Tuesday, May 26, 2015

White Chocolate Pecan Blondies

I made these for a potluck a few weeks ago and absolutely loved them.  They are so good- perfect flavor and nice, chewy texture.  They're also pretty easy to whip up and make a large batch (9x13 pan).  I think they were too nutty for some of my kids, but that's ok; more for me.
White Chocolate Pecan Blondies
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

9 ounces real white chocolate, divided 
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
2/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans, divided

1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch baking pan and set aside.

2.  Chop the white chocolate into small pieces (about the size of small raisins). Put 6 ounces of the white chocolate (about 1 scant cup, depending on how small the chocolate is chopped - there should be about 1/2 cup remaining to stir into the batter later) in a large bowl with the butter. (OR melt butter and white chocolate together on the stove over a double burner- my preferred method).  Microwave for a minute or two (watching closely so it doesn't burn and stirring every 30 seconds or so) until the mixture is smooth and completely melted.  Stir in the brown sugar and granulated sugar and mix well. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined.

2.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing just briefly. Add 1 cup of the pecans and the remaining white chocolate pieces while there are still lots of flour streaks remaining. Stir until the batter is combined.

3.  Spread the batter evenly in the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle the remaining pecans over the top. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the brownies are set on the sides and in the middle and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with just a few sticky crumbs.

4.  Let the bars cool completely in the pan. Slice and serve or store covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They will stay moist for several days.
**This post and photos are property of http://dishingwithdish.blogspot.com/ **

Friday, May 22, 2015

Florence

 Last April, we went to Florence, but only for a few hours.  We walked around and enjoyed the sights.  We got gelato, of course.  We will have to go back another time to enjoy this city more.



A wonderful Gelateria that is in a 20-year old copy of Rick Steves' Italy book my parents had. Lol.  This place is still here, and still great.  My son tried the pink grapefruit gelato, and after trying some, I had to get my own.  It was SO GOOD!!  And I've tried a lot of gelato. (The place is called "Perche No!" which means "Why not?")
The "fake" David.

**This post and photos are property of http://dishingwithdish.blogspot.com/ **

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies


These cookies were very good- just soft enough, with a tiny coconut flavor, easy to make.... just tasty and an easy recipe to make.  The kids loved them too, although they're not all coconut fans. I used mini semi-sweet chips and real whit chocolate chips in these.  It only makes about 15-20 cookies, so double it if you want more than that.  (I made mini cookies with this recipe, so mine made about 30... maybe.  I don't think I counted.  But it was more than 20.)
Coconut Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Culinary Couture 

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg, room temperature
pinch of vanilla powder (or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or a mix of baking chips)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.

2.  In another bowl, using an electric hand mixer, cream together coconut oil and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until well-combined. Gradually pour in dry ingredients, beating until well-incorporated after each addition. Fold in chocolate chips.

3.  Using a medium cookie scoop (about 1 and 1/2 tablespoons), scoop out balls of dough onto prepared cookie sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart from one other. (Can use a smaller scoop for mini cookies- that's what I did).

4.  Bake for 9 minutes, or until edges are just starting to turn light brown. Let cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
**This post and photos are property of http://dishingwithdish.blogspot.com/ **

Monday, May 18, 2015

Cilantro-Jalapeno Marinated Pork Chops

We've enjoyed these pork chops twice recently.  I got the recipe from a friend and I'm so glad I did- these are just so flavorful!!  We've made them with bone-in and boneless pork chops and they're both good.
I used jalapenos instead of Serrano peppers, used a bit less oil, and thew the whole bunch of cilantro in there (instead of the half-bunch.  I just didn't want the rest of mine to go bad).
Cilantro-Jalapeno Marinated Pork Chops
adapted from Hispanic Kitchen

For Cilantro-Jalapeno Sauce:
1/2 cup(packed) cilantro stems (OR- just use the whole bunch of cilantro)
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1-3 jalapenos, sliced (remove ribs and seeds for less heat.  My marinade wasn't spicy at all)
Juice of 1 large lime
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano (I had fresh, so I used it)
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1/4- 1/2 olive oil (I added about 1/4 cup instead of the 1/2 cup)

For the chops:
6 bone-in pork chops, about 2 pounds (boneless chops also work)
Salt and pepper
Oil for grilling

1. Season the pork lightly with salt and pepper on both sides. Place in a dish or in a heavy plastic storage bag. Pour about 3/4 of the cilantro-serrano sauce over the pork chops and coat evenly. (You only need to reserve some marinade if you want to use it later on the meat or some rice... if not, you can pour it all on.) Seal or cover and marinate in refrigerator for 2 to 4 hours.

2. When ready, remove chops from refrigerator 30 to 40 minutes before cooking. Preheat gas grill (or charcoal.... or can cook on stove-top grill.) Cook for 4 minutes per side. If thicker than 1/2 an inch you may have to cook for another 2 minutes per side. The ideal internal temperature for a moist pork chop is 145ºF. Remove from heat onto plate. Cover loosely and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve with extra sauce.

**This post and photos are property of http://dishingwithdish.blogspot.com/ **

Friday, May 15, 2015

Tuscany Pics

Our Tuscany trip was over a month ago, now, but I'm just getting around to sharing these pics.  We stayed at an agriturismo (farmhouse, sometimes B&B accomodations), but since it was off-season, the restaurant wasn't open, so they recommended one.  We still got to enjoy some time sitting outside, watching the kids play among the olive orchards and vineyards.  That was the kids' favorite part of the trip by far.

Following are pics of the restaurant we ended up eating at.  My husband and I shared an antipasto platter, and then we skipped the primi piatti (meaning "first plate, follows the antipasto and is usually pasta) and went straight for the secondi piatti of our choosing: a huge platter filled with the specialty of the region- Grilled Tuscan Meat with roasted potatoes.  It was very good and something we don't usually do (eat tons of meat).  But we ended up sharing quite a bit of it around the table, which was good.  The kids had delicious pizza.  (I'll share pics of Florence and Pisa later, in another blog post.)


**This post and photos are property of http://dishingwithdish.blogspot.com/ **

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms

I've been wanting to make fried zucchini blossoms ever since moving here!!  The day before Easter I finally saw trays of them for sale in the produce section in my local store.  (Last summer one could also buy small ones attached to baby zucchini in the stores here, but these ones are bigger, making them easier to stuff.)
A friend of mine had stuffed zucchini blossoms on a trip to Italy a few years ago and I've been interested in them ever since.  I haven't seen them on restaurant menus in my part of Italy yet, although we haven't been out to eat much lately.  Maybe they're there now.  Anyway, this recipe comes from her and what she was able to re-create after her trip.  She used goat cheese and I forgot to buy some when I made these, so the first time i used ricotta (not as good; not a lot of flavor) and the second time I used Neufchatel cheese with some sharp cheddar (one could use Parmesan as well). SO GOOD!!  I'd like to try a creamy goat cheese next time, and finally do it "right".  Lol.


Stuffed Zucchini Blossoms
adapted from JP's recipe

20 (or so) zucchini blossoms (I used 20 one time, 12 the next)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt (can add more to taste)
6 oz Neufchatel or soft goat cheese 
handful shredded pepperjack, Montery Jack, cheddar, or Parmesan cheese
olive oil for sautéing

1.  Clean pistils from inside each blossom. Set aside. (I kind of popped them off with my thumbnail.)

2.   In a small bowl, mix together the flour, eggs, milk, & garlic powder until smooth. Set aside.

3.   Fill the inside of each zucchini blossom with the Neufchatel and shredded cheese. Fold the edges of the petals over the cheese to enclose it (gently). 

4. Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat.  Dip each stuffed blossom in the batter, allowing any excess batter to run off.

5.  Sauté blossoms until they are golden in color on each side (about 5 minutes).  Drain on paper towels & serve warm.
**This post and photos are property of http://dishingwithdish.blogspot.com/ **

Monday, May 11, 2015

Irises, Irises Everywhere

Our yard has TONS of irises coming up everywhere right now.  Well, they've been blooming for a while and some are done now, but there are still plenty.  Most are the purple variety, below, but there are different colors of purple, some pink and burgundy, and some white.  Down the hill from our house are some yellow and deep red irises!  I don't have pics of those, though.  Here are the pics of the ones around our yard.



This white and yellow iris is different from the others.


**This post and photos are property of http://dishingwithdish.blogspot.com/ **