Saturday, November 30, 2013

Stuffed Figs

I've seen variations of this recipe a few places - television, Pinterest, etc. So I thoughts, since we were having such a small Thanksgiving this year, that it'd be perfect time to try it out on the family. 

Since it's hard to find fresh figs we bought dried figs and rehydrate them in a few cups of boiling water. I let them sit a few hours until they were plump.

Cut off the stems and slice length wise, not splitting in half but still connected/jointed.

Mix a block of cream cheese with approximately one cup of chopped pistachio nuts

Fill figs with cream cheese mixture.

Wrap each fig with prosciutto and skewer with toothpick. Bake in oven at 350 for 10minutes (or under the broiler just keep an eye on them so they don't burn). Serve warm.
They were a huge hit. The sweet and salty, creamy and crispy. I did them in two batches so once the first half were eaten, I put the second group in the oven. They really were best fresh out of the oven (although watch out for the molten hot cream cheese). I hope you enjoy them as much as my family did.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving. Ours was small this year with only four for dinner (seven at appetizers) so it was nice to have such a quiet meal. 


You'd never know looking at how much food we made. We just don't know how to cook for a small group, especially during the holidays.



Over the next few days I'll be posting a few of the recipes I tried out this year that were just too good to keep to myself: pistacio and cream cheese stuffed figs with prosciutto, cranberry brie tartlets, a brandy pecan pie with maple brandy cream sauce and so many more.


I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Whether you spent it with family, friends or a combination of both. Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Lasagna = Love

This past weekend I visited a friend in Southern California. The weeks prior to my travel we were talking about  how I could help out for the weekend (it was a baby shower weekend so I knew she'd be busy busy). She asked how I felt about lasagna and asked if I could help make dinner on Friday night (since I was the first house guest arriving early afternoon).

Now I'm 1/2 Italian....3rd generation born. Meaning my grandparents were the first of our family born here in the states. We may no longer have anyone in the family that speaks Italian and we may not have known connections with organized crime.However there is one thing that is still very true...we love food. So the idea of trying to recreate my grandmother's lasagna was terrifying. But I gave it a shot.






SCORE!! Not only did it look and smell delicious but it also tasted amazing!! The guests raved about it all night and we ended up eating the leftovers the next few days. I was so proud of myself and how they came out. I just know my grandmother is looking down proud as can be!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Popovers

The other night I was watching "The Best Thing I Ever Ate", on the FoodNetwork, and Tyler Florence couldn't stop raving about the popovers from BLT Prime in NYC. I automatically thought how they would be perfect for Thanksgiving this year. So this past week I gave them a test run (last thing I want to do is spending time with a Recreate-Fail). 




Thankfully I found the recipe on Musing's of a Housewife's blog (she's been to BLT and was going off the original recipe card they give to guests). I didn't have Gruyere in my house so I used Gouda...it was a little too overpowering with the delicate bread, I think for Thanksgiving I might try a provolone...Monterrey jack....something creamy but light. Whatever cheese I end up using I know these will be a huge hit.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November in Seal Beach

This last weekend I spent three days down in Southern California, Seal Beach specifically, to visit and attend a friend's baby shower. The weekend was full of reconnecting with old friends, making new ones, cooking for days and days (including my first time making lasagna - blog coming soon).


It was so nice to be back in California during November. The weather was beautiful - blue skies, a breeze, and just warm enough to not need a jacket and not be hot.

The fact I could go to the beach in November....I miss that.






We wondered around downtown Seal, grabbed pastries and coffee, popped in and out of shops, and eventually stopped for fish tacos. 
 






What Did I DO?!

You may notice that the blog is seriously F-ed up!

No pictures.
No background.
No header.

I didn't realize that by trying to clean up my Google Image folders that it would mean being deleted from the blog! I have many left in folders on my computer but you'll have to be patient with me while I fix things.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Pumpkin Pancakes

'Tis the season for pumpkin everything!

Pumpkin spice lattes.
Pumpkin cookies.
Pumpkin pies.
Pumpkin seed brittle.

So why not pumpkin pancakes?!

Pumpkin Pancakes

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch clove
1 cup 1% low-fat milk (can be any kind)
6 tablespoons canned pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 egg


Directions:
1. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, spices and salt in a bowl.
2. In a separate bowl whisk together milk, pumpkin, melted butter, and egg.
3. Fold mixture into dry ingredients.
4. Spray or grease a skillet and heat over medium heat: pour in 1/4 cup batter for each pancake.
5. Cook pancakes about 3 minutes per side. Serve with butter and syrup.
6. Makes about six 6-inch pancakes.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Oh yes. You read that right....

PUMPKIN. 
SPICE. 
CHOCOLATE. 
CHIP. 
COOKIES!!

And you want to know what the real secret ingredient is that makes these amazing little pillows of delight...? Pudding. Oh yes. Pudding. 

I came across the original pin and knew I had to try them. Chocolate and pumpkin are an under appreciated flavor combination that needs to be showcased more often in my opinion. 

Now the original recipe can be found here on For the Love of Desserts but since I wasn't able to find the Jello Pumpkin Spice Pudding I had to improvise some and get creative (I also felt the sugar quantities were plenty and didn't add any honey).

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:
3 C AP flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 3.5oz box of instant vanilla pudding
1 1/2 stick butter, softened
1/2 C granulated sugar
1 C packed brown sugar
2 lg eggs, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
2 TB pumpkin pie spice (you could use a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice)
1 1/2 C chocolate chips (I used 1/2 dark and 1/2 milk chocolate)

Directions:
1. Beat sugars and butter together in medium bowl, until light and fluffy (approx 5 minutes).
2. Add eggs (one at a time) and incorporate well with wooden spoon (note: do not use an electric mixer, this will make butter too soft and make for flat cookies).
3. Add vanilla and blend.
4. In separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda and vanilla pudding. Add into butter mixture in thirds, mixing well after each.
5. Add chocolate chips.
6. Roll teaspoon worth of dough onto lined cookie sheets and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 8-10minutes each.







Thursday, November 14, 2013

Apple Pie

So this was your standard basic apple pie...except that I used a TB of bourbon, reduced the juice down to a syrup, added some apple butter....okay so maybe this wasn't your standard apple pie....








Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Another Off the List

As part of my 30 During 30 goals I created a Portland Food Passport - highlighting either up-and-coming or highly-talked-about restaurants in and around Portland. 

One of those places was Little Big Burger. A simple fast food burger joint with an even simpler menu. 

After going to a rendition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, on Sunday, we swung by Little Big Burger to give it a try. One burger with cheddar, another with Chevre, an order of fries and beverages. 

In the end I can at least say "I've gone"....but I don't think I'll be back. Aside from the fact the burger (which was about as small as my fist) was nearly four dollars, the burger was over cooked and chewy, the fries over fried and then sitting under the heat lamp for too long....they also don't ask what you want on the burger so all I ended up tasting was red onions, too much ketchup and the Chevre cheese (which was delicious and creamy).

Not to mention the bad 80s music playing and the cold unwelcoming "modern" metal and concrete setting. It was nice to have an open kitchen with a dining counter wrapped around. But really nothing made this place special. It was a Portland version of a fast food joint.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Homemade Citrus-Cranberry Sauce

Before this, I'd never had homemade cranberry sauce before. I grew up with it out of a can - the "whole berried" is what my mother preferred. But getting ready for Thanksgiving in a few weeks I came across this recipe for Cranberry Brie Tartlets.
 
Since I love trying new recipes out for family holidays I thought this would not only be delicious but something quick/easy that would still impress.



However, I knew that canned cranberry sauce would not work. I could see the Pinstrosity blog now. So I linked further into this blogger's page and found her recipe for homemade cranberry sauce. I figured I needed to test it prior to actual Thanksgiving and I'm so glad I did.

I'll never go back to canned cranberry sauce again!







Saturday, November 9, 2013

Greek Lemon Chicken

As you know I'm always looking for new recipes - whether for dinner, a family holiday or treats to share with friends. I think that's why I fell in love with Pinterest so quickly. I have found so many delicious recipes (and some so-so ones) including this Greek Marinated Chicken recipe.

Our family makes a Greek lemon soup that we just devour so I had a feeling we were going to love this. It was super simple and the meat came out juicy, tangy and full of flavor. I didn't follow the recipe exactly so if you're interested in the original you can find it here.

Greek Lemon Chicken

Ingredients:

1 C plain Greek yogurt
3 TB olive oil + a little extra
1 TB crushed garlic
1/2 TB dried oregano
2 TB dried parsley
3 TB lemon juice
1 pkg chicken thighs (yes you could use breasts or anything)
Salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Lightly drizzle olive oil over chicken thighs (both sides) then salt and pepper well.
2. Mix first six ingredients and poor over chicken to marinate (I put it all in a large zip lock baggie so I could massage the marinade into the meat).  Let sit 30 minutes.
3. Bake at 375, in a deep dish pan or dutch oven, for 30-45minutes or until meat is cooked through and skin is crispy.

I served mine with couscous, salad and naan. It was amazing - even the next day! Can't wait to make this again.








Monday, November 4, 2013

Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle

When it's your birthday in my family, you get to pick what you want us to make for dinner (or go out) and what you want for your birthday dessert (cake, pie, etc). Today is my aunt's birthday but since it's a weekday we celebrated last night. For dinner she wanted corn cheddar cheese soup and for dessert she found this recipe for a pumpkin cheesecake trifle.


Pumpkin Cheesecake Trifle

Ingredients

1 Angel Food Cake
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 8 oz packages of cream cheese
1 15 oz can pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp pumpkin pie spice (plus extra for dusting the top)

Directions:
1.  Beat cream and powdered sugar together until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
2. In another bowl, beat cream cheese until light and fluffy.
3. Add pumpkin, brown sugar, vanilla extract and pumpkin pie spice and continue beating until thoroughly combined.
4. Fold in one third of the whipped cream.
5. Cut Angel Food Cake into small pieces and line the bottom of your trifle dish with one third of the cake.
6. Layer with one third of the pumpkin mixture followed by one third of the remaining whipped cream.
7. Repeat layers twice, finishing with remaining whipped cream.
8. Sprinkle with additional pumpkin pie spice, if desired.
9. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Dia de los Muertos Jack'o'lantern

Growing up in Southern California Mexican culture was everywhere and I couldn't help but absorb it and fall in love. From making tamales on New Year's Eve, my younger sister pronouncing "Cajun music" like ca-hon instead of cage-in, and honoring our loved ones on dia de los muertos. 

For me Halloween isn't complete without carving a pumpkin. So this year I thought I'd make a sugar skull (a traditional icon for Dia de los Muertos) out of my jack'o'lantern.