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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Amaretti Cookies: Italian, Soft, Almond Gems

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The first time that I heard about these cookies was when I was 15 years old and I saw Nigella Lawson use them on Nigella Bites for some sort of syllabub recipe. Since then I’ve been looking for these cookies to make the recipe, and tons more like it from the numerous Nigella cookbooks. In any case, last week I went to the grocery store, and behold my luck! I found the cookies! I haven’t been able to make the recipe I want with them yet, but the prepackaged ones in the stores don’t expire, so there’s not rush.

Two days ago I found the recipe for the cookies to make myself. It’s been a very lucky month for me, this June. In any case, to test which ones will be better, store-bought or homemade (in terms of flavor, consistency, and air whipped goodness).

Even better, my friend which suffers from Celiac disease gets to test them out as well. She hasn’t been feeling well lately, and I figured there’s nothing better than giving her some cookies full of almond sugar goodness.

bagged and ready to go

This recipe comes from Grace’s Sweet Life. I believe she also has a cookbook out recently, which features all the lovely Italian desserts that she prepares. Check it out, I know I will!

  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/3 cup caster (superfine granules) sugar
  • 1.1 pounds, about 2 1/7 cups almond flour, whole blanched, very finely ground (I used organic courser ground from Trader Joe’s)
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for rolling

In a large bowl, using a large balloon whisk beat the egg yolks.  Gradually add sugar, whisking until well combined.

Add the almond flour; whisk to just combine (do not over mix).

In a separate bowl, using a large balloon whisk (clean and dry) beatthe egg whites to barely a soft peak (do not over beat).

Using a large flexible spatula, fold one-third of the egg whites into the almond mixture (this will loosen the almond mixture).  Fold in remaining egg whites just to combine (do not over mix). Don’t worry, the mixture will be very sticky, this is how it’s supposed to be.

Cover and refrigerate amaretti cookie batter for at least one hour (I had in the fridge for about 2.5 hours).

Preheat oven to 325° F.  Line baking sheets with non-stick baking paper or silicone baking mats, set-aside.

Roll amaretti dough into roughly 1 tsp sized balls, coat in confectioners’ sugar.  (Do not flatten cookies).  Roll 20 amaretti cookies per baking sheet.  Chill dough in between baking times.

Bake until lightly golden, about 25 to 30 minutes.

Makes about 6 dozen amaretti cookies (I got 45 cookies).

Spaghetti with Meatballs

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I felt like making something that was homey and delicious this weekend. When I get into this sort of mood, usually it means something with pasta or potatoes. Something with starches, carbs, and rib sticking fat. Not that this is always good, but once in a while, it’s wonderful for the soul. I can attest to that.

This weekend was great as it was, and I got a lot done. Including getting a new vacuum cleaner which replaced by cheap, sad, broken Dirt Devil. I have to say, nothing is more stressful than purchasing a vacuum once you’ve already spent money (though granted, not a lot of money) on a bad one. You get flashbacks of no suctions, cheap parts, dirt everywhere, and so many dust bunnies!

Luckily as soon as I took this baby out of the box I was in love. I fell even further when I saw how quiet and powerful it was!

Nothing says happy and celebration of finding and even planning on buying a great new vacuum like the soul gratifying food I speak of above.

The recipe I decided to make for dinner, and for leftover lunch (which was even better!) which satisfied all these criteria is spaghetti and meatballs. Very simple, delicious, and easy. All you really need to consider  as labor intensive here is rolling the meat, and the dishes afterwards.

For the Meatballs:

  • 1/2 lb of ground pork
  • 1/2 lb of ground chuck
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • dash of salt
  • good grinding of pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup breadcrumbs  ( I used original panko)
  • paprika, to taste
  • granulated garlic, to taste
  • fresh sage, four leaves, chopped
  • nutmeg, to taste
  • chili powder, to taste
  • 2 tsp herb de provence
For the Sauce
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 14 oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 can of crushed tomatoes (14.5 oz)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • paprika, to taste
  • 2 tbsp oregano, dried, or 2 sprigs fresh
  • about 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • allspice, to taste
  • nutmeg, to taste
  • cumin, to taste (I used a good tbsp here)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

Put everything into a bowl and mix, preferably with own hands, it’s more soothing than you may think.

Prepare a baking sheet, lined with wax paper, or a large plate. Start rolling the meatballs! They should be roughly the same diameter of a quarter, maybe a little bigger, but they are supposed to be small, and bite-sized. I got about 40 meatballs out of this.

Place into the refrigerator while you work on the sauce.

Heat the oil and  butter in a pan while you’re chopping up the garlic and onion. Add in the garlic and onion only when the butter has melted and the oil has started to become loose, and glossy.  Cook the onions until soft on low heat (the low flame is important because you want the garlic to infuse the oil and not burn), about 7-10 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes and spices. Stir and bring to a boil (about 10 more minutes). Add the heavy cream and stir. Taste to see everything is to your liking. Once the meatballs are added, there is no opportunity to mix the sauce, nor to add more spices.

Take the meatballs out of the fridge, and add them, clockwise around the pot, one at a time. Do not worry if they seem like they won’t fit. Once all of them are in the pan, take the pot by the sides and wriggle it around until all the meatballs are covered or sunken into the sauce. Cover, and cook about 15 minutes.

Test a meatball to make it’s cooked through, and once you’ve confirmed that they’re not pink inside go ahead and stir them, gently to coat completely in the sauce. Simmer uncovered, about 8 more minutes, and in the meantime, make your pasta.

Assemble with pasta on the bottom of the bowl, and several generous ladles of the meatballs and sauce. Serve with grated gruyere cheese; that’s optional, but I don’t know of anyone that would say no to cheese!

Sour Cream Chocolate Coffee Cake for Weekend Mornings

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I’m having more time than usual with Boyfriend and I thought in case we’re going to be hiking, or running like mad men around the block, a burst of sugar in the morning could only help us in terms of energy.

This is were this coffee cake comes in. Not only does it have a full 12 oz of chocolate chips but it’s got over 2 cups of sugar in it (including the topping) and the hearty carbs in the cake part of the coffee cake will surly be a help when we’re out and about. At least that’s what I read happens to carbs and sugars when you’re active.

This is my first time experimenting with it in such a way. Usually, I go to my sofa and watch a good episode of  Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. Either way, I think I’ll be happy.

Onto to recipe, which was taken from The Cherry On Top blog. I followed the recipe completely because I’ve never been one to experiment with coffee cakes, and in fact have only made 3 total.

 

Cake

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream
  • 3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon table salt

Filling and Topping

  • 2 cups or 12 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan. If not nonstick coated, cover the bottom with a rectangle of parchment paper. Set pan aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together into a separate bowl. Alternately mix in sour cream and then dry ingredients into butter mixture until both are used up and the batter is smooth and very thick. In a medium bowl, beat eggs whites until stiff, then fold into batter.

In a small dish, whisk together sugar and cinnamon for filling and topping.

Spread half the cake batter in the bottom of prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of cinnamon-sugar mixture and 1 cup of chocolate chips. Dollop remaining cake batter over filling in spoonfuls. Use a rubber or offset spatula to gently spread it over the filling and smooth the top.

Sprinkle batter with remaining cinnamon-sugar and remaining chocolate chips. With the palm of your hand, ever-so-gently press the chocolate chips a bit into the batter. No need to submerge them, you just want to make sure they adhere bit.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

That’s not overcooked cake, I just overdid it on the cinnamon.

 

Chocolate Bundt Cake for a Dear Friend

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My friend was coming over today to visit from Vegas. I haven’t seen her years, and while we used to converse daily (because worked together) and went out all the time to cheer each other up during those bad times in life, we’ve been bad keeping in touch. Family, work, school, life, tends to get in the way.
In any case she was able to stop by and we had a wonderful time, thanks, in part, to this lovely cake.
This recipe was adapted from Food Librarian
Chocolate Bundt Cake
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp (or 5 tbsp) cocoa
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup minus 1 tbsp taken out of vanilla flavored coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Bring to a boil in a pot: Water, oil, butter and cocoa

In a large bowl, combine together with a whisk: flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon


Add the chocolate mixture to the flour and mix until combined.

doesn’t look appetizing I know. But that’s what happens when you don’t stir and take the picture.

Add a tbsp of white vinegar in a 1/3 cup measure and fill to top with coconut milk (I used vanilla flavored) and pour into a small bowl. Add another 1/3 cup of coconut milk, and the 1/3 cup of heavy cream. (If you have a 2/3 measuring cup or some other way of measuring it, just add 1 tbsp of vinegar first to the bottom then fill up with coconut milk till you get 2/3 cup. Then add the heavy cream till you get a full 1 cup of liquid).

Add milk mixture to the batter with baking soda and mix together.

not too appetizing at the moment, but lovely when you mix it

In a small bowl, combine the eggs and vanilla. Add to the batter and combine.

Pour batter into greased 10 or 12-cup Bundt pan and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes. Mine took about 37 minutes, it was very liquidy, and although I added more liquid than the original recipe called for I think it added a lot of tenderness to the cake it wouldn’t have otherwise had to the extreme amount of cocoa powder necessary.   Don’t forget to cool in the in pan, about 13 minutes or so.

Top with a dusting of powdered sugar or a simple glaze of powdered sugar and milk or water (though I opted for the powdered sugar, not the glaze).

Homemade French Onion Dip

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I’ve been craving dip for a long time now. While I usually go for ranch because it’s tangier, I wanted something nice and sweet. Luckily, Boyfriend loves French Onion dip so what better excuse to make some!
I used my own knowledge of caramelizing onions as well as some ideas from A Duck’s Oven. This recipe took a total of maybe an hour to make. Not including the 20 minutes or so it took to cool over afterwards. That, of course, is to taste. If you like warm dip, you’ll get to enjoy it sooner.
French Onion Dip
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 large onions, diced (I used yellow, you can use the same, or sweet onion)
  • 3  garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup beer (I used Wild Blue)
  • 3 tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 16 oz container sour cream
  • Salt to taste
  • paprika, to taste (I used about 2 tbsp)

Heat up a skillet with the olive oil. Wait for it to get nice and hot, on medium-high heat,  for about 5 minutes.  Add the diced onions and turn the heat down to low. Watch to make sure they don’t burn. After about 5-6 minutes stir the onions and add the butter.

Slowly cook the onions for 30-45 minutes, depending on how high your stove gets. Make sure it doesn’t get really brown, and burnt, but rather a light mocha color.

After it’s nice and caramelized, turn the heat up a little, and add the Worcestershire Sauce, garlic, and the beer. Make sure the liquid is simmering away for a good 10 minutes, if the heat is too high for this, lower it because you want the bitterness of the alcohol to burn away.

Stir the onions into the sour cream.

Add the peppers, salt, and paprika, stir to make sure it’s well incorporated. If chilling, place in fridge uncovered in same bowl for 20 minutes. Stir again before serving.

Sunday Cinnamon Rolls

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This was my first attempt at cinnamon rolls. I have a recipe for the Pioneer Woman’s Maple Rolls but I just felt like before I try her recipe out (that calls for enough rolls to feed the entire parish!) I decided a smaller recipe would be better.

Making the dough was probably the most fun for me. I don’t know how I would have done it without Kermit (my Kitchenaid). In any case, it was soft, and gooey, and sweet and amazing.

The lack of pictures is simply because you can’t really accurately show the dough rising unless it’s in a glass bowl, which I don’t own. Other than that, the kneading is self explanatory. If you’ve made any sort of bread before that required lots of patience and rising time, you’re already half way to knowing how to complete this recipe.

This recipe came from Dulce Dough, and for me yielded about 15 rolls.

Rolls

  • 3 1/2-4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg, at room temperature

Filling

  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1-2 tablespoons milk

Attach dough hook to stand mixer and in the mixer bowl combine 2 cups of flour, yeast, sugar, and salt.  Heat milk at a low power in the microwave until lukewarm (120°F-130°F). Add the warm milk, 1/4 cup butter and egg to the flour mixture and mix at a low speed until ingredients are combined, scraping sides of bowl frequently.

Continue to add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time until the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured board and knead until it is smooth and elastic. Spray bowl with cooking spray and place dough in bowl, turning once to bring greased side of dough up. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in size (about 1 hour).

Punch down dough, pull edges into center, and turn over in the bowl; let rise again until almost double in size (about 20-30 minutes). While dough is rising, combine sugar and cinnamon for filling.

Roll dough into 9″x18″ rectangle then spread 2 tablespoons softened butter over dough and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon mixture.

Roll up tightly beginning at wide side and seal well by pinching edges of roll together. Cut roll into 1″ slices by placing a piece of dental floss under roll, bringing ends of floss up and crossing at the top and pulling the ends in opposite directions, cutting through the dough.

Spray 9″x13″ pan with cooking spray and place rolls in pan a little apart from each other. Cover pan and let rise until double in bulk (about 20-30 minutes).

Bake in a 375°F oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown and completely baked through.

To make glaze, combine powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, and vanilla in a small bowl; gradually stir in milk until desired consistency.

Cool rolls for about 5 minutes, then spread or drizzle glaze over rolls and serve warm.

Thursday’s “Meatless Monday” Inspired Breakfast Treat

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As you may know I’m in love with blueberries, lately. I know once blackberry season starts back up then I’ll be “in love” with blackberries, and forgot about my blueberries till I go into my freezer around Fall.

I got this lovely post in my email about “meatless Monday” from Prevention RD. I bookmarked the link to make this delicious breakfast food as soon as I got home but I couldn’t move.

Over the weekend I got a sunburn, I felt weak, and hot, and my legs were on fire, and I couldn’t even do my daily pilates routine before dinner. I was craving anything but homemade baked goods. Instead, I really wanted frozen pizza.

Luckily, I didn’t have that, and as I’m feeling much better (thanks to time, and aloe vera), Thursday will have to be the day to make this Monday dish.

Lemon Blueberry Baked Oatmeal

  • 1 Meyer lemon, zested and juiced (or whatever lemon you have handy)
  • 2 cups nonfat milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen (FRESH! for me)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick spray.

Zest lemon; set zest aside. In a bowl, combine milk and juice from the zested lemon to make “buttermilk”.

In a medium bowl, combine the oats, baking powder, salt, spices, and lemon zest. In a small bowl, whisk together the “buttermilk”, butter, egg, and sugar.

Spoon half of the oat mixture into the baking dish, and then half of the blueberries. Add the remaining oat mixture and scatter the remaining blueberries on to the top, pressing them in slightly. Pour in the milk mixture and place in oven.

as you can see the milk mixture doesn’t cover both layers of the oatmeal. That’s completely fine.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the mixture is a light golden brown along the edges, and the center has set up.

The blog was nice enough to provide some nutrional information… though mine came out to be 200 calories because I used the almond milk.

 

 

original from site:

Nutrition Information (per serving): 399 calories; 10.5 g. fat; 49 mg. cholesterol; 486 mg. sodium; 67 g. carbohydrate; 7 g. fiber; 12.3 g. protein