Archive for January, 2011

January 31, 2011

Three-Cheese Mini Mac and Cheese Bites


Mac and Cheese Bites

It is my true belief that mac and cheese is the ultimate comfort food.  Who wouldn’t be comforted by creamy, cheesy warm noodles?  When I was looking for a comforting warm appetizer that I could make for Superbowl Sunday, these little bites of comfort popped into my head (because whether you’re cheering for the Steelers or the Packers, who doesn’t want to be comforted when the opposing team runs for a touchdown?).

This recipe is simple but makes A LOT of mac and cheese  bites…about sixty…which is great for a big party, but for those of you who aren’t having a huge party, you might want to consider halving the recipe.

Mac and Cheese Bites


1/2 lb elbow macaroni
1 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons unbleached all-pupose flour
1 cup whole milk
4 oz aged white cheddar cheese, grated
4 oz Gruyère, grated
2 extra large egg yolks
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
1/4 cup Panko crumbs
pinch of Kosher salt


Preheat the oven to 425º F.
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and cook according to the manufacturer’s directions. Drain the macaroni completely and set aside.
Spray mini muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray.
In a small bowl combine the Parmigiano-Reggiano and Panko. Set aside.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook the mixture for 2 minutes, whisking constantly. Add the milk and continue whisking until the mixture is thick, about 5 minutes. Add the cheddar and Gruyère and whisk until the cheeses are completely melted. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks. Fold in the macaroni and season with salt.
Evenly fill the prepared muffin tins with the macaroni and cheese, about 3/4 full. Sprinkle the Panko and cheese mixture evenly over the tops.
Bake the mini macs until they are sizzling and golden on top, about 10-12 minutes rotating the pans halfway through baking.
Remove from the oven and let the mini macs cool for 5 minutes.
Using a the edge of a small offset spatula, carefully remove the mini macs abd transfer to a platter and serve.

Source: The Galley Gourmet

January 28, 2011

Blueberry and Blackberry Tart


Blackberry and Blueberry Tart

Last weekend, we celebrated my mother’s 55th birthday. She absolutely refused to have a party but was okay with coming over for lunch. Now, I’m HUGE on birthdays…HUGE, and I can’t let a birthday go by without dessert, so I knew I had to make something special for my mother.

Being that she’s a bit of a health nut, I wanted to make something with fruit (and blueberries and blackberries just so happened to be on sale at my local grocery store). This tart was absolutely to-die-for. The picture…okay, I’ll admit, not the best. It kind of looks like a giant pool of blue and black berries but seriously, having tasted it, I’m willing to dive right into it. The tart was devoured and my mom loved it…and she’s not an easy customer to please.

The tart itself is not too sweet and is super easy to make…which makes it all the more appealing for me. I definitely recommend this if you’re in search of a quick dessert.


Blueberry and Blackberry Tart


1 1/4 cups flour
3 tablespoons icing sugar
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup cold butter, cubed

2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup cold water
4 cups blueberries, divided
1 cup blackberries
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In the bowl of a mixer, combine flour, sugar, and salt with the paddle attachment. Cut in butter until crumbly.
Press dough together with fingers until it holds together. Press dough into 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
Prick all over with fork. Bake in bottom third of oven until light golden, about 20 minutes.
Let cool on rack.

For the filling:
In a saucepan, stir together sugar, cornstarch and salt.
Whisk in water, 2 cups blueberries, lemon zest, and cinnamon.
Bring to simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring often, until glossy and thickened (about 10 minutes).
Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and butter. Let cool slightly.
Gently stir remaining berries into cooked berry mixture. Spoon into prepared crust and smooth top. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until set.

Source: Adapted from One Cake Two Cake

January 26, 2011

Cranberry and Blueberry Mini-Muffins


Cranberry and Bluebery Mini-Muffins

I have to start off by saying, these are my absolute favorite  go-to muffins.

I don’t think I’ve ever run into a person that has not enjoyed these…and I’ve been making these for years so I have a pretty large sample size. They’re soft and delicious and practically melt in your mouth…and the crumb topping…there aren’t even words for it.

I usually make these with just blueberries and full-size, but it being winter and having made these for a baby shower, I made mini-muffins and included cranberries and you know what? They tasted just as good with cranberries…and the fact that they were mini just meant that I could eat twice as many of them.

Cranberry and Blueberry Mini-Muffins


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup fresh cranberries

For the crumb topping
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease muffin cups or line with muffin liners.
Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 3/4 cup sugar, salt and baking powder.
Place vegetable oil into a 1 cup measuring cup; add the egg and enough milk to fill the cup. Mix this with flour mixture.
Divide batter evenly into two mixing bowls.
Fold in blueberries into one bowl and cranberries into the other bowl.
Fill muffin cups right to the top, and sprinkle with crumb topping mixture.

To Make Crumb Topping:
Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup flour, 1/4 cup butter, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix with fork, and sprinkle over muffins before baking.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until done.

Source: Adapted from: AllRecipes

January 24, 2011

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs


Pizza Bites

We’re a month past Christmas and not quite to Valentine’s day…so what’s there to celebrate? Well…football of course! The Superbowl is coming up quick so if you’re anything like me, you’re scavenging the internet for easy to make appetizers for ‘the big game’. These pizza puffs were a part of my ‘mini-food’ for the baby shower (more of that food is still to come) but they are probably more fitting for a football Sunday.

Since I don’t eat pepperoni, I left the taste-testing to the party-goers at the baby shower and the pizza expert himself–my husband…and they definitely passed the test. Pizza in one bite? Who wouldn’t like it?

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs


3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup whole milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup)
4 ounces pepperoni, cut into small cubes (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped finely


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Grease a 24-cup mini muffin pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder; whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes.

Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

Microwave the pizza sauce until warmed through, then stir in 1 Tablespoon basil. Serve the puffs with the pizza sauce for dipping.

Source: Adapted from: Noble Pig

January 21, 2011

Dark Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream Frosting


Mocha Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream Frosting

Be forewarned, these cupcakes are rich and decadent and absolutely irresistable.

That’s why I knew when I brought them into the office last week for one of the attendings’ birthdays, they would go over well. To begin with, this particular attending has a serious  love of coffee. He buys coffee beans from all over the world and mixes it with crazy  ingredients and roasts it…and it’s delicious.

When I found  out that he was having a birthday lunch (note, when I find out that someone is having a birthday party, I get a compulsion to bake), I knew  I just had to make cupcakes with coffee in them. These don’t just ‘have coffee in them’, but there’s coffee in the batter and in the frosting. To top it all off (no pun intended), they are topped with chocolate-covered espresso beans.

Needless to say, everyone in the office thoroughly enjoyed the cupcakes …even though they had just plain Eight O’Clock coffee in them and not fancy Nicaraguan or South African coffee.

Dark Chocolate Mocha Cupcakes with Coffee Buttercream Frosting


3/4 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 egg white
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons strong coffee (or three tablespoons warm water mixed with 1 tablespoon instant coffee)

4 tbsp butter, softened
2 tbsp warm water
1 tbsp instant coffee
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar

Chocolate covered espresso beans for topping


Preheat the oven to 350 F and line a 12-cupcake pan with liners.
Whisk together all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and cocoa) in a medium bowl.
Beat the egg and egg white gently with a fork, then stir in the buttermilk, vanilla, melted butter, and coffee. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix until most of the lumps are gone. Divide evenly among the cupcake tins and bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, dissolve the coffee in the warm water. Beat the butter, coffee-water, and vanilla in a stand mixer. Add the powdered sugar and beat until creamy and spreadable, adding a few drops of milk if too dry. Pipe onto the cooled cupcakes.

Top with chocolate covered espresso beans.

Adapted from: Cate’s World Kitchen

January 20, 2011

Spinach and Artichoke Dip


Spinach and Artichoke Dip

I absolutely adore spinach artichoke dip. As does my sister-in-law. So when I was planning the menu for her baby shower, I just knew this had to be on the menu, even though it didn’t fit the “miniature-food” theme.

This dip is absolutely delicious and so easy to make. I fancied it up a bit by putting it in a breadbowl, but the dip is glorious by itself in a bowl as well. It’s rich and creamy and perfect for Superbowl Sunday as well as the Sunday baby shower.


Spinach  Artichoke Dip


4 cloves garlic
1 (10 oz) package frozen spinach, thawed, chopped and drained
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 (10 ounce) container Alfredo-style pasta sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
Pumpernickel loaf


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
Place garlic in a small baking dish. Bake in the preheated oven 20 to 30 minutes, until soft. Remove from heat. When cool enough to touch, squeeze softened garlic from skins.
In an 8×8 inch baking dish, spread the roasted garlic, spinach, artichoke hearts, Alfredo-style pasta sauce, mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and cream cheese.
Cover and bake in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until cheeses are melted and bubbly.
Cut out top of Pumpernickel loaf and rip out inside of breadbowl to use as dipping pieces for the dip.
Once the dip is slightly cooled, fill the inside of the breadbowl.

Source: Adapted from All Recipes

January 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Mom!

Today’s blog post is dedicated to my mother.

Today is her 55th birthday and since I can’t be with her, I just wanted to share this post and let her know I was thinking about her.

Summer 2010

Fall 2010

Mom, 2 nieces and me

Mom back in the day

January 18, 2011

Indonesian Grilled Swordfish


Indonesian Swordfish

Whenever I eat swordfish, I think of that line from Finding Nemo about the “fish with a nose like a swooord”…wow, I know that movie way too well, but it’s one of those movies that just makes me feel good whenever I’m having a terrible day.

This fish is an Ina Garten recipe and while absolutely delicious and healthy (a bonus), I have a confession…an appalling and shocking confession. Okay. Here it goes: I don’t like Ina Garten. I know…how could a person not like the Barefoot Contessa? Don’t get me wrong, I think she’s a wonderful chef and has a lovely personality, but because of her and her popularity, people have been calling me Ina (enunciate the ‘I’) as opposed to the proper way to pronounce my name Inna (like the ending of Tina or Dina or Nina…EEEEnna). I will still continue to love her food and make it all the time, but I do get a bit disgruntled whenever I introduce myself to people or they see my name and say “Oh! Ina! Like the Barefoot Contessa!!!”. Alright, enough of  the rant.

This swordfish is as delicious as it is simple to make. It has a ton of flavor and the best part is that I bought  this swordfish on sale (frozen, but on sale) at the grocery store 🙂

Indonesian Grilled Swordfish


1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
vegetable oil spray for grille pan
2 Tbsp fresh lemon zest
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup minced or finely chopped ginger root
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 Swordfish steaks


Combine the soy sauce, vegetable oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, ginger root, garlic, and mustard in a bowl.
Pour the sauce in a bowl and place swordfish stakes inside, ladling the marinade over the fish.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.
Heat up a grill pan with vegetable oil spray.
Cook swordfish steaks approximately 8-10 minutes per side, brusing with extra sauce every time you flip the steaks.

Source: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa, Back to the Basics

January 17, 2011

Mushroom Risotto


Mushroom Risotto

My husband’s absolute favorite side dish is risotto. Given the option of risotto and anything else, he will 100 percent of  the time choose risotto. We’ve both been traveling a lot recently (separately unfortunately), so whenever we’re home together, I find myself making risotto…a lot.

One of the best things about risotto is that depending on what you add to it, the flavor can change so dramatically. With the addition of porcini and baby bella mushrooms, you have this amazing earthy, woodsy flavor.

Thankfully, this risotto is very easy to make, and I love that it’s a way to get Francis to eat vegetables. It’s perfect for my after-work quick-cooking as well as for our fancy-dinner occasions.

Mushroom Risotto


2 Tbsp butter
1 cup Arborio rice
1/4 cup mushroom mix (I used baby bella and porcini mushrooms)
2 Tbsp garlic
3 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese


In a medium skillet, heat 2 Tbsp butter with garlic on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook 3 minutes longer.
Add Arborio Rice and cook for one minute longer, mixing with other ingredients.
Reduce heat to medium and add vegetable stock, one cup at a time, allowing it to absorb into the rice before adding another cup.
When the last cup of vegetable broth is absorbed and the rice has been cooking approximately 20 minutes (and is soft), add Parmesan cheese and allow it to melt.

January 14, 2011

‘Rubber Duckie’ Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing


'Duckie' Sugar cookies

As I was saying, the favors for my sister-in-law’s baby shower were ‘rubber duckie’ sugar cookies.

These cookies, though I don’t have a picture of them all packaged up in their  cellophane bags with pink and yellow ribbons, were the favors, and were absolutely delicious. They were my second successful attempt at sugar cookies  with royal icing and while they’re not anywhere near as nice as I’d like them to be, I know  that with practice, I’ll improve in my technique.This is mainly an attempt at chronicling my progress in baking (and royal icing), which is why I am posting my cookie attempt here, though it definitely lacks perfection.

The recipe for the cookies and icing can be found here: Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing – Innochka’s Kitchen