Monday, August 26, 2013

Somerset Easter Biscuits (Raisin Spice Cookies)


I LOVE tea and cookies.  Wow, I feel like I sound about 95 years old when I say that.  Eh, who cares!

I wasn't always a tea and cookies kind of girl.  Over the last couple of years tea has become a morning (and afternoon) ritual that I look forward to and rarely miss.  No doubt I've always liked cookies, but I mostly leaned towards the very sweet ones...you know chocolate chip, snickerdoodles, ginger snaps.  I wasn't much into lightly sweetened or crunchy cookies like shortbread, biscotti or tea cookies.  Part of me thinks I didn't "like" them just because they weren't what I was used to.  I'm glad to say I broke out of my cookie comfort zone to now enjoy cookies of all kinds.  :)


I first had Somerset Easter Biscuits (raisin spice cookies) when my best friend made me a batch as part of a tea and cookies inspired birthday gift.  The cookies are lightly sweet and ever so slightly spiced with cinnamon, allspice, clove and ginger.  Studded with raisins, a crumbly texture and an extra crunch from the turbinado sugar on top...they make for a perfect tea (or coffee if that's your pleasure) cookie. 

It's impossible to eat just one.


Don't you just love the sugar sparkling on top?

I'm so glad I finally got a chance to make these special little cookies. I made a double batch and packed most of them up to send in my August Operation Baking GALS shipment to some of our hardworking troops in Afghanistan (along with these and these and a variation of these). 


But, I had to save 1 or 2 12 for myself.  I enjoyed a few afternoons of tea and cookies, a very nice break during the long midday stretch.  ;)

I'm pretty smitten with these babies.  Definitely a recipe I will make again and again. 

Enjoy!

Somerset Easter Biscuits
adapted from The Great British Book of Baking

125 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
75 grams sugar
1 egg, yolk and white separated
200 grams all purpose flour
A good pinch of salt
A good pinch of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon mixed ground spice (such as pumpkin pie spice)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
50 grams raisins
1 teaspoon citrus zest (such as orange)
Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer beat butter until creamy.  With mixer on add slowly add in the sugar and continue to meet for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy.  Turn mixer to low and add the egg yolk until combined. 

In a medium bowl, sift flour, salt, baking powder and spices.  Add flour mixture in 3 batches to the butter mixture with mixer on low.  Add zest and raisins and mix until just combined.  Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll about 1/4 inch thick.  Using a 2.5 inch fluted cookie cutter, cut out cookies and place on baking sheet about an inch apart. 

Bake for 10 minutes until lightly golden and firm.  Meanwhile whisk the egg white until slightly frothy.  Remove cookies from oven and lightly brush one cookie with egg white and then top generously with turbinado sugar.  Repeat with all cookies.  Return to the oven and bake an additional 3 to 5 minutes until tops are golden and crunchy.  Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for a few minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to a week.





Monday, August 12, 2013

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies


Okay, okay.  The wait is over! 

Finally, I present you the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies. 


For those of you who are long time readers, you know I've been searching for the best, the ultimate, the perfect chocolate chip cookie for some time now.  There are seven chocolate chip cookie recipes on the blog, and a few more that I never got around to sharing.  The reality is I have yet to meet a chocolate chip cookie I don't like.  The idea of choosing just one cookie as "perfect", "the best" or the "ultimate" is unrealistic.  Each has it's own characteristics that make it worthy of a glass of ice cold milk. 


I've been intending to try the New York Times recipe for.....2 years!  I'm a little slow but I'm glad to say I got there. This cookie is definitely up at the top of the chocolate chip cookie food chain.  In fact, I've made the recipe twice in the past month.  I have a feeling it will make a few more appearances this year. 

What makes it so special?  It's chewy in the center and slightly crisp around the edges, which is signature of top notch chocolate chip cookie (in my opinion).  It's a big cookie...especially if you follow the recipe, it comes in around 5 inches.  The first time I made them as directed and the second time (pictured here) I went a little smaller, around 3 1/2 inches.  Either way, it's a thick hearty cookie.  It has a great depth of flavor--that brown sugary caramel flavor that pairs so perfectly with dark chocolate. 

The first time I made them I took them to a birthday bash at a friend's house and the cookies were gobbled up in record time.  There were several "oooohs" and "ahhhhs" so I'm pretty sure they were well received.  ;)

A couple of notes, I made the first batch with part semi sweet chocolate chips and part milk chocolate.  I like the combo of the two types of chocolate and will likely do that going forward.  Feel free to use the chocolates that you like best.

Overall it's an AWESOME cookie!  If you haven't tried it yet, don't wait 2 years like me! 


Enjoy!

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
from New York times adapted from Jacques Torres

Yields 18 five inch cookies

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour (8 1/2 ounces)
1 2/4 cup bread flour (8 1/2 ounces)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse (kosher) salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups)
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar (10 ounces)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (8 ounces)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or chips (at least 60% cacao) (I used 12 ounces of semisweet chocolate and 8 ounces of milk chocolate)
Sea salt

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

Cream butter and both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Turn mixer to low and add eggs, one at a time until combined.  Add vanilla.  Keeping mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in 3 batches until just combined.  Stir in chocolate pieces.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap pressed against the surface and refrigerate 24 - 36 hours.

When you are ready to bake remove the dough from the refrigerator and allow to stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes, or until dough is scoopable.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Scoop six 3 1/2 ounce balls of dough (about the size of golf ball) and arrange on the baking sheet.  Sprinkle lightly with sea salt (I omitted this).  Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until golden brown but still soft in the center.  Allow baking sheet to cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cookies are best the day they are baked.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Spring Rolls


Chocolate chip cookies or spring rolls?  Cookies or spring rolls? 

Big decisions going on over here! 

I am sure you are thinking those two options really aren't even from the same planet.  And they aren't.  I've been dropping hints recently that I would be posting the ever so popular New York Times chocolate chip cookie soon.  I really anticipated "soon" would have been here by now. 

But I just couldn't get behind something decadent and sweet this week.  Words I never thought I would write. Things have been a little Twilight zone lately--but in a good way!  

The past week was busy...I officially started in my new job with 4 days of travel, seeing old friends, meeting new ones, getting to know a new client and sending off a co-worker and mentor into a well deserved retirement.  All this activity translated into 5 solid days of eating every single meal out.  I haven't stepped on the scale yet, but it can't be good. Very doubtful I made it through the week unscathed. 


Given the many over indulgences of the past week, I had to choose the spring rolls.  No, I didn't make them this weekend, but just the thought of them is making me feel lighter already. 

I've made these spring rolls several times over the past few months.  My best friend turned me on to the recipe and it's now one of my go to light meals.  Spring rolls are almost like a salad wrapped up in a nice little bundle.  They are...

Easy to make
(once you get the rolling part down...don't worry if you tear the wrapper, it's forgiving)
Light
Fresh
Crunchy
Creamy
Refreshing
Low calorie
Delicious!
and
Healthy

Yep, food can be both delicious and healthy!  Who knew? 

It took a little coaxing, but I even got Hubby on board with this pure veggie delight!


A few notes...I have tried a couple of variations of this recipe by adding in additional elements like red pepper and mango.  The red pepper is okay, but doesn't really add anything special to the rolls.  But.  The addition of mango is AWESOME.  It brings in a juicy sweetness that pairs perfectly with the creamy avocado, fresh herbs, crunchy cucumber and carrot and the soy dipping sauce.  So tasty.  My photos are without mango as I didn't have any on hand this time.  But DO give mangoes a shot if you decide to make these spring rolls!  You could easily substitute peach or nectarine (white or yellow) if you can't find mango.   

I also made some adjustments to the dipping sauce adding extra soy sauce, brown sugar and red pepper flakes.  Feel free to add or subtract according to your own tastes. 

The original recipe calls for using 2 pieces of rice paper for each roll, however I find it's unnecessary.  The reason they suggest two, is to prevent the roll from breaking during the construction process.  To me, it's a waste of a few extra calories especially when the rice paper itself isn't the star of the flavor show.  With a little practice, using one paper does the job just fine.  Rice paper can be found at your local Asian food market or most large grocery stores. 

This tasty, fresh, light, healthy spring roll is calling your name! 

Enjoy!

Spring Rolls
adapted from Williams Sonoma

Makes 10 rolls

Dipping Sauce:
Juice from 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoons brown sugar
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Whisk all ingredients together and set aside.

Rolls:
10 rice paper rounds (6 or 8 inches) - Or 20 rice papers if using two per roll
10 green lettuce leaves, such as bibb, butter, red leaf or green leaf lettuce
2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and cut into 1/2 inch thick strips
Fresh basil leaves (10-20 leaves)
Fresh mint leaves (10-20 leaves)
2 carrots cut into thin matchsticks (or coarsely grated)
1/2 - 3/4 English cucumber, seeds removed, cut into thin strips (about 4 inches long)
1 large mango cut into 1/2 inch strips (about 4 inches long) (optional)
2-3 green onions thinly sliced

To assemble rolls be sure all your ingredients are cleaned, cut and prepped before starting.  Fill a pie plate with warm water.  Place a clean kitchen towel next to the plate.  Dip 1 sheet of rice paper in the water for a couple of seconds, until the entire surface is just softened.  Place the softened paper on the towel.  (If using 2 rice papers per roll, use a second towel to pat the surface of the first round dry and then dip a second paper in the water and place on top of the first). 

Place one leaf of lettuce about 1/3 of the way up the bottom of the rice paper (closest to you).  Lay 1-2 leaves of both basil and mint across the lettuce.  Arrange carrots, cucumber, avocado and mango in rows on top of the herbs, keeping all the filling within the parameters of the lettuce leaf.  Sprinkle with green onions.

Lift the bottom of the rice paper up and over to just cover the filling gently and tightly tuck it under the filling.  Fold the sides of the rice paper towards the center creating a mini burrito.  Continue to roll tightly until a cylinder is formed.  Place the roll seam side down on a plate or cutting board.  Serve whole, or slice in half and serve with dipping sauce.

Note: If not serving immediately place a barely damp paper towel over the rolls until ready serve, up to 2 hours.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Blueberry Lemon Curd


It's July...very close to August.  Are you all aware of that?  I swear I blink and another month passes.  I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing.  But I am excited about this month's Secret Recipe Club post.  I was assigned the lovely blog, Teaspoon of Spice written by Deanna and Serena, both registered dietitians.  Their blog focuses on healthy yet delicious foods.  In fact they teamed up to start a monthly healthy recipe blog challenge called the Recipe Redux.  It's all about taking recipes and making them better for you, but still keeping them tasty.  I know I could use more of those kinds of recipes in my life!  I have a number of tasty things bookmarked already!

As with every Secret Recipe Club assignment, I always have difficulty choosing just one recipe.  Though it wasn't easy, I finally selected blueberry lemon curd.  I have a love for preserves and curds and just happened to be flush with an abundance of blueberries.  Plus I was totally intrigued by the idea of a blueberry based curd.  I've only made lemon curd in the past and I've really only seen citrus curds.

Blueberry lemon curd rocks!  In case you were wondering.


It's has a rich consistency from the egg yolks and butter, standard ingredients that turn a preserve into a curd (along with a little cornstarch).  I've been eating my new favorite curd for breakfast nearly every day this week on half of my English muffin, smearing peanut butter on the other half (these two pair together nicely).  But for you all, I wanted to share a presentation beyond the English muffin. 

This weekend I set out to pair this beautiful blueberry curd with something equally special.  I thought it would be the perfect time to finally try my hand at French macarons.  The curd would be the filling between those delicate sandwich cookies.  Sadly, the macarons were a huge flop.  I'm not sure where it all went wrong, but I couldn't even pry the little shells off the parchment paper after baking.  3 sheet pans full...into the garbage. 


My second attempt to use the curd was in a recipe I recently saw on Pinterest for lemon bar muddy buddies.  Why not make them BLUEBERRY lemon bar muddy buddies?  Perhaps there is a good reason because, again, I'm not sure where it all went wrong.  The muddy buddies were overly sweet and turned to sog city after a few hours and shortly thereafter, joined the fallen macarons in the trash. :(  Strike two!


I half thought about making homemade linzers, but at that point it just wasn't in me to start another recipe.  Instead I found adorable shortbread tart shells in the baking aisle of my local grocery store. A homerun! The tart shells make a perfect vessel for blueberry lemon curd.  Besides, aren't they the cutest little things?  I happened to have some left over cream cheese frosting to pipe a little flower on top of each one.  Let me tell you, simple is often best.  A perfect blueberry pie bite.

Blueberry lemon curd will be joining my list of keeper recipes!

Enjoy! 

Blueberry Lemon Curd
from Teaspoon of Spice

Yields about 2 1/2 cups

3 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat blueberries, sugar and lemon juice, stirring occasionally over medium/high heat.  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 6 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and allow to stand and cool about 5-10 minutes.  Using an immersion blender, puree the mixture.  Alternatively you can transfer the blueberry mixture to a blender.  Please be careful though!  It's incredibly hot liquid. 

Return pan to medium/low heat.  Meanwhile, stir together cornstarch and egg yolks until smooth.  Add to the blueberry mixture, whisking constantly.  Allow mixture to come to a boil.  Boil for one minute whisking constantly.  Remove from heat and stir in butter and salt.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes or so, whisking occasionally to continue to release the heat.  Spoon into jars or containers with an airtight seal and continue to cool for another 15 minutes of so.  Seal and refrigerate.

Notes: I used 1 cup of sugar because my blueberries were quite tart.

Monday, July 15, 2013

No Bake Peanut Butter "Cookies"


Summer is zipping by.  The last few months have truly flown. Things have been busier than usual around here.  And exciting too!  A lot has been going on... 

Like, I will be starting a new job in a few weeks at my current company.  :) It's a promotion (of sorts) and I'm very excited about the new role!  I will miss my current team greatly, but am so ready (and a little nervous) for this step. 

My family celebrated my Grandfather's 96th birthday in early June and I made a big cake (and dip) to feed 25 people.  In case you're wondering, it was chocolate cake with chocolate frosting.  The cake turned out pretty good for an amateur.   

Then, a couple of weeks ago I said goodbye....to the first new car I ever bought, way back in college.  I had that car for 16 years (I guess I'm dating myself here)!  Anyway, the car served me very well but it was time bid it adieu!  It actually went to a good cause...we donated it to an organization that gives the proceeds to the troops. 

And with a goodbye, I got to welcome a new car into the picture, which I LOVE!  I ended up getting a hybrid...I couldn't resist the great gas mileage and opportunity to save a few bucks at the pump.  When living in Southern California, this is a very good thing! 

Then last weekend, I baked my second big cake in just over a month.  My very close friend and her husband threw a big birthday bash for their sons and I brought along another chocolate cake with chocolate frosting (chocolate cream cheese frosting to be exact!)--this time to feed 40!  I have to say baking the cake is the easy part....putting it together and decorating it is another story.  But I'm getting better.  The cake was a big hit! 

And since I had a large captive audience at the party, I took the opportunity to test out the New York Times chocolate chip cookie recipe as well.  It did not disappoint.  Definitely a winner and it may just be "the one".  Unfortunately the cookies were all gobbled up before I could photograph them, so you know what that means?  More cookies! 

I have to take a moment to give a shout out to Hubby...he not only helped me get the massive 3 layer sheet cake put together, but he also scooped and baked off all the cookies because I was running out of time.  Thanks Hubs!  You're a keeper! ;)


This is the first weekend that things have settled down.  And I'm ready for a brief lull in the all the excitement and activity.  Other than the aforementioned cakes and cookies, I've done little baking in the last several weeks.  In fact, I have been avoiding the oven.  Mostly because it's too darn hot out.  But a girl still needs her sweet fix.  I thought this would be the perfect time to finally try a "no-bake" cookie recipe. 

This version comes from the book Baked Explorations, where I've made a number of traditional "baked" cookie recipes.  Like the authors of the book, I have a hard time truly classifying this as a "cookie."  It's not so much a cookie.  It is more in the confections/candy bar-esque category if you ask me.  But, that doesn't make it any less tasty!  The recipe title indicates this is a peanut butter cookie, but there is a pronounced chocolate element as well with the inclusion of cocoa powder.  You all know how I'm a fan of chocolate and peanut butter together. ;) So this was a winner for me.  And the oats bring in a nice chewy factor.  It definitely satisfied my sweet tooth (a few times this weekend).  The best part--no oven needed! 

Enjoy!

No-Bake Peanut Butter Cookies
from Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Yields 36 cookies

1/2 cup whole milk
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Guittard)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes and softened
1 cup chunky peanut butter (smooth can be used as well)*
3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium heavy bottomed sauce pan heat milk, sugar, cocoa powder and butter over medium heat until butter is melted and sugar is dissolved.  Bring to a boil and stir constantly.  Once the mixture is boiling, stop stirring and allow to boil for 90 seconds.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in peanut butter, oats and vanilla until fully combined.

Using a small ice cream scoop (about 1 1/2 inches wide) with a release mechanism, scoop out cookies onto the prepared baking sheet leaving room in between as they spread a bit.  You can also use a tablespoon to drop the cookies onto the baking sheet.  Once the cookies are cool, place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and chill for an hour.  Serve cold or you can also return them to room temperature.  The cookies should be stored in an airtight container separated by layers of parchment paper for up to 3 days.

*You can also use natural peanut butter, but you will also need to increase the oats by 1/3 cup.

Monday, July 8, 2013

7 Layer Nacho Dip



Growing up I ate dinner at my Grandma and Grandpa's house about once a week for several years.  Grandma was a good cook and I always looked forward to meals at her house.  With a dozen or so regular recipes, her style was simple and pretty all American...some of my favorite dishes were pan fried pork chops served with rice and gravy, spaghetti and meatballs and her good old fashioned potato salad.  Grandma rarely veered from her rotation of recipes.


But lucky for my family she found a recipe in the newspaper one day that she had to try.  I'm not sure when the dip made it's first appearance, but I do remember being surprised she made it.  It was definitely not part of her normal repertoire and neither were the ingredients.  It was a pleasant and very tasty surprise!  The 7 layer nacho dip was an immediate hit and went on to grace a number of family events through the years.


Last month Grandpa turned 96 (wow!) and my parents hosted a big party to celebrate.  Happy Birthday Grandpa!!!  :) When deciding what appetizer to bring to the party, I immediately thought of Grandma's 7 layer nacho dip.  It's been a few years since I've had it, but it was just as tasty as I remembered.  Thanks Grandma!  Miss you bunches!

Enjoy!

7 Layer Nacho Dip
source unknown

1 lb ground beef
Salt and pepper to taste
2 15 ounce cans refried beans
1 small can of mild diced green chiles
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 15 ounce bottle of red taco sauce (such as La Victoria)
1 pint sour cream
4 green onions, thinly sliced

Optional items: You can personalize the dip to your tastes.  Some other suggestions would be using canned sliced jalapenos in place of green chiles for extra heat.  Or sprinkle top with sliced black olives in addition to the green onions. My family usually serves the dip with Nacho cheese Doritos...but any chip will work!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a 9 x 13 glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray.

In a non stick skillet brown the ground beef until cooked through.  While beef is cooking, season with salt and pepper to your taste.  Drain off fat.

Spread refried beans evenly across the baking dish to start the first layer.  Top with ground beef.  Scatter green chiles over the beef.  Top with cheese and use your hand to lightly pat it down.  Pour taco sauce over the cheese so that all the cheese is completely covered.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes until edges start to brown and the taco sauce is bubbling.  Remove from the oven and cool for at least 30 minutes (you will be putting cold sour cream on top so you don't want it to melt).

Just before serving, spread sour cream evenly over the cooled dip.  Sprinkle green onions on top.  Serve at room temperature with tortilla chips. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Peanut Butter Fudge Swirl Ice Cream


Happy 4th of July! 

Today I'm going straight for the good stuff.  Sweet, delicious ice cream.  Peanut butter ice cream with fudge ripple swirled throughout, no less.  This is something I'm fairly certain you NEED in your life.  Unless you don't like peanut butter and chocolate together.  Then you should seek counseling immediately.  Because this is a flavor combination that makes one's life complete (unless you are allergic to peanuts...then you already probably stopped reading this)!

I saw this recipe on my pal Tracey's blog and instantly knew this would be the first ice cream churned of the summer at my house.  It was.  And it was pretty darn fantastic.  The ice cream base delivers on a solid peanut butter flavor.  The fudge ripple brings just the right amount of chocolate to balance the peanut butter.  Very creamy, peanutty and fudgy.  All good things in my book!

The ice cream didn't last long here.  In fact I barely had enough to squeak out some photos.  Most of it disappeared after we had my nephew and his fiancĂ© over to watch the Blackhawks vs. Bruins game two Stanley Cup hockey game--yeah I'm a little late posting this!  I have to detour a bit from the ice cream and talk about hockey...

Hubs and I aren't too big into sports.  We occasionally watch things like the Super Bowl or World Series, but rarely follow a team.  Except when a Chicago team is the running for playoffs Hubs gets into it showing a little love for his hometown.  We started watching the NHL playoff series and low and behold the Chicago Blackhawks kept in it all the way to win the western conference and moved on to the Stanley Cup finals where they defeated the Boston Bruins (sorry Tracey!) and won the cup! We had a blast watching the games (and make food for the games).  It's safe to say we are officially hooked on hockey and are looking forward to the start of the next season in the fall. 


Back to the ice cream.

It's really delicious.  Enough said.

Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Fudge Swirl Ice Cream
from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones via Tracey's Culinary Adventures

For the fudge ripple
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup water
6 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Start by making the fudge ripple.  In a small sauce pan combine sugar, water, cocoa powder, corn syrup and salt.  Heat on medium/high until the mixture comes to a simmer, whisking frequently.  Once the sugar is dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate and allow to sit for one minute.  Stir until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.  Stir in vanilla.  Transfer to a heat proof container and refrigerate until fully chilled.

For the peanut butter ice cream
1 3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup 1% milk
3/4 cup sugar divided in two
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5 large egg yolks
1/3 cup natural peanut butter (I used regular Skippy)
1/4 to 1/3 cup fudge ripple

Make the ice cream by adding heavy cream, milk and half the sugar to a medium saucepan and place on medium heat.  Stir to combine and allow the cream mixture to just come to a simmer.

While the cream is heating, whisk egg yolks and remaining sugar in a medium heatproof bowl until pale.

In another medium heatproof bowl (large enough to hold all the ice cream mixture) add the peanut butter and set aside. 

When the cream mixture comes to a simmer, remove from the heat and slowly add the cream mixture to the egg mixture, whisking continuously (you don't want your eggs to scramble!).  Add the cream/egg mixture back to the saucepan and return heat to medium/low.  Stir frequently until the mixture thickens slightly and the temperature on a candy thermometer reaches 170 - 175.  The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. 

Strain the mixture into the bowl with the peanut butter.  Stir to combine the peanut butter until the cream is smooth and peanut butter is fully incorporated.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 4 hours, or overnight until mixture is fully chilled. 

Churn peanut butter ice cream in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer instructions.  Transfer ice cream to a freezer proof airtight container, adding drizzles of fudge ripple along the way.  Add as much or little as you like to suit your taste.  Swirl the fudge using a butter knife.  Cover and return to the freezer until firm, about 4 hours.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Blueberry Muffins


Guess what time it is?  Secret Recipe Club!  This month I was assigned Debbi's blog Debbi Does Dinner Healthy.  Debbi is also the very gracious hostess Secret Recipe Club's Group C and keeps us all organized and on schedule each month.  I was excited to browse Debbi's blog because she has so many great dinner ideas....that are healthy!  Debbi mostly focuses on meals that are under 500 calories (though she throws in desserts here and there where calorie counting is strictly off limits!).  I had every intention of making something savory from Debbi's blog.  I had my eye on Raspberry Glazed Rosemary Chicken, Parmesan Chicken Bake and Chicken Poblano Casserole.  All so tasty looking! 

But surprise, surprise...

My sweet tooth took over once again.  I'm starting to sounds like a broken record!  I didn't go with a full on dessert so I give myself kudos for that.  I had some beautiful blueberries to use up so I went with a little something sweet for breakfast.  These blueberry muffins have whole wheat flour in them...so they are healthy!  Right?  Actually they are only 221 calories per muffin, which isn't too shabby.  Especially if it means I can have a little sweet at breakfast. :)


The muffins are fluffy and soft on the inside and have a slight crunch on top (which I love) if you serve them fresh out of the oven!  With a lightly sweet crumb, a pop of fresh blueberries and a bit of heartiness from the wheat flour, it's a great way to start your day.  Thanks Debbi!

Enjoy!

Blueberry Muffins
from Debbi Does Dinner Healthy adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
1 1/4 cup light sour cream (I used Greek yogurt)
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (frozen can be used as well)

Preheat over to 350 and line 12 cup muffin tin with liners. 

In a medium bowl whisk flours, baking powder and salt.  Toss the blueberries in the dry mixture.

In a separate medium bowl whisk egg until light in color.  Whisk in sugar and then add melted butter in 2 additions until combined.  Whisk in the sour cream in 2 additions until combined.

Add the sour cream mixture to the flour mixture and gently fold until just combined.  The batter will be very thick (almost the consistency of cookie dough) and may have some streaks of flour.  Do not over mix. 

Divide the batter into the muffin tins (I like to use a full size ice cream scoop for consistent portions).  Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until muffins are lightly golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove muffins from the tin and cool on a wire rack for 5 - 10 minutes.  Serve warm if possible. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cheesecake Fruit Dip


Hubby and I went to a friend's house for dinner last night.  It's fairly customary with our friends that we usually bring dessert since I have a "thing" for baking and all things sweet.  And last night was no different.  Except there was no time for baking.  I had about an hour at home, after stopping by the grocery store, before we had to leave for dinner.  I kept thinking I could quick whip up a batch of cookies.  But cookies just weren't doing it for me. 

It hit me on the way to the grocery store.

Fruit dip. 

Perfect!  Why didn't I think of it sooner?


Years ago Hubby and I went to a dinner party. A fancy, catered, dinner party that my boss at the time hosted at her home.  The spread was impressive and delicious.  Though I don't recall most of what was served, one thing stood out.  A wonderful, creamy, cheesecake like dip in the midst of a tray of the most beautiful ripe plump strawberries.  What a heavenly little bite.  I had never had anything like it.  I couldn't get enough and must have eaten at least a dozen. 

So simple yet so memorable.


I have made a few variations of this dip over the years.  The original recipe had sour cream in it, however I used Greek yogurt last night and this new version will be my go to recipe from now on.  The dip has body but is light enough to easily dip into.  It comes together in minutes and couldn't be easier to make. 

It's a blank canvas for whatever cheesecake combination you can dream up.  Fruit, such as a strawberries, green apples, nectarines, pineapples and grapes are all great choices.  Chocolate wafer cookies, shortbread cookies or graham crackers also pair nicely.  And if you want to go salty, try dipping in pretzels and topping them with a slice of fruit. 

Though I haven't done this yet, I had the idea of placing a small bowl of graham crackers crumbs on the serving platter along with the fruit and cheesecake dip.  Plunge your fruit in the cheesecake dip then swipe it through the graham cracker crumbs for the total cheesecake experience.  Definitely trying that next time. 


If you are heading to a Memorial Day BBQ this weekend cheesecake fruit dip is an easy crowd pleasing dessert.  I'm quite certain you wouldn't come home with any leftovers.

Enjoy!

Cheesecake Fruit Dip
from The Ginger Snap Girl

8 ounce package of cream cheese
6 ounces plain non fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a deep medium sized bowl.  Using a hand mixer, starting on low and increasing to medium high speed, blend until fully combined and creamy, about 2 minutes. 

Can be made two days ahead.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. 

Serve with fresh fruit, cookies, graham crackers or whatever your heart desires!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Fabio's Cheese Bomb Biscuits with Onion Bacon Butter



I had high hopes of posting before now.  Really, I did. I have a fun tea party post that I'm determined to share with you all before we hit fall!  And maybe even before summer officially arrives.

A whole month has passed since my last post.  And here we are again...It's Secret Recipe Club time!  Thank goodness for SRC because without it who knows how long would pass between posts.

This month I had the pleasure of being assigned the fun blog It's Yummy for My Tummy!  Mmmm.  That's a concept I can totally get behind.  The name comes from her daughter who often says, "Mommy, it's yummy to my tummy!"  Awww!  Heather's blog is all about sharing recipes with her friends and family and of course, all of us!  I found a number of yummy eats that I put on my possibility list.  For those of you who know me, you know my tummy very often guides me to the sweet side, but this time I kept coming back to these savory cheesy biscuits.  


This recipe is really easy to make.  15 minutes and you will have biscuits in the oven.  And if you are feeling indulgent you can whip up some green onion bacon butter while your biscuits are baking.  The biscuits are delicious and tender with a bit of crunch on the top from the cheese.  They are fantastic on their own, but a little green onion bacon butter really takes them over the top. 


I paired my biscuits with a creamy tomato basil bisque (sorry, no recipe for that...it's from Campbell's latest soup creations).   The parmesan cheese complemented the tomato soup perfectly.  I had to restrain myself from eating more than one.  I see a repeat of my soup and a cheese bomb biscuit for lunch tomorrow!

 
Enjoy!

Fabio's Cheese Bomb Biscuits and Onion Bacon Butter
Adapted from It's Yummy to My Tummy originally from Fabio Viviani

For the biscuits:
2 cups flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Romano cheese, plus extra for sprinkling on top of biscuits
4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) shortening
1 1/4 cups half and half (or heavy cream--I used all heavy cream), plus extra for brushing tops of biscuits

Preheat oven to 450 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt and cheese and stir until ingredients are well mixed.  Cut in shortening using a hand pastry blender or a fork until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Add in half and half and stir until just combined. 

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat until 1 1/2 inches thick.  Using a 2 inch floured cutter, cut out each biscuit and place it about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet.  Or you can scoop out the biscuits with a spoon or ice cream scoop.  Brush each biscuit with half and half (or heavy cream).  Sprinkle the top of each biscuit lightly with remaining cheese.  Bake for 15 minutes until biscuits are golden brown.

For the green onion bacon butter:
1 stick (1/2 cup) slightly softened unsalted butter
3 teaspoons sliced green onions
3 teaspoons of finely chopped bacon bits

Place all ingredients in a mini food processor and blend until well combined.  If you don't have a food processor use a knife to finely chop the green onions and bacon to desired size and stir into butter. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

M & M and Chocolate Chip Blondies



Guess what time it is?  Secret Recipe Club time!  A Secret Santa of sorts for food bloggers.  Each month everyone is assigned a blog....and, shhhh....it's a secret.  You spend the month stalking browsing your assigned blog.  You pick a recipe, make it and blog it.  Everyone in the group "reveals" their posts on the same day.  It's a great way to get know a new blog, and find lots of yummy new recipes to try.  Plus it's fun! 

This month I was assigned Carrie's Sweet Life.  Carrie does indeed have a sweet life, with 2 beautiful little girls and a hubby and little dog named Peanut.  I enjoyed browsing through Carrie's Sweet Life and pinned a number of recipes to try.  Ultimately I went with something sweet.  Had to be done, right?

Carrie's M&M Blondies lured me in.  Like a chocolate chip cookie wrapped up into a chewy bar with M&M's and a gorgeous crackled golden top.  Yep, it had to be done.


This recipe is easy and comes together quickly...only 2 bowls required and no mixer needed.  Gotta love that. 

So how do they taste?  Delish!  The blondies have a wonderful caramel flavor due to a combination of light and dark brown sugar (no white sugar here).  The texture is indeed chewy on the inside and I love the slight crunch from that crackly top.  Oh, and I couldn't resist amping up the chocolate factor...so in addition to the cup of M&M's...I also threw in a cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips.  This recipe is versatile so you could add in whatever mixins you were in the mood for. 

Enjoy!

M&M and Chocolate Chip Blondies
adapted from Carrie's Sweet Life

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup light brown sugar packed
3/4 cup dark brown sugar packed
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup M&M's
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a 9x9 inch pan with cooking spray.  Cut 2 pieces of parchment to lay in the pan to form a sling (allowing for easy removal of the blondie after baking).  Lay in the first piece of parchment and spray with cooking spray.  Lay in the second piece on the opposite side and spray again.

In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.  In a large bowl whisk melted butter with light and dark brown sugars until fully combined.  Whisk in eggs and vanilla until combined.  Add the flour mixture in 2 parts to the wet ingredients until just combined.  Stir in the M&M's and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared baking pan.  Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until top is golden and a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

Note: I baked mine in an 8x8 pan and increased the baking time 10-15 minutes.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Glazed Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Cake and 3 Years of Blogging


Today marks 3 years of blogging.  Wow!  How did that happen?  I'm really not so sure.  The Ginger Snap Girl started with a post called Mysterious Meringues on March 26, 2010.  That title makes me laugh a little, by the way.  I uploaded my first post with a less than flattering picture of vanilla and chocolate meringues and no recipe.  It didn't even have a link to a recipe.  Which I'm fairly certain is because at that point I couldn't figure out how to link to another website.  In fact it's a wonder I got the picture in there. 


I started this blog based on a spark that was ignited when I discovered a whole world of delicious, enticing, inspiring food blogs that I didn't even know existed.  I've said this before, but I honestly felt like I was a kid in a candy store.  Obviously this girl loves candy since I'm still going 3 years later.  Trying to contribute a little something to the food blogging world and continually being motivated and inspired by a number of talented bloggers sharing stories, recipes, drool-worthy photos and a little piece of their lives.


I will say that I'm a really good project starter, however, often not a project finisher.  So the fact this endeavor is still very much in flight, is pretty cool.  As I reflected back over the past year I remembered that I actually set a few blogging goals last year at this time.  In cyber print.  For you all to see and for me to be accountable for.  Let's see how I fared.

1. The Ginger Snap Girl has moved to her own domain name (already purchased...just need to make the leap) - Still own the name, didn't make the move.
 

2. GSG  has gotten a little makeover (nothing drastic like a face lift...but maybe a little boxtox here and there) - No signs of any face lifting just yet.
 

3. I've challenged myself to be a better photographer and storyteller - Definitely made some progress in the photography department.  I have a better handle on how to actually use my camera's manual settings as well as learned some new editing techniques in Light Room.  Still work to do though.  No progress on the storytelling aspect. 
 
4. I've lost 5 pounds and my skinny jeans fit again - Okay this really wasn't a "blog" goal. Or perhaps it was a subconscious one trying to tell me to post more healthy recipes and fewer dessert recipes.  This goal has not be achieved in the conscious or subconscious world. 

5. I'm developing more and more of my own recipes - Very minimal progress here.  I had 6 original recipes of the 56 I posted in the last year.  Lots more work to do here!

 
I'm kinda of bummed that I didn't reach all my goals.  I mean I just got through telling you how I start projects and don't always finish them and here I am not finishing stuff.   But guess what?  This blog is a work in progress and apparently so are certain goals.


So here's to the next year and achieving the previous goals as well as developing some new ones. 

Thanks for sticking with me on this blog journey! 


I'm sure you want to get to the really important stuff now--the cake! 

I'm a firm believer that birthdays (and anniversaries) should be commemorated with cake.  I saw this recipe posted recently on one of my most favorite blogs, Tracey's Culinary Adventures.  I knew it had to be made.  I've actually never made a bundt cake (I don't count the baby bundts I posted recently...those are more like little donuts).  I have 2 bundt pans...a full size and smaller one about half the size of a normal pan.  It was finally time to break one of them in.  I went with the half size bundt since Hubs and I couldn't possibly eat a full one on our own. 

I love how pretty a bundt cake looks.


The cake is nice.  It's mildly perfumed with sunny Meyer lemons, moist from the buttermilk and finished with a sweet and zingy Meyer lemon glaze.  Tracey describes the cake as being lighter than others she made, making it breakfast-worthy.  I totally agree.  The recipe originates from Cooking Light so it is indeed light.  And I can confirm it makes a great breakfast.  Especially when you throw in a few berries.  ;)

The cake was best on the first day.  On the second and third days it was a tad on the dry side, however a 15 second turn in the microwave brought it right back to life.  Plus, who doesn't love warm cake?

Enjoy!


Glazed Meyer Lemon Buttermilk Cake
from Tracey's Culinary Adventures, originally adapted from Cooking Light

Cake

3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon zest
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature (1 stick)
3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
3 large eggs at room temperature
1 cup low-fat buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Spray a 12 cup bundt pan with cooking spray with flour. 

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda.  In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add sugar and lemon zest.  Using your hands, mix the sugar and zest until the zest becomes fragrant and even distributed through the sugar.  Add the butter and mix on medium until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.  Add in lemon juice and lemon extract and mix.  With mixer on low add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg.  Alternate adding flour mixture in three parts and buttermilk in two parts, starting and ending with the flour mixture until batter is just combined. 

Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake on the middle rack for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes and turn out the cake.  Allow to cool completely before glazing.

Glaze

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons low-fat buttermilk
3-4 teaspoons Meyer lemon juice

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Adjust lemon juice to achieve a thinner or thicker consistency depending on your preference.  Pour glaze over the cooled cake.

Notes: I cut the recipe in half baked it in a 6 cup bundt pan. You can substitute regular lemon for Meyer lemons. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Almond Financiers



It's Secret Recipe Club time!  This month I had the pleasure of delving into Tandy Sinclair's blog, Lavender and Lime.  Tandy resides in South Africa and she is a foodie at heart.  Her food inspiration started with her family and recipes and food memories from her grandmother and aunts.  Tandy has been blogging since 2009, but her passion for food has been expressed in many other forums, including publishing her own cookbook (super cool!) and some of her recipes in a variety of magazines and publications.  What I like most is Tandy's recipes have a simplicity about them that highlight the quality of ingredients.  I spent quite a bit of time browsing Lavender and Lime and finally narrowed it down to these Almond Financiers.  I have a weakness for sweets.


I have never made financiers before, but I'm so glad that I picked this recipe.  In case you are wondering, a financier is a small, moist French cake, typically made with ground almonds, whipped egg whites and browned butter and are often baked in small rectangular shaped molds.  I don't have rectangular molds so I baked mine in one of my completely underutilized pans--the mini bundt molds.  Yeah for using it twice now! Or you can use a mini muffin tin.


This recipe yields a small portion so I wasn't overwhelmed with tons of mini cakes to try to get rid of--which is a good thing!  It made 7 mini bundt cakes (the tops are 1 3/4 inch wide and the bottoms are just under 2 1/2 inches wide).  It's the perfect size to satisfy your sweet craving.  The exterior of the cake takes on a little bit of crunch which gives way to a soft moist interior.  The cake itself is very sweet so I paired it with black tea.  I think it would also be nice with a bittersweet chocolate ganache dripping down the sides to balance the sweetness.  Next time I make this recipe I may cut the sugar back just a bit.  Also, I mentioned above that browned butter is a traditional method for making these little cakes, however this particular recipe doesn't call for it.  But feel free to brown your butter if that suits your fancy.


I really love how these tiny cakes came out--and they are pretty!  One of these days I'm going to host a tea party and I'm tucking this recipe away for just that occasion.  Definitely a keeper.  Thanks Tandy!

Enjoy!

Almond Financiers
from Lavender and Lime originally from Larousse Gastronomique

25 grams flour
25 grams finely ground almonds (or almond flour)
85 grams vanilla sugar (I used regular sugar and added 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract in with melted butter)
2 egg whites
2 pinches salt
37 grams butter, melted and cooled

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and spray half of the wells in a mini muffin tin or mini bundt pan with cooking spray.

Combine flour, ground almonds, sugar and one pinch of salt into a medium bowl.  Whip egg whites and the other pinch of salt using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, until stiff peaks are formed (about 6-8 minutes). 

Gently fold egg whites into flour mixture.  Quickly fold in butter until fully combined.  Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 10-15 minutes (depending on the size of your individual cakes, mine baked for 12 minutes).

Cool on wire rack.  Remove from pan and serve with a dusting of powdered sugar, drizzle of chocolate ganache or a dollop of jam.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Meyer Lemon Curd


Lemon sunshine in a jar. 

That's what this is.  And let me tell you, sunshine tastes good!!

I have been hearing the praises of these sunny lemons from the food blogging community for a while now.  This is the first year I've sought them out and worked with this gorgeous cousin of the standard lemon.  If you haven't encountered a meyer lemon yet, it is slightly smaller than a regular lemon, has a brighter deeper yellow tone (almost an orange yellow glow), a thinner skin and a sweeter tang.  Meyer lemons have been described as sunshine, and now that I've had a taste, I completely agree!  This is what sunshine would taste like if sunshine was a food.


I bought a bounty of meyer lemons at Costco and went to town.  Meyer lemon curd was my first project.  I have made lemon curd before but this time I wanted to can my curd.  Wow, that sounds wrong.  Anyway, I found a recipe over at Food In Jars and it's a keeper.  Curd is made with eggs and butter lending to a creamy texture which pairs nicely with the bright lemony tang from the meyers.  Think lemon meringue pie filling.  Though the lemon curd can be preserved, Marisa recommends consuming it within two months of canning because the consistency degrades after that time (the curd is still safe to eat beyond that).  Guess what that means?  I have a second jar in the cupboard that I need to get busy with.  Again, wrong.  Sorry!


This recipe yields a small amount--two half pint jars.  I doubled it and shared a jar with my best friend and a jar with my parents, hoarding the other two jars of sunshine for myself and Hubs.  We devoured the first jar in no time.  And when I say "we" I mean 90% me, 10% Hubby. 

Wondering what you can do with lemon curd?  Spread it on toast, top ice cream with it, slather it on a cookie, fill a mini tart shell, garnish cheesecake, or just eat it straight out of the jar (I may or may not have done that).  So delicious!


I have to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to my best friend Crystal for providing the inspiration for the styling of these photos.  She treated to me to an awesome tea party inspired birthday gift recently, including those pretty little tea cookies that she made from scratch (cinnamon raisin tea cookies, rose petal shortbread and rosemary cookies) and the beautiful floral table linen pictured above.  And that was just the beginning.  She also bestowed me with two antique bone china tea cups and saucers that I just love, two types of tea, including a French tea called Mariage that is really amazing and is officially my new favorite tea, a really cool vintage tin with a Currier & Ives floral print on the lid and filled with all those yummy cookies and a cookbook called Tea and Crumpets.  I'm all set for a tea party for two!  Who wants to join me?  I might even break out my last jar of meyer lemon curd!

Enjoy!

Meyer Lemon Curd
from Food in Jars originally adapted from The Martha Stewart Cookbook

Yields 2 half pint jars

6 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
3 Meyer lemons, zested and juiced (you should get a generous 1/2 cup of juice)
1 stick of butter (1/2 cup) cut in 1 inch pieces

Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a small heavy bottomed saucepan.  Heat on medium and stir in lemon juice using a wooden spoon (you don't want to aerate the curd).  Stir continuously for 10-15 adjusting heat as necessary so the curd does not boil.  The curd should thicken and coat the back of a wooden spoon (it should still be pourable).  Stir in butter until melted.

Strain the curd using a fine mesh strainer into a glass bowl (to remove any cooked bits of egg).  Stir in lemon zest.  Ladle curd into prepared sterilized jars leaving 1/2 inch head space.  If canning, process the jars for 20 minutes in a boiling water canner.  Start the time when the water comes to a full rolling boil.

Notes: Marisa points out that So Easy to Preserve recommends processing only in half pint jars or smaller to allow for proper heat infiltration.  Recipe can easily be doubled.  If not canning, refrigerate curd.  Consume within 2 months of making (whether canning or refrigerating).

Monday, February 18, 2013

Houston Style Green Salsa


Tomatillos are a funny little fruit.  They look like green tomatoes but come wrapped in a papery husk.  Though they look like tomatoes, they have a very tangy taste.  I guess I would describe the taste and texture as a hybrid of a tomato and a lime--heavy on the lime in terms of flavor and a lot like a tomato in terms of texture.  Tomatillos are the basis of many green salsas.  I find these days I am reaching for green salsa over traditional tomato based salsas.  When I came across this Houston style green salsa I knew I had to try it.


I discovered this green salsa through Secret Recipe Club.  This month I was connected with Karen's blog, Cinnamon Freud.  Isn't that a cool name for a blog?  Even more so because Karen is a "counseling psychology doctoral student who loves food, cooking, and baking."  Her blog was new to me and it was such a treat to browse all her delicious looking recipes.  Karen has a nice mix of sweet and savory offerings.  And for once in my life, I gravitated to the savory recipes.  Once I saw the green salsa, my recipe for this month was a done deal.


Hubby and I enjoyed this delicious salsa during Super Bowl, alongside homemade tortilla chips and carne asada.  I've never been to Houston so I don't know what their green salsa tastes like.  But according to Karen this is reminiscent of a salsa she ate many times at her favorite local restaurant.  I loved it.  It's got tang from the tomatillos and lime juice and a lush creaminess from the avocados. An awesome flavor combination.  I topped it with a little cotija cheese to bring a little saltiness to the mix. All in all it was a hit!

Enjoy! 

Houston Style Green Salsa
adapted from Cinnamon Freud (originally adapted from Homesick Texan via Foodie Bride)

4 medium to large tomatillos
1/2 onion finely chopped
1-2 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed and finely chopped
3 small cloves garlic peeled and minced
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 small avocados, pits and skin removed
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Cotija cheese for garnish (optional)

Bring a medium sauce pan of water to a boil (large enough to hold the tomatillos).  Remove husks from tomatillos and boil 5 minutes until softened.  Drain and set aside.  Once cooled chop into quarters.

In a small skillet heat olive oil and add onion and jalapeno and cook for about 5 minutes until soft.  Add garlic and cook for an additional minute.

Using a food processor or blender, blend tomatillos, onion, jalapeno, garlic and lime juice until smooth.  Add avocado and cilantro and blend again until desired consistency is reached.

Serve with homemade chips and garnish with cotija cheese.