Archive for December, 2010

December 31, 2010

Strawberry Bellini

Strawberry Bellini

Looking for the perfect way to continue celebrating into 2011? This is the a great ‘morning-after’ cocktail for January 1st. Simple and elegant, this bellini is both a crowd-pleaser for a large party or a romantic surprise for your significant other (I served it with Christmas breakfast for my husband and myself). I’m not a huge fan of strong alcoholic drinks, so my bellini had a lot of strawberry blend in it. My husband however is not a huge fan of overly-sweet drinks, so I only used one tablespoon of the blended strawberries in his and added more champagne to his.

Whether you’re counting down 3-2-1 watching the ball drop on New Years Eve or waking up on January 1st, 2011, this is a delicious celebratory drink. Happy New Year!

Strawberry Bellini

Ingredients

10 oz frozen strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
Bottle of champagne

Directions

Stir the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved (approximately 5 minutes). Cool completely.
In a blender puree the strawberries with 1/3 cup of the sugar syrup until smooth.Strain through a clean fine-meshed strainer and into a bowl. Discard the seeds.
For each serving, pour 2 to 4 tablespoons of the fruit puree into a champagne flute.
Slowly pour enough champagne into the flute to fill.
Gently stir to blend. Garnish with the whole berries, as desired, and serve.

Source: Giada De Laurentiis

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December 30, 2010

Roasted Potatoes and Baby Carrots

 

 

Roasted Potatoes and Carrots

The holidays are a time to indulge. Whether that’s helping yourself to an extra serving of cheesecake at the dinner table or, if you’re like me, finally going for that white truffle oil at Whole Foods just because; December is really as good a time as any to just go for it.

Last week, I was on winter break from school and found myself wandering through the aisles of Whole Foods when I started craving roasted vegetables (try browsing the vegetable section of Whole Foods and then tell me it doesn’t leave you craving delicious healthy vegetables). I picked up some baby carrots and red potatoes and roasted them with white truffle oil and you know what? Even though I was ‘indulging’ with the white truffle oil, this side made me feel a lot better about all the holiday candy that I was eating.

Roasted Potatoes and Baby Carrots

Ingredients

1 bunch baby carrots with green stems cut off to 1/4 inch
6-7 small red potatoes, chopped in quarters
1/2 tsp red peper flakes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried basil
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Extra virgin olive oil
3-4Tbsp White Truffle Oil

Directions

In a bowl, place the red potatoes and carrots.
Add the red pepper flakes, oregano, basil, minced garlic, white truffle oil and enough extra virgin olive oil to cover the vegetables lightly.
Place vegetables in a 9×13 Pyrex dish in a single layer.
Bake in a 400 degree F oven for 30 minutes. Mix the vegetables.
Pour Parmesan cheese over vegetables.
Bake for 30 more minutes.
Enjoy!

Source: Innochka’s Kitchen

December 29, 2010

Mama’s Corn bread Muffins

 

Cornbread Muffins

My mother,   never baked when I was growing up. Don’t get me wrong, she cooked plenty, making tons of delicious Russian and Romanian / Moldovian salads and main dishes, but baking was just not something that appealed to her.

This summer, when I came home for a visit and the aroma of baked goods filled the air before I made it past the garage door, I thought that we were the target of some strange home invasion where the intruder baked for the victims before he robbed them. Apparently, my mother had discovered the joy of baking…muffins to be exact. She had baked about four dozen cornbread muffins. Since then, these muffins have become somewhat her ‘trademark’. She bakes these about once a week, and their comforting taste truly reminds me of home.

This week, when she had to bring in a dish for a work potluck, we didn’t have to brainstorm too hard for the perfect ‘Stella’ dish. These muffins, like my mother, are warm, comforting and, well, efficient (taking only 5 minutes of prep time). I was glad to help make (and definitely glad to taste-test) these muffins) with her.

Mama’s Corn Bread Muffins

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese (or whatever cheese suits your fancy), shredded
2 boxes corn muffin mix (we use Jiffy)
2 large eggs
3/4 cups buttermilk
1 14.5 oz can sweet corn

Directions



Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Line muffin tin with paper muffin wrappers or spray with non-stick spray.
In a large mixing bowl, combine corn muffin mix, egs, buttermilk and corn.
Fill each miffin tin spot 2/3 of the way full. Top with shredded cheese.
Bake 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Source: My mother…though I believe she saw this recipe some time ago on Semi-homemade with Sandra Lee.

December 28, 2010

Blackberry Tart with Honey Mascarpone Filling

 

Blackberry Honey Mascarpone Tart

Blackberry Honey Mascarpone Tart

When it comes to desserts, I set high expectations. I’ll admit it; I’m a  bit of a dessert snob. I like my desserts rich and addictive. A dessert, in my mind, is something that should  leave you licking your spoon wanting to go for a third helping (and getting it when you  think no one is looking).

This tart definitely did not disappoint. The tartness of the blackberries was a wonderful contrast to the sweet honey mascarpone filling. Also, it should be mentioned, this recipe is from one of the ruling queens of desserts on food blogs, Annie of Annies Eats, and if she recommends a recipe, you know that it must be great!

Blackberry Tart with Honey Mascarpone Filling

Ingredients

For the crust:

1 egg yolk
2 tbsp. very cold water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

For the filling:

2/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/3 cup honey
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch ground nutmeg

Topping:

12 oz of fresh blackberries

Directions:

For the crust:  In a small bowl stir together the egg yolk, water and vanilla; set aside.  Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment.  Add the butter and beat on medium-low speed until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas.  Add the egg mixture and beat on low speed just until the dough comes together.  Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  To roll out the dough, unwrap it and place it on a lightly floured surface.  Roll out with a floured rolling pin, lifting and turning the dough occasionally to prevent it from sticking to the work surface.  Roll it out evenly until it is large enough to line a 9-inch tart pan and is about 1/8-inch thick.  Carefully transfer the dough to the tart pan, pressing it into the sides, and trim to remove the excess.

Cover the dough with foil or parchment paper and fill with baking beads.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.  Remove the foil and baking beads and using a fork, gently poke holes in the bottom and sides of the crust.  Bake until the crust is golden, 15-20 minutes more.  Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make the filling, combine the mascarpone, sour cream, and honey in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat until smooth.  Mix in the vanilla extract and nutmeg.

Spread the filling into the cooled tart shell and smooth the top with a spatula.  Top with fresh blackberries.  Transfer to a serving platter.  Store in the refrigerator.

 

Blackberry Honey Mascarpone Tart - side

Source: Annies Eats

December 27, 2010

Winter Pear Salad

Winter Pear Salad

Winter Pear Salad

With all the heavy holiday baking and eating, sometimes you’re just in the mood for a light salad.

When Francis and I went to our friends’ Bree and Brenden’s  home last week for dinner and game night, Francis insisted on making his famous ‘deep dish’ pizza. Although I absolutely adore his pizza and can’t get enough of it, it’s not exactly what one would call ‘healthy’ or ‘light’ by any means. Making this salad as a starter made me feel a little better about eating such a carb-heavy dinner that night and was very refreshing (and a night of guitar-hero helped too!)

It was a breeze to throw together and with the pears and dried cranberries had a great winter flavor.

Winter Pear Salad

Ingredients

For the salad

3-4 cups of of torn spinach
2 pears, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries or cherries
1/2 cup grape tomatoes

For the dressing

2 Tbsp water
1.5 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions

Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.

Place slices of a couple pears in a large bowl.
Spoon 1 Tbsp dressing over pears. Toss to coat.
Add the remaining dressing, spinach, dried cranbrries or cherries and grape tomatoes. Toss to coat.

Source: The Best of Cooking Light

Photograph Courtesy of Breeana Thiede

December 24, 2010

Kung-Fu (Kung-Pao) Chicken

 

Kung Pao Chicken

It just hit me. I have only posted desserts since I first created this blog.

Although that is a pretty accurate reflection of what type of food appeals most to me (I have always been one of those ‘eat dessert first’ type of people), I do make things that do not involve a pound of butter and 8 cups of sugar.

This recipe is near and dear to my heart. It was in my first cooking blog and is one of my ‘go-to’ meals when I am working late at the hospital and have very little energy to cook when I come home. Also, being a good little Jewish girl, I am obligated to eat Chinese  food on Christmas, so it is fitting that I am posting this on Christmas Eve.

To those who celebrate it, Merry Christmas to all! To those who do not celebrate Christmas (and who share my Chinese food and going out to the movies Christmas tradition), enjoy your day off!

Kung-Fu (Kung-Pao) Chicken

Ingredients

2-3 chicken breasts chopped in cubes
2Tbs soy sauce + 4Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1 Tbs corn starch
Crushed red pepper flakes (amount varies depending on how much spice you like in your life)
1/2 tbs sugar
4 Tbsp lemon juice

Directions

Marinate chicken breasts in 2-3Tbsp soy sauce.
Meanwhile, combine water, corn starch, red pepper, sugar, lemon juice and remaining soy sauce in a small bowl.
Cook chicken in extra virgin olive oil 5-6 minutes on med-high heat. May add onion / pepper and cook 2-3 more minutes (we do not do this in our house due to my husband’s aversion to onion!).
Add mixture (with water, corn starch, etc.). Simmer for 5-10 min.
Enjoy!

Source: In-law Family recipe 🙂

December 23, 2010

Gingerbread Cookies

 

Gingerbread Cookies

“Not the buttons! Not my gumdrop buttons!!!”

Whenever I eat gingerbread cookies, I can’t help but think of the scene  from Shrek with the gingerbread man.

Luckily, these gingerbread cookies have no gumdrop buttons to lose…(and unfortunately, I forgot to photograph them after I put icing on them)

However, they are delicious and have the perfect amount of sugar and spice (and everything nice) and did not last very long in my house, gumdrop buttons or not.

Gingerbread Cookies

Ingrdients

1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg yolk
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine and sugar until smooth. Stir in molasses and egg yolk.
Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg; blend into the molasses mixture until smooth. Cover, and chill for at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness.
Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheets.
Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, rotating halfway through. Remove from cookie sheets to cool on wire racks. Frost or decorate when cool.

Source: Allrecipes.com

December 22, 2010

Cranberry Orange Mini-Loaves

 

Cranberry Orange Loaves

As a part of my ‘baking extravaganza’ with my friend Bree  last week, we made these  Cranberry Orange mini-loaves. They were a perfect addition to my holiday packages and made a great treat to bring into Cardiology clinic. I love the cranberry and orange flavor combination and  you can add pecans to this bread if you like (we did not as my husband is allergic to nuts and I do not bring them into our home). Also, these were easy to bake while watching an 8-month old baby as they only took 10 minutes of prep time!

Cranberry Orange Mini-Loaves

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/4 cup margarine, softened
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
Grease and flour three mini loaf pans.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
Stir in orange zest and cranberries. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together margarine, sugar, and egg until smooth. Stir in orange juice.
Beat in flour mixture until just moistened. Pour into prepared pans.
Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven, or until the bread springs back when lightly touched. Let stand 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool. Wrap in plastic when completely cool.

Makes three mini-loaves.

Source: Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Photograph courtesy of: Breanna Thiede

December 21, 2010

Peppermint Biscotti

 

Peppermint Biscotti

After the first two years at my medical school, the students get sent to various “community campuses” all over the state. Basically, what this meant  is that some of my best friends ended up eight hours away from me (banished to the cold snowy North).One of the ways that I like to stay connected with them is by sending holiday gift packages every year, showing that ‘even though you may be far away, I’m still thinking of you’.

These biscotti were a perfect addition to my holiday packages for several reasons: they packaged well, they kept well and they were absolutely delicious and festive. I will likely be apologizing for my poor photography skills many times throughout the course of blogging, but my photograph of these biscotti truly do not do them justice.

Peppermint Biscotti

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2/3 cup crushed peppermint candy canes or peppermint candies in my case
14 ounces fine quality white chocolate, melted
crushed candy canes to sprinkle on top

Directions

Preheat oven to 350
In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Stir in crushed candy
Evenly divide dough into 4 pieces on a lightly floured surface. Shape each piece into 9″ x 1 1/2″ round log. Place logs 3 inches apart onto parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake until tops are cracked and ends just start to turn light brown, about 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and reduce temperature to 325. Cool logs 10 minutes on cookie sheet.
Cut each log diagonally into 1/2″ slices with sharp serrated knife. Arrange pieces standing up back onto the baking sheet.
Bake until cookies are light golden brown and crisp on both sides, about 12 to 15 minutes. The centers may still be a little soft, but will firm up as they cool. Place onto cool rack and cool completely.
Dip half of each biscotti into melted chocolate – shake off excess. Immediately sprinkle with additional crushed candy canes and set on a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet until the chocolate has set.
Makes about 3 dozen

Source: Adapted from http://penniesonaplatter.com

December 20, 2010

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

 

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

I don’t think  December would be complete without holiday baking with friends. When my friend Breanna offered to come over with her adorable 8 month-old daughter and bake with me, I agreed in an instant. Her daughter, Brynn also was the perfect taste-tester, and these Chocolate Crinkle Cookies appeared to be something that Brynn really enjoyed. They were the perfect texture, being soft and gooey without falling apart–perfect for a small toddler and elegant enough to put in a holiday gift package (which is what I did with the leftover cookies).

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Ingredients

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

Directions

In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil.Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture.
Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours (I chilled this overnight).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Roll dough into one inch balls with lightly oiled palms. I used a cookie scoop to portion the dough.
Coat each ball in confectioners’ sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets. [Alternatively, try other ingredients like cinnamon-sugar or sprinkles.]
Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.

Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies

Source: http://17andbaking.co, originally from allrecipes.com

Photograph Courtesy of : Breanna Thiede