Mangos from my backyard

Mangos from my backyard
How to cut a mango

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait

I get lost in other people's food blogs. Sometimes I am both envious and incredulous. How do they find the time? I dunno. The Italian dish is a beautiful site where I first found this dish. She knits, too, and, of course has a blog for that. I can't even begin to compete. This was very yummy. I admit I made extra crumbs and used twice the strawberries. It was delicious!

Strawberry Cheesecake Parfait
  • 1 pound of strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 12 ounces of cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 2 teaspoons Amaretto
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • mint springs, for garnish

  • Slice the strawberries into a bowl and sprinkle with one tablespoon of sugar. Toss and set aside.
    Mix the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and one tablespoon of sugar.
    Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the sour cream, confectioners' sugar and Amaretto and beat until combined.
    In another bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into the cream cheese mixture.
    Assemble Parfaits:
    Place about a tablespoon of the graham cracker "crust" in the bottom of your glasses. Layer some of the cheesecake filling in the glasses, then some of the strawberry topping and sprinkle some more of the graham cracker on top. (Amounts will vary according to how many parfaits you are making, so just adjust accordingly). Repeat layers and top with mint.
    Refrigerate until ready to serve. 

    Thursday, May 31, 2012

    Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing

    This salad is so yummy and so stinkin' easy to make. Some recipes call for adding red onion, but I was happy with just spinach and strawberries. Yum.

    Spinach Salad with Strawberries and Creamy Poppy Seed Dressing

    10 ozs spinach (fresh, washed and stems trimmed off one bag)
    1/2 lb strawberries (fresh, washed and sliced)
    1/2 cup mayonnaise
    2 tbsps white vinegar
    1/4 cup milk
    1 tbsp poppy seed                 )
    1/3 cup white sugar

    Macaroni and Cheese Cups

    I was amazed at how well these little mac and cheese cups were received. My friends thought I had come up with the idea, but they are all over the internet. As usual, I perused several recipes and combined them to come up with my own variation. The trick though, is prepping the muffin tin. Do not, I repeat, do not use paper muffin liners. I doubled the batch and made a dozen with paper liners. I sprayed the liners with olive oil, Pam, whatever canned spray I had on hand. They stuck. They stuck badly. Unless you want to eat paper, do not make them this way. I buttered muffin tins then sprinkled them with panko, japanese bread crumbs. Some recipes called from plain breadcrumbs. The panko virtually disappeared while baking, but the "cupcakes" easily popped out. I did have to run a knife around the edge, but other than that, butter and crumbs are the way to go. Here's the recipe I came up with.

    Macaroni and Cheese Cupcakes

    3 cups dry macaroni
    1 cup milk
    2 eggs, beaten
    2 teaspoons dijon mustard
    4-6 cups of shredded cheese, at least a lb or more
    panko crumbs

    Grease two 12 cup muffin tins with butter. Sprinkle panko into tins and shake to coat bottom and sides of muffin tins.
    Cook the macaroni in boiling water til al dente. Drain. Mix eggs, milk, dijon, and cheese. Add macaroni. Stir well to distribute cheese. Scoop into muffin tins. Sprinkle more cheese on top of each muffin. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min. or until tops are lightly browned. Let cool. Run a knife around each muffin to release cupcake.

    Swiss Chard and Goat Cheese Custard Bake

    I grew swiss chard in my garden for the first time this year. I have found that greens do really well in Hawaii. They like long sunny days and can handle drought. Works for me. So I was looking around for some new ways to cook with swiss chard and I came across this recipe on Kalyn's Kitchen. I like Kayln's blog, her recipes are always great. I really like this custard so I thought I would "reshare" it.

    Swiss Chard and Goat Cheese Custard Bake

    12 oz. Swiss chard leaves, chopped
    1 T olive oil
    1 large onion, chopped
    5-6 oz. goat cheese (Use the soft goat cheese that comes in a log)
    1/2 cup milk (I used 2% but lower fat would also work)
    8 eggs
    salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
    1/4 cup grated mozzarella or other low-fat mild cheese
    2 T + 2 T grated Parmesan (preferably freshly grated)

    Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Remove swiss chard stems and save for another use. Pile up the swiss chard leaves in a stack and slice in 1/2 inch slices one way, then turn the cutting board and slice the other way to make chopped pieces of chard. (You will probably have to do this in a couple of batches.) If needed wash the chopped chard in a salad spinner and spin until it's very dry. Chop the onion into pieces about 1/4 inch.
    Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan (big enough to hold all the Swiss chard.) Add onion and saute 4-5 minutes on medium-high heat, just until the onions are barely starting to brown. Then add Swiss chard, all at once. Use a large turner to turn the chard as it cooks until it's all wilted, about 2-3 minutes. Turn off heat and let the chard cool slightly.
     In a large bowl, beat the eggs then season with salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Stir the milk and goat cheese mixture into the eggs and then add the mozzarella and two tablespoons of the Parmesan. Add the chard and onions and stir so it's well distributed in the egg mixture.
    Spray a round casserole dish or springform pan with olive oil or nonstick spray. (Use a pan that's 8 or 9 inches in diameter.) Put the egg/chard mixture into the pan and top with the other two tablespoons of Parmesan. Bake for one hour, or until the mixture is fully set and lightly browned on top.


    Green Bean Salad

    I grew these green beans in my garden. I am so stinking proud of myself. I guess it doesn't take much. I love this salad. It is a combination of 3-4 recipes that I found for green bean salad online. Then I just winged it and this is what I came up with. It was delish.

    Green Bean Salad

    1 1/4 lbs green beans
    1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
    1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
    1/2 cup kalamata olives, halved
    2 hard boiled eggs, cut in chunks
    3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    2 tablespoons white balsalmic vinegar
    2 teaspoons dijon mustard
    salt and pepper

    Blanch the green beans for 3-5 minutes in boiling water, then plunge in ice water.
    I like my green beans crunchy, not soggy, but you can cook them longer if you like. Drain them and pat them dry or your dressing will be watery. Toss everything else all together and you're done. You can mix the dressing separate if you like, but I just drizzled it over the vegetables and stirred.

    Tuesday, May 1, 2012

    Eggs Benedict with Blender Hollandaise Sauce

    Just a few eggs benedicts! For Easter Brunch! Most are made with canadian bacon, but a couple to the left are spinach and tomato for my vegetarian friends. The blender hollandaise sauce is from The New York Times cookbook that my Mom gave to me on Valentines Day when I was in high school.
    I learned something new about this hollandaise sauce. If I make it first and let it sit, it thickens up a great deal. In this pic, I made it last and it was too runny. Tip: let it sit for 10-15 min and it gets thicker. I like it better that way.
    Blender Hollandaise Sauce

    3 egg yolks
    2 tablespoons lemon juice
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    pinch of cayenne pepper
    1/2 cup of melted butter, bubbling hot

    Put egg yolks, lemon juice, and cayenne in blender. Microwave butter until bubbling hot. Blend yolks for a few seconds, then remove center of blender lid and very slowly pour in hot butter. Blend for about 30 seconds. That's it! That's all it takes!

    For the rest of the eggs benedict, I toast english muffins. I heat canadian bacon in the microwave for 20 seconds or so. I poach the eggs in a fry pan filled with boiling water and a tablespoon of white vinegar and remove them with a slotted spoon when they are done. I sprinkle them with a little bit of paprika after they are assemble to give it a little more color. They are always a hit!

    Italian Meatball Submarine Sandwich

    Whenever I make spagetti and meatballs I always try to make extra meatballs to make sub sandwiches for later and, you know what, I never have any leftover meatballs. My recipe for meatballs is what I call a Rachael Ray recipe, it's a handful of this and a handful of that, no measurements. I also change up the ingredients according to what I have on hand. If I have fresh basil or oregano on hand I use it, if not, not. But this is the basic recipe I use and it's not from any site or blog, it's more from years of making meatballs, which is probably my husband's favorite meal.

    Italian Meatballs

    1 lb ground beef (93%)
    1 egg (lightly beaten)
    2 slices stale bread (I freeze my bread ends for this use)
    1/4 cup milk (or more)
    1 tsp basil
    1 tsp oregano
    1 tablespoon chopped parsley
    1-2 cloves garlic, minced
    1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
    1/2 cup finely minced onion
    sub rolls
    spaghetti sauce
    1/2 cup shredded mozzerella (approx)
    1/2 cup fresh parmesan (approx)

    Put the stale bread in a bowl and cover with milk. Soak until soft and then squish and mush bread until it is soggy crumbs. Add egg. Add hamburger and all the rest of the ingredients. Shape into large balls. I like to use an ice cream scoop to make them uniform. I also like to bake them. I think they retain their shape better and cook more evenly. I bake them @ 350 degrees for about 15-20 min. I toast the sub rolls in the oven on a cookie sheet. Then I spread them with a couple tablespoons of spagetti sauce. Then place the meatballs on the rolls, top with more spaghetti sauce, mozzerella cheese, and parmesan cheese and put them back into the oven for a few minutes to melt the cheese and heat the sauce. Often, I heat the jar of sauce (without the lid on, of course) in the microwave first, so the sauce is already hot. And Voila~