20140815

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup


I was making chicken stock to replenish my supply and wanted to make something different with the chicken itself. I've been craving Asian and Middle Eastern flavors lately and thought a coconut curry soup would be nice. I don't care if it's summer or not when I'm craving comfort foods, all I care about is how it fills my tummy and makes my palate smile!

I didn't have all the typical ingredients but I found a couple of cans of yams and had some frozen bell peppers so decided to go with those for my main vegetable elements.

This turned out to be a really great tasting soup, so much so that I did something I rarely do, I made another pot immediately after finishing the first one!

Coconut Curry Chicken Soup Recipe:

4 Cooked Chicken Breasts, shredded
2 Cans Coconut milk
2 Cups Chicken broth
1 Cup Heavy cream or Half & Half
4 Tbsp. Curry powder
2 Tbsp. Turmeric
1 Tsp. Fresh ginger
2 -14 Oz. Can yams, with syrup
1 Onion, Chopped
6 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
1 Red Bell Pepper, Chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, Chopped
2 Tsp. Lemon Zest

Bring all the ingredients except the cooked chicken to a boil in a stock pot then reduce the heat and simmer for around half an hour, or until the onions and bell peppers are tender.
Add in your chicken and continue to simmer for an additional 15 minutes.

Garnish with a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche and a few rings of mini peppers or some chives and serve with a loaf of crusty bread or some naan. Feel free to add some cooked rice or quinoa to add heartiness!

By the way, this is one of those soups that tastes better the second day!


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20140807

MINI STRAWBERRY CHEESECAKES


I made this ridiculously easy and quick dessert using Kraft's recipe for Philadelphia cheesecake and then adding a few extra elements. I decided some dark chocolate decorations (gotta have chocolate) and a nice fresh strawberry would be a perfect pairing for my creamy cheesecake minis.

The Kraft Philadelphia cheesecake recipe is a decent and quick recipe for cheesecake, but it lacked that little touch of lemon I like in my cheesecake. I dislike graham cracker crust so I left that out when baking which meant I needed to add some texture to the dish as well. So my final addition to the dessert was some of Trader Joe's Meyer Lemon Cookies, crushed up and sprinkled as a base for the cookie cutter formed cheesecake minis. I could have made the lemon cookies as the crust but that would have added butter and more unnecessary calories plus taking away a fun plating element. Besides, I only thought of using them after the cheesecake was baked and i missed that lemon flavor!

I cut the cheesecake recipe in half and baked it in an 8x8 pan in less than half the full sized cheescake time so it would be a thin layer. After it was cool I simply cut out pieces with cookie cutters, lifting them out with a spatula while still in the cutter and gently pushed them out of the cookie cutters onto the lemon cookie dusted plates.

For the chocolate decorations I simply melted dark chocolate IN a small freezer bag, cut off one bottom tip of the bag, piped some designs on parchment paper and popped them in the fridge. The strawberries were sliced and fanned out.

All in all it took about an hour and a half to make and most of that was baking/cooling time! While the cheesecake and chocolate cooled I prepped the rest of my dinner!

P.S. I have cheesecake leftover and some beautiful chocolate tulip cups and I'm going to do something fun with those too!



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20140205

Individually Plated MINI CHOCOLATE FONDUE

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Today is National Fondue Day and I just happened to have the greatest idea ready to post! You see, a few days ago I was craving something chocolate and something a little fancy to treat myself after a long day of dealing with redecorating chaos.  Since my kitchen was pretty much in shambles from my current make-over plans I couldn't really do much in the way of baking. Heck, I couldn't even dig my oven out from under!

What I did have was access to my microwave, some really great dark chocolate from Trader Joe's and some strawberries, mini marshmallows, mandarin oranges and these great little lemon shortbread cookies.  It then occurred to me that a fondue didn't have to be this huge, complicated endeavor! Here's what I did:

MINI CHOCOLATE FONDUE

Chopped the dark chocolate into manageable pieces.
Melted the chocolate by 30 second intervals in a microwavable container.
(enough chocolate for one serving took about 2-1/2 minutes)
Poured the smooth, creamy dark chocolate into a cute espresso cup.
Arranged my dippers around my warm, sexy chocolate.
Dug out a little cocktail pick.
Dug in.

That's it! Simple, fast, delicious and fun!

HAPPY NATIONAL FONDUE DAY!

And try out my Chocolate Fondue Martini to accompany your little fondue party!



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20131208

PEPPERMINT BARK BROWNIE TRIFLE


"When the first baby laughed for the first time, its laughter broke into a thousand pieces, and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies" Peter Pan, J.M. Barrie

Earlier this week I was sent a nice box of assorted brownies from Fairytale Brownies in Phoenix. I have plans to create some cocktail recipes using these delicious chocolate treats as inspiration, but my trifle addiction kicked into gear and I was momentarily sidetracked away from cocktail hour to the dessert course. 

I always keep instant jello on hand and either cool whip or whipping cream in the fridge. I had just made some peppermint bark and I now had some great brownies to use as the cake element so I was good to go and take some brownies onto Trifleland! Come away with me, it's the second star to the right . . .

PEPPERMINT BARK BROWNIE TRIFLE

INGREDIENTS:
1 Small Box of Instant Chocolate Pudding
1-3/4 C. Milk
4 Bite Size Original Fairytale Brownies
Whipped Cream (Cool Whip is acceptable)
Optional: 1 Oz. of Your Favorite Liqueur
(Chocolate, Coffee or Peppermint)
Peppermint Bark, Chopped Small

DIRECTIONS:
Prepare the pudding per the instructions on the box, using 1/4 cup LESS milk for a thicker custard.
Chill and allow to set in the fridge.
Prepare your whipped cream if you are making homemade.
Chop your peppermint bark into approximately 1/4" size pieces, leaving a few larger pieces for garnish.
To layer your trifle(s), crumble 2 brownies into each serving bowl.
If you're adding booze, drizzle it over the brownies. 
Top with a layer of pudding. 
Spoon on a good layer of whipped cream.
Sprinkle on a layer of the peppermint bark.
Repeat this for another layer of each ingredient.
Garnish with several larger chunks of the peppermint bark and a chocolate mint candy cane.

That's it. Simple and delicious and chock full of chewy, chocolate-y, brownie goodness kissed by a bit of cream and peppermint. Pretty perfect recipe for National Brownie Day and for the holiday season, huh? 

Makes me believe in fairies all over again!



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20131011

BUTTER POACHED EGGS ROSEMARY


ROSEMARY BUTTER POACHED EGGS
on Pan Fried Fingerlings
garnished with Cheddar and Bacon Crumbles

INGREDIENTS:
Eggs
Baby Fingerlings, split in half lengthwise
1/2 Stick of Butter
Crisp Bacon, crumbled
Tablespoon of Shredded Cheddar
Fresh Rosemary Sprigs
Sea Salt & Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:
Cook your bacon crisp, crumble and set aside.
Turn oven onto warm setting.

Par boil your fingerlings, dry with paper towels then pan fry skin side up until fork tender with a crisp finish. Plate in the center of an oven proof plate and keep warm in the oven.

Melt the butter with a few sprigs of rosemary in a saute pan over medium heat. Do not let butter bubble. I start with a cold pan!

Remove pan from heat and gently add your egg. Lower heat then place pan back on the burner and spoon warm butter over the top until the whites are solid but the yolk is still runny. (About 2 - 4 minutes depending on how you like your egg).

Immediately remove eggs from burner, take your plate from the oven then slide egg gently onto the plated fingerlings.

Season with salt, sprinkle with the cheddar and the crumpled bacon.
Garnish with some fresh ground pepper and a fresh sprig of rosemary and enjoy!



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20130726

PINA COLADA CUPCAKES RECIPE - A Vacay for your mouth!


PINEAPPLE COCONUT CUPCAKES
How to do an Edible Pina Colada!

I have been craving pineapple and coconut lately and got it in my head that I might try making some cupcakes with those flavors.  I didn't want to go to a lot of work - as I've said before, I'm basically lazy - and I happened to have a white cake mix on hand, some coconut, some cream cheese and a can of pineapple junks so I thought I could come up with a fair-to-middling little late night tropical dessert.

Feel free to make your cupcakes from scratch from a favorite recipe.

Coconut Cupcakes

Take one white cake mix and prepare according to the directions.  Fold in 1/2 Cup of shredded coconut that you've run through the food processor for a second or two. Bake as instructed. Allow to cool.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

8 Oz. Softened Cream Cheese
1/4 C. Butter at Room Temperature
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 Tbsp. Cream of Coconut
1 C. Powdered Sugar (+/-)
(you can adjust this to suit your tastes, I don't like really sweet frosting.)
 
Pineapple Compote
 
1 C. Pineapple Chunks
1/3 C. Brown Sugar, Packed Firm
1 Tbsp. Butter
1/2 C. Pineapple Juice
(I used the juice from the pineapple chunks)
1/4 C. Dark Rum
 
Bring all the ingredients, except the rum, to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the liquid is reduced to a thick, syrup consistency.  Add the rum and cook for another few minutes to allow most of the alcohol to burn off.  Cool.
 
Construction of the
PINA COLADA CUPCAKES
 
Toast some coconut in the oven. Set aside.
 
If you want to infuse your cupcakes with a little booze, now is the time.  Take a bamboo skewer and poke about 10 - 12 holes in each cupcake but don't go all the way to the bottom.  Slowly spoon a tablespoon of coconut rum or spiced rum or even plain dark rum over the holes in each cupcake little by little allowing the alcohol to absorb into the cake.

Now pipe your cream cheese frosting onto your cupcakes leaving a little well in the center for the pineapple compote.

Sprinkle on some toasted coconut flakes (or just quickly dip the frosting in the coconut).

Gently spoon on some of the yummy caramelized Pineapple Compote.

ENJOY!
 

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20130719

CORAL ISLAND COOKIES - Thumbprint Cookies Recipe

 
CORAL ISLAND COOKIES
also known as Thumbprint Cookies
 
This is my second favorite cookie of all time, my favorite being my Mom's Gingersnap Cookies.  My Mom had this recipe handwritten in her recipe book since before I was born and I have no idea where she got the recipe from and really don't care!  Mom made these with mixed fruit jelly and I loved them but I usually use seedless blackberry or boysenberry jam.  They are rich, buttery and literally melt in your mouth and I crave these at least once a week.

I don't like, nor have the time, to bake that much but I have solved that problem simply by quadrupling the recipe and freezing the dough for later baking.  I usually go through to the step of rolling the dough into balls then freeze the individual balls on a cookie sheet.  Then I bag them up by 6 or 8 so I can just defrost a bag whenever I have a craving!
 
CHOCOLATE THUMBPRINT COOKIES: Yes! You can omit the jelly, bake the cookies and the moment you take the cookies out of the oven press a chocolate kiss into the cookie! Don't press the chocolate kiss in before baking - it burns the chocolate.

MOM'S CORAL ISLAND COOKIES

INGREDIENTS:
 
2/3 C. Butter
1 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
1-1/3 C. Sifted Flour
Your Favorite Jelly or Jam
1 Egg Yolk (reserve the egg white)
1/3 C. Brown Sugar
Optional: Chopped Pecans or Other Nut

DIRECTIONS:
  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Grease your cookie sheet(s) or line them with parchment. (I prefer parchment as it keeps the cookie bottom from getting too brown).
  • Cream together the butter, sugar, egg yolk and vanilla extract.
  • Add the flour a little at a time, blending completely.
  • Shape the dough into 1" diameter balls.
  • Place the balls about 3" apart on your cookie sheet(s).
  • Press your thumb into each cookie ball for a well for the jelly/jam.
  • Beat the reserved egg white until foamy and brush on top of the cookies.
  • Spoon in the jam or jelly.
  • Sprinkle on the optional chopped nuts.
  • Bake 12 - 15 minutes.
Enjoy and send a little "hello" up to my Mom while you enjoy them - I think she would like that!
 

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