February 27, 2015

Stuffed Peppers

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Stuffed peppers are incredibly easy, yet seem fancy and nostalgic at the same time. Of course you can have the filling be whatever you like, but the following recipe works pretty well. Some versions include and slightly watered-down ketchup that is poured over the filled peppers before adding the cheese on top, though we found that wasn't necessary and made it a little too sweet. Just keep the basic method for blanching the peppers the same, and you can go to town on whatever filling you want. Enjoy!


Stuffed Peppers

Yield: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 bell peppers, tops removed, cored and seeded
  • 1/2 cup rice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 12 ounces ground meat
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 5 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper
Cooking Directions
  1. Boil 4 quarts of water with 1 tablespoon salt in a large pot. Cook peppers until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Remove and drain peppers with a slotted spoon or tongs.
  2. Add the rice to the pot and cook until tender, about 13 minutes. Drain rice and transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the ground meat, breaking it into small pieces until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Transfer to the bowl with the rice.
  4. Add the tomatoes, 1 cup of cheese, the parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Heat the oven to 350 F with the rack in the middle.
  6. In a 9-inch square baking dish, place the peppers cut side up. Divide the filling evenly among the peppers. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
  7. Bake until the cheese in browned and the filling is heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve immediately.

February 20, 2015

The Easiest Macarons

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This is the simplest and easiest macaron recipe I have come across that actually works well. It's not complicated, nor does it require a lot of time. Even better, the almond meal mentioned in the recipe is the very cheap one that is sold at Trader Joe's. Did you know they also sell cashew meal? I've yet to try it but it'd probably make a delicious macaron as well.

Be sure to not get any yolk mixed in with the egg whites, otherwise it won't make the meringue correctly. And no stiff, glossy peaks makes everyone sad. Let me know how yours turn out and what you like filling yours with. Enjoy!


The Easiest Macarons

Yield: about 30 macarons
Ingredients
  • 1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2/3 cup almond meal
  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
Cooking Directions
  1. Through a sieve, sift the powdered sugar and almond meal together to remove large pieces.
  2. Using a stand mixer, whip the egg whites on low speed until frothy. Gradually add the sugar, and then whip on high speed until stiff peaks form. The egg whites should be glossy and thick.
  3. Fold half of the almond mixture into the egg whites. Add the rest. Fold the mixture 15 to 20 times; the batter will be thick and fall slowly from the spatula.
  4. Put the batter into a pastry bag. Pipe 1-inch circles onto baking sheets lined with silicon mats or parchment paper. Let rest until a skin forms on top and is dry to the touch, 15 to 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time. If you are baking two sheets at a time, the bottom and top sheets should be switched to prevent browning on the bottom. If only baking one sheet at a time, bake on the bottom rack first for 5 minutes with an empty sheet on top. After 5 minutes, rotate the sheet and move the bottom sheet to the top and the top sheet to the bottom.
  7. You will know the macarons are done when you can touch them and the top of the macaron is set, and it does not slide around under your finger. The macarons must be set before you take them out of the oven. If the macaron tops slide, put them back in the oven on the middle rack for another 2 minutes.
  8. Let them cool for about 10 minutes on the baking sheet and then take them off. Fill as desired with your favorite fillings. A honey buttercream recipe follows. Allow the completed macarons to sit for at least a few hours.
For the honey buttercream:
Makes enough to fill about 40 macarons

Ingredients:
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons honey

Cooking Directions:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter using the whisk attachment for about 2 minutes. Slowly add the powdered sugar, and whisk until everything is incorporated. Do the same with the honey. Beat another minute or so to get everything well incorporated.

February 06, 2015

The Best Cheddar Biscuits

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Biscuits are easy to make, but don't mess with it too much. The secret to flaky and tender biscuits is all in how the butter is distributed throughout the dough. If done correctly, it'll melt and puff up the biscuits when they bake at a high temperature. This is an adaptation from America's Test Kitchen, so you know it's perfect. Enjoy!

If you don't have buttermilk, just use milk mixed with lemon juice or vinegar. Add one tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a measuring cup. Fill to 1 cup with milk. Let sit 5 minutes before using.


The Best Cheddar Biscuits

Yield: 20-24 biscuits
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or substitute)
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted, for brushing biscuits
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
Cooking Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Melt 1 stick of butter first and set aside to cool.
  3. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until evenly mixed.
  4. Add the grated cheese and mix it into the dry ingredients.
  5. Pour the cold buttermilk (or substitute) into a medium bowl. Pour in the cooled, melted butter and mix it together with a whisk or a fork.
  6. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the buttermilk mixture and mix the batter quickly and gently, just until the batter is moistened and comes together. Do not over-mix the batter.
  7. Use a large spoon to scoop up and portion out the batter onto the baking sheet for 20-24 biscuits.
  8. Bake the biscuits in the preheated oven for 12-14 minutes, until golden brown.
  9. While the biscuits are baking, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the garlic and the minced parsley to the butter.
  10. When the biscuits are baked, brush the biscuits with the melted garlic-parsley butter.

January 30, 2015

Ribbon Finger Jello

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Let's take a step back in time to when jello desserts were the bee's knees. Around that time is when you get some really weird ones that involved ham or candied things. Gross. But some of them were actually pretty decent, like this here recipe. It's a beautiful presentation of layers jello and gelatinized condensed milk. Luckily, it also tastes as good as it looks. Enjoy!


Ribbon Finger Jello

Yield: 1 big pan of jello
Ingredients
  • 3 oz package orange gelatin
  • 3 oz package lime gelatin
  • 3 oz package lemon gelatin
  • 3 oz package strawberry gelatin
  • 6 envelopes unflavored gelatin
  • 14 oz can condensed milk
  • 5 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup cold water
Cooking Directions
  1. Dissolve the orange gelatin and 1 envelope of unflavored gelatin in 1 cup of hot water. Pour into a 3 x 9 x 13 inch pan which has been lightly sprayed with oil. Chill until almost firm, approximately 20 minutes. If too firm, the next layer will slide off.
  2. Soften 2 envelopes of unflavored gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Add 3/4 cup hot water. In a separate bowl, mix the condensed milk with 1 cup boiling water. Combine both mixtures. Pour 1 cup of the new milk mixture over the first layer and add 1 cup between each subsequent layer.
  3. Repeat each gelatin procedure in this order: orange, lime, lemon, strawberry. Alternate with milk mixture and ending with a gelatin layer. While each layer is chilling, mix the next layer. If mixture becomes too thick, set in hot water or microwave. When completely firm, cut into desired size.
  4. For a quick method, place the pan with gelatin in the freezer for approximately 12 minutes, then approximately 8 minutes for each subsequent layer.

January 23, 2015

Honey Walnut Cigars

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If you've ever had a craving for baklava but really don't want to spend the next few hours making it, this will satisfy you. It's simple and much quicker. I threw this together with some extra filo dough and nuts we had around. It really hits the spot for a healthy filo dessert. Enjoy!


Honey Walnut Cigars

Yield: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 4 sheets filo dough
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon citrus juice
Cooking Directions
  1. Tear a sheet of filo in half length-wise.
  2. Put some walnut pieces in the sheet, and roll it around the walnuts.
  3. Do this for all 8 cigars.
  4. Arrange in a dish, and bake in 350 degree oven until golden brown. This shouldn't take too long.
  5. Remove from oven to cool.
  6. Meanwhile, bring the honey, citrus juice, and water to a boil and then simmer.
  7. Lightly pour the honey mixture over the cigars. Let cool.