Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Orange Julius

Happy First Day of Summer, a few days ago.  Lol.  We were on vacation in Malta.  I'll hopefully post about that soon.  I also need to post about Spain, from back in April. Anyway...... I recently made Orange Juliuses for the kids for the first time ever.  Weird, I know.  My mom used to make these for us all the time as kids. The kids loved them so much, we've been having them every Sunday night with popcorn, instead of our usual frozen lemonade smoothie.  This recipe is The Kitchn's version. 

Orange Julius
adapted from The Kitchn
Makes 6 servings

2 cup milk (whole, 2%, or skim)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 12-ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate
1/2 cup sugar
3 cups ice cubes

1.   Pour the milk and vanilla in a blender and pulse until combined.  Add the frozen orange juice concentrate. Blend until fully combined with the milk. Add the sugar and ice cubes; blend until cubes are crushed and mixture has thickened. If things end up a little thick, just add a tablespoon of milk and mix once again. Pour the drink into glasses.
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Friday, June 14, 2019

Pistachio No-Bake Cookies


I loved these cookies.  I had the idea after making a Biscoff version of no-bake cookies.  I think you can replace the peanut butter in no-bakes with any spread and it would work.  I've already done Nutella and Biscoff, but I want to try white Nutella next.  Here in Italy you can buy jars of pistachio paste and it's so good.  It's like Nutella but made with pistachios and is beautiful and green.  It's sold next to the Nutella. I meant to include a pic of the jar; might add that later.  :)  I added a few drops of almond extract to these, but you can leave it out and let the pistachio flavor shine through.
Pistachio No-Bake Cookies
adapted from here

1 3/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup pistachio paste
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a few drops of almond extract, optional

1. Have pistachio paste, oats, and vanilla ready to go (measure out pistachio paste and oats). In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine sugar, milk, and butter. Bring to a boil, and cook for 1 1/2 minutes (can cook for 1 minute + 45 seconds to make sure they set up). Remove from heat, and immediately stir in pistachio paste, oats, vanilla and optional almond extract. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto wax paper. (I like using a cookie scoop.)  Let cool until hardened.

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Friday, June 7, 2019

One-Bowl (or One-Pot) Fudgy Brownie Cookies

These cookies are easy to make, delicious and fudgy.  They do take some planning, though, since the dough has to chill in the fridge for at least an hour.  But the dough comes together super quickly.  I used a saucepan to melt the butter and chocolate, and then just made the rest of the recipe in that same pan.  Super easy and I only dirtied one pan.
One-Bowl (or One-Pot) Fudgy Brownie Cookies
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Makes 2 dozen

1/2 cup (4 ounces, 1 stick) butter
1 cup (6 ounces) mini semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (1.25 ounces) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (3 ounces) mini chocolate chips

1.  In a large heavy saucepan, melt the butter and bittersweet chocolate chips on low heat, stirring frequently, until melted and smooth (but not overly warm). Let the mixture cool a bit.  Add the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla (right to the pan). Stir until well-combined.

2.  Add the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. Gently stir until evenly combined (don't overmix). Stir in the chocolate chips.

3.  Chill the dough for 1-2 hours until the dough is more firm but not so stiff you can't scoop out the cookie dough.

4.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.  Scoop out heaping tablespoon-sized portions of dough and roll into balls (or use a regular cookie scoop). Place the cookie dough balls a couple inches apart on the prepared baking sheets (about 12 cookies per sheet).
Bake for 8-10 minutes until set around the edges but still soft in the middle (and there are a few cracks on top); don't overbake!

5.  Let cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheets before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store covered at room temperature for a couple days or freeze for longer.
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Monday, June 3, 2019

One-Pot Broccoli Pasta

This was a great, simple pasta dish.  It was totally one-pot, and I'm surprised it worked so well.  I really enjoyed it! It was super easy too; you just have to chop broccoli and some garlic.  At the end, you're supposed to garnish with parmesan, but I only had a little bit and I used it all in the pasta itself, so for a garnish, we used feta, and I really liked that.  You can add any fresh herbs you want, too; I used basil.  Or, don't use herbs if you don't want to.  You can also add dried herbs to the mix as it's cooking.  Make sure you taste for salt; mine needed a little more.  I thought about cooking in chicken broth, but didn't know if that would make it too salty.
One-Pot Broccoli Pasta
adapted from The Kitchn

1 pound broccoli (about 1 large or 2 medium heads), cut into bite-sized florets
12 ounces dried small shell or ditalini pasta
4 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup whole-milk plain Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
smoked paprika
1-2 teaspoons of Better than Bouillon chicken flavor
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese (about 1 ounce), plus more for serving, optional
a big scoop of whole-milk plain Greek yogurt
Feta cheese, for serving, optional
Fresh basil, for serving, optional

1.  Place the broccoli, pasta, water, yogurt, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, if using, water, paprika, and Better than Bouillon in a large pot or straight-sided skillet and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over high heat. Continue to boil uncovered, stirring occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking, until the pasta is al dente and almost all the liquid is evaporated, 8 to 9 minutes. (I used a big non-stick soup pot and a wooden spoon- worked perfectly.)

2.  Remove from the heat and stir in the big scoop of yogurt and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Taste and season with additional salt as needed. Serve in shallow bowls topped with feta cheese and fresh basil, if desired.
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Friday, May 31, 2019

Creamed Corn with Roasted Red Peppers & Bacon


I've had this bookmarked forever, but finally got around to making it last week.  It was so, so good.  I loved all the flavors in this.  I know creamed corn might be considered more of a holiday/winter dish, but this is good enough to have all year round. 
Creamed Corn with Roasted Red Peppers & Bacon
adapted from Closet Cooking

2 tablespoons butter
4 cups corn (fresh or frozen)
4 ounces light cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup milk
1/2 cup roasted red pepper, diced
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled  (I used real bacon bits and it was great)
1/4 cup green onions OR chopped chives
salt, pepper and cayenne to taste
directions

1.  Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat, add the corn and cream cheese, stir until the cream cheese has melted.  Mix in the milk, roasted red pepper, bacon and green onions and cook until hot, about 5 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and optional cayenne pepper.  If mixture is too liquidy, simmer lightly for a few more minutes.  
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Friday, May 24, 2019

Brownie Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting


Oh wow, these were SO good.  Especially the frosting.  I started a new job in January, plus I teach Zumba occasionally now, and I haven't had time to bake at all recently (or cook, a lot of nights).  But I really wanted to try this recipe so I made it recently.  I was glad I did- it was just so good.  I guess I can only say that so many times.  But, you've gotta try this recipe.  At least try the frosting if you have a PB frosting need.  I LOVED the frosting. 

Brownie Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

BROWNIE CUPCAKES:
1 cup butter (2 sticks, 8 ounces)
1/2 cup (3 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups (11.25 ounces) lightly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (2.25 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

PEANUT BUTTER FROSTING:
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter, softened
3/4 cup (6.75 ounces) creamy peanut butter
2 cups (8 ounces) powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup heavy cream, plus more if needed for consistency
Mini peanut butter cups for garnish (optional)

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners and set aside (if you only have one muffin tin, you can halve the recipe or bake in two separate batches).

2.  For the cupcakes, in a large microwave-safe bowl, add the butter and chocolate chips. Microwave for one minute intervals, stirring in between, until the mixture is melted and smooth. Add the brown sugar and vanilla and mix (will appear grainy). Add the eggs and mix until well-combined.

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and mix until just incorporated and no dry streaks remain.

4.  Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin tins, filling the cups about 2/3 full. Bake for 10-12 minutes until they are no longer jiggly in the center (don't overbake or the texture might be crumbly- better just slightly underbaked than a little overbaked. Check them early.)  Let the cupcakes cool for a few minutes in the pan before removing them to a wire rack to cool completely.

5.  For the frosting, in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle or whisk attachment or in a large bowl using a handheld electric mixer, whip together the butter and peanut butter until creamy and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until it is mostly incorporated. Add the salt, vanilla and heavy cream and mix until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add additional heavy cream and whip thoroughly if needed for a softer frosting. (I did need additional cream.)

6.  Frost the cooled cupcakes and garnish with a peanut butter cup, if desired. (I didn't use a PB cup, and I decorated with a disposable pastry bag + a 1M Wilton tip.)
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Sunday, May 19, 2019

Sausage, Gnocchi & Spinach Soup


I loved this soup.  I made this forever ago- just now getting around to putting in on here.  I had recently made this really similar soup, using potatoes instead of gnocchi.  Right after that, my co-worker brought this gnocchi soup to work, and then a few weeks later, to a work meeting.  It tastes the same as my potato version but I love the gnocchi in there in place of the potatoes.  Plus opening a package of gnocchi is easier than cutting up potatoes.  Lol. 
Sausage, Gnocchi & Spinach Soup
adapted from my co-worker and here

16 ounces Italian sausages (I used hot ones) cut up/crumbled
1/2 medium onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 dash Italian seasoning
4 cups chicken broth
1 pound potato gnocchi
3 cups packed fresh spinach, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 cup heavy/whipping cream
Salt & pepper to taste

1.  Sauté the sausage over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is browned on all sides. It probably won't be necessary to add oil.  If there is a lot of grease in the pan, drain.  Add the onion to the pot and continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, Dijon mustard, and Italian seasoning, and cook for 30 seconds.

2.  Add the chicken broth and gnocchi to the pot. Increase the heat to high and bring the soup to a simmer. Lightly simmer for about 5 minutes. 

3.  Add the kale and cream and let the soup heat through.  Season with salt & pepper if needed.  Serve. 
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