Friday, March 24, 2017

Blue Cheese Dressing

I've made Blue Cheese Dressing before, but not for a long time.  I love it so much.  I think I'm the only one in my family, so I usually only get it when I'm at a salad bar in the States.  Lol.  I finally just made it at home so I could enjoy it now.  It's so good!  You can use plain Greek yogurt or sour cream. I didn't use Gorgonzola for this; it's very soft here; but I want to try it in the future.

Blue Cheese Dressing
adapted from The Kitchn

1 1/3 cups crumbled blue cheese (about 6 ounces), divided
1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons milk or buttermilk
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1.  Mash 1/2 of the blue cheese with the back of a fork in a medium bowl until mostly smooth. Add the sour cream, mayonnaise, milk or buttermilk, lemon juice, mustard, salt, and black pepper, and mix thoroughly until completely combined.

2.  Add the remaining cheese and mix gently, leaving clumps of cheese here and there. Cover and refrigerate.
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Creamy White Chicken Chili

 Here's a quick and easy soup.  Goes great with tortilla chips.
Creamy White Chicken Chili
adapted from Taste of Home

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes*
1 medium onion, chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cans (15-1/2 ounces each) great northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) chicken broth
2 cans (4 ounces each) chopped green chilies
salt, to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
Tortilla chips, optional
Shredded cheddar cheese, optional
Sliced seeded jalapeno pepper, optional

1. In a large saucepan, saute the chicken,*(I left chicken breasts whole and shredded them once they were done cooking), onion and garlic powder in oil until chicken is no longer pink. Add the beans, broth, chilies and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream. If desired, top with tortilla chips, cheese and jalapenos. Yield: About 7 servings.
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Lucky Charms Marshmallow Bars

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Celebrate with these sugar-laden bars.  These looked too fun to resist, so I didn't.  :) I love regular Rice Krispie treats and have never really made variations before.  This was a fun recipe.

Lucky Charms Marshmallow Bars
adapted from The Kitchn

Cooking spray
6 cups marshmallow cereal, such as Lucky Charms
6 tablespoons (3/4 cup stick) butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 (10-ounce) package mini marshmallows (about 4 cups), divided
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (optional)

1.  Coat an 8x8-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2.  Pick out about 1 cup of marshmallow pieces from the cereal and set aside for topping the bars. (1 cup was a lot and totally covered the surface- 2/3 cup probably would have been good.)

3.  Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Working quickly, add half of the marshmallows and stir until thoroughly melted. Add the remaining marshmallows and stir until melted. Stir in the vanilla and salt if using. Add the cereal and gently fold it in until completely coated with the melted marshmallow mixture.

4.  Transfer to the baking pan. Using a rubber spatula, lightly and gently press into an even layer. Sprinkle with the reserved marshmallow cereal. Let the treats stand at room temperature until set, about 1 hour. Cut into 2-inch squares and serve.
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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Fudgy Frosted Brownies

I wanted an easy, fudgy brownie recipe, so I combined two I already have on my blog.  It was perfect. The base used less flour, and the icing soaked into the brownie, making it so fudgy and moist they almost fell apart.  But it was a good thing.  These had great texture and flavor.

Happy Pi Day, btw.  I didn't make any new recipes today; we're having pizza delivered and I made pies that I've put on this site before, so no new post for Pi Day.
Fudgy Frosted Brownies
adapted from here and here

1 cup butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

¼ cup butter, room temperature*
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup milk
2½ cups powdered sugar

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Set aside.

2. Place butter in medium saucepan on the stove. Heat over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla extract. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with spoon after each addition. Add cocoa; stir until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt; stir until combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.

3. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. (Mine were perfect in 25 minutes.) Cool brownies completely in pan on a wire rack. Once cool, cut into squares and serve.

4.  While the brownies are baking, prepare your frosting by beating the butter and cocoa powder together. Add in milk and powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Allow the brownies to cool for about 10-15 minutes and then spread on frosting. The brownies will still be warm. Allow brownies to cool completely before cutting into squares. (You can melt the butter instead and mix the frosting right in the saucepan, if desired.  That's what I did for the batch in the pictures.)
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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Dulce de Leche Cupcakes

These were good and a fun little baking project one day.  I don't bake nearly as often as I used to.  I haven't make cupcakes in forever.  But I had to make these Joy the Baker Dulce de Leche ones.  The frosting on these was so soft; maybe because I used Neufchatel cheese instead of regular cream cheese.  I just stored them in the fridge, and had to be happy with melty-looking piping.

I used some canned Portuguese Dulce de Leche my friend sent me when she visited Portugal.  :) I miss getting the good Portuguese stuff.  I can only find it here in Italy in international stores. (Which is better than nothing!)
Dulce de Leche Cupcakes
adapted from Joy the Baker
yield: 2 dozen

For the Cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup buttermilk

For the Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup dulce de leche, plus more for drizzling
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar

1.  Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two cupcake pans with paper or foil liners. Set aside.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

3.  In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add butter and sugars. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and pale brown, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add one egg. Beat on medium for one minute. Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute between each addition. Stop the bowl and scrape down the sides as necessary. Beat in vanilla extract.

4.  Add half of the flour mixture to the egg and butter mixture. Beat on low speed and slowly drizzle in the buttermilk. Beat until just incorporated. Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl and add the rest of the dry ingredients. Beat on low speed until just incorporated. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and finish incorporating with a spatula. Try not to over mix the mixture.

5.  Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake pans, filling each liner about two thirds full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean. Let rest in the cupcake pans before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Cupcakes should be completely cooled before frosting.

To make the frosting:
1.  Place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds, until very soft and pliable. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the butter and dulce de leche. Beat on medium speed until well incorporated. Stop the mixer and add the salt and powdered sugar. Beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until fluffy and lighter in color. Generously spoon frosting on top of cupcakes, or use a large frosting tip to pipe on frosting.

For garnish, heat a few spoonfuls of dulce de leche of a low flame until just pourable or in the microwave. Then  drizzle it over the cupcakes and top with a few sprinkles or some sea salt. Store the cupcakes in the fridge for an hour to chill the frosting slightly.
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Monday, March 6, 2017

Southwest Corn Salad

The original name of this recipe is "Frito Corn Salad", but that doesn't sound super appetizing, or salad-like, so I renamed it.  To make it even more Southwestern-y, add some cumin and chili powder to the mayo/yogurt dressing.  Using the "chili cheese" flavor of corn chips really does add something to this.  Although, if you wanted to get rid of the corn chips this salad would still be good.  I really enjoyed this.  I had it first at a potluck and had no idea who brought it, so I searched a recipe online. I made it three times close together recently.  Lol.

Southwest Corn Salad
from Food

2 cups frozen corn, thawed and drained
1 red bell pepper, sliced and chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise 
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (or more) chopped fresh cilantro
5-6 ounces of chili cheese flavor Frito corn chips

1.  Mix all the ingredients except the chips. (To remove the bite of red onion, after chopping, soak in cold water 15 minutes.  Drain and dry on paper towels.) If desired, add spices like cumin or chili powder.  It's good as-is, though.  Add the corn chips in right before serving so the chips don't get soggy.
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Friday, February 24, 2017

Halawa Dihiniyya- Iraqi-Style Fudge

This is my seventh and final recipe for our Seven Countries Dinner.  You can click on that link to see them all.  I featured recipes from Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Iran, and Iraq.  I enjoyed the whole process of this dinner.  (Thinking of the idea in the first place, researching food from these countries, making a shopping list, and cooking.  I started cooking some things the day before.  The whole family loved this dinner and we had a chance to talk about these countries.)

The idea to do it actually came to me in a Zumba class.  :)  Lol.  (Where I do some of my best thinking, I guess.)  I was upset about the travel ban on these countries and was thinking of a way to do something to raise awareness and education about these countries. One thing all of humanity has in common is food.  We all need to eat, and so much culture and history is shown through food.  Food has the ability to bring people together.  I love learning about different cultures this way.  If I can't get the real thing from a country, I just make it myself.

I think trying food from different countries has the ability to make one more open-minded.  I hope you'll try some of these recipes.  For lots of recipes from all different countries, check out my Worldwide Cuisine tag.  
This fudge was just a delight. I'm so glad I found and made this recipe.  It had a great chewy texture that was broken by the nuts, and it showcased the flavors of coconut and cardamom.  This is something that I'll definitely be making again.  I recommend going to the original blog In My Iraqi Kitchen to read some history of this dessert.  The method is interesting; cooking some ingredients on the stove-top together, and then baking the whole thing. It was traditionally made using clarified butter, but I used half regular butter and half sunflower oil.

Halawa Dihiniyya- Iraqi-Style Fudge
adapted from My Iraqi Kitchen

1 cup milk
1 cup fat (I use 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup sunflower oil)
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons date syrup (OR honey)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup walnut halves

1. Preheat oven to 340 degrees F.  Put milk, fat, sugar and date syrup (or honey) in a small heavy pot. Stir and let mix boil until bubbly over medium heat (about 10 minutes). Then take the pot away from heat and right away start adding flour gradually, using electric mixer, like you do with cakes. (I poured mixture into my stand mixer and mixed from there.  If you had a small hand mixer you could mix right in the pot.) Mix in cardamom.

2. Grease a 12x7x2 -inch pan (or approximate size- I used a 9x13), and spread the bottom with half of the coconut. Scatter the walnut halves all over it. Then, pour the batter over the walnuts, and cover the surface with the rest of the coconut.

3. Place the pan on the middle shelf of the oven, drape it loosely with a piece of aluminum foil, and let bake for 35 to 40 minutes. (I had a hard time telling when it was done.  It was still a little soft looking, but browned.  I took it out and it firmed up to a perfect texture once it was cool.)

4. Take it out of the oven, and let it cool down completely on a cooling rack. Cut it into squares and serve. Store the leftovers in a plastic container and keep in refrigerator, where it will stay good to eat for several weeks (if you can resist the temptation). Enjoy!            
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