Dreamy Lemon Mousse

How easy is that?

Apparently, that is the signature phrase used by Ina Garten, also known as the Barefoot Contessa (don’t know why,) who has a show on the Food Network as well as several published recipe books. Additionally, I’ve heard her mentioned on quite a few of the food  blogs I peruse, with numerous accolades.

So I  happened to see one of her shows on the Food Network that highlighted lemon mousse. It looked dreamy. It sounded heavenly. It called my name.

Out to the backyard I went to pick some lemons and shortly after I had created my own lemon mousse. And I agree with Ina Garten: How easy is that?

Mmmmmm…light, airy, yet creamy at the same time. Smooth, fluffy…

Not too lemony (but then again, I love the tartness of lemons) yet the tartness is offset by the sweetened whipped cream…again, just dreamy and heavenly.

This might taste even more delish with blueberries or strawberries or raspberries either layered in or placed on top. And this would be a superb summer treat, cool and refreshing.

Although the recipe calls for presenting this in a souffle dish, I thought it would look more fun and festive served in individual portions. Since I didn’t have any fun individual serving dishes, I used my fine wine glasses, you know, the dishes you order to coordinate with your china when you register for wedding gifts but then rarely use? Yes, those. They worked out beautifully, looking very elegant and graceful–a fitting vessel for an elegant and graceful dessert.

Lemon Mousse

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INGREDIENTS

Mousse

  • 3 extra-large whole eggs
  • 3 extra-large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2-4 lemons)
  • kosher salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup lemon curd, room temperature (store-bought works well or homemade)
  • sweetened whipped cream (see recipe that follows)
  • sliced lemon, for garnish

Sweetened Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS

Mousse

  1. In large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the 3 whole eggs, 3 egg yolks, 1 cup sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.
  2. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water (not boiling) and cook, whisking constantly, for 10-12 minutes (it actually took 30 minutes, and I stood at the stove, whisking, while I read a book) until the mixture is thick like pudding. Take off the heat (at this point, strain mixture through a strainer if you want smooth mousse; otherwise, it might have a bit of a grainy texture with the lemon zest in the mixture) and set aside for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface (to avoid a skin forming on the mixture) and refrigerate for 1-2 hours, until completely chilled (or you can put it in freezer for 15-20 minutes to chill while you complete the next step).
  3. Place half the egg whites and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed. Add the remaining 2 tbsp. sugar and continue to beat until the whites are stiff and shiny. (The entire process took about 10 minutes.)
  4. Carefully fold the beaten whites into the cold lemon mixture with a rubber spatula.
    • How to fold egg whites into batter: Place a quarter of the beaten egg whites into the batter and gently mix to temper (blending of ingredients of differing temperatures) the batter, which simplifies the process of adding in the rest of the egg whites. Slide the egg whites from their bowl into the bowl containing the batter. Insert the edge of a large spatula down the middle of the mixture and gently turn half the batter mixture over onto the other half of the batter. Continue this process, taking care to not stir the batter so that you retain the air you have beaten into the egg whites. (ehow.com)
  1. Place the heavy cream in the same bowl of the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (no need to clean the bowl) and beat on high speed until the cream forms stiff peaks (about 5 minutes).
  2. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the lemon mixture.
  3. Fold in the lemon curd, and pour into a 7-inch diameter, 3-inch deep souffle dish (or pour into individual serving cups).

Sweetened Whip Cream

  1. Place the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
  2. Whip on medium speed until mixture begins to thicken, then switch to high speed until the cream just forms still peaks.
  3. Spoon the whipped cream into a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Decorate by piping the whipped cream around the edges of the souffle dish.
  4. Garnish with lemon slices for a final decorate touch.
  5. Chill and serve cold.

SOURCE: Food Network (Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa)

Egg Drop Soup

Very quick and easy recipe! I like this one for a simple, fast, fulfilling bowl of soup to tide us over at lunch or between meals. And, it sure beats the overpriced packets of egg drop soup mix at the market.

I don’t have a particular source for this soup recipe. I wanted to make my own one day and looked it up online. All the recipes were similar, and this is just how I’ve come to make it over the years. I’m sure all kinds of goodies could be added to jazz it up, and the pepper and oil can be amped up or down to suit your taste. However, I keep it simple and we love it.

Egg Drop Soup

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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • sprinkling of sliced scallions or chives
  • soy sauce

DIRECTIONS

  1. Add pepper and sesame oil to broth; heat broth to just boiling.
  2. Very slowly, pour beaten eggs into broth in a steady, thin stream while stirring broth at same time. Egg will form thin stringlets.
  3. Pour into bowls and garnish with scallions or chives. Also, sprinkle in soy sauce to taste, if desired.

Scallops Provencal

These are bay scallops and this is my second attempt at making this dish

First of all, I had no idea scallops were so pricey! About $14/pound. However, we found them on sale and made a splurge. Actually, we had decided to splurge for a special New Year’s Eve dinner (yes, I’ve been meaning to post this for quite awhile now) and lucked out by finding them on sale. And just the day before I had come across this recipe.

I had never cooked scallops before. Actually, I don’t recall ever having eaten scallops before, but hubby loves them. I was concerned about how the recipe was coming along because [1] the scallops were still slightly frozen and too much flour adhered to them, making the sauce rather thick and lumpy looking, and [2] I think I didn’t have the butter hot enough because the scallops didn’t brown as much as I think they should have. I forged ahead anyhow, keeping my fingers crossed.

And hubby loved the final creation. For now, that’s all that matters with my first venture into the world of scallops.

Note: I actually made this recipe for the first time about 2 1/2 months ago (but hadn’t yet posted it) and I didn’t like the lumpy-sauce picture anyhow. Recently I made it again with much more success and a much prettier picture :  ) I used bay scallops this time…much smaller in comparison to sea scallops. They are too small to turn over and brown on both sides, but no matter–still tasted fine and managed to brown them on one side. Actually, I prefer the more delicate taste of these compared to the large sea scallops, which have a chewier and stringier texture.

My first attempt--a lumpy sauce outcome!

In case you are interested, the side dishes pictured include Garlic-Lemon Green Beans and Baked Garlic Rice Pilaf.

Scallops Provençal

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. fresh bay or sea scallops
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • all-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • ½ cup minced shallots (about 2 large)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2-3 tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, minced
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 1 lemon, halved

DIRECTIONS

  1. If using bay scallops, leave them whole.  If using sea scallops, cut them in half horizontally (or, leave them whole and cook a bit longer).
  2. Season the scallops with kosher salt and black pepper, toss with flour, and shake off the excess.
  3. In a large skillet or sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over high heat until sizzling.  Add the scallops to the pan in a single layer.  Lower the heat to medium and allow the scallops to brown lightly on one side without moving.  Then turn and brown lightly on the other side.  This should take about 3-4 minutes total (closer to 8 minutes for sea scallops left whole).
  4. Add the rest of the butter to the pan with the scallops and let it melt.
  5. Add the shallots, garlic, and parsley to the pan and sauté for 2 more minutes, tossing the seasonings with the scallops.
  6. Add the wine to the pan and cook for 1 minute.
  7. Taste the sauce for seasoning and adjust as necessary.
  8. Serve hot, with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the scallops.

SOURCE: Annie’s Eats who adapted from Barefoot in Paris by Ina Garten

Pumpkin Pecan Scones with Spiced Glaze

Wow! Yum! Give me another one! (Re-reading that makes me picture a cheerleader with pom poms shouting out a cheer–so not my personality).

The blending of pumpkin and fall flavorings and a topping of spiced sugary glaze create an earthy, hearty treat. And of course the pecan crunch factor: if you’ve been following these blog entries, you’ll notice I have a fancy for crunchiness in my food. Mmmm, mmmm, good. Glad I got up and made these first thing this morning. Scrumptious with my cup of hot tea.

The glaze is a brilliant creation. I’ve added the tang of lemon and orange to powdered sugar glazes before but had never thought to add cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! And it makes such a pretty presentation with the glazy stripes. Definitely a winner and a keeper. It’ll be back for more appearances for sure.

Afternote: I continued to crave these after hubby and I devoured the first batch. And I wanted baby scone versions like the mini scones sold at Starbucks. So, a few days after batch number one, I ended up making these again. For the second batch, I split the dough into 3 sections, patted each into rounds, and cut into six wedges per round. Voila! I had my mini scones.

Pumpkin Pecan Scones with Spiced Glaze

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INGREDIENTS

Scones

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 8 tbsp. cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/3 – 1/2 cup butterscotch chips (I used pecans instead)
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Dash of ground nutmeg
  • Dash of ground ginger
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • 2 tbsp. milk

DIRECTIONS

Scones

  1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
  2. In a food processor (or in a medium mixing bowl), combine the flour, brown sugar, spices, baking powder, baking soda and salt; whisk just to combine.
  3. Add the cold butter chunks and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs and the largest butter pieces are no bigger than peas.
  4. If using butterscotch, mix them in at this point. I used pecans instead.
  5. In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, pumpkin puree and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and  pulse until the dough comes together. If necessary, knead a bit with your hands, but be careful not to overwork the dough or you will end up with a tough scone.
  6. Transfer the sticky mass of dough to the prepared baking sheet. Pat the dough into a 8 or 9-inch round. If desired, but into 6-8 wedges at this point.
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 22-25 minutes.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

Glaze

  1. To make the glaze, combine the powdered sugar and spices in a small bowl. Add the milk and whisk to combine until a thick glaze is formed. (If necessary, add a bit more milk to achieve a consistency good for drizzling the glaze.) Drizzle the glaze over the finished scones.  Allow the glaze to set before serving.

SOURCE: slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

Ranch dressing and zucchini fries...mmm mmm good!

Ranch dressing is surprisingly easy to make. And it’s quite delish with fresh herbs, so hit your local farmer’s market and stock up (less expensive than buying fresh herbs at the grocery store).

Ranch dressing on salad

We LOVE this dressing with zucchini fries and on salad. Haven’t tried it with much else…yet…

Yes, this green stuff is ranch dressing, too!

The first recipe I tried tasted okay but needed more oomph, according to hubby. By the way, the photo above is the first batch I tried. If you blend it up in a super blender (I have a Blendtec), it pulverizes everything and takes on the color of the ingredients. Still tasted good, but hubby did ask why it was green. It’s the alien ranch dressing, I guess ;  )

When I tried the recipe below, we came up with a winner. This one includes a few more herbs to provide that oomph factor we wanted, so pick and choose from the ingredients listed as well as adjust the amounts to get the level of flavor you desire.

An FYI note about the purpose of some of the base ingredients:

  • mayo = creamy and tangy base
  • sour cream = body, lightness, mildness
  • buttermilk = thinning agent; also gives tang

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

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INGREDIENTS

Base Recipe

  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley (milder than curly leaf parsley)
  • 1-2 tbsp. fresh chives
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 – 1 cup buttermilk, as needed to desired consistency (regular milk can work, too; substitute for buttermilk: add 1 tsp. lemon juice to 1 cup regular milk)

Optional Additions I used

  • 1-2 tsp. fresh dill
  • 1 tsp. fresh oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce

Other Optional Additions

  • paprika
  • Tabasco Sauce

DIRECTIONS

  1. Mince the garlic; sprinkle with 1/8 tsp. kosher salt (kosher is grainier but regular salt works…just use less) and mash it into paste using the back of a spoon.
  2. Finely chop parsley, chives, dill, and oregano; add to garlic.
  3. In bowl, combine mayo, sour cream, spices, and Worcestershire Sauce; stir until combined. Adjust seasonings as needed.
  4. Chill for a couple of hours. Thin with buttermilk as desired.

SOURCE: adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Savory Zucchini Fries

Crunchy and crispy.

Herby and savory.

Scrumptious and mouthwatering.

Last September, these healthy “fries” were served as an appetizer at my nephew’s birthday party. Only those of us sitting around the table when the fries were set down got to taste them because we inhaled them! They were just sooooo tasty. In the weeks that followed, I must have made them at least once a week.

I call them “healthy” because they are a Weight Watcher’s recipe. However, I’m sure hubby and I negate any health benefits when we heavily dip them in ranch dressing. Yummmmmm!

And now I’ve learned how to make my own ranch dressing, so I’ll be posting that recipe very soon.

Here are a couple tips to make the dredging and dipping process less messy:

  • I place the various dredge and dip ingredients in cake pans rather than small bowls.
  • I use a thin-tipped knife to poke the fry rather than use my hands for the dredge/dip steps…much easier to handle them and no mess gets on my fingers.

May you enjoy these as much as hubby and I do. It ranks as one of our favorites.

Zucchini Fries

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INGREDIENTS

  • olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp. table salt
  • 3/4 cup(s) dried bread crumbs, panko-variety suggested
  • 2 medium zucchini, about 7 inches each, cut into quarters lengthwise, then each quarter cut into about 3-4 inch strips
  • 2 large egg whites, whipped until frothy (almost soft peaks)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  3. In small bowl, mix together Italian seasoning, flour, and salt.
  4. Whip egg whites in another bowl.
  5. Place bread crumbs in another small bowl.
  6. Dredge zucchini fry in flour mixture, then dip into egg whites, then dredge in bread crumbs.
  7. Place coated zucchini on prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining ingredients; liberally coat with cooking spray (I’ve always skipped this).
  8. Roast, turning once, until desired crispness, about 12 minutes.

Notes:

  • Use this technique with any summer squash or eggplant. Also works great with thick-cut onion rings or even green tomatoes.
  • For extra crispy fries, increase oven temperature to 500 degrees F and knock  2 minutes off the cooking time.
  • Experiment with different seasoning mixes.

A-Whole-Lotta-Flavor! French Onion Soup

I hate onions. Always have. Ever since I was a kid. I still pick onions out of my food as an adult. It drives my hubby crazy. It drives my mom crazy. Get used to it, people. I hate onions. Raw onions gross me out. I hate the slimy texture. I hate the bitter bite. The taste makes me cringe. Big time.

However, I have learned to cook with onions and appreciate the flavor they add to food. I have learned to tolerate them as long as they are finely chopped up and cooked to mush.

So if I have this intense hatred of onions, then why am I posting a recipe for French Onion Soup?

Because I love my hubby, I love to cook, and he loves French Onion Soup. Simple.

Anyway, I get a weekly e-newsletter from the folks at America’s Test Kitchen, and they have these video recipes. That’s where I found this one.

Until this point, I had bypassed all the French Onion Soup recipes I had seen on people’s websites. Onions. Yuck. But this one cooks the onions to death, creating tons of flavor. And ATK’s recipes have never done me wrong. They are spot on. Delicious.

So, I decided to give this one a try.

Mind you, it takes hours upon hours. Lots of cooking down those onions to deepen the flavor. Like 4 hours. Yes, four. Lots of time.

And every minute is worth it, according to hubby.

Four pounds of onion, sliced pole to pole

And guess what? Even I think this soup is worth the work…despite the fact that it is made up primarily of onions! Four pounds to be exact. Yes, you read that correctly: four whoppin’ pounds!

And yes, you also read correctly that I think this soup is worth the work. I actually found the courage to taste this one despite my abhorrence for onions.

And it was okay.

More than okay.

Rich in flavor. Oniony but not with that bitter taste or slimy texture. Sweet instead. Not overly sweet but the carmelized onions release sugars and alter the horridness of the original taste of the onion, making it bearable.

Plus, add the bread that soaks up the broth yet retains crunchiness around the edges. And add the sharp bite of Gruyère cheese. And you actually have a delish concoction.

And I actually ate an entire bowl full of soup. Go figure!

And now that I learned I can tolerate the carmelized onions, that opens me up to a few recipes I’ve avoided like the plague until now. Yay!

 

thyme & bay leaf bouquet

 

French Onion Soup

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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 lbs. yellow onion
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 water, divided into 1/4 cup portions
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • bouquet fresh thyme and one bay leaf (tie together some thyme sprigs and bay leaf)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

  1. Slice onions pole to pole into 1/4-inch slices.
  2. Spray a Dutch oven with cooking spray. Add 3 tbsp. butter and sliced onions, then sprinkle 1 tsp. salt over the onions (this helps release juice from onions). Place lid on pot and put in 400 degree F oven for one hour, until onions begin to wilt down.
  3. Remove pot from oven; stir onions. Return to oven again but crack lid slightly; leave in oven for 1 1/2 hours more, but stir after one hour. The onions should start darkening and developing fond, the golden brown bits from the carmelizing of the sugars in the food.
  4. Remove pot from oven and continue cooking over medium-high heat on stove for 20 minutes in order to continue creating golden brown fond (the more fond the more flavorful the soup). Lower heat if onions are getting too dark (you want a dark golden crust on bottom of pan–not black but brown).
  5. Now it’s time for deglazing (removing and dissolving the carmelized bits of fond). Add 1/4 cup water to pot & mix, scraping bottom, until fond is lifted up. Continue to cook over heat for 6-8 minutes, until more fond develops. Then repeat the deglazing process followed by creating more fond. Do this for 3 sets of deglazing & creating fond.
  6. For the fourth round of deglazing and browning, use 1/4 cup sherry instead of water and brown onions again until alcohol evaporates, about 5 minutes.
  7. Now add 4 cups chicken broth + 2 cups beef broth + 2 cups water to pot + 1/2 tsp. salt + bouquet fresh thyme and one bay leaf, tied together; simmer 30 minutes. (Too much thyme will overpower the soup, so go easy on the thyme bouquet.)
  8. Remove thyme/bay leaf; add bit more salt and some pepper, to taste.
  9. While soup is simmering, toast 3/4-inch crosswise slices of baguette at 400 degrees F for about 6-10 minutes, turning halfway through baking time (keep your eye on them so they don’t burn).
  10. Scoop soup into bowls; float a couple slices of toasted bread atop each bowl of soup.
  11. Garnish with 1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese on top for each bowl; place into oven under broiler until cheese melts and browns a bit. Keep your eye on it so it doesn’t burn.

Yields: 6 bowls soup

Source: America’s Test Kitchen e-newsletter video (hopefully the video will still show; sometimes their videos only work for an allotted time period)

Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops

We rarely have pork chops anymore because our freezers are full of fish and venison from hubby’s fishing and hunting trips. However, hubby’s craving for pork overcame him today, and when I arrived home from work, pork chops fresh from the market awaited me. Rather than allow him to cook it up, which would be his usual generous sprinkling of garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce and fried up (nothing wrong with that method, mind you), I jumped on the opportunity to find a new recipe to try.

And this one I found is yuuuuuuuumeeee!

What’s not to love about the tang of Parmesan, the savoriness of Italian seasoning, and the crunch of bread crumbs?

Even better, this recipe takes only minutes to prepare. It’s a cinch. Who could ask for more: quick, easy, tasty.

Here’s one goof I made, though: Despite having read the recipe, I obviously didn’t read it carefully enough. It calls for keeping the Parmesan and bread crumbs separate for dredging. Silly me mixed it all together. Never mind, I just dipped the chops in the bread crumb mixture first, gave them a dunk in the egg mixture, then back into the dry mix. I figured all that flavor is in there–the order might not matter much, right? Of course, I won’t know until I try this again one day, but for now it passed both our high ratings.

One last tidbit: I wanted to add chopped sliced almonds to enhance the crunch factor but was all out. Next time…

Parmesan-Crusted Pork Chops

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2  large eggs
  • 3/4 cup dried Italian-style bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 4 pork chops
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Whisk eggs in bowl.
  2. Place bread crumbs on a plate.
  3. Place Parmesan cheese on another plate.
  4. Sprinkle pork chops generously with salt and pepper (I just added salt and pepper to the bread crumb mixture).
  5. Coat chops completely with cheese, patting to adhere.
  6. Dip chops into eggs, then coat completely with bread crumbs, patting to adhere.
  7. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add chops, in batches if necessary, and cook until golden brown, about 6 minutes per side.

SOURCE: Annie’s Eats

Garlic-Lemon Green Beans

I used these green beans as the side to accompany our scallops and rice dinner one night. It was a flavorful change of pace compared to the plain ol’ steamed green beans we usually make. The combo of butter, garlic, red pepper, thyme, broth, and lemon created quite a sensation for the taste buds. None of the ingredients overpowered any of the others; rather, they melded together to create an almost creamy texture with a slight hint of kick from the pepper and a slight tang from the lemon. Finally, the sprinkling of pan-fried bread crumbs added a crunchy texture with the savoriness of the Parmesan enhancing the dish overall.

I do offer one bit of advice, though: Do not make these if the main dish requires too much time and attention, for the green beans need time and attention as well. I said I made these with a scallop dish, and both had me going nuts at the stove because they each needed my careful monitoring.

Garlic-Lemon Green Beans

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INGREDIENTS

  • 2 slices high-quality sandwich bread, each slice torn into quarters (I used bread crumbs instead)
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

DIRECTIONS

  1. Process bread in food processor to even, fine crumbs, about ten 1-second pulses.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp. butter in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; when melted, add bread crumbs and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 3-5 minutes.
  3. Transfer to medium bowl and stir in 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper, and the cheese; set aside.
  4. Wipe out skillet. Add remaining 2 tbsp. butter, garlic, and 1/4 tsp. salt; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until garlic is golden, 3-5 minutes.
  5. Stir in green beans. Add chicken broth and cook until beans are partly tender but still crisp at center, about 4 minutes.
  6. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender and sauce has thickened slightly, about 4 minutes.
  7. Turn off the heat, stir in the lemon juice, and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Transfer to serving dish, sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs, and serve.

SOURCE: The New Recipe Book, page 136

“Oh My God!” Oreo Truffles

People kept exclaiming “Oh my God!” as they popped these little divinities into their mouths at the party I attended. And oh what smiles that brought to my face, for I love to share my goodies. One guy dubbed these the “Foreplay” treat, which totally cracked me up. I think they are good, but I don’t know if I’d go so far as to describe them as that good! I’m sure the wine flowing at the party enhanced the reactions.

I came across this treasure of a recipe from a fellow contestant at a Chocolate Dessert contest a couple of years ago, and I believe he got it from the Classic Cake Decorations website. (Classic Cakes is a little shop near me that sells all kinds of cake and candy decorating supplies.) Anyhow, the guy told me how these always disappear very quickly at parties because they are so deliciously addictive. And how right he was. From the batch of 70, most of which made it to the party, they were gone in no time.

I love how few ingredients these require and how you can tailor them with color to match the holiday or occasion (mine were red and white for Valentine’s Day). And I love how the colored chocolate stripes take these over the top with decorating to make them look so professional, yet it is a super simple technique requiring only a Ziploc bag and some colored chocolate, which I believe Michaels sells…oh, and a microwave to melt the chocolate.

Other than the chocolate for dipping and decorating, these only call for Oreo cookies and cream cheese. When I described to the hostess how easy they were to make, she laughed at me and told me her version of easy is to open the package and pop the item into the oven. That made me laugh in turn, for I forget that not everyone loves to make things from scratch like I do! However, I’m happy and willing to bake and share.

Oreo Truffles

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (16.6 -oz.) package Oreo cookies
  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • dark or milk chocolate for dipping
  • colored chocolate for decorating
  • Ziploc bags or cake decorating bags

DIRECTIONS

  1. In food processor, crush cookies to fine crumb consistency.
  2. Cut cream cheese into several chunks and add to food processor. Pulse until mixture forms a large clump.
  3. Remove mixture from food processor, place in bowl. Use a spoon or a melon baller to scoop out 1-2 teaspoon of the mixture, roll between palms to form 1-inch balls. Chill for 30+ minutes.
  4. Place chocolate in microwave-safe bowl, and microwave for 1 minute. Stir, then continue to microwave in 15-second increments, stirring each time, until chocolate is melted.
  5. Dip Oreo balls into chocolate, fishing out with a plastic fork. (TIP: Break off the inner tines of the fork, leaving only the outside tines. This makes maneuvering the balls much easier.) Gently tap the fork against the side of the bowl to release any extra chocolate before placing the balls on a cookie sheet to harden.
  6. Now for the fun part: Place colored chocolate in the ziploc bag or the cake decorating bag. Microwave for 1 minute to start, followed by 15-second increments, massaging bag between nuking to help chocolate melt. When all melted, cut a teeny-tiny bit off the plastic bag and very gently squeeze chocolate using back and forth motion across the truffles to decorate with stripes.
  7. When chocolate is hardened, I refrigerate until ready to serve. Enjoy!

P.S. added June 26, 2012: For the first time last week, I used Wilton brand chocolates for dipping the truffles. Ugh! The chocolate doesn’t melt smoothly enough. It made the truffles have all kinds of lumps and bumps. Just thought I’d share. It’s worth finding a cake decorating place to buy the chocolate melting discs.