Comfort Classics: Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

There’s nothing like a warm bowl of broccoli cheddar soup to indulge in. It goes great when eaten with bread and even better paired with nothing other than a homemade bread bowl. I first had this delicious dish at Panera Bread and learned how to make it soon after, because nothing beats fresh ingredients. I’ve also tried it at McAllister’s, yet theirs lacked the rich creaminess I had gotten used to and reminded me how much I loved this original and home cooked recipe. In restaurants, we are always limited to one bowl and if we crave another, then we would have to buy it again. If only soup was served like drinks, with free refills. On the other hand, at home, you can gladly pour yourself another bowl of this creamy deliciousness with nothing stopping you. You are limitless.

Homemade bread bowls compliment this soup like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. For a quick and easy recipe that is hard to resist, check out my previous post on how to make the perfect bread bowl!

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups heavy cream or half-and-half
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered nutmeg
  • 4 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 8 ounces (about 2 ½ cups) sharp cheddar cheese
  • Optional: French bread, baguette, bread bowls

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Add the chopped onions and cook until softer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add in the flour and stir frequently for about 3 minutes using a wooden spoon or a whisk. It will start to thicken and look clumpy as the butter absorbs the flour.
  4. Gradually add the heavy cream, whisking constantly, until smooth before each addition.
  5. Stir in the chicken broth, bay leaves, and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Bring to a boil and then reduce to low heat so that it can simmer for about 20 minutes. You will notice it start to thicken.
  7. Add in the chopped broccoli and carrots. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes, or until the veggies are tender. Discard the bay leaves.
  8. Remove from heat and use an immersion blender or standing blender to puree the soup to your liking.
  9. Add in the shredded cheese and mix until melted and incorporated.

Tips:

*For quicker results you can use frozen broccoli and carrots. I always recommend fresh ingredients if the time permits for maximum flavor potential

*If desired, a healthier version can be made by subbing the heavy cream for low fat/fat free milk.

*Doubling this recipe ensures leftovers for the next day, so definitely something to ponder over

*Test taste the soup throughout the process and add more spices and seasoning if you see fitted

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Pileup of Ingredients

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Along the Way

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Enjoy!

 

 

Smoothie Bowl Basics

Smoothie Bowl

A drink that is so easy to blend that you don’t even have to think about it twice. Got milk? Got bananas? Got strawberries? You already have all the ingredients for a basic smoothie bowl and you don’t even know it. It’s so much funner eating a smoothie from a bowl than drinking it! Drinking them from straws or even just a cup, every single time, gets boring quickly.There’s just something about using a spoon that makes it seem more like a solid breakfast to me, not to mention the loads of fruit that its covered with. It may be hard to eat such a good-looking smoothie, when all we do is eat with our eyes. But… Once your spoon goes in for the first bite, it will disappear as quick as a popped bubble. Read on to make your own antioxidant-rich, creamy smoothie topped with a sweet crunchy granola and some soft, fresh fruit.

Smoothie Bowl

One of the simplest pleasures in life is finding a recipe that you want to make and realizing that you have every single ingredient listed. No grocery stores needed. The beauty of the smoothie bowl is that one can customize it based on their own personal preferences or even whatever is in the fridge/freezer. If you plan on making smoothies regularly, it is convenient to buy frozen fruit in bulk to always have it on hand.

Smoothie Bowl Basics

  • Liquid
    • Base of the smoothie bowl
    • Fruity: Orange Juice, Apple Juice; can be freshly squeezed or packaged
    • Tropical: Coconut Water, Pineapple Juice
    • Creamy: Milk (whole, 2%, skim, soy, coconut, almond)
    • Water: adds no flavor to the drink
  • Fruit/Veggies
    • Best if frozen to keep your smoothie cold without having to use ice
    • Strawberries, Bananas, Kiwi, Mangoes, Raspberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Dragonfruit, etc
    • Kale, Cucumbers, Spinach
  • Thickener
    • Greek Yogurt, Xantham Gum, Bananas, Frozen Fruit, Ice
    • Try to use ice as a last resort so that you can have a more flavorful drink
  • Flavorings
    • Vanilla Extract , Honey, Sugar, Agave Nectar, Maple Syrup
  • Toppings
    • Best to have a fusion of different colors
    • Fruits, fresh preferred: chopped, sliced, halved (be careful when adding too much dried fruit because it is concentrated in sugar due to no water content)
    • Granola: fun flavors such as chocolate chip, cranberry apple, maple peanut butter, cinnamon raisin spice
    • Nuts/Seeds: slivered almonds, flaxseed, whole oats, hazelnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds
    • Superfoods: cocoa nibs, unsweetened shredded coconut, chia seeds, hemp seeds, avocado

 Tips

  • When making your own smoothie bowl, have all the fruit cut and ready to place on top before you start assembling it so that you can eat it right after
  • If the smoothie is too thick, stop blending, shake the mixer, and add small amounts of the chosen liquid at a time
  • Make sure the smoothie is thick so that your fruit don’t sink to the bottom
  • Check out some fun inspiration for smoothie bowls on this Buzzfeed article

Smoothie Bowl

These are only various combinations to inspire a smoothie bowl, so do not feel limited as there is a lot more that I have not included. Now it’s your turn to have fun with all the different combinations to make the perfect personalized smoothie bowl!

Smoothie Bowl

What unique combinations have you used in smoothie bowls?

 

Comfort Classics: Bread Bowls

Bread Bowl

I’ve always been used to going to the grocery store to get a fresh, steaming loaf of bread. If I wanted to fancy it up, then a trip to Panera Bread would have to suffice for my bread bowl fix (with broccoli cheddar soup of course). A world where I made my own bread seemed unfathomable, yet I soon learned it was a reality after my success with french bread. Yeast works wonders. While my bread was rising, I would lift the corner of the damp towel to impatiently check on its progress. As the minutes passed, it rose, puffed, and swelled up as if it was a water balloon slowly filling with water. Not till it made its way out of the oven about an hour later was I finally at peace with myself and satisfied. Overall, this bread was relatively quick to make and did not consist of the 4+ hours of rising that other recipes use. The actual time spent making the recipe was far less compared to the waiting period, which is manageable. A few burnt fingers were irrelevant compared to the joy from sampling a tender, fluffy hunk of steaming bread right from the depths of the bottomless bread bowl. And that was only the start of it. Wait for the Broccoli Cheddar Soup that fills it, which will make its appearance on the blog during this week!

Bread Bowls (makes 6-7 large bowls or 12-13 small bowls)

Time Prep: 20 minutes, Rising: 70 minutes, Baking: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  •  4 ½ teaspoons instant yeast (2 packets)
  • 2 ½ cups of warm water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar OR honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups (18 ounces or 510 grams) bread flour
  • 3 cups (13.5 ounces or 383 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg white

Directions

  1. Combine the instant yeast, warm water, and sugar and leave undisturbed for 10 minutes. You will notice it starting to bubble up slightly and foam.
  2. Add the yeast mixture to a large bowl and mix in the olive oil, bread flour, all-purpose flour, and salt using the dough hook on a mixer at a low-medium speed. Add in the flours gradually, about 2 cups at a time.
  3. Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes until it is smooth. I prefer kneading it by hand for this part, because it is a large amount of dough and I don’t want the mixer to overheat.
  4. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover the bowl with a damp towel. Leave it undisturbed for about 40 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
  5. Divide the dough into 6-7 portions. Stretch each ball into a tight shape, pinch the end to seal it, and roll it around for a nice round shape.
  6. Put the dough balls on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Brush the balls with the egg white and use a knife to make an X on the top.
  7. Cover with a damp towel and let them rise for 30 minutes or until doubled in size. Brush them again with the egg white before placing them in the oven.
  8. Preheat the oven to 400 F°. Place the baking sheet into the center of the oven and bake for about 30 minutes or until golden. If baking one tray on the top and the second tray on the bottom shelf, switch them halfway through so that they are both evenly baked.
  9. Cool for 10 minutes before cutting the tops out and hollowing out the bowls. Using a knife, make a circular cut in the bread bowl and scoop out the bread. The outside should be crusty so do not worry about whether you are scooping out too much bread or not.
  10. Fill with a creamy soup of your choice and eat immediately.

Tips

-You can use a scale to make sure each bread bowl is similar in size.

-These are large-sized bowls so if you want more of a snack-sized one, you can make more bowls from the same recipe although they will be smaller. The bowls from this recipe will be very filling and if you plan on them being a side dish, then make 12-13 bowls from the same recipe (each bowl is about 140 grams if you are weighing them)

-The leftover bread scooped from inside the bowls can be dipped in your choice of soup. You can also make some bread pudding with it as well.

Adapted from HandletheHeat

Bread BowlBread Bowl Bread Bowl

Up next, Broccoli Cheddar Soup to pair up with these fluffy bread bowls!

 

What are some soups that you have tried with bread bowls?

Divergent Cake

Divergent Cake

Birthdays are so special. Birthdays are also a reason to bake up a cake. What celebration doesn’t call for that? It was time to finally put an end to the cake drought we’ve been suffering (last one I baked was an Little Black Dress cake for my friend’s party). With a little fondant of course. Fondant’s hard to ignore and it somehow makes it way to every celebration. It just adds the right amount of pizzazz to any cake like a glossy top coat to your nail polish. So fondant it was. Now the challenging part: what theme should the cake be centered around?

Divergent Cake

Well, after many brainstorming and Pinterest sessions to find a cake for my sister’s birthday, we suddenly agreed on a theme. We had just seen Divergent at home and Insurgent the next day at the movies, which really inspired us. In case you haven’t seen either of these, they are based on a bestselling novel by Veronica Roth (she has a role in the first movie so keep an eye out for her!). Her dystopia novel comes to life along with its society-divided factions which are defined by traits. Each child goes to a Choosing Ceremony where they pick the faction they will join for the rest of their lives. An action packed mix of rebellion, deception, and upright honesty where the main character, Tris, leaves her selfless Abnegation faction to join the adventurous, fearless Dauntless faction brings excitement tying the whole story together. The main character is Divergent, meaning that she has 3 or more of the traits these factions have which poses a threat to the government who dislike the rebellious Divergent. The best way I found to integrate the movie into the cake was to focus on the five factions and so that’s what I topped the cake with. I put fire and coals (crushed oreos) to surround the cake, because that was the symbol of the Dauntless faction that Tris chose.

Birthday Cakes Across the Years 

Batman Cake

http://simply-delicious.org/2014/05/11/batman-fondant-cake/

Chinese Takeout Cake

http://simply-delicious.org/2013/05/05/chinese-takeout-anyone/

Rainbow Cake

http://simply-delicious.org/2012/04/24/surprises-abound/

Divergent Themed Cake 

Divergent Cake

I used Sweetapolita’s Fluffy Vanilla Cake which you can find here and paired that with a light, creamy Vanilla Bean frosting. The combination was great, because the icing did not have that generic overly sweet taste and the cake itself was light and fluffy. The secret to this frosting was whipping the butter for 8 minutes until it was as smooth as a ribbon of silk before mixing it with the powdered sugar. I don’t usually eat the fondant part of the cake as it is has a sickly sweet flavor that just throws you off even before you get to the cake and icing inside. It definitely is worth the magical effect that it gives your cake though.

Divergent Cake

Each circle represents one of the five factions. Starting from the top yellow symbol, clockwise, are Dauntless, Abnegation, Amity, Candor, & Erudite.

Dauntless: brave, fearless, take risks

Abnegation: selfless, always help others hence the hands

Amity: kind, optimistic, earth-friendly

Candor: truthful, see everything as black or white

Erudite: curious about the world, intelligent

Divergent (no symbol): three or more of the above, rebellious, immune to control

Factionless (no symbol): the ones who don’t fit in

Divergent Cake

 

What movie-themed cakes have you made?

 

Eating Our Way Through Austin Part 1

Austin. An enchanting land that is a Disney Land for any foodie. A place where you can be calmly strolling from savory to sweet food trucks and later find yourself clenching your steering wheel while driving the scenic, yet overly hilly roads to Lake Travis. It’s the kind of city where you just want to eat everything and wish that there were more meals in a day. Our first stop was to find a relaxed brunch cafe where we could start off the day with a hearty dish. Many restaurants had outside seating and added their own zing to it like hanging up rows of string lights along trees paired with striped red and white chairs below for that pop of color.

Austin

Others had a covered ceiling which is perfect for avoiding that beating sun, while still being able to enjoy that occasional breeze.

Austin

Of course, when in Austin, you are bound to pass by more than just a few food trucks. This one screams Arizona and desert with its rustic chalkboard, bright yellow exterior, and of course the one thing no one can miss-the three cacti right outside which complete this food truck.

Austin

Yet another food truck find, but this one was sadly closed. Give me a crepe any time of day and I will be sure to take it. I loved the funky and creative font used on this food truck. The little aliens on the left definitely help with the whole futuristic vibe that I’m getting here. Food trucks are no longer what they used to be- a plain white van selling tacos on the street- rather they now bring novelty to the food truck scene, attracting a whole new type of consumers.

Austin

Let’s jump right into our first meal at South Congress Cafe.

  1. South Congress Cafe

1600 South Congress Avenue, Austin, TX 78704

First off, expect a wait if you will be coming here around brunch time as it was about a 30 minute wait for us. With our stomachs screaming for food, we had the menu up on our phones and decided what we were ordering before coming in. I settled on the Carrot Cake French Toast which consisted of carrot cake, cinnamon vanilla egg batter, cream cheese-pecan syrup, along with a medley of fruit. It was a little deceiving because I thought that the dish would be french toast that was flavored as carrot cake. Rather, it was a carrot cake that was soaked in a batter to resemble a french toast… Regardless, it was a flavorful cake and me and my friend polished all three slices off quickly!

South Congress Cafe

Next up is the Jalapéno Venison Meatloaf with charred poblano demi-glace, garlic whipped Yukon potatoes, and sautéed collard greens. This one definitely won the award on presentation and just looked too good to eat! I sampled a bite from my friend and it has got to be the best meatloaf yet that I have tasted at a restaurant.

South Congress Cafe

If you’re into seafood then you will love the Crab Enchiladas. With a combination of crab lump meat, jalapeño, shallot, house made corn tortillas, cilantro lime sauce, refried black beans, and lime sour cream, this dish packs great flavor and has different textures that complement each other. I am usually used to having beef or chicken in enchiladas, so this dish was a nice twist by using seafood.

South Congress Cafe

2. Halal Bros

2712 Guadalupe Street Austin, TX 78705

Warning: Do not share this dish with a friend if you value your friendship. You’ll end up ordering a second plate or god forbid, your friend may eat more than their fair share. This didn’t happen to me, although me and my friends were contemplating the idea, which yes… quickly died once we stepped foot inside. This is the Chipotle heaven of Mediterranean food. The juicy grilled chicken complemented the fragrant basmati rice perfectly, along with their legendary white sauce. I would suggest getting any of their rice plates, which come with a meat of your choice such as beef shawarma, tender chopped lamb, or even a combination plate for the sampler within you. If you’re not too fond of hot sauce, mention that to them beforehand so that you don’t have half your chicken drenched in a fiery condiment.

Halal Bros

A heavenly plate of chicken kebab over rice covered with a magical sauce. I would ask for extra sauce, because it is really just that good!

Halal Bros

3.   Stile’s Switch and BBQ

6610 North Lamar Boulevard  Austin, TX 78757

BBQ is a must in ATX or anywhere in Texas for that matter. Our tray was brimming with beef brisket, beef ribs, mac n cheese, and a loaded Frito pie.

Frito Pie? It’s not just some Fritos simply covered with chili cheese. It’s tender beef brisket marinated in barbecue sauce and mixed with Fritos, spicy Jalapeño garnish, a moundful of cheese, sweet beans, and topped with crunchy, fresh onions. This is one time that you definitely should go for the extraordinary rather than simply brisket alone, unless you choose to order both of course like we did. The brisket was juicy & charred to perfection and the beef ribs were humongous & Fred Flintstone sized. Inside it was very spacious, rustic looking, and just the place where you could enjoy the quintessence of barbecue. The employees were friendly and even gave us some free brisket on the side and super-sized our Frito pie after seeing our indecisiveness on what to order. No matter what mood you come into this BBQ joint with, you will leave a changed, satisfied, and happy person.

Stiles Switch BBQ

The old fashioned general store feel of Stiles Switch even came right down to the drinks. Creamy vanilla with a touch of bubble gum was a must have to complete this meal.

Stiles Switch BBQ

In between all of that eating, a little exploring doesn’t hurt. Nothing like climbing up a mountain for a scenic view to burn off those extra calories. Well, it’s actually more of a steep, and rocky hill that only took us a few minutes to climb up. Located right before the famous 360 Bridge, this climb leads you to a mesmerizing view overlooking the Austin Country Club golf course, 360 Bridge, and the classic rolling hill country. It’s a surreal feeling to just stand there and take in the gorgeous sights. It’s a free attraction so why not add it to your plans?

4. 360 Bridge

Loop 360 and Lake Austin

Austin, TX 78746

360 Bridge

And that’s not it, only the end of Part 1! Check soon for Eating through Austin Part 2 where Arpeggio Grill, The Hideout CoffeeHouse, and Graffiti Park will be featured next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Only the world’s oldest prepared cuisine, curry, has created quite the title for itself. It’s not exactly a term you can grasp. With a flavor-packed punch of spices and aroma, it is generally a meat, seafood, or veggie dish that is served in a sauce.  It can even be made freshly using 5 to 30 whole spices that are ground and mixed together. Trust me, you will never run out of options. 660 Curries by Raghaven Iyer, only serves to prove a delicious complexity that this dish can offer.

Every country has put its own twist on curry making it all the more unique. The motherland that curry can call home is India of course. Each region in India from North to Southeast also has its own speciality curry so it will be difficult to run out of curry combinations to try while traveling. Even the UK adopted curry as a favorite through its colonial past in India and since then has celebrated its fame with National Curry Week. Japan later acquired the taste by imitating the British Navy and today serves kare raisu (curry with rice and pickled veggies). Other curries can be identified by their colors as seen with the Thai-based ones (green, red, yellow, gold) and other Thai curries are paired with coconut milk as seen in this recipe, leading to a less spicy version of what can be a fiery dish.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

The easiness yet complexity of flavors in this dish instantly attracted me. Why not learn a recipe that you can whip up quickly for last-minute prep? Just keep a few cans of coconut milk in the pantry and a bag of frozen shrimp in the freezer for these interventions if needed. The other ingredients are usually pantry basics with the exceptions of the curry spices. It may seem like a lot to buy if this is your first time using turmeric or curry powder, but they will become spice essentials as you will be able to use them in a variety of other dishes in the future (only a wise investment!). I highly recommend doubling this recipe, because you will go for those seconds and then crave them the next day for lunch too. Read below for the recipe and detailed step by step prep!

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Serves:6

Printable Recipe Here

Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

Shrimp Marinade

  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp

Coconut Curry

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon powdered ginger
  • 2 teaspoons coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 small can (5.5 ounce) coconut milk
  • chopped cilantro/parsley for garnish
  • 1 cup of cooked rice for serving

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, toss the marinade ingredients along with the shrimp. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the fridge for 15-20 minutes while you prepare the coconut curry.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium sized dutch oven or saucepan. Add the chopped onion and cook for 3 minutes over medium heat, until it begins to soften.
  3. Stir in the garlic, ginger, coriander, salt, curry powder, black pepper, and turmeric and cook for another 2 minutes until the onions are translucent.
  4. Add the tomatoes along with their juices and cook for about 2 minutes on medium-high heat.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk and wait for it to boil. Reduce to medium-low heat and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  6. Add the shrimp along with the marinade juices and cook for another 5 minutes, until the shrimp are pink. Be careful not to overcook it as the shrimp will turn rubbery.

Adapted from JoCooks

Tips

*Do not throw your unthawed shrimp straight into the saucepan as they will cook unevenly. Thaw them by running a gentle stream of cold water over them for a few minutes.

*When doubling this recipe, you can actually just buy a 13.5 ounce can of coconut milk if you do not find the smaller cans. Do not worry about making specific measurements such as 11 ounces and save yourself the trouble by just using the whole can. It will taste just as great and even better!

*Doubling this recipe is wonderful especially if you want an easy flavor-packed lunch for the next day.

Step By Step Pictures (I doubled this recipe in my pictures below)

Coconut Shrimp Curry

I doubled my recipe so I used 2 pounds of frozen shrimp. I left cold water running over them for about 5 minutes and that was sufficient to thaw them.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

After thawing the shrimp, I added the marinade ingredients (salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice) here. You could use bottled lemon juice for ease, but I squeezed one lemon for an additional freshness factor.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Next, I chopped up a medium sized onion. You can also put it in a mini food processor to chop it up quicker.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Sautee the chopped onions for 3 minutes until they are softened.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Add the crazy mix of spices and cook for another 2 minutes. The onions will start to look more translucent at this point.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Only the last line up of characters that will complete this satisfying dish!

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Mix in the whole can of diced tomatoes along with the coconut milk and stir.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Add in the marinated shrimp and cook for only 5 minutes, no more or they will turn rubbery! If you have raw fresh shrimp, then a general rule is that the shrimp will be done cooking when it turns pinkish. As well, you do not want straight shrimp, as that means that they are undercooked. When they curl up in a C shape as in the picture above, that is another good indicator that they are ready.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

All mixed up and ready to serve!

Coconut Shrimp Curry

But wait…

Coconut Shrimp Curry

A bit of parsley (or cilantro) will top it off with the perfect pop of green so chop up a small stalk for some garnish.

Coconut Shrimp Curry

Fine dining simply at its best!

 

What are your favorite recipes with curry powder?

Strawberry Napoleon

Strawberry Napoleon

Ever wanted to make a great looking dessert without putting in too much effort? If so (which I’m sure we’ve all had those thoughts at least once) then simply look to Puff Pastry sheets! I first tried this recipe from the back of a Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry box and have loved it ever since. This and the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate cake recipe are the best two recipes that I have tried from boxes. I’ve made a few adaptations to make it easier to make and to add some variation to the original recipe. It’s nice to know that the longest time you’ll spend making this is probably waiting for the Puff Pastry to thaw and not kneading dough haha. Not to mention, it’s also the perfect recipe to make when having guests over for dinner or even for last minute Valentine’s Day desserts.

Strawberry Napoleon

Printable Recipe

Makes: 8 Servings

Ingredients

  • ½ of 17.3 ounce package of Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed (1 sheet)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • ½ vanilla bean or ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups of strawberries
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • Optional: mint leaves

Directions

Preheat: 400 F°

  1. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Each pastry box comes with 2 sheets inside. Unfold your thawed pastry sheet and cut it into three long strips along the folded marks. Cut each long strip into 4 pieces.
  3. Brush the puff pastries with 1 egg white and place into the oven. They will take about 10-12 minutes, or until a golden brown color.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.
  5. Split each puff pastry into 2 halves and set aside.
  6. Set aside 8 puff pastry tops and place 8 pastry bottoms on plates.
  7. Whip the heavy cream on medium speed for about 2-3 minutes or until soft peaks form. Add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.
  8. Start layering the puff pastry by spreading some of the whipped cream on the bottom layer. Cover with a few strawberries, almonds, and then another puff pastry. Repeat step 8 for two filled layers.
  9. Melt the chocolate in the microwave at 20 second intervals while stirring in between.
  10. Drizzle melted chocolate across the pastries and sprinkle sliced almonds & powdered sugar over them. Top it off with mint leaves and enjoy!

Adapted from Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Box

Strawberry Napoleon

Tips:

*For the remaining egg yolk you can make some chocolate mousse which requires 1 egg yolk. To store it, place the egg yolk in an airtight container and cover with a thin layer of water. Do not keep it for longer than 2 days.

*Using parchment paper makes cleaning your baking sheets easier, not to mention, eliminating the risk of your pastry sticking to your baking sheet. You can also use cooking spray if parchment paper is not available, but keep an eye on your pastries to make sure that they do not brown too quickly.

*For serving more people, you can make double the servings by using the whole Puff Pastry package and doubling the amount of filling. For larger Napoleons, you can choose to cut the long strips into 3 instead of 4 pieces or you can make it longwise and not cut it into squares at all.

*Other filling variations: any pudding, add chocolate to the whipped cream, mix in pudding with the whipped cream, add various fruits such as raspberries or blackberries, etc.

*You can use a large pastry star tip for piping the whipped cream. Other options include using a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off or spooning it onto the pastry sheets.

 

Napoleon Pictures Along the Way

Strawberry Napoleon

This is ½ of a Puff Pastry box and you can see the folded lines where I cut horizontally. I choose to cut each strip into 4 pieces, but you can also cut it into 3 pieces or leave it longwise.

Strawberry Napoleon

The golden brown puff pastries ready to be split in half and filled. I have more puff pastry sheets here because I prepared the whole package (doubled the recipe). For one half, I cut the pastry strips into 4 and for the other half I cut them into 3 pieces. You can notice the size difference in the picture above. If you want larger Napoleons, I would go ahead and cut each strip into 3 rectangles. Rather than 8 servings, you will get 6.

Strawberry Napoleon

Here, it’ll be hard to resist the temptation to snack on your strawberries for the Napoleon…

Strawberry Napoleon

Time to dig in!

 

What are your favorite desserts using Puff Pastry?

 

 

 

10 Delicious Ways to Enjoy a Rainy Day

piclab (1) copy

Who said rainy days have to be all gloomy and sad? I figured I would help those in need of a little brightening today with 10 delicious ways to make the most of your rainy day! These are perfect days to have an excuse to stay inside, cozy up with comfort food, and watch your favorite shows on Netflix. Unless this day happens to fall on a weekday in which you end up driving to work, school, or run errands (in that case, you’ll be glad you bought those rain boots you never thought you would wear). Nevertheless, it’s a great feeling to come home and cook up some soup to enjoy. It’s probably even greater to come home to it already made haha.

Every type of weather has its ups and downs & surprisingly, rainy days do come with some perks. Why not use this chance to practice your skills in the kitchen whipping up hot chocolate drinks, blending together smoothies, and grilling cheese sandwiches. Check out the wide array of recipes from some of my favorite blogs below & enjoy (#4 may look a little familiar to some of you):

1.  Loaded Baked Potato Soup  from Damn Delicious

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

2.  Frozen Hot Chocolate  from Handmade Mood

Frozen Hot Chocolate

3.  Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate  from The Cookie Writer

Salted-Caramel-Hot-Cocoa-5

4.  Classic French Toast from yours truly- SimplyDelicious

French Toast

5.  Cookies & Cream Parfait from The Cozy Apron

choc-silk_04-22-12_1_ca

 6.  Stovetop White Mac and Cheese from Jehan Can Cook

Mac and Cheese

7. The Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich  from Closet Cooking

The Perfect Grilled Cheese Sandwich 500 4401

8.  Tomato Basil Grilled Cheese Sandwich from Cooking with a Wallflower

Tomato-Basil-Grilled-Cheese-Sandwich-1-1024x682

9.  Chicken Noodle Soup from BudgetBytes

Chicken Noodle Soup above

10.  Strawberry Basil & Roasted Beet Smoothie Bowl from a New Life Wandering

beet-smoothie-bowl12

What is your favorite rainy day food?

 

Treat Yo’ Self Thursdays: Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

There’s always that one ingredient that you’ve been wanting to use in a recipe, but have been putting it off for a long time. In my case, it was Candy Cane Hershey’s Kisses. I bought them, because they were a unique flavor of the Hershey’s Kisses yet I didn’t know what to make with them! Last weekend, I finally decided to check them off my list and make thumbprint cookies. These buttery cookies are essentially a shortbread made with butter, sugar, and flour. The egg yolks and baking powder add to the chewiness, while the salt and vanilla/almond extracts enhance the flavor.

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

If you are looking for a quick yet great looking cookie recipe, then you are in the right place! Within less than an hour, you can be sitting down and relaxing with a glass of milk and of course, these wonderful Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies.

After making this recipe, I was inspired to make a detailed post with explanations on making the perfect shortbread cookie with the ratio and different variations that you can make use of. Keep an eye out for this upcoming post in the future!

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Printable Recipe Here

Total Time: 40 minutes    Makes: 20-24 cookies

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Filling

  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • red food coloring, 3-4 drops
  • 20-24 Peppermint Hershey’s Kisses, unwrapped

Directions

Preheat: 350 F°

  1. Prepare your baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper.
  2. Cream together the butter and powdered sugar until smooth.
  3. Mix in the egg yolks, vanilla extract, and almond extract.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  5. Slowly combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients until well incorporated. If the dough is to sticky to roll into balls, add another ¼ cup of flour and refrigerate the dough for 1 hour.
  6. Roll dough into 1 inch balls (about the size of a tablespoon) and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
  7. Use your thumb or  the end of a cap to make a well about ½ inch deep in the top of each dough ball.
  8. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes and then reform the wells in each of the cookies by pressing down on them again.
  9. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the white chocolate chips and the heavy cream. Stir every 20 seconds until the mixture is smooth.
  10. Add 3 drops of red gel food coloring to the chocolate and mix well.
  11. Fill each cookie with about a teaspoon of the red chocolate using a piping bag or a spoon.
  12. With the remaining chocolate, drizzle it onto the cookies using a piping bag or a ziploc bag with the corner snipped off.
  13. Press one peppermint kiss into the center of each cookie. Allow it to cool for an hour until set and hardened. You can also put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes for quicker results.

Recipe Adapted from Lecremdelacrumb

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Tips

*For some more pictures you can visit Sally’sBakingAddiction recipe to see the process in action.

*To form the indentation in each cookie, you can be creative in what you use whether it be a cap of chapstick or the end of a teaspoon measuring spoon.

*You can change this recipe by replacing the peppermint kiss with a chocolate one or even eliminating the Hershey’s kiss altogether. Other variations include filling the cookies with caramel, jam, or brownies.

*Your dough should not be sticky like toothpaste when forming the 1 inch balls. Refrigerate it for about an hour if it is.

*If the dough cracks when you are making the indent, try to smooth it out. A few cracks are fine, because they will later be covered with the drizzled icing.

Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

What is your favorite thumbprint cookie recipe?

Green Tea, Lemon, & Pineapple Macarons

Macarons

The sweet life of macarons. They are stunning for photography and even more satisfying to eat. One bite leads to another and before you realize it, they have all disappeared. And once they have disappeared, you go back to craving them. And find yourself waiting innocently in line to choose wild, tangy, or fruity flavors to satisfy your needy stomach. And then the whole cycle happens again. With macarons costing about $3 each, there are only so many that you will be willing to buy. It’s a pretty clever technique as they price them so that you buy a few that invite you for a second visit in the near future.
Macarons
Ready to make your own Laduree style macarons at home? It is challenging for a first try, but going through that struggle will only make the success of your buttercream-filled green tea macarons that much more delicious. Some of my past attempts include Nutella (my first success), pistachio, and peppermint flavored macarons. My ultimate creation with these was making a macaron tree, which I made as a pre-wedding gift for my best friend. Today we can add matcha green tea, lemon, and pineapple to that list! Keep posted as I will be experimenting with more adventurous flavors such as popcorn and Milano.

General Macarons Recipe *Modifications to make the other flavors- green tea, pineapple, lemon- will follow the recipe*

Printable Recipe Here

Makes: 25 macarons

Ingredients:

  • 90 grams egg whites (about 3 eggs)
  • 55 grams white granulated sugar (~¼ cup)
  • 200 grams confectioner’s sugar (~ 1 2/3 cup)
  • 110 grams almond flour (~ 1 cup)
  • pinch salt
  • food coloring (optional)

Directions:

  1. Blend the almonds finely in a food processor. Add the confectioner’s sugar and blend until very fine.
  2. Sift the almond-sugar mixture about 2 times into a medium bowl and place on the side for use later. If you have any large pieces, food process them again until they are smooth.
  3. Place egg whites in a large bowl and whisk at medium speed, until foamy.
  4. Mix in the granulated sugar slowly until stiff peaks form. If you lift the whisk, the peaks should remain standing and will look shiny and smooth.
  5. Add food coloring at this point. I took a toothpick, dipped it in the gel food coloring, and then wiped it into the mix.
  6. Use a spoon to fold your almond-sugar mixture into the stiffened egg whites. About 60-70 strokes works. Be careful not to overmix it!! It should look like the consistency of lava. If you spoon up the batter and drop it back into the bowl, it will take about 10 seconds to incorporate itself back in. Watch a video here if you are unsure of how to complete this step; it will be well worth it.
  7. Put parchment paper on your baking sheets and draw your desired circle size. You can use a bottle cap or print out a template and trace it.
  8. Spoon your batter into a piping bag fitted with a large circle tip. Pipe the macarons onto your templates.
  9. Pick up the pan (about 12 inches high) and drop it onto the counter about 2-3 times to get rid of any air bubbles.
  10. Let the macarons dry for about 30 minutes-1 hour in an undisturbed area before baking them. You will know that they are ready when you touch the top of the macaron and it doesn’t stick to your finger.
  11. Bake the macarons at 300 F for about 12 minutes. Remove and allow to cool completely.
  12. Make your desired filling (recipes will follow).

Tips

  • use a measuring scale for all the ingredients for accuracy!! Baking is a science and with improper measurements, the macarons may not turn out to your standards.
  • for more help, visit SouthernFatty for step by step pictures and a printable template

Matcha Green Tea Macarons

  • Add 2 tsp of matcha green tea powder to the almonds after you have food processed them
  • Check out ThirstyforTea’s wonderful post on making green tea macarons for more pictures and tips

Matcha Green Tea Buttercream:

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon matcha powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk

Directions

  1. Beat the butter on high until fluffy.
  2. Add powdered sugar and matcha powder and beat until incorporated.
  3. Add milk while beating for another 3 minutes.

Adapted from OhSweetDay

Pineapple Macarons

  • Add orange food coloring at step 5

Pineapple Curd Filling

Ingredients

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup pineapple juice, canned
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions

  1. Whisk all of the ingredients, other than the butter, together in a small pan over medium heat.
  2. Keep on whisking until it starts to simmer. It will start to thicken and you will start to see bubbles on the top.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Let it cool and place in the refrigerator while you wait. Cover with plastic wrap that is touching the curd so that no skin forms on the top.

Adapted from MissHangryPants

Macarons

Lemon Macarons

  • Add 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and yellow food coloring at step 5

Meyer Lemon Curd Filling 

*makes about 1 ¼ cups; double it to fill a 9 inch pie

Ingredients

  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks

Directions

  1. Zest the lemon over a medium sized bowl. Place a mesh strainer on top of the bowl.
  2. In a medium pan, heat up the lemon juice, sugar, and butter. Still until the butter has melted.
  3. Stir together the eggs and egg yolks in another bowl.
  4. Once the lemon juice mix starts to warm up, pour it slowly into the eggs while whisking quickly.
  5. Pour it all back into the pan and cook it until it starts to thicken. Mix it with a wooden spoon frequently. If you see white bits floating, those are pieces of egg whites which you will strain out later.
  6. Once it has thickened, strain the mixture into the bowl with the zest.
  7. Stir the curd frequently to let the steam and heat out. Allow it to cool and then refrigerate it until ready for use.

Adapted from DavidLebovitz

Macarons

Now sit back and enjoy your hard work, because you deserve to relax! You can choose to eat the macarons by themselves or pair them up with another dessert, such as vanilla bean ice-cream.

Macarons

What are some other ways that you have enjoyed your macarons?

Bakery Style French Bread

French Bread

I’ve been kneading to share this life-changing recipe with all of you! Nowadays with the mass production of bread, it’s rare that we get to taste an authentic baked loaf free of any preservatives. As a bread lover, I savor any piece of bread that is warm, chewy, and soft with a slightly crunchy crust. Pita bread. Bread bowls. Ciabatta. French bread. Breadsticks. Garlic Bread. The list could go on and on. It’s endless and lovely that we get to enjoy this food in so many different ways. The simplicity of this recipe along with some patience will lead to some fluffy and addicting bread. I’ve already made it twice and there will be many more to come haha.

Bakery Style French Bread

**Don’t forget to check out my tips below**

Printable Recipe Here  

Time Prep: 15 min; Kneading: 1 hr; Rising: 30 min; Baking: 30 min

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ tablespoons (2 packets) instant yeast
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons of honey (or sugar)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 ½ tablespoons oil (olive oil or vegetable oil)
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons salt
  • 6 cups of flour
  • 1 egg white

Directions

  1. Combine the yeast, warm water, and honey in a small bowl and leave undisturbed for 10 minutes. You will notice that it will bubble up and start to foam.
  2. Add the yeast mixture to a large bowl and mix in the 2 cups of water, oil, salt, and flour until well incorporated.
  3. Mix in the last 3 cups of flour gradually.
  4. Knead the dough for 5 minutes on a well-floured surface.
  5. For the next hour, knead the dough 3-4 times every 10 minutes.
  6. Form into 2 large loaves or 4 medium loaves. To get a smooth shape, form a rectangular shape and fold in the sides to the middle a few times.
  7. Brush them with the beaten egg white. Slash a few diagonal lines into each of the loaves.
  8. Let the dough rise for 30 minutes or until double in size. Brush again with the remaining egg white before putting them into the oven.
  9. Bake at 400 F° for 10 minutes and then at 350 F° for 20 minutes.

French Bread

Tips:

-There are two types of yeast you will notice at the grocery store, instant (rapid-rise) yeast and active dry yeast. They function the same, but active dry yeast needs to be added to water to activate the yeast. The instant yeast, which I recommend for this recipe, can be added along with the rest of your ingredients without “activating” it first. I do it as a precaution to make sure that the yeast is good, because it is a live bacteria. If the yeast does not bubble or dissolve when mixed with the honey and water, then your yeast is too old or dead and then your bread will not rise.

-To keep track of how long you have been kneading your dough, you can write out the 10 minute intervals on a paper and check them off every time you knead.

-If you do not have a KitchenAid mixer, you can also make this recipe by hand by using a wooden spoon to mix it. It will just take longer to mix and knead, but you will have the same results.

-Kneading the dough every 10 minutes for an hour is what helps your dough become chewy. When you are kneading it, punch the dough down and fold the dough over a few times. It doesn’t have to be exact either at the 10 minute mark. As long as you knead it sometime before or after that mark , then you will be fine. A good goal to hit is coming back to the dough 6 times within the hour.

Troubleshooting

-If you notice that the dough is too sticky, in that it sticks to your hands and you are unable to knead it, then just add additional flour gradually (about 1/4 cup at a time). You can test out to see if the dough is right by taking a little piece and rolling it into a ball. If it is too sticky to roll into a ball, then you need more flour.

-Here is another good site for some great solutions to common problems at RedStar Yeast.

Recipe adapted from ItsAlwaysAutumn

Step By Step French Bread Guide

French Bread

Your initial ingredients for “proofing” the yeast. Proofing basically means that you are proving that the yeast is alive.

French Bread

When you add all of the ingredients together, the water will dissolve the coating around the yeast. Once this yeast is activated, it will work on the honey/sugar and start to foam up.

French Bread

You can notice here that the yeast has grown and is foamy. This is the proof that the yeast is active and we can now add it to our bread.

French Bread

The yeast after 10 minutes: active and foamy.

French Bread

All of the ingredients ready to mix together. (don’t worry about the shaker in the middle: yes those little pink granules are salt haha it’s just a different type-Himalayan salt) French Bread

Mixing together all of the ingredients in a large bowl.

French Bread

Your dough should be hanging off of your dough hook and not too sticky. If it is too sticky for you to knead, then add a 1/4 cup of flour or more as needed.

French Bread

Dough ready to be kneaded on a well-floured surface.

French Bread

Final step: shaping the dough and brushing it with the egg white. Don’t forget to make a couple slashes about ½ inch deep.

French Bread

The golden brown color that the egg whites give it just tops it off with a nice crunch.

French Bread

Yum! Sliced and ready to serve.

Samoa Cookies aka Caramel Delites

samoa cookies

Samoa Cookies: those famous Girl Scout ‘Caramel Delite’ cookies that most people scramble for whenever the Girl Scouts start selling cookies & then crave once the season is over. Why wait for one of these cookies when you can learn how to make them for whenever you please?

These have been on my Ultimate Food Bucket List for a long time and I’m very happy that I finally got to attempt them. Although the total time spent making these was around 3 hours, it was well worth it and I am planning to make them again soon. I have no doubt that you will love them as much as I did!

Samoa Girl Scout Cookies Adapted from JustaTaste 

Printable Recipe Here

Makes: 60 cookies

Cookie Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Coconut Topping Ingredients

  • 3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 15 ounces store bought soft caramel (or homemade)
  • 3 Tablespoons milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate (can also substitute milk or semi-sweet)

Directions     

For the Cookies:

Preheat: 350 F

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy in a bowl with a mixer.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Add 1/3 of the flour mixture at a time to the creamed butter. Mix between each addition and scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Add the milk and vanilla extract, blending until combined and the dough starts to form larger pieces.
  5. Divide the dough in half, pressing it together to compact it into two disks. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (about 1 hour).
  6. Once the dough is chilled, roll it out on a floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick.
  7. Cut out as many cookies as you can using two different sized cookie cutters (or a doughnut shaped cookie cutter OR any circular shaped top).
  8. Place the cut-out cookies on a Silpat or parchment-paper lined cookie sheet.
  9. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through, until the cookies are a light-golden color. Transfer to a wire-rack to cool.

For the Coconut Topping:

  1. Spread out the shredded coconut on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  2. Bake for about 10 minutes in a 350 F oven until toasted, stirring frequently to ensure even browning and so they do not burn.
  3. Remove the toasted coconut from the oven and set aside.
  4. Melt the caramels, milk, and salt in a double boiler by placing them into a heat safe bowl or saucepan set over a larger saucepan of simmering water.
  5. Stir until the caramels are completely melted and remove from the heat.
  6. Mix in ¾ of the caramel with the toasted coconut in a bowl.
  7. Carefully spread the remaining ¼ cup of caramel on top of the cooled cookies. Press on some of the coconut mixture and let the cookies cool for about 30 minutes. (If the caramel cookie mixture cools or hardens, just put it back on top of the double boiler and warm it until it is spreadable)
  8. Melt the dark chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.
  9. Dip the bottoms of the cookies in the chocolate and place onto parchment or waxed paper.
  10. Use a piping bag to drizzle the tops of the cookies with chocolate. Set aside to cool and then enjoy!

Tips:

-If you do not have a piping bag to pipe the chocolate, you can also use a ziploc bag and snip off a tiny piece of the corner

-When toasting the sweetened coconut in the oven, be sure to stir them frequently as they burn easily and quickly!

Samoa Cookies: Step by Step

samoa cookies

Cutting out the cookies using two different sized circle cookie cutters

samoa cookies

Cookies waiting to be covered in caramel!

samoa cookies

Caramel, milk, & sugar about to go onto the stove using the double boiler method (place pot over a larger pot of simmering water and also make sure that it does not touch the water)

samoa cookies

Samoa Cookies: Before (still delicious at this stage, be careful of who you allow to taste test haha)

samoa cookies

Samoa Cookies: After (definitely do not leave these out of your eyesight!)

samoa cookies

One Word: Yum!!!

 

Have you ever attempted to make any of the other Girl Scout cookies? Have you ever made samoa in a different baking style than cookies (such as cakes, ice-cream, etc)?

Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream

Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream

It all started with a tapioca drink. After a strong recommendation from a friend, I decided one day to finally order the green mystery frappe. The sweet, yet slight bitter taste of the matcha green tea with the combination of the chewy tapioca pearls instantly had me. Ever since, whenever I’d stop by a tapioca shop, I’d always hear myself respond “green tea frappe” when asked “what would you like to order?”. It wasn’t soon before I realized there was a whole world out there full of green tea flavored desserts for me to discover. Macarons. Cookies. Cake. Ribbon Ice. Chocolate. Buttercream. You name it, they’ve probably made it. And of course, ice cream! Which brings us to this post here which will satisfy any green tea cravings you may have. If you are curious as to how this would taste before making it, I suggest buying the Häagen-Dazs® Green Tea ice cream from your grocery store. It was the only brand that I found that sells the unique flavor of green tea. If you know of any others, feel free to share and comment below.

Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream from OneInstantCookbook

Time Required: 30 minutes active time; 6 hours inactive time

Makes: 1 Quart

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of ice in a bowl
  • 2 cups half and half (OR 1 cup whole milk and 1 cup heavy cream)
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (18 grams) matcha green tea powder
  • Pinch of salt (about 1/16 teaspoon)
  • Optional toppings: sliced mangos/strawberries; condensed milk

Equipment: Ice cream maker

Directions

  1. Freeze the ice cream bowl for 24 hours.
  2. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the half and half, sugar, and salt.
  3. Start heating up the mixture over medium heat and then add in sifted green tea powder. Stir until the mixture starts to foam and is hot to the touch, but not boiling.
  4. Remove from heat and transfer it to a bowl sitting in an ice bath. Once it is cool, refrigerate the bowl for 2-3 hours.
  5. Transfer to a pre-chilled ice cream maker and churn according to manufacturer’s instructions (around 20-25 minutes).
  6. Transfer to airtight container and freeze for 3 hours before serving.

Tips

  • If you are looking to buy green tea match powder, you can buy some from Amazon or from your local Japanese store.
  • Optional toppings that go great with green tea ice cream include fruits such as mangos or strawberries with a drizzle of condensed milk.

Step by Step Pictures Below

Matcha IngredientsClockwise: Green Tea Matcha; Half & Half; Granulated Sugar; Pinch of SaltMatcha Green Tea Ice CreamWhisk together the half and half, sugar, and salt over medium heat.Matcha Green Tea Ice CreamSift in the green tea powder and mix thoroughly. Matcha Green Tea Ice CreamChill your mixture in an ice bath and once cool, place into the refrigerator for 2-3 hours before churning in the ice cream maker. Enjoy!

What is your favorite way to eat/drink match green tea?

Maple Bacon Brittle Ice Cream

Maple Bacon Ice Cream

Do you ever walk past the chips aisle & wonder how some flavors are created? Waffles and Chicken. Cappuccino. Maple Bacon. These adventurous titles tend to stand out against the other generic BBQ or cheese flavors. While in the store one day, maple & bacon caught my eye and I soon started noticing it in other foods such as cookies, cake, and even ice-cream. When baking, I love experimenting with new flavors and tastes and before you know it, maple bacon brittle ice-cream was on my to-do list. I figured I would make an ice-cream, because I just got an ice-cream maker so it was a great opportunity to use it! Despite how strange it may sound as bacon is a savory item which we don’t associate with sweets, I loved it and so did my whole family. Now let’s just say, some dishes are made that way to stay that way. Cappuccino falls in that category. The cappuccino chips were definitely out there, and it was strange having a chocolatey aftertaste with a small hint of coffee after eating chips. Alright well on to the recipe below with a few step-by-step photos:

Maple Bacon Brittle Ice-Cream from WhipThisUp Blog

Makes: 1 Quart

Bacon Brittle 

Ingredients

  • 3 strips of turkey bacon
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda

Directions

  1. Wrap a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Grease and set aside.
  2. Cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, about 6 minutes per side. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and then chop to a fine mince.
  3. Cook sugar over medium-high heat, until it melts and turns golden (about 10 minutes or if lumps form, remove the pan from the heat and stir until melted). Immediately remove from heat when the sugar has completely melted and has turned a light amber color.
  4. Right away, stir in the butter, baking soda, and chopped bacon.
  5. Quickly pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet and allow to cool until hardened (about 15 minutes).
  6. Break or cut into very small pieces with a skillet, knife, or other cooking utensil.
  7. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator while you make the ice-cream.

Maple Ice-Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream

Directions

  1. Heat the maple syrup over medium heat and allow it to simmer until it has reduced to ¾ cup, about 12 minutes (you can use a heat safe measuring cup to measure it’s volume every few minutes). Remove from heat.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks and salt in a small bowl for several minutes until a pale yellow color. Transfer to a saucepan and mix in the whole milk.
  3. Cook the egg/milk mixture over medium heat, until almost simmering (the mixture should be thick enough to coat a spoon: when you run your finger through the custard a line should form and not run back into itself). Remove from heat.
  4. Pour the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a heat safe bowl and then stir in the reduced maple syrup and heavy cream.
  5. Cover the custard and refrigerate overnight.
  6. The following day, churn in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Stir in the bacon brittle and allow to freeze for 2 hours before enjoying.

From Beginning to End: Journey of the Turkey Bacon 

Turkey Bacon

Turkey Bacon: Before

Turkey Bacon

Turkey Bacon: After. Golden brown and sizzling in perfection. Keep your eye on these, because you may lose a few from hungry bystanders!

Light Amber Brittle

The much awaited light amber color of the sugar. Patience is required.

Bacon Brittle

Bacon brittle all chopped up. Snacking: Optional.

Maple Bacon Ice Cream

The bowl that makes all your effort worth it. Make this Maple Bacon Brittle Ice-cream recipe for a bowl that you’ll never forget!

What’s the weirdest ice-cream flavor you have ever made or tasted?

Strawberry Shortcake for the New Year

New years cake

I’m about 5 days late but hey, that doesn’t change it being a new year packed with new resolutions, new blog posts, and new everything! I thought it would be perfect to start off the year with a clock themed cake & I tried to make it semi-healthy, hence the strawberries. A New Year sounds great to most as it is a physical reminder for a fresh start and a good chance for one to tackle their dreams and goals. It’s interesting, because only about 8% of people actually follow through with their New Year’s resolutions. Make sure you are one of those 8%. Who ever said you can’t be? It’s important to have attainable goals that you can slowly work towards so that you do follow through with results.

For the cake above, I followed the recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. Full recipe can be found here on Pittsburgh Eats Needed blog.

Recipe Tip:

  • To get the strawberries straight along the sides, use a 9 inch springform pan and line parchment paper around the inner circle. Once you release the springform pan and remove the parchment paper, the strawberries will remain in place.
  • Use cake flour as indicated in the recipe for a fluffier, and lighter cake. If you prefer it more dense, then use all-purpose flour although it may turn out drier than expected and you can try moistening it by spraying the cake with a 1 part sugar 2 parts water mix that has been boiled and cooled.

2015 will see a lot more of my Ultimate Food Bucket List being completed and more restaurant reviews as I explore the food scene. Keep posted for more exciting posts and news every week!

New years cake

Any recipes or cooking techniques you would like me to cover for 2015? Feel free to share :)