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Lemon-Lime Basil Shortbread Cookies

Got plenty of extra citrus hanging around your kitchen,along with an abundance of fresh grown basil? Well combine lemon, limes and a hint of basil for a delicious cookie that taste like you bought them from a gourmet bakery! 

Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit Summer 2012


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Ingredients:

1 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 cup of powdered sugar plus more for pressing cookies
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
2 Tbsp of sliced fresh basil leaves
1 tsp of finely grated lemon zest
1 Tbsp of freshlemon juice
1/2 tsp of finely grated lime zest
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Sanding Sugar (optional)

Directions:

Pre heat oven to 375 degrees. Place flour, 1/2 cup of powdered sugar, butter, basil, both zest, lemon juice, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until large, moist clumps form. Measure level tablespoonfuls of dough; roll between your palms to form balls. Place on a large baking sheet spacing 2 inch rounds, dusting cup with powdered sugar and press cookies into 2 inch rounds, dusting cup bottom with powdered sugar as needed to prevent sticking. Sprinkle tops of cookies with standing sugar, if using.

Bake until edges are brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire wake; let cool.

 

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A Blueberry Cheesecake, That’s Skinny Too…

Found this gem on Pinterest. Now you can indulge in a blueberry cheesecake and not feel a bit guilty. This “skinny blueberry” delight is only 5.9 grams of fat, while keeping its flavor, sweetness and richness.
Very easy to make, no pots or pans, it’ll set in your icebox!
Recipe courtesy of “Self Magazine”

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups finely ground reduced-fat graham cracker crumbs

4 teaspoons light (reduced-fat) butter, melted
2 cups fresh blueberries (or frozen and thawed)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons powdered unflavored gelatin
8 oz reduced-fat cream cheese
8 oz fat-free cream cheese
14 oz fat-free sweetened condensed milk
Several fresh mint leaves

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly coat a 9″ springform pan or glass pie pan with melted butter or light olive oil

 

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Using a food processor or by hand break up graham crackers till a fine texture. 

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Combine crumbs and butter in a bowl and then press into pan. Bake 10 minutes.

 

 

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Puree 1 1/2 cups blueberries and mix with lemon juice in a microwave bowl.

Sprinkle gelatin on top and let stand 10 minutes.

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Microwave on medium 10 seconds to dissolve gelatin, then beat with an electric mixer or food processor at medium speed. Beat in cream cheeses and condensed milk.

 

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Pour mixture over baked crust and refrigerate until set.

Garnish with mint and remaining blueberries.

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THE SKINNY
313 calories per serving, 5.9 g fat (3.5 g saturated), 52.3 g carbs, 1.8 g fiber, 11.4 g protein

Related articles

Blueberry Cheesecake Recipe (lifefoodhappiness.com)

Blueberry cheesecake (foodetcblog.wordpress.com)

National Blueberry Cheesecake Day (ireport.cnn.com)

Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream (utterlyruins.wordpress.com)

It’s National Blueberry Cheesecake Day! (ireport.cnn.com)

 

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Cooking A Steak In A Cast Iron Skillet

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Looking for that restaurant quality steak? You know, the rib-eye or sirloin steak that has the gorgeous caramel colored sear and juicy taste that takes you on an immediate trip back to your favorite Steakhouse, but it is too cold to light up the grill or too far of a drive. Did you know cooking a steak using a cast iron skillet is actually easier than cleaning and lighting up your grill outside, and produces a juicer steak using less than five ingredients and four kitchen items.

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To get started on the quest for the perfect home cooked steak, you will need a smoking hot cast iron skillet. I mean a smoking hot skillet, with no surface oil. All the oil you need will be rubbed into the surface of the steak, before you season it.

How to tell if the skillet is screaming hot, well just test it with a single drop of water on it. If you see a sizzle and hear popping sounds your good to go. Make sure you have everything ready as you won’t get a chance to stop once you get started.

 

Ingredients:

Steak
Salt & Pepper
High burning oil, like vegetable or peanut

Cast Iron skillet
Long metal tongs
Heavy duty or Thick oven mitts
Meat Thermometer, Optional

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Directions:

45 minutes before you start take steak out of fridge, trim any excess fat(optional) rub about 1/2 tsp oil on each side of meat and season with salt & pepper. Place on platter and cover with paper towel.

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Preheat oven to 450 degrees 10 minutes before you start. Put into oven on center rack your clean & dry cast iron skillet to heat up with oven.

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Using oven mitts take cast iron skillet out of oven and place on stove top burner and turn heat to high. This step is optional and it adds just a little more flavor to the steak, but I like to add about a tablespoon of unsalted butter to skillet. Once butter hits surface of skillet you should hear an immediate sizzle. Place steak on skillet and on high heat sear for 2 minutes on each side, depending on thickness and cut of beef.

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For this post I am searing a thick rib-eye steak with minimal fat marbling, and about an inch in height.

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Once both sides of the steak have been seared move hot skillet from the stove top to the oven and close the door for 3-5 minutes each side, depending on thickness, cut of beef and wellness of steak.

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Now if you love a medium rare steak then you will want to cook each side to the 2 1/2 minute mark each side. If you prefer your steak cooked to medium, then you will want to cook it a little over 3 minutes. At the 2 1/2 minute mark, you will pull the pan out of the oven, then turn the steak over, and then put it back in the oven and cook for 2 1/2 more minutes.

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Until you are a novice at cooking steak don’t feel awkward using a meat thermometer, it’s a lot better than serving an over cooked steak or worse and under cook one.

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Using a meat thermometer push through the center of the steak to the center of the meat to get as correct reading as possible. Once your steak is prepared to your liking remove from skillet place on a clean platter and cover loosely with foil to rest for 5-10 minutes.

Most steaks are preferred from rare to medium rare. Just my opinion but medium-well to well done leaves the steak dry and tough as there is no juice left inside to redistribute while resting.

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Each cut of steak has a slightly different cooking temperature for rare to well done and I included a basic chart for you to refer to.

red meat chart

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Triple Chocolate Layer Cake

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With cooler weather who doesn’t crave a rich chocolate cake with a glass of milk or hot cocoa. I adapted from Hershey’s a triple layer, double chocolate, with not one type of frosting, but two, and using both Hershey’s chocolate cocoa powder and Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder! Yes you will OD or go into a chocolate coma after indulging this super moist, triple layer cake with a chocolate butter cream filling and topped with a double chocolate ganache!

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Talk about going to “Chocolate Heaven”

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Ingredients:

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup HERSHEY’S special dark cocoa
1/2 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder

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1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

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2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

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1 cup boiling water

 

Directions:

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

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Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.

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Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

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Chocolate Butter Creme Frosting-Filling

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

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Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency.

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Add small amount extra milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

Make a child smile by handing over the beaters to lick!!!

Make a child smile by handing over the beaters to lick!!!

Double Chocolate Ganache Topping

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup Hershey’s special dark cocoa powder
1/2 cup Hershey’s cocoa powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar

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Heat heavy cream in a small pot. Be careful to not let it boil over. Once it begins to boil, remove from the stove.
Pour heavy cream into bowl of cocoa powder. Stir and mix until chocolate is completely melted, add vanilla and sugar.

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Let ganache cool and set before frosting top of cake.

If top of cake is not even/flat use a serrated bread knife to trim the top of the cooled cake before frosting it.

If top of cake is not even/flat use a serrated bread knife to trim the top of the cooled cake before frosting it.

 

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Chocolate buttercream frosting for the layers.

Chocolate buttercream frosting for the layers.

Spread an even layer of frosting along the top of each layer. If frosting gets on the sides of the cake its okay. Once the buttercream frosting sets, you can add more frosting or top with the chocolate ganache.

Spread an even layer of frosting along the top of each layer. If frosting gets on the sides of the cake its okay. Once the buttercream frosting sets, you can add more frosting or top with the chocolate ganache.

 

Once the buttercream frosting sets, you can add more frosting or top with the chocolate ganache.

Once the buttercream frosting sets, you can add more frosting or top with the chocolate ganache.

 

Finished off with a double chocolate ganache!

Finished off with a double chocolate ganache!

 

Kid tested and approved!!!

Kid tested and approved!!!

YUM!!

YUM!

 

 

 

 

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Super Decadent Bacon Blondie’s And Maple Sauce

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Yes, I said BACON!!

Now not everything goes with bacon, but this dessert  most certainly does.

In some recipes bacon can pair well with desserts, especially for those, who do not care for desserts that are “too sweet”, the use of bacon can balance the sweetness out.

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A couple of years ago for my son’s birthday we ate at Slater 50/50, Now those who are unfamiliar with this restaurant, its known for serving burgers that are 50% beef and 50% ground bacon. My son had the turkey burger, but for dessert he chose the traditional brownie baked with chopped bacon inside, and that was DELICIOUS!

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At Apple bees they serve a blonde version of brownie with candied pecans and a maple sauce that is “out-of-bounds” fantastic. I’ve come across a few recipes for the maple sauce and none came as close to the sauce I adapted from Applebees. 

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The base recipe for a Blondie is pretty much made the same, but the maple sauce was challenging to replicate till now.

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Those with a die-hard sweet tooth know nothing is better than a home-baked warm Blondie with ice cream. This recipe takes it to a whole other level for the die-hard bacon fan. I posted pictures with Bacon and without.

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Ingredients:

1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour, sifted
1/2 cup chopped walnuts; toasted and divided in half for Blondie and half for topping
1/3 cup butter or margarine; melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Optional:
1/2 cup bacon or about 8 strips of thick cut apple-wood bacon cooked and chopped; divided in half for Blondie and half for topping

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Directions For Blondie’s:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, after the bacon and walnuts are done.

Using large skillet over medium-high heat cook bacon till its nice and crispy. Do not under cook the bacon, it needs to be crisp!

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Remove and place on paper towels to dry completely.

Using a medium size skillet heat on medium-high, then add shelled walnuts. Stir often to make sure all walnuts are toasting evenly and to prevent burning, about 5 minutes.
Walnuts should smell toasted and have started to brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

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In a medium size bowl add all dry ingredients, shift together and mix well.

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In a larger bowl add melted butter and bowl sugar and mix with a hand blender till mixture is smooth.

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Then add beaten egg and vanilla extract, blend again till smooth.

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Add flour mixture, a little at a time, either using hand blender on low-speed or use a wooden spoon and blend together by hand.

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Add chopped nuts and bacon and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon, set aside.

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Stir in white chocolate chips.

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Spread out dough in a 9-inch pan.

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Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Use a toothpick to test if the center of your Blondie is done. Toothpick should come out clean.

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Serve warm with ice cream, Maple Butter Sauce, and of course don’t forget to top off with more walnuts and bacon.

Maple Butter Sauce Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
3 Tbsp powdered sugar
1/4 brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4-1/2 tsp maple extract
Pinch of salt

 

Directions For Sauce:

Using a small sauce pan melt butter over medium-low heat.

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Add brown sugar and whisk together to combine.

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Pour heavy cream, and powder sugar in a saucepan and cook, constantly stirring on medium-low for 1-2 minutes or till sauce becomes bubbly and starts to thicken. Remove from heat.

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Be careful not to burn the sugary sauce.

Add maple flavoring to desired taste by starting with 1/4 tsp and stir until combined. Taste and add another 1/4 tsp if desired.

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I baked mine with toasted walnuts, thick cut apple-wood smoked bacon bits, served warm covered with a rich, sizzling maple butter sauce along with ice cream and its topped with more chopped walnuts, and bacon.

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How to grill corn on the cob

Grilled corn on the cob; it’s not just a summer staple. It’s a summers delight!

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How many people out there in the land of the blogsphere do not know, or are unsure of how to grill corn on the cob? In my lifetime I’ve seen many variations on how to grill corn on the cob, and the unique toppings that go with this awesome summer staple  The truth of it is that there is no “correct or incorrect” method on grilling corn on the cob. What I will do is share my method with you, courtesy of Chef Bobby Flay.

First off and most important is to wash those “ears” of corn, and this is how I do that.

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I remove all the hairs and husk except the last 3-5 layers and rinse in cold water

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Once I have cleaned all the corn I put the corn in a large stock/tamales steamer pot and fill with water barely covering the ears of corn.

You want to make sure to leave just a few layers of husk, to cover the ears and create a steam while the corn is grilling.

You want to make sure to leave just a few layers of husk, to cover the ears and create a steam while the corn is grilling.

You want the corn completely emerged in water and soaking at least 20 minutes before you grill.

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By soaking the corn a head of time and placing wet corn on the grill creates steam from the wet husk, steaming the corn and creating a smoke flavor from charring the corn as well

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Don’t over crowd the grill when placing the ears of corn on it, if there is too many it will take longer, then if you had just split the ears into batches.

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Close lid to grill for five minutes, then check corn and rotate so all sides cook evenly. Repeat these steps till the corn is cooked.

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There are many variations for dressing “corn on the cob” today, so get creative.

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Here are a few popular choices.

Mexican style corn on the cob, can be dressed with any of the following ingredients, fresh lime juice, sour cream to mayonnaise, chopped cilantro, topped with Cotija cheese, Queso Fresco, Monterey Jack and sprinkled with ground cumin and/or paprika,

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Truffles & corn? Yep, I’ve read corn on the cob has been dressed with unsalted butter and truffle salt, Parmesan cheese.

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truffle.salt

Hey don’t toss out and remaining BBQ sauce, brush a little on an ear of corn and enjoy the smoky and sweet flavors

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Compound or Herb butter is basically a method of using room temperature butter and adding a lot of fresh chopped herbs, and lemon or lime zest and juice to your butter.

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Blend until well incorporated and spread it all over your ear of corn, and enjoy! 

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Oven Seared Potatoes With fresh Herbs

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Are you a potato lover whose tired of plain mashed potatoes?

Now don’t get me wrong I am a tried and true spud lover, but there’s only so many way to dress up mashed potatoes.

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Well it just so happens that I came across a recipe from Cooks County that takes the ordinary potato and elevates it to a not only visually a beautiful platter of potatoes, but this dish literally melts in your mouth at first bite accompanied with a crispy golden sear on the outside and with each bite you’ll get a punch of flavor from using fresh herbs and a rich chicken stock. These potatoes are to die for and very easy to make and can be served with chicken, beef or lamb.

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The first time I made this dish I had used only dill, it came out better than I imagined, so why not bump up the flavor next time by using a variety of herbs and for a kick of spice added red pepper flakes.

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If your making beef or lamb use same stock or go vegan and use vegetable stock and the result is a creamy center with a rich flavor from using good stock. Also if your main dish has a gravy or sauce these potatoes will soak it up very nicely.

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Believe me when I say once you try this recipe you’ll want to make these delicious potatoes again and again, and they do make a beautiful plate of food.

Adapted from Cooks County 2006

Ingredients:
3 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch thick rounds
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 Tbsp parsley
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cups low sodium chicken broth or use your own.
5-7 garlic cloves, finely minced (if you are not a garlic fan you can add less)
1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes or to taste

IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you DO NOT use a glass baking dish, use a metal baking pan. A glass baking dish can shatter in a very hot oven.

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Directions:

Place oven rack in upper-middle position of oven and pre heat oven to 500 degrees.

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Square off ends of potatoes and cut into ¾ to 1-inch thick disks.
Rinse potatoes and pat dry with paper towels.

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Combine melted butter, red pepper flakes, finely chopped herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl.

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Toss potato slices in butter mixture and arrange in a single layer in a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan.

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Roast in oven for 15 minutes.

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Remove pan from oven and use a spatula to flip potatoes over.

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Place back in oven for another 15 minutes.

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Remove pan from oven and flip potatoes over again, both sides should have a blonde color on both sides.

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Before putting tray back into the oven add 1 cup of your choice of stock and place back into the oven for another 15 minutes.

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Remove tray from oven and flip potatoes over one last time and add the last cup of stock.

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Back into the oven for the last 15 minutes.

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