Sunday, June 23, 2019

Giada's Limoncello Granita

In the summertime, I don't like rich, candy-laden, ice cream sundaes with lots of heavy syrup. Something so heavy is not even remotely tempting on a sweltering hot summer day. Instead, I like light, delicate, fruity ice creams that are light and refreshing.

Giada's Limoncello Granita is the perfect refreshing summertime dessert!

This isn't your typical icy granita. This granita has some creaminess from the addition of Mascarpone cheese and it is an absolutely lovely addition. The final product is mildly lemony with a whipped texture and a creamy consistency. It's like eating fluffy lemony clouds! Seriously, so good!

I would highly recommend this recipe, but I will give you a warning. The alcohol in the Limoncello and the addition of Mascarpone cheese is just not going to allow the granita to freeze all the way through. This is ok! Expect it to be a softer creamier texture and melt easily. Melting shouldn't be an issue because you will gobble this up in no time! It is delicious!

Limoncello Granita
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 4

1-1/2 cups lemon simple syrup (recipe below)
1 cup (8 ounces) mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup limoncello liqueur
pinch of sea salt
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 lemon, zested and juiced

To make the lemon simple syrup: In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, water, lemon zest, and lemon juice over medium heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool about 20 minutes.

Place the simple syrup, mascarpone cheese, limoncello, and salt in a food processor. Process until the mixture is smooth.  Pour the mixture into an 8x8 glass baking dish. Freeze for at least 4 hours or until the mixture is firm. (Note: I read the reviews on this noticed that many said the granita didn't freeze well.  I had trouble with mine freezing as well. I think an 8x8 baking dish is too deep and therefore takes longer for the ingredients to freeze. I think a more shallow pan would help this mixture freeze faster and hold a freeze better - worth a try anyway).

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Tessa Kiros' Fizzy Orange Drink

J is for June at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week. We are making recipes with ingredients that start with J.  This week I decided J is for Juice! Orange juice to be exact!

I don't drink soda pop or coffee. I only drink tea on occasion. Most of the time I drink water and it gets a little boring. I start to crave something fruity and fizzy, especially when it's hot outside. quenches my thirst.

I love lemonade, but I wanted to try something a little different so when I found Tessa's recipe for Fizzy Orange I had to try it. Tessa says this Fizzy Orange Drink is like a fizzy orangeade and I tend to agree. It is so refreshing and delicious! I love the fizzy bubbles from the sparkling water.

When you buy your oranges chose the ones that are heaviest. This means they are full of juice. Tessa calls for the juice of 4 oranges. I'd suggest buying a few extra oranges because I found I needed 5 oranges to get the required amount of juice. Plus, an extra orange would be nice for garnishing.

A quick simple syrup, the juice of a few oranges and some bubbly sparkling water and you'll have a delicious and refreshing drink that is a delightful summer sipper!

Fizzy Orange
Adapted from Apples For Jam
by Tessa Kiros
Serves 4

4 tablespoons sugar
one long strip orange rind, pith removed
4 tablespoons water
Juice of 4 oranges (about 1-1/3 cups)*
2 cups ice cold sparkling water

*Note: I needed about 5 oranges to yield 1-1/3 cups orange juice

Put the sugar, orange rind, and 4 tablespoons of water into a small pan.  Bring to a boil, stirring so that the sugar dissolves completely, then boil for a few minutes so that the orange rind flavors the syrup. Add the orange juice (I like to leave some fleshy bits that might get through, but no seeds) and let that bubble for about 5 minutes, or until it looks slightly denser. Allow to cool slightly then pour into a pitcher and refrigerate until chilled. When you're ready to serve, pour in the sparkling water, and mix well. Serve chilled over ice.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Chrissy Tiegan's Croissant Bread Pudding Ham Cups

Chrissy Tiegan published her first cookbook and I ignored it. I chalked it up to another celebrity cookbook that I didn't need. Then she published a second cookbook and I rolled my eyes and continued to ignore it. Both cookbooks were bestsellers and people raved about them and yet I continued to ignore them. I couldn't believe that people were giving these books the time of day. After all, how can a model know good food and write good cookbooks?

Then I kept seeing her recipes pop up on Instagram and each one looked more delicious than the next. I started to change my mind. On one of my trips to Target I picked up her cookbooks and quickly saw why so many people loved them! They were full of beautifully photographed food and the most delicious and completely different recipes. I bought both of them and quickly found myself bookmarking so many recipes.

I gotta tell you...these Cravings cookbooks from Chrissy Tiegan are hands down my favorite cookbooks right now! So far I've made her Croissant Bread Pudding Ham Cups, Crispy Bacon and Sweet Pickle Patty Melts, Parmesan Skillet Eggs, and her Skillet Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies and each of the recipes I've tried have been insanely delicious! So, this summer I'll be sharing lots of Chrissy Tiegan recipes and I cannot wait.

To start, I have these Croissant Bread Pudding Ham Cups and they could not be easier! If you're looking for a quick brunch dish or a special breakfast, look no further. All you need is a handful of ingredients. This recipe comes together in no time.

A few day-old croissants, some eggs, half and half, sugar, and a pinch of salt go into thin slices of ham that are made into cups. A quick soak of the bread pudding mixture and you can pop this right into the oven.  A delicious breakfast or brunch in a cute little ham package!

I really like the sweet bread pudding version, but I'm also imagining a savory version using a few tablespoons of Dijon mustard instead of sugar and vanilla.  I think both versions would be equally delicious!

Stay tuned for next week because I'm sharing my new favorite recipe, Chrissy's Parmesan Skillet Eggs. They are mind-blowingly delicious!  

Croissant Bread Pudding Ham Cups
Adapted from Cravings Hungry For More
by Chrissy Tiegan
Serves 3-6

6 thin slices deli ham, patted dry
3 large eggs
3/4 cup half and half
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-2 croissants (3 cups chopped croissants)
Demerara or Turbinado sugar for decorating tops

Preheat the oven to 400F.  Coat 6 cups of a standard muffin tin with cooking spray.

Tuck one thin slice of ham into each cup, trying to make as much of a cup shape as possible with the edges sticking out on top. You're going to feel ridiculous doing this. It's ok. Life is ridiculous.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and half and half, then add the granulated sugar, vanilla, and a dash of salt. 

Tear the croissant(s) into 2-inch pieces (about 3 cups, so use more croissants to get to that amount if you need to). Throw the pieces into the egg mixture, toss to coat, and let sit 15 minutes.

Fill the ham cups with the croissant mixture and sprinkle each one with Demerara sugar.  Bake until the tops are golden and crusty, about 15 minutes (mine needed about 18 minutes).  Let them cool slightly, then unmold them by slipping a knife under the cups and gently transferring them to a plate. Serve with fruit, if desired.

Chrissy Tiegan's Cravings Hungry For More


Sunday, June 2, 2019

Ina Garten's Confetti Corn

When I think of summer potlucks I always think of two things: watermelon and corn. Chances are, if you invite me to any summer get together, I'm bringing one of the two.

Today, I'm all about corn.  Now, summer corn isn't ready yet, but some good quality frozen corn will work for a dish like this.This is a little different from the fried corn my mom made and the one I make all the time. The one that I make is very basic. A few diced jalapenos (depending on who I'm serving and how much heat they can handle), some butter, and some corn. That's my classic recipe and I'm sticking with it!

However, Ina Garten's Confetti Corn is a little more colorful, and it doesn't pack the heat of my version with the jalapenos, so I feel this version would appeal to the masses a little more. Ina's version is flavored with red onion, bell pepper, and your choice of chives or basil. I love the combination of corn and basil, but I had chives on hand, so I stuck with chives.

I really liked Ina's version and I'm happy I gave it a try.  I think it would be really nice with a little bit of feta cheese thrown in (I also really like corn with feta). I also think it could use a little jalapeno, but that's a personal choice.  Either way, this is a fabulous summertime side dish and you can't go wrong!

Confetti Corn
Recipe courtesy of Barefoot Contessa website
by Ina Garten
Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1 small bell pepper, 1/2" diced
2 tablespoons butter
5 ears of yellow or white corn (or 2 pkgs frozen organic)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped basil or chives or parsley

Heat oil over medium heat in a large saute pan.  Add the onion and saute for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft.  Stir in the bell pepper and saute for 2 more minutes.

Add the butter to the pan and allow it to melt.  Over medium heat, add the corn, salt, and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, until the corn just loses its starchiness.  Season to taste, gently stir in the basil or other green herbs and serve hot.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Ruth Reichl's Sweet Cherry Lemonade

It's Memorial Day Weekend, my daughter just graduated from high school, and we're on summer break until the middle of August! Woohoo!

On the flip side, my fridge and my air conditioner are broken so I needed a dish that was easy and wouldn't heat up the house at all. Ruth Reichl's Sweet Cherry Lemonade was just the thing!

This is a really tasty lemonade that comes together easily. A simple blend of cherries, a squeeze of lemon, and a bit of sugar.  No sugar syrup necessary.  No wait time. You can make this in a few minutes and serve it with at your Memorial Day picnic.

Hooray for Summer!!

Sweet Cherry Lemonade
Adapted from My Kitchen Year
by Ruth Reichl
Serves 4

1 quart sweet cherries
4 lemons
1/2 cup sugar

 Note: Ruth's recipe doesn't say how much water to add to the mixture and this is entirely up to you. I liked a ratio of about 3/4 lemonade mixture to 1/4 water (or just a touch of water).

The joy of this drink, other than its slightly sneaky flavor, is that you don't have to remove the cherry pits. You do, however, have to remove the stems from a quart (about 2 pounds) of cherries.  Toss the cherries into a blender, whirring them until they've become a rough mush.  Some of the pits will be chopped too; that's fine because you're going to put them in a strainer and press hard, extracting as much puree as you can. Discard the solids.

Place the cherry puree into a pitcher and stir in the juice of the lemons and the sugar.  (If you like things really sour, you might want less than 1/2 cup sugar; if you've got a sweet tooth, you'll want more.)

This will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator. When you're ready to drink the lemonade, pour into glasses and add water (or sparkling water) to taste.

Want to turn this into cocktails? Add a few splashes of vodka or gin, and garnish with a spring of mint.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

White Bean Dip with Pita Chips

Giada's White Bean Dip with Pita Chips has been on my "to-make" list for about 10 years. So it's about time that I finally got in the kitchen to make it.  Now, I've made my fair share of bean dips and I've loved them all, but I think the thing that draws people to this recipe is the puffy golden baked pita chips. I mean they look perfectly dunkable, don't they? Crunchy and herby and crisp and golden...they are addictive!

Then you have the bean dip...simple and satisfying. It's really no wonder this recipe has 378 five-star reviews on the Food Network.  I think pretty much anyone would enjoy it at a party or potluck. It's got that whole texture satisfaction thing going on, a little creamy and a little crunchy.  Not to mention it's all fairly healthy, as far as appetizers go.

If you wanted to make this more veggie-forward that would be easy to do.  Carrot sticks, celery sticks, radishes, snow peas, endive leaves, any dippable veggie would be great on the side.

If you're looking for a winning appetizer recipe, look no further! This is a winner!

White Bean Dip with Pita Chips
Adapted from Food Network
by Giada De Laurentiis
Serves 6-8 

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons
1/4 cup (loosely packed) fresh Italian parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
6 pitas
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat oven to 400F. Place the beans, garlic, lemon juice, 1/3 cup olive oil, and parsley in the work bowl of a food processor (I used my high-speed blender and it worked just fine).  Pulse until the mixture is coarsely chopped. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer the bean puree to a small bowl.

Cut each pita in half and then into 8 wedges.  Arrange the pita wedges on a large baking sheet.  Pour the remaining oil over the pitas.  Toss and spread out the wedges evenly.  Sprinkle with the oregano, salt, and pepper.  Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until toasted and golden in color.

Serve the pita toasts warm or at room temperature alongside the bean puree.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Madhur Jaffrey's Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken. Quite easily the single most popular Indian dish of all. Imagine my surprise when I searched and scoured the internet looking for Madhur Jaffrey's Butter Chicken recipe and found only one, with directions that were about as vague as could be. Can someone please explain to me how in the world Madhur Jaffrey doesn't have an online recipe for Butter Chicken, the single most popular Indian dish? 

So, I messaged my fabulous friend, Deb of Kahakai Kitchen, hoping she had Madhur's recipe and what do you know...she did! So, big thanks to Deb for saving the day and sharing the recipe with me!

I didn't follow Madhur's recipe exactly, but that was because I didn't have precooked tandoor chicken and I don't suppose I ever will. Precooked tandoor chicken isn't a common commodity in central Kentucky and I don't imagine it is in other parts of the country.  So, I made do with chicken breast. Chicken thighs would also work well, probably even better.

In order to layer the flavors I decided to marinate my diced chicken in the blend of spices below (see note). I allowed it to marinate for 10-20 minutes while I gathered all my ingredients. I then seared the chicken in a wide skillet before removing it to a bowl. I added the sauce to the skillet and allowed it to cook for a while, letting the flavors meld, before adding the chicken back in to finish cooking. I think this method worked perfectly as the flavors were in fact layered and the chicken was ultimately tender. While this method may not be traditional, I feel as though it was the best option using the ingredients that I had on hand and I must say, the results were absolutely delicious. This is, beyond a doubt, a delicious and comforting bowl of food. This is a mild dish, one that is definitely very family-friendly, yet there are layers of warmth from the spices making it slightly complex and ultimately comforting. It's a hug in a bowl!

Butter Chicken
Adapted from Kahakai Kitchen
Madhur Jaffrey's 100 Weeknight Curries
by Madhur Jaffrey
Serves 4

For Sauce:
4 tablespoons tomato puree
3 cloves garlic, minced
2.5 cm (1-inch) cube fresh ginger, peeled and grated very finely
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 fresh hot green chili, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
4 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin

For Chicken:
4 ounces butter
1 quantity of tandoor chicken, precooked OR
1 pound diced chicken breast*
Optional: Rice or naan bread, on the side
Optional: Diced shallots, jalapeno, chopped cilantro, chives, etc.

*Note: (I did not follow Madhur Jaffrey's cooking instructions exactly): This recipe indicates that your chicken has already been cooked. My chicken breast had not. Instead of following the directions below, I tossed all the seasonings (salt, black pepper, cayenne, garam masala, and cumin with raw diced chicken and allowed it to marinate for 10 minutes. Then I added the butter to the wide saute pan and seared the chicken on all sides, locking in all the flavor of the spices. I then removed the chicken to a bowl and heated the sauce in the same pan, placing the chicken back in to finish cooking. 

*Madhur Jaffrey's cooking instructions: First prepare the sauce. Put the tomato puree in a large clear measuring jug.  Slowly add water, mixing as you go to make up 1 cup tomato sauce.  Add the remaining sauce ingredients and mix well.

Heat the butter in a wide saute pan or a large frying pan. When the butter has melted, add the spiced sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook on medium heat for a minute, mixing in the butter as you do. Add the chicken pieces. Stir once and put the chicken on a warm serving platter, spooning extra sauce over the top.