum so that the pops would a) not freeze so hard and b) remind me even more of the tropical vacation that I wish I was on. This is not your typical popsicle... this one is LOADED with flavor. Intense. Very very good.

- 1/2 cup water
- 1/3 cup sugar
- handful of pineapple sage leaves chopped
- 6 ounces pineapple juice
- 2-3 ounces fresh squeezed lime juice
- 1 tablespoon rum

To make the pineapple sage simple syrup boil the water and stir in the sugar until dissolved. Immediately add the pineapple sage leaves and cover, letting steep for about an hour. Remove leaves and you've now got pineapple flavor-infused simple syrup!

Mix the fruit juices together and add enough syrup so its just sweet enough. Add the rum and taste. Make sure all the proportions are how you'd like them. Add a little of this, a little of that, etc.

Pour into popsicle molds and freeze 6-8 hours. Serve and enjoy!!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Tomatillo Corn Soup with Chipotle Shrimp

WOWZA. Normally I don't post twice in one day, but I just finished making this soup and it is too good to wait. But seriously, people. THIS IS GOOD. I found a recipe for a chilled avocado soup with corn and shrimp a few weeks ago in Cooking Light, but I didn't like the avocado soup. The corn-shrimp combination was quite good, though, so I decided I'd make a different soup that I would enjoy more to go with it. The corn looked great at the grocery store, so I grabbed that and a few other odds and ends, came home, experimented... and geez. Best experiment ever? Maybe...

- 2 tablespoons butter
- 10 ears of corn
- 2 (12oz) cans tomatillos, drained and chopped
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 2 medium red potatoes, peeled and chopped
- ½ jalepeno, minced
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- 4 cups chicken broth
- ¼ cup half-and-half
- salt and pepper

- 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- kernels from 1 or 2 ears of corn
- ¼ cup red onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tbs. adobo sauce from chipotles in adobo
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- chopped avocado

To make the soup....
Cut off the kernels from all 10 ears of corn and put in a large soup pot with the butter. Add the chopped onion, chopped tomatillos, chopped potato, minced jalepeno, and salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened somewhat- about 15 minutes.

Pour 1/3 of the mixture into a food processor, adding the cilantro (all at once) and about 1/2 cup of chicken broth with it and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean pot, stirring the mixture with a wooden spoon in order to help the liquid release. Once all liquid is out, dump the contents that is left in the strainer. Repeat steps of food processing and straining until all the vegetable mixture has been strained and is back in a pot and the vegetable skins are discarded. Add the rest of the chicken broth to the soup, the half-and-half, and stir. Taste for salt and pepper. Heat until very hot.

Meanwhile, make the shrimp....
Sprinkle the shrimp with the cumin, salt and pepper and set aside. Warm olive oil in a large non-stick pan  over medium heat. Add the shrimps and cook for 2 minutes. Turn them over onto their other sides and add the corn, onion, and garlic. Stir for another minute or two. Add the adobo sauce and lime juice and continue cooking until shrimps are no longer raw and sauce is incorporated. Turn off heat.

Put it all together... 
Ladle the soup into a bowl and place some of the shrimp-corn mixture into the middle. Sprinkle with chopped avocado and serve. Makes 4-6 servings.

White Chocolate Berry Popsicles!

OK. So, its summertime... officially. And I found a popsicle mold for $3.99 at Target last week, so I figured it was time to start making frozen treats again. I started thinking about different flavors of popsicles and my all time favorites are from a place in North Carolina called LocoPops. They have a slew of milk-based ice-creamy popsicles that I love (in particular a mexican chocolate popsicle that I will try to recreate soon), so I decided I'd try to make something along those lines. I found this recipe online from David Lebovitz, whose frozen desserts are absolutely trustworthy. These turned out really well, although next time I will blend the ingredients before I pour them into molds... I think it'll be better if the flavors all combine- I have adjusted the recipe below to include blending. Makes 4 popsicles.

2/3 cup whole milk
2.5 ounces white chocolate
pinch of salt
6-8 ounces frozen berries
a squeeze of lemon juice

In a small saucepan heat the milk, chopped white chocolate, and salt over low heat just until the chocolate is melted and incorporated, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Pour into a blender, along with the frozen berries (I used strawberries and raspberries) and lemon juice. Blend until smooth. Taste and add any additional lemon juice or berries.

Pour into popsicle molds and carefully "rap" on the counter, like you would with cake batter in a pan, in order to get rid of air bubbles (pay no attention to the two air bubbles in my popsicle pictured above, eh hem). Freeze at least 6-8 hours. To remove from the popsicles, dip the molds in warm water, which will make it easier to remove. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Espresso Chocolate Toffee Cookies

I haven't used my KitchenAid Mixer in far too long and decided that I would use it and make a sweet treat last night. I had heath bars and chocolate chips in my pantry and a lot of butter in my fridge, so I figured I'd make cookies. I decided to make an espresso chocolate toffee cookie... kind of a take-off on one of my favorite Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavors, Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. They turned out WONDERFULLY. I will definitely make these again.

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon- plus a pinch- of salt
12 tablespoons (1.5 sticks) butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup crushed heath bar
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

With an electric mixer beat the melted butter with both sugars for about minute on medium-high. Add the espresso powder, eggs, and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add the dry ingredients and beat just until incorporated. With a wooden spoon stir in the heath and chocolate chips.

Roll into balls and drop onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake about 11 minutes per batch. This recipe should make about 2-dozen cookies... if you make them smaller, adjust cooking time.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


My family has always loved guacamole... and my brother loves it so much that one year for his birthday he wanted a guacamole cake, which he made by layering guac and tortilla chips... It was really great. And to this day he makes the best guac I've ever had. I cannot say that I make it as good as he does, but I've watched him over the years and think this recipe is pretty awesome. The key to my brother's recipe (and this one) is fresh cilantro and fresh lime juice... oh, and a good amount of salt and pepper.

- 3 ripe avocados
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 or 3 tablespoons chopped red onion
- handful chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/4 medium jalepeno, seeded and chopped
- juice of 1-2 limes
- a few dashes of cumin
- 1 tomato, chopped
- salt and pepper

Scoop the avocado out of the skin and place in a bowl. Add the garlic and onion and mix together, breaking down the larger pieces of avocado with a spoon or fork. Add the cilantro, jalepeno lime juice and cumin and stir together. Salt and pepper to taste. At this point you may add more of any of the aforementioned ingredients as you see fit. I often add more lime juice and salt. Add the tomato and stir together.

Serve with tortilla chips. Serves 4-6.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Salted Brown Butter White Chocolate Rice Krispie Treats

Okay, so about a year ago I mentioned that I am addicted to Doritos and OREOS (for my recipe for homemade OREOS click HERE). But since that post I have realized that I made a huge mistake and forgot 1 mayjah food that I am also addicted to... Rice Krispie Treats. We're talking zero control over how much/many I eat. No matter how large the pan of krisipies is, I will finish it all. By myself. Usually by the end of the night... sometimes all in one sitting. I am having to use all of my strength to not buy more marshmallows after I finish this post-- apparently its not healthy to eat 5 tablespoons of butter every day...

When I saw this recipe for salted brown butter rice krispie treats I knew that they would be even more addictive than the plain ol' regular butter and no salt krispies I've always made. These are so easy, but ohhhh myyyy, good lord, heavens to betsy, etc. etc. etc. These are completely insane. And yes, I made them and finished the entire batch within 24 hours... with no help from another eater. And yes, I made them again two days later for a potluck. This recipe is from its basically the same, but I added less rice krispies, because I wanted more buttery-marshmallowy goodness.

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
10.5 ounces mini marshmallows
1/4 (heaping) teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup white chocolate chips
5 1/2 cups rice krispies

Melt the butter in a large pot, stirring constantly while it begins to bubble. Continue cooking until it starts to brown, making sure to scrape up the brown specs from the bottom of the pan as it browns. The butter should begin to have a nutty smell and you want to take it off the heat right when this happens, as you do not want to burn the butter. Once of the heat, add the marshmallows, salt, and white chocolate chips and stir until melted and the butter is fully incorporated.  Add the rice krispies and stir together.

Pour into a buttered 8x8 inch pan. Press down with buttered wax paper. Let sit/cool about 1 hour, then cut into squares and serve.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Strawberry & Raspberry Mascarpone Granitas!

My first experience with granitas was at a dinner party at my friend Erin's house a few months ago (she is the same friend I credit for all of the italian recipes that I post on this site- her recipes are trustworthy). We paired these granitas with champagne and it was perfection. However, these aren't only good when drinking bubbly... in fact, now that the weather is heating up, these would be a perfect summer afternoon/dessert/anytime treat. Traditional recipes suggest that you "flake" the granita into a cup, almost like a snow-cone/italian ice kind of thing... however, since this recipe uses mascarpone (and I added vodka so that it wasn't hard as a brick), it turns out to be something between an icey sorbet and ice cream. BUT, the best part is that you don't need an ice cream maker to get to the fantastic end result. YUM! The original recipe is from Giada de Laurentiis, but I've adapted it slightly...

1 cup strawberries, chopped
1 cup raspberries, chopped
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar plus 1 tablespoon
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
6 ounces mascarpone cheese
3-4 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup vodka
pinch of salt

Put the strawberries and raspberries in the food processor with 1 tablespoon of sugar and blend until smooth.

In a pan over medium heat bring the water, 1/2 cup sugar, and mint to a boil. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Strain the mint leaves out of the simple syrup and add it to the food processor. Blend to incorporate. Add the mascarpone cheese, lemon juice, vodka, salt and blend.

Pour into a tupperware container and place in the freezer. Let freeze until hardened (I would let it do this overnight). Scrape/flake or scoop out with an ice cream scoop. Serve in a glass. Can be garnished with more chopped fruit and mint leaves.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Thai Style Chicken with Basil

I made this a few nights ago for an impromptu dinner for a few friends who were in the neighborhood house-hunting. It was an easy recipe to prepare and the grocery shopping is easy if you have a good asian grocery market nearby... if you do not, you can substitute some of the ingredients for foods that are easy to find in your everyday grocery store (i.e. thai chiles for jalepenos/serranos). Although the final product doesn't look like its packed with flavor, surprisingly, when you taste it you get a wonderful surprise of a very flavorful spicy, salty, sweet dish. I highly recommend this to anyone that likes any kind of food ever. Its just really good. Adapted (barely) from

- 2 cups fresh basil leaves (I used some thai basil, some regular genovese basil)
- 2 medium garlic cloves
- 8 green thai chiles, stemmed
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce, separated in half
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon white vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3/4 cup peeled and thinly sliced shallots
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

In a food processor pulse 1 cup of basil with the garlic and thai chiles until finely chopped. Transfer 1 tablespoon of this mixture into a small bowl and mix together with 1 tablespoon of fish sauce, the oyster sauce, vinegar, and sugar- set aside. Pour the rest of the basil/garlic/chile mixture into a 12-inch skillet. Do not wash food processor bowl. 

Add the chicken pieces and 1 tablespoon fish sauce into the food processor. Chop in food processor for about 6-8 pulses until the meat is about 1/4-inch pieces. Transfer into a medium bowl and refrigerate for about 15 minutes. 

Stir the shallots and vegetable oil into the 12-inch skillet with the basil/garlic/chile mixture. Heat over medium-low heat until sizzling. Then cook until garlic and shallots are golden brown, about 5-8 minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the chicken, increase the heat to medium, and cook, breaking up with a spatula for about 2 minutes, until only slightly pink. Add the fish sauce/oyster sauce/vinegar/sugar mixture and cook another minute, stirring to incorporate the chicken with the sauce. Add the rest of the basil leaves and stir until wilted. Serve immediately with sides of vinegar, red pepper flakes, and fish sauce, for those who want to add them on top. YUM.

*NOTE: if you cannot find thai chiles, instead use about 1 medium/large jalepeno.