Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Miso Sea Bass, Wasabi Mashed Potatoes, and Simple Salad with Ginger Carrot Dressing

Sorry y'all. Long time no post. Work has been crazy, we're about to go on vacation and my baby is turning one in a couple of weeks so I've been spending any free time planning a little family party. Anyway Saturday we had a couple of friends over for a potluck and one of the best meals I've eaten in a long time. I volunteered to make miso sea bass and my two girlfriends filled in the gaps with Asian themed sides. And boy did they fill those gaps!

This will now be my go to meal when I'm stumped for what to serve at a dinner party. Everything when together perfectly. Sweet and sticky glazed sea bass, subtly spicy creamy mashed potatoes and a crisp salad with a refreshing carrot ginger dressing. So good!

However if I'm being honest I'm not sure I'll ever make an entire meal by myself again for company. It's kind of more fun when everyone has a hand in creating the meal…not to mention a lot less work.

Hope your summer is winding down and/or you're squeezing every last ounce of it. Personally I have never been so excited to kiss it goodbye and welcome a change in weather. Some rain would be nice too but who am I kidding? It doesn't rain in Austin anymore.

Miso Sea Bass (subbed Sea Bass for Cod) courtesy of Food & Wine

Wasabi and Green Onion Mashed Potatoes courtesy of Bon Appetit

Simple Salad with Carrot Ginger Dressing courtesy of Just One Cookbook

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Healthy Strawberry Oatmeal Bars - Gluten Free

I discovered a new (to me) blog - Sally's Baking Addiction. Oops. This could have been a really bad thing but luckily Sally posts some healthy recipes now and then to fuel her marathon training. These bars were fantastic however I did make a few tweaks.

As with a lot of gluten free/Paleo-ish recipes, these were not sweet in the slightest. I suspect part of it was the fact my almond butter has zero sugar in it but just to be sure I could also serve these to people NOT worried about their calories I upped the sugar a hair. There was already one tablespoon in the recipe (the rest of the sweetness comes from maple syrup) so I threw caution to the wind by doubling it and also sprinkling a little over the top before baking.

They're still not what I would call a dessert bar or a 'sweet' but they're absolutely perfect for breakfast or as a snack IMO. Particularly with some Greek yogurt. And a latte. Or five.

Sally asks that you link back to her recipe rather than copy it so I'll just include my tweaks below that you can apply if you wish. I also added vanilla extract because I'm suspicious of any baked good that leaves it out. And salt for the same reason.


Alisa's Tweaks to the filling:

Use 2 tablespoons sugar in the strawberry filling. If you want a more dessert like bar versus say a breakfast or 'snack' bar, I suggest 1/4 cup.

Add in the zest of one lemon to the boiled strawberry mixture along with the cornstarch mixture as well as 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and a pinch of kosher salt. I suspect orange zest would be equally amazing.

Alisa's Tweaks to the 'topping':

Add a pinch of salt into the mixture along with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. I often use chopped pecans instead of sliced almonds.

Before baking, sprinkle 1 teaspoon granulated sugar evenly over the top.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Margarita Cheesecake, My Kinda Birthday Cake

Yesterday was America's birthday and mine. I hope you all had a fantastic 4th! I had a great one. My husband flew in on a red eye from a shoot so we could spend the day together, I got to take a nap with my baby in the morning and watch him eat (inhale) scrambled eggs for the first time at our favorite place, Elizabeth Street, before we spent the day with friends and family.

This was the cake I made to celebrate my 37 years on earth. I made it gluten free by using gluten free ginger snaps in the crust and no one was the wiser. But feel free to use regular ginger snaps or graham crackers. The filling is a classic key lime cheesecake filling but since it was my birthday I had to step it up a notch.

Enter the topping: a tequila infused whipped sour cream situation. You two should get to know one another.

Margarita Cheesecake with Tequila Whipped Sour Cream
Makes one big ass cheesecake.
*Takes a few prep bowls and steps, but worth it. Like all cheesecakes this MUST be made 1-2 days ahead and kept chilled in fridge for it to achieve the right consistency.

2 cups crushed ginger snap cookies (I used one 8 oz box Mi-Del Gluten Free Ginger Snaps), vanilla wafers or graham crackers
4 tablespoons salted butter
pinch kosher salt
zest of a small lime

Cheesecake Filling:
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temp
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup (8 oz) sour cream (I used light)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch kosher salt

1 pint heavy cream, very cold
heaping 1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon tequila
pinch kosher salt
zest of 1 lime
1/3 cup sour cream (I used light)
slices of lime, for garnish (optional)
whole strawberries, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 (I used convection bake setting.) Lightly butter a 9 inch round springform cheesecake pan, coating all sides and bottom. Use a large piece of aluminum foil to 'wrap' the base of the pan (just to prevent leaks) tucking it up and around the sides. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine cookie crumbs, melted butter, salt and lime zest until well blended. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the buttered pan and just slightly up the sides. Use a lighter hand when doing this or it will be brick-like after being baked.

Bake for 8-12 minutes until edges are golden. Set aside to cool on a wire rack.

Meanwhile in a standing mixer or big bowl with hand held mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until fluffy. Gradually add in the sugar, mixing until very well blended and being sure to scrape along bottom/sides for any hiding clumps.

Add egg yolks, one at a time blending after each addition just until yellow disappears. Add in the sour cream, juice, zest, vanilla extract and pinch salt. Mix well, scraping down sides and bottom once again.

In a separate (clean and dry) large bowl, whip the egg whites on high until stiff peaks form at the end of a beater when the beater is turned off but mixture is not dry (meaning there's still a little shine to them but they are no longer liquid.)

Gently fold the egg whites into the cream cheese mixture, until just mixed. Pour into the prepared crust and bake for one hour. Gently slide the tray the cake is on out and watch how the cake moves. If the entire thing is still jiggly/watery, bake another 10-15 minutes until JUST the very center is quivery. The center being loose is the goal - not the entire cake.

When just your center is jiggly, shut the oven door and shut the oven completely off. Leave for 15 minutes. Then crack the door and leave another 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. It's a big cake and will take a while so be patient.

Cover and chill over night or at least 8 hours.

Meanwhile, make your topping (topping can also be made several hours ahead or even overnight and put on the cake before serving.)

Using a standing mixer or large bowl with hand held mixer, beat the cream on high until it forms soft peaks, gently add in the confectioners sugar and continue to whip until you achieve classic whipped cream texture. Add in your extract, tequila, salt and zest and beat again just until incorporated. Make sure no little clumps of lime zest are lurking. Finally fold in the sour cream.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.

To assemble, remove the cake from pan. Spread the whipped topping evenly over and decorate with lime slices, strawberries and more lime zest or strips of lime zest if desired.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Mocha Heath Bar Bundt Cake (Can't Stop Won't Stop Cake)

Got to co-host the cutest sweetest baby shower last weekend for my new friend Jess who is due very soon with her first baby. My co-hostess with the mostess Krystle organized a fun project for us all to do painting onesies for Baby Gaffney which was really cute. Gurls got all crafty up in here! My backyard looked like a Pinterest board. Didn't think I was the crafting type but give me some wine and apparently I'll do anything. Except run.

Krystle also made an insanely delicious savory tomato cobbler which I'll post next as well as lots of other goodies. I also had grand plans to make a lot of food but with Kris out of town and the baby now crawling, I was just lucky to pull off this cake.

And I'm so glad I did because it just may be one of my favorite things I've ever made. After harassing Jess' hubby for details on what kind of treats she likes, we got the lowdown that she's a Heath Bar/mocha/toffee ice cream kinda gal. So Krystle made Heath bar coffee ice cream (to die for) and I made this chocolate mocha bundt cake that got drowned in a mixture of condensed milk and coffee after baking THEN caramel sauce and toffee bits. Mmm hmm. You heard me.

Next time I make it I'm going to soak it in the suggested Kahlua mixture and see what kind of party that leads to. I suspect a fun one.

Lastly I can't take credit for its new official title - Can't Stop Won't Stop Cake. That was all the mama-to-be.

Mocha Heath Bar Bundt Cake (Can't Stop Won't Stop Cake)
From Allrecipes, submitted by alijmorris
* For a nonalcoholic version, replace the kahlua with 3/4 cup chocolate syrup mixed with 1/4 cup warm water.
* When I made this the first time, I used the chocolate syrup/water mixture for the Kahlua substitution in the cake but mixed a can of condensed milk with some hot coffee to pour over the cake instead of mixing the other half with confectioners sugar which worked well. But I suspect the more Kahlua, the better.
* This cake gets better the more it sits soaking up the glaze. Make it at least the day before you want to serve it but do not apply the caramel sauce/Heath Bar bits until closer to serving or it will drink it up and not look as pretty.

3/4 cup salted butter, room temp (1 1/2 sticks), plus extra for buttering pan
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting pan
4 eggs, separated and at room temp
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee (can use decaf)
1 cup coffee flavored liquor (kahlua), divided (if subbing see above note and divide prepared mixture)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
tiny pinch salt

1 cup confectioners sugar mixed well with 1/2 cup Kahlua OR 1/2 can condensed milk mixed with 2 tablespoons hot coffee

1/2 jar store bought caramel sauce (like for ice cream)
1 cup Heath Bar bits/toffee bits

Preheat oven to 325.

Butter the inside of a 10 inch bundt pan then 'flour' liberally with cocoa powder. Tap out excess and set aside.

In a large measuring cup, dissolve baking soda in water, stirring well. Add in coffee, 1/2 cup of the coffee liquor (OR chocolate syrup mixture if subbing) and vanilla.

In a large bowl or standing mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy (will be a little stiffer than other butter/sugar combos but be sure to scrape bottom to get any sugar sticking to the bottom.) Beat in the cocoa, then egg yolks one at a time. Alternately beat in the flour and coffee mixture just until incorporated along with a pinch salt.

In a large glass or metal mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter, then quickly but carefully fold in remaining whites until no streaks remain.

Pour batter into pan. Bake for 55-6- minutes until a tester inserted in center comes out clean.

Meanwhile prepare glaze (either 1/2 cup Kahlua with 1 cup confectioner sugar OR 1/2 can condensed milk with 2 tablespoons hot coffee.)

Let cake cool for 10 minutes in the pan then turn out onto a wire rack lined with wax paper (so you can move it later.) Pierce warm cake all over carefully with tester or fork and drizzle the glaze over until it soaks it all up (careful - makes a mess!)

Let cake cool all the way and either wrap well in plastic wrap or transfer to a cake keeper until ready to serve. An hour before serving, drizzle liberally with warmed caramel sauce (microwave for a few seconds so it pours easily) and sprinkle Heath bar bits over the top.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Deep Dark Chocolate Mousse Pie with Chocolate Cookie Crust

Well when falls off the Paleo wagon, one really falls off. I have to admit being able to eat dairy again is the best thing ever. I had big plans for a French Silk pie yesterday but a non-napping baby forced me to try go with plan B that didn't involve so many mixing bowls and steps. As it turns out it was a delicious plan B.

The original recipe (from my beloved dog-eared Mrs. Fields Cookie Book) called for cream cheese. Since I didn't have any on hand I subbed creme fraiche and crossed my fingers. I think it gave it a particularly amazing texture. Definitely more 'mousse' like than it would have been with cream cheese and I loved the subtle depth of tanginess the creme fraiche lent to the filling really playing up the dark chocolate flavor. Another bonus to using creme fraiche? You can make this pie on the spur of the moment without having to wait for any of the ingredients to come to room temp first.

By the way my husband and our good buddy staying with us topped this pie with…are you ready?…Blue Bell and a big splash of bourbon. They swear it's the best thing ever.

Deep Dark Chocolate Mousse Pie
* Adapted from Mrs. Fields Cookie Book

1 1/2 cups chocolate wafer crumbs (ground fine)
5 tablespoons salted butter, melted
2 tablespoons granulated sugat

6 oz dark chocolate (55%-75%), chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream plus 1/4 cup, plus additional for whipping if desired
8 oz creme fraiche
1/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
pinch salt
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350.

In a medium bowl, combine the crust ingredients until well mixed. Gently press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes then place on a wire rack to cool.

For the filling, place chopped chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring 1/2 cup of heavy cream to just a simmer. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth.

In a medium bowl with an eclectic mixer, beat the creme fraiche, sugar, vanilla and pinch salt until smooth. Beat in the remaining 1/4 cup heavy cream. Gently beat in the melted chocolate mixture. Set aside.

Sprinkle the 3/4 cup chocolate chips evenly over the bottom of the crust (if it's still a little warm that's fine - the chips will melt a little which is just groovy.)

Pour the filling over, and if the crust was still warm, let cool a bit before covering with plastic wrap and refrigerating for at least 2 hours before serving to firm up a bit.

Pie will keep, covered, for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Creme Fraiche Dijon Baked Chicken

You can whip this together in five minutes. I don't even use a separate mixing bowl but mix everything right in the serving pan first before adding the chicken. It makes its own sauce as it bakes that you can ladle over rice or veggies to serve with it. Sour cream would probably work if you couldn't find or didn't have creme fraiche but try to use the real deal if you can since there's so few ingredients. The only way to mess this up is to over cook the chicken so remove it as soon as the sauce is bubbling all around it just when it's cooked through.

There are few 'five minute' recipes I'd serve to company but this is at the top of my list.

Creme Fraiche Dijon Baked Chicken
*recipe can easily be doubled, just adjust cooking time accordingly

2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup creme fraiche
zest of a small lemon
2 teaspoons whole grain dijon mustard
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons shredded parmesan
1 small shallot (size of a fig), diced
pinch fresh ground nutmeg, red pepper flakes, kosher salt and pepper (preferably ground tricolor pepper if you have it)

Preheat oven to 350.

In an 8x8 baking dish, mix together the creme fraiche, lemon zest, mustard, stock, parmesan, shallot, nutmeg and peppers and salt.

Add the chicken. Sprinkle the tops lightly with salt then turn over in the creme fraiche mixture to coat. Push around the dish so that they're evenly spread apart then put in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes (this depends on the size of your chicken - mine was organic and on the small side) or JUST until cooked through. The sauce should just be beginning to bubble around and in between the chicken. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Manchego and Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms (Magic Mushrooms)

My new favorite way to get cheese into my mouth. These are gluten free and can be prepared ahead and refrigerated for several hours or even overnight for an easy make ahead appetizer. Happy Weekend Y'all!

Manchego and Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms (Magic Mushrooms)

3 (8 oz packages) Baby Bella mushrooms
½ pound sweet Italian sausage
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon of olive oil, plus more for oiling baking dish
½ cup chopped shallots
2  cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar (this adds a particularly wonderful flavor but white wine or maybe even cider vinegar would work)
1/4 tspn paprika
Zest of small lemon
2 tablespoons almond flour (seasoned or plain dried breadcrumbs would work also if not gluten free)
¾ cup shredded Manchego cheese, lightly packed
½ cup crème fraiche (sour cream would work too or even Greek yogurt)
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 ½ tablespoons finely minced green onions
Big pinch fresh ground nutmeg
Parsley, additional chopped green onion or cilantro for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 if making right away.

Clean the mushrooms by rinsing quickly under cold water and patting dry (if you're a purist feel free to hand wipe each one instead - see you in a month.) Carefully remove the stems by pulling firmly and gently from the base where they connect. If the stems are particularly stubborn, you may need to use a small spoon to scrape out the leftover stalk to make room for the filling.

Next chop up enough of the stems (fine dice) to equal half a cup and set aside (you can discard the rest of the stems or save for another use.)

Lightly oil a large casserole dish with olive oil then place the mushroom caps spacing them evenly apart inside, cavity side up. Season very lightly with salt. Set aside.

Next heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up well with a spoon (you don't want super big chunks because you're going to stuff it into fairly small mushrooms.) Once broken up add the half cup of diced stems along with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until the sausage is cooked through, about 8 minutes.

Remove using a slotted spoon to a holding plate and set aside. Meanwhile add a little olive oil to the pan if necessary and let heat through for 30 seconds. Add the shallots with another small pinch of salt and cook for 4-5 minutes until beginning to turn translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook another 2 minutes or until softened.

Raise the heat slightly and add in the sherry vinegar. You want it to bubble a little and reduce until there's just a scant amount of liquid left in the pan. At this point kill the heat and move the skillet off the hot burner.

Carefully stir back in the sausage/mushroom mixture along with 1/4 teaspoon paprika, lemon zest, almond flour, creme fraiche, red pepper flakes, green onions and nutmeg until well mixed. Taste for seasoning and add pinch more salt/pepper if desired.

Use a small spoon to stuff the prepared mushrooms (I have found that if I pile them high enough I can use up all the filling.) At this point you can let them cool, cover and refrigerate for a few hours or even overnight before baking or bake right away in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until the top of the filling just begins to brown and they mushrooms have released their liquid and cooked through.

Cool for 5-10 minutes before garnishing with chopped herb of choice and serving.