Archive | February, 2011

Caramel apple spice cookies

27 Feb

A few days that felt a little like fall (expect, you know, with an extra 20 feet of snow on the ground) brought this one around: caramel apple spice cookies.

A handy packet of pre-made caramel (actually part of a caramel apple decoration kit) and North Fork Ranch‘s sparkling gingersnaps cookie recipe lay the groundwork here. Minus the caramel that was already made to melt, then reform, you could make your own caramel, or use spiced apple chunks along with cut up caramel candies. Your call.

Read on for the recipe.

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Stuffed pasta shells

26 Feb

For last Sunday’s charity dinner, we made stuffed pasta shells two ways: non-meat no-mushrooms, and meat (there also were other ingredients).

With one side of the pan going the spinach-artichoke-broccoli-carrot-feta-ricotta route, and the other leaning toward the chicken-peppers-onions-mushrooms-ricotta-mozzarella side, it was a pasta shell extravaganza. The chunky tomato sauce was lifted/adapted from the most recent issue of Esquire.

Read on for the recipes.

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Panna cotta: Mexican chocolate

20 Feb

Here we are, the last of the four panna cotta variations! This time around, it’s Mexican chocolate.

Orange zest, orange-and-spice chocolate, ground cinnamon, ancho chile powder, and the feeling of drinking something warm while eating something cold.

Follow the break for the recipe.

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Panna cotta: Mocha-mint Irish cream

20 Feb

Clearly, if you’re going to be making four kinds of panna cotta in one go, you will be needing to make more than one that includes some sort of spirit.

Based on the classic Irish cream and coffee, this variation uses chopped, espresso-flavored chocolate (one of many tastes from my new organic market — read: walking distance from my house — chocolate obsession, Green & Black’s chocolate bars), Bailey’s Irish cream and fresh mint leaves.

Again, it is based on the Basic Panna Cotta recipe, outlined in Panna Cotta bonanza. Keep with the clicking for the Mocha-mint recipe.

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Panna cotta: Nutella spice

20 Feb

Continuing on the Panna cotta bonanza theme, this variation uses a hefty spoonful of Nutella melted in with the heavy cream.

Add a little ground cinnamon and ground ginger, finish with some pure vanilla extract and milk chocolate chips, and enjoy the pudding-esque dessert that tastes like pie, hazelnut, chocolate and living the dream.

Read on for the recipe.

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Panna cotta: Basil and Bulleit

19 Feb

At the Truffle Pig in Steamboat Springs, they make a mean cocktail. On their list of tasty, seasonal selections is the Bulleit and Basil, a blend of fresh basil, Bulleit bourbon (read: delicious) and lemon. Thinking of variations on the fabulous, crowd-pleasing and addictive panna cotta recipe I knocked out every Monday — and on approximately 45,000 other occasions — at North Fork Ranch, tasty drinks came to mind.

It’s based on the Basic Panna Cotta recipe in the previous post. Keeping the same proportions of milk and cream, this take involves steeping the heavy cream with lemon zest, fresh basil, honey and a generous splash of Bulleit before adding it to the milk-and-bloomed-gelatin mixture.

(Note: I bought that plate at Wal-Mart just for pretty food pictures. But I might still prefer our plastic monkey plates, shaped like plastic monkey faces.)

Read on for the Basil and Bulleit panna cotta recipe.

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Panna cotta bonanza

19 Feb

For Valentine’s Day, Zach got a care package that included some heart-shaped chocolate cups, which I completely failed in being able to properly fill.

One attempt was with a four-fecta of panna cotta, poured into the shells and (theoretically), hardening after that. Word to the wise: let your pudding cool before pouring it into milk chocolate shells. Luckily, all the leftover panna cotta mixture that wouldn’t fit into the now melted shells went into mini-cupcake cups.

Photos and recipes of each flavor are coming soon.

Panna cotta variations:

Mexican chocolate (cinnamon, ancho chile powder, chopped orange-and-spice chocolate, orange zest)

Mocha-mint Irish cream (Bailey’s, mint leaves, chopped espresso chocolate)

Nutella spice (Nutella, cinnamon, ginger, milk chocolate)

Basil and Bulleit (Fresh basil, Bulleit bourbon, lemon, honey)

Basic panna cotta recipe:

1/3 cup milk

1 tsp unflavored gelatin

1 cup heavy cream (infused with your choice of flavorings)

4 tsp sugar

1 tbsp honey

1/4 tsp vanilla

pinch of salt

1) Pour milk into a saucepan and sprinkle with gelatin. Let it sit for 5 minutes.

2) Warm milk with gelatin over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, until the gelatin is fully dissolved (skipping this step will result in something that does not feel like food).

3) Add the heavy cream, sugar, honey, vanilla and salt. Let it cook for about 5 minutes (make sure it doesn’t boil).

4) Using a measuring cup to avoid an unpleasant clean-up process, pour the cream mixture into small cups, and let sit for several hours, until firm.

Mediterranean potstickers

17 Feb

Dumplings are one of my favorite snacks/appetizers/things-t0-eat-as-meals-that-are-not-in-fact-meals. Steamed, pan-fried or deep-fried, they’re perfect little bites of meat, vegetables and seasoning, and make handy vehicles for any kind of semi-liquid sauce.

Pork is the general favorite way to go along the usual Asian-themed potsticker route. Those are a pretty common guest in our kitchen. But at some point, I get a little bored, and end up with something like this:

That’s chicken, artichoke heart, spinach, shallot, garlic and feta cheese, all chopped very fine, shoved into a dumpling wrapper, sealed, and fried.

Served with a Greek yogurt and roasted red pepper sauce, these little guys are creamy, salty, briny, citrus-y, and extremely delicious. Read on for the recipe.

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“Sweet Elvis” cookies (minus bacon)

15 Feb

Back in the glory days of the Skylight Exchange in Chapel Hill, N.C., one of our more popular sandwiches was “The Sweet Elvis,” a sticky-sweet sandwich made of sourdough bread, crunchy peanut butter, banana slices and honey.

“Sweet Elvis with bacon” was a favorite.

Having recently bought a big jar of peanut butter, it seemed time to make that Sweet Elvis into a cookie, with banana, sweetness and chocolate.

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Recipe: Blueberry muffin-inspired cookies

4 Feb

These blueberry-flavored treats came from an idea to make a different, new-to-me cookie each week. This time around, it’s blueberry-juice-infused Craisins (didn’t know they made these), toasted pecans, semi-sweet chips, white chocolate chunks and quick-cooking oats. They’re chewy, filling, and taste like an extra-guilty breakfast pastry.

Eventually, coming up with new ingredient combinations to put in a standard chocolate-chip cookie recipe will become more challenging. I don’t see that happening for a while.

Read on for the recipe.

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