Wednesday, May 4
Mother’s Day is just around the corner, which means two things for me. First, I am planning on not cooking this Sunday, or even parenting much at all (that’s how I like my Mother’s Day, nice and lazy). Second, I’m teaming up with Fair Trade USA once again to celebrate the amazing women farmers of fair trade! I think this might be my 4th Fair Trade Mother’s Day recipe and giveaway…I’ve lost track! Anyway, since it’s not Mother’s Day quite yet, I am still in the kitchen and today I’ve cooked up a batch of double chocolate coconut cookies that I am certain you will love.
But before we get to the recipe we need to meet a farmer. And do a giveaway, which includes tons of awesome fair trade goodies. Let’s go!
This year Fair Trade is focusing on the women of fair trade through their #FairHer campaign. Like ONE, another non-profit organization I work with frequently, Fair Trade recognizes how important it is to help women in order to tackle poverty. In fact, you can’t tackle poverty without focusing on women. And the work Fair Trade does empowers women in many ways, especially given that women produce more than 50% of the world’s food (ummmm…btw…they only own 2% of the land).
To make this all a little more real, I’d like you to meet one of those women farmers, Virginia Jimenez, a sugar cane farmer & member of the CORA Cooperative, a Fair Trade Certified organic sugar producer in Paraguay. Gimenez has been involved with sugar cane all her life, as both her father and late husband were sugar cane producers. Her late husband, Mario Miranda, joined CORA in 2010 and died a year later. Gimenez, a mother of four, has taken over as the CORA-affiliated producer.
Here are a few of Virginia’s thoughts: “For us, the access to machinery that CORA provides is key for our annual production [note: according to CORA, they are able to lend the use of machinery at low or no cost by using some of the Fair Trade premium fund]. I also like the ideals behind CORA. Their strict rules are good for our society. For example, the controls regarding the use of child labor is very good. The safety workshops have also been great help. And the idea of producing organic sugar cane without chemicals is very important. My husband believed strongly in this. If we were able to increase our earnings, whether from sales or from the premium fund, I would like to see our health services improved. We do not have medical attention here on a daily basis. If a poisonous snake bites someone, we have to go really far.”
So, keep an eye out for that fair trade symbol on the food you buy. It’s helping wonderful women like Virginia. A sincere thank you to Virginia for sharing her story and thoughts with us!
I mentioned a giveaway, didn’t I? Fair Trade USA sent me a package of goodies to provide inspiration for today’s recipe, and one of you lucky people will receive the same package! It just might be their best one yet. Click here to read about all of the products included!
Here’s how to enter the giveaway! (Comments must be posted by Midnight PT 5/11/16):
- Simply leave a comment on this post! That’s it!
- Bonus entry: Follow Fair Trade Certified on Facebook (leave a separate comment for bonus entry, if you already follow just let us know!)
- Bonus entry: Join the This Week for Dinner email newsletter list! (leave a separate comment for bonus entry, if you already subscribe just let us know!)
I think it’s time to get cooking with all these yummy fair trade ingredients!
Today’s cookies may not be fancy but they are pretty much perfect. Crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, these chocolate cookies are filled with dark chocolate and coconut, one of my favorite flavor combinations. And there are so many ingredients in these cookies that can go fair trade, from the sugar to the vanilla to the chocolate! For this batch I used Guittard’s organic semisweet chocolate baking wafers, which are my favorite chocolate chips to use in any cookie recipe. I also used Lake Champlain’s organic unsweetened cocoa, another fabulous chocolate source that I can’t get enough of.
Enjoy! And Happy Mother’s Day!Double Chocolate Coconut CookiesPrep timeCook timeTotal timeAuthor: Jane MaynardServes: 3 dozenIngredients
- 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1½ cup brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Generous ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- 1¼ teaspoon baking soda
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut (I love wide sliced)
- 1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips (I love Guittard's baking wafers)
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, mix together the butter, sugar and brown sugar on medium speed for approximately 5 minutes. (Yes, 5 MINUTES...you want it to mix for a long time.)
- Add the eggs and vanilla and mix on medium speed for another 2-3 minutes.
- Place a sifter over the bowl and add the salt, baking powder, baking soda, flour and cocoa powder to the sifter, then sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix on low until just mixed.
- Add coconut and chocolate chips and mix with a large spoon until evenly distributed.
- Place dough in 2-tablespoon dough balls on a cookie sheet, leaving a few inches between each cookie.
- Bake for about 12-14 minutes. The cookies shouldn't look wet beneath the surface (if that makes sense).
- When you take them out of the oven, drop the pan flat onto the counter or stovetop to force the cookies to settle.
- Let cool a few minutes before eating. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Dough balls can also be frozen and cookies cooked from a frozen state, you just may need to add 1 or 2 minutes to the cook time.
Friday, April 22
Hi friends. Today’s recipe isn’t really a recipe at all. I would say it’s more of a kitchen tip and one that I am loving. Today I’m going to tell you how to make super easy chicken for tacos that tastes so good. And when I say easy, I mean easy.
My cousin Jamie gave me this idea and I will be forever grateful to her. We were cooking up tacos one night and had chopped up a bunch of grilled chicken thighs. Jamie grabbed some leftover taco seasoning and tossed it in the bowl. GENIUS. The chicken turned out awesome and now I make it this for tacos all the time.
You can use any taco seasoning, but my favorite is from Penzeys. Not only does this seasoning taste great, but it comes in a jar, so you can use as much or as little as you want. It’s so much better than a packet.
Also, I always grill my chicken and while this is super tasty with chicken breasts, chicken thighs are definitely my favorite. Just grill up the meat, cut into bitesized pieces, then toss with taco seasoning.
This seasoned chicken is also great on salad or in a wrap. Basically it’s the best. You’re welcome.
Wednesday, March 30
Forget PB&J. Or PB&H. Today I give you PB&P! And it has nothing to do with peanut butter. But it is a sandwich. And it has everything to do with savory pear sauce, brie and prosciutto. That’s right, pear brie prosciutto grilled cheese sandwiches…PB&P! And this sandwich is scrumptious.
It’s springtime, so fruit is in the air. (Along with love, but that’s another blog post for another blog, really.) Libby’s hired me to develop a recipe using one of their canned fruits to celebrate the spring season. I immediately thought of canned pears (one of my favorite foods growing up!) and wanted to try out a fun savory twist. Enter the PB&P.
I love brie in a melted state. And I love the combination of salty prosciutto with sweet fruit. And I love bread. So, basically, today’s sandwich is the love of my life. The sandwich itself is quite simple – bread, sliced brie and prosciutto with a smattering of savory pear sauce. The layers of flavor are delicious, and the texture is perfect. Oh, and by the way, the savory pear sauce is so good and beyond easy to make. And, even though this is a great sandwich for springtime, by using canned pears it not only simplifies the recipe, but you can make this any time of year!
Before we get to the recipe, Libby’s has a giveaway for you today! One lucky winner will receive this super cute Crate & Barrel Six Bottle Spice Box along with an assortment of Libby’s Fruit, so you can get creative in the kitchen, too! Simply leave a comment on this post to enter! Comments must be posted by midnight PT on Wednesday, April 6, 2016 and prize must be shipped within the U.S.
Good luck to all on the giveaway…and now for the recipes! Enjoy!
PB&P Sandwiches (aka Pear Brie Prosciutto Grilled Cheese)Prep timeCook timeTotal timeAuthor: Jane MaynardServes: 1Ingredients
- 2 slices good quality bread
- 1 thin slice prosciutto
- About 4 thin slices brie
- 1-2 tablespoons savory pear sauce (see recipe below)
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat about 5 minutes.
- While pan is heating up, spread pear sauce on 1 slice of bread.
- On the second slice of bread, place the brie slices evenly to cover then top with prosciutto.
- Put the sandwich together, then butter the top.
- Place sandwich butter side down in the pan, then butter the other side (that is now facing up).
- Cook sandwich over medium heat until both sides are golden brown.
Savory Pear SaucePrep timeCook timeTotal timeAuthor: Jane MaynardServes: 1 cupIngredients
- 1 15-ounce can Libby's pear halves, drained but reserving 2 tablespoons of the juice
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced onions (about ⅛ of a small onion)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- Couple shakes of ground pepper
- Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add onions and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add 2 tablespoons of the pear juice to the pan, then the drained pears. Break the pears up with a spatula a bit. Add salt, ginger and pepper and stir well.
- Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to about medium-low, making sure to maintain a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally and smashing up the pears each time you stir. The final consistency should be saucy with lumps.
This post was sponsored by Libby’s – I received compensation in exchange for work performed. Price per serving for the PB&P sandwich is approximately $2.00.
Thursday, March 24
Today I’m sharing a recipe for flaky, baked homemade samosas that don’t really taste that much like real fried samosas and are a lot of work but are also super delicious. How’s that for selling a recipe?
My friend Traci wanted to make homemade samosas and found two recipes for baked samosas, one from The Kitchn that uses egg roll wrappers and another on Food 52 that uses puff pastry. We got together one Friday morning and tried making the puff pastry version. It took hours. I don’t know, maybe our chatting made us slow, but I don’t think so. In the end it’s a recipe with several steps, one of which involves rolling out each samosa individually and stuffing them. It can get time consuming, especially if you are making a lot of samosas. Traci and I did have a lot of fun cooking the samosas, but it was indeed a labor of love.
The good news is the samosas were really delicious. The texture was nothing at all like a fried samosa you would get at an Indian restaurant, but I suppose in the end that shouldn’t have come as a surprise. I mean, it’s puff pastry. And they weren’t fried. So, yeah, they’re gonna be different. But they are still really good and the filling is divine.
Knowing that puff pastry samosas are best served fresh, Traci and I froze a bunch of the unbaked samosas for cooking later. When I baked a frozen batch they came out perfectly. So, if you do in fact decide to tackle this recipe, triple or quadruple it and then freeze a whole bunch of the samosas before baking. Although, if you just make one batch, then it won’t be as time consuming because you want be rolling out and stuffing as many. I’ll let you decide your own strategy!
But the freezing-ahead aspect of this recipe is why I’m really excited about sharing it with you. Seriously, having homemade, yummy samosas just waiting in the freezer for you on a busy weeknight is pretty awesome.
One more thing, the green cilantro sauce you see in the pictures. I threw that sauce together on the fly and it was almost good…but I added too much onion. As I was getting this post ready, I decided not to share what I did with you and looked up some actual Indian cilantro sauce recipes. This one on Fine Cooking looks like what I was trying to accomplish, so that’s what I will make next time.
Homemade Baked SamosasPrep timeCook timeTotal timeFrom Food 52, although I have rewritten the directions based on our experience with the recipe.Author: Jane MaynardServes: 20-25Ingredients
- ½ pound potatoes, cut into large chunks
- 2 large carrots, cut into chunks similar in size to the potatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- half of a small yellow onion, chopped
- 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ cup frozen peas
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- ¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 1 serrano pepper, minced
- salt (the original recipe calls for a pinch, but it definitely needs more than that...I think we did ½ teaspoon - measure ¼ teaspoon at a time to taste)
- Two 15x10-inch frozen puff pastry sheets (the puff pastry at my store was smaller than that, more like 9x9 inches, so I needed two packages...be sure to check the size!), place in refrigerator to defrost a few hours before using
- 1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and carrots and cook for 10 minutes, until tender.
- Drain water and mash potatoes and carrots together with a potato masher. Leave mixture slightly chunky.
- While potatoes and carrots are cooking, heat the olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add onion, ginger, and cumin. Cook for about 5 minutes, until onions are tender and translucent.
- Add onion mixture, peas, cilantro, mint, garam masala, serrano pepper and salt to the potato/carrot mixture. Mix well. As I mentioned in the ingredients list, add salt ¼ teaspoon at a time and taste the mixture to get the right amount.
- Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface, unfold one of the sheets of cold puff pastry and cut it into 3x3-inch squares.
- Roll each square out with a rolling pin quite thin (this is where my directions diverge from the original recipe more significantly). Place a scoop of the mixture onto the center of the square, about 2 tablespoons. You do not want to overfill or the filling will escape when baking, so it might not seem like enough filling, but it is. Brush two sides of the square with water just along the edge. Fold the dough over the filling diagonally to form a triangle, folding the unbrushed edges onto the wet edges. Once the dough is folded over, gently squish the filling sideways to fill the samosa evenly. Using a fork, press down all along the two joined edges to seal both sides, then flip the samosa over and crimp the edges with a fork again.
- Place triangles on prepared baking sheet, leaving a bit of space between the samosas. Brush the tops with egg wash. At this point you can bake the samosas or place them in the freezer.
- If freezing: Place baking sheet with samosas in the freezer. If freezing you can fit more samosas on the tray than if you were baking them. Fully freeze, then transfer samosas to an airtight container or ziptop freezer bag. When ready to eat, follow baking directions below, adding 5-10 minutes to the cooking time.
- If baking: Bake 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown.
- Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.
- Serve warm!
Wednesday, February 24
February is American Heart Month. To raise awareness, the Salmon Council reached out to see if I would create a salmon recipe, which I was most happy to do! So, today we have Southwestern Salmon Orzo Salad, and it is quite tasty, if I do say so myself.
Currently, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for every 1 in 4 deaths. While that sounds dire, the good news is that a healthy diet and lifestyle can significantly help fight heart disease. When I interviewed Lisa Oz last December, one of my biggest takeaways from our conversation was how her heart surgeon father was an early adopter of using diet to help his patients’ health, an approach that then influenced Dr. Oz (Lisa’s husband). It can be quite miraculous what nutritious eating can do for our bodies.
Today’s post is specifically focused on heart-friendly salmon. Salmon is filled with omega-3 fatty acids, and it is recommended that we eat food high in omega-3s at least twice a week. But in addition to those omega-3s, salmon is also rich in protein and Vitamin D, a highly nutritious combination that can help lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack by up to one-third.
The Salmon Council challenged me to incorporate DeLallo’s organic whole grain orzo into my recipe. I immediately thought of an orzo salad that my mother-in-law makes that has a Greek flavor to it. I decided to change things up and give the salad a southwestern flare, using a cilantro dressing and adding some heat to the salmon. I have to admit that I’m not normally a huge fan of whole grain pastas strictly for taste reasons, but this whole grain orzo was awesome – just as delicious as regular orzo but with a nice nutritional boost. And the salad overall is sooooo good. The spicy sweet salmon pairs beautifully with the fresh-tasting cilantro dressing and the crunchy veggies. And, if you want to add just a bit of cheese, queso fresca or cotija Mexican cheeses are PERFECT in this salad. If you’re trying to cut back on cheese, though, the salad is just as good without it!
A note about the salmon – as much as I loved it in the orzo salad, it was also really delicious all by itself. The preparation is super simple, making it a great meal on its own.
Southwestern Salmon Orzo SaladAuthor: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 8 ounces uncooked whole grain DeLallo orzo
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 1 to 1-1/2 pound salmon filet, skin on
- 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
- ½ cup black beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup canned corn
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cloves minced fresh garlic
- 8 ounces salsa verde
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup sour cream
- ¼ cup water
- About 3 ounces queso fresca or cotija cheese, crumbled (optional)
- Add 2 tablespoons salt to a large pot of water. Bring to a boil.
- Add orzo. Return to boil then cook for 9 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.
- Preheat outdoor grill to medium heat, so internal temperature of grill reaches 500º F.
- While the pasta is cooking, rinse and dry the salmon filet. Brush both sides of the salmon filet with olive oil.
- Place skin down on a large piece of foil, folding up the sides, leaving a couple inches between the edge of the salmon and the edge of the foil all around the filet.
- Mix together the brown sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, cumin, cayenne pepper and garlic. Spread evenly on the top of the salmon filet. Place salmon on the foil on the grill and cook with the lid closed for 10-15 minutes, until salmon is fairly easy to flake apart. You may see some white stuff as well. Remove from grill.
- Remove salmon from the skin in very large pieces. Set aside.
- In a large bowl mix together the cooked orzo, bell pepper, black beans, corn.
- Add salsa verde, chopped cilantro, sour cream and water to a blender and blend well.
- Add ½ cup of the green sauce you just made to the orzo mixture and stir well. Add salmon pieces and stir carefully.
- Serve with extra green sauce and top with queso fresca/cotija cheese if using.
- Serve immediately or chilled.
To learn more about salmon, visit the Hooked on Salmon Facebook page and get salmon recipe inspiration on Hooked on Salmon’s Pinterest board. To find out more about DeLallo’s products, click here to visit the DeLallo website!
This post is sponsored by the Salmon Council. DeLallo provided me with the orzo I used in this recipe.
Thursday, February 18
My dear friend Michelle had the opportunity to live in Hyderabad, India for a year and is, therefore, well versed in Indian cuisine. One day when we were hanging out, she was ranting and raving about curry powder. Her complaint is that Americans think that curry powder makes curry, when in fact curry powder totally isn’t Indian. Sure enough, if you look up curry powder on Wikipedia you’ll see this: “Curry powder and the contemporary English use of the word “curry” are Western inventions and do not reflect any specific South Asian food.” Michelle explained that “curry” basically means a saucy dish with tons of spices, and there are lots of different kinds of curries in India, and that none of them have curry powder.
Basically, curry powder isn’t Indian. The end.
Michelle was feeling bad, however, once she realized that there is a recipe she has from an Indian cookbook that actually does use curry powder. It’s called Curry in a Hurry and it’s her favorite non-Indian Indian food recipe. I’ve had this recipe sitting in my “to-try” pile for years and we finally made it last week! It was very good, even if it is fake curry. 😉 Nate commented that it actually tastes more like a North African dish, which is kind of true. Whatever it is, it’s delicious. All of my kids liked it, too, especially my 8-year-old Anna. (Here’s a link to the cookbook the recipe came from originally – Michelle likes this book a lot!)
As for which curry powder to use for this recipe, just use whatever you find at the store. I used McCormick’s curry powder. Michelle said that since she first shared the recipe with me, she has discovered Penzey’s curry powders and she likes them better than the standard grocery store versions. The Sweet Curry Powder is milder and Michelle says her kids really like that one, but her favorite is the Maharajah Curry Powder, which has really good flavor.
Thank you, Michelle, for giving us a way to use curry powder that doesn’t make you want to yell at us. 😉
Curry in a HurryPrep timeCook timeTotal timeOriginally from "Indian Home Cooking" by Suvir Saran (I modified the measurements slightly on a few things and wrote the directions in my own words.)Author: Jane MaynardIngredients
- 1½ tablespoons oil
- ½ of a small onion, chopped
- 5 teaspoons curry powder
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 dried red chilies (I just used 1 so it wouldn't be too spicy for my kids)
- 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 4 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces (original recipe was 2 chicken breasts, but I added more)
- 3-5 cups fresh spinach
- Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent.
- Add curry powder, garam masala, garlic and red chilies. Stir for one minute.
- Add coconut milk, tomatoes, tomato paste and simmer until thickens, stirring regularly.
- Add chicken; simmer until chicken is fully cooked. (Alternatively, you can add already cooked chicken if you have it, just cook until heated through.)
- Add spinach, stir and cook until spinach as wilted.
- Serve over rice.
Tuesday, February 2
Last week I traveled to Minneapolis to visit the General Mills headquarters, where I had the chance to meet with the director of sustainability at General Mills as well as participate in a small group Q&A with the president of cereal (at which point I asked waaaay too many questions). It was a great visit and I learned a lot, much of which I will share later. But today I have to tell you about the birth of Spicy Layered Chocolate Mousse Squares.
During the visit they had all the visiting food bloggers participate in a recipe challenge with Justin Warner (winner of Next Food Network Star Season 8). We had to create a recipe within 1 hour incorporating a General Mills cereal along with at least 2 items from the list of natural ingredients used for flavoring and coloring their cereals. (Over 75% of Big G cereals no longer use artificial colors or flavors and they are on track for almost 100% within the year.)
Me being all serious about the challenge that wasn’t even being judged.
I have zero desire to ever be on a competitive cooking TV show, so when they told us what we were going to be doing, I was not excited. But I put my thinking cap on and got to work. With General Mills professional cook Mary Kaye at my side (I wanted to take her home with me!), I created the dessert I’m sharing with you today. I decided to use Cocoa Puffs, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and cocoa powder.
Justin giving his stamp of approval for the chocolate mousse technique I stole from Nigella Lawson; Mary Kaye and I writing up the recipe
I ended up with a delicious layered dessert using the following layers. Layer 1: Cocoa Puffs crust with a hint of cinnamon (the crust had great flavor). Layer 2: Sweetened, whipped cream cheese. Layer 3: Chocolate mousse spiced with cayenne pepper. Layer 4: Unsweetened whipped cream, sprinkled lightly with cocoa powder and cayenne pepper. The final product tasted great, with a subtle heat that builds over time.The richness of the chocolate and the spice of the cayenne is counterbalanced by the almost sour flavor of the cream cheese, and all that creaminess goes perfectly with the crunchy crust. Plus, the layers look really pretty on the serving plate.
I made the recipe again last night just to be sure I had all the measurements where I wanted them. Once again I enjoyed it thoroughly. Nate had a chance to sample it as well and said that it is really good, but that I might have hyped it up too much. I told him it was a hit in Minnesota so whatever.
So, here you go! Spicy Layered Chocolate Mousse Squares! Maybe I should put cooking competition shows on my to-do list after all. Actually, no. Never going to happen. One hour with a helper and no judges was already too much pressure! 😉 (Side note: I totally stole the chocolate mousse technique from Nigella Lawson and it works beautifully. Click here for Nigella’s instant chocolate mousse recipe and save it to your recipe box.)
One more thing! We had the opportunity to work in the photo studio to photograph our recipes. We had a professional prop stylist, food stylists and photographers all there to help, along with more beautiful props than you can imagine. This is the first time I shot a recipe with artificial light. Until I have this set up in my house, I probably won’t do it again…but it sure was fun!
Me acting all serious again.Spicy Layered Chocolate Mousse SquaresPrep timeTotal timeAuthor: Jane MaynardServes: 16Ingredients
- 3 cups Cocoa Puffs
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 8 tablespoons butter, divided, softened to room temperature
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream
- 1½ teaspoons vanilla, divided
- 1½ cups mini marshmallows
- 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tablespoons hot water
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, plus more for dusting
- cocoa powder for dusting
- Preheat oven to 350º F.
- Place 3 cups Cocoa Puffs in a zip-top plastic bag. Using a rolling pin, crush the cereal until it is in crumbs, with no large pieces remaining. Pour crushed cereal into a medium mixing bowl.
- Add 6 tablespoons of the butter and 1 teaspoon cinnamon to the cereal, combine well with a fork or pastry blender.
- Press mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom of an 8" x 8" baking dish. If crust is sticking to your hands, wet your fingers lightly with water.
- Bake for 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven and set on counter to cool completely. While the crust is baking and cooling, make the cream cheese, chocolate mousse and whipped cream layers as described below.
- For chocolate mousse layer: In a heavy medium saucepan, melt bittersweet chocolate, 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of hot water over medium-low heat. Once melted, add the mini marshmallows and cook until marshmallows are completely melted. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
- While chocolate is cooling, in a medium mixing bowl, mix together ½ cup of the cream, ½ teaspoon of the vanilla and ¼ teaspoon of the cayenne pepper. Whip with a hand mixer until stiff peaks form.
- Fold chocolate mixture into the whipped cream, carefully mixing until there are no more white streaks.
- Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes (not longer). If you are still prepping other layers at the 30 minute mark, remove the mousse from the fridge and set aside until ready to assemble the dessert.
- For the cream cheese layer: Using a hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, ½ cup of the cream and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla. Start out at low speed until ingredients are mixed evenly together, then slowly increase speed to medium-high. Beat for about 1 minute, until very well blended. Set aside until ready to assemble dessert. Do not refrigerate before assembling - this will make it easier to spread.
- For the whipped cream layer: Beat 1 cup of the whipped cream in a large mixing bowl until thick but still spreadable. You do not want stiff peaks to form, but it should be thicker than soft peaks.
- To assemble the dessert: Once the crust is completely cooled, spread the cream cheese layer first directly on the crust, spreading evenly. Next add the chocolate mousse layer, spooning the mousse onto the cream cheese layer in several spoonfuls around the dish, then carefully spreading to all the edges. Finish with the straight whipped cream, spreading evenly on top and using a frosting spreader or knife to smooth out the top.
- To dust the dessert with cocoa and cayenne: Using a mesh sieve, over the sink spoon some cocoa powder into the sieve carefully. Hold the sieve over the dessert and tap it with a finger to sprinkle a thin layer of cocoa powder over the entire top surface. Repeat the process with cayenne pepper, making sure to sprinkle just a very light layer.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Serve cut into 16 squares.
Thursday, January 21
Today’s guest on the show is Meredith Walker. I met Meredith last year when I traveled with her to Malawi with ONE and Heifer International. After a week of truly life-changing travel together we are bonded for life! In addition to Meredith being completely lovable and someone I can laugh with for hours on end, she is also the co-founder and executive director of Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, a website that Meredith started with her best friend Amy Poehler with the goal to empower girls. Previous to Smart Girls Meredith worked as the head of the talent department at Saturday Night Live, where she booked the guests and pretty much met everyone. Meredith began her career in television, however, working under the tutelage of respected journalist Linda Ellerbee on Nick News. The show won a Peabody and several Emmys while Meredith produced there, but the best part of her job at Nickelodeon was interviewing kids all over the country with interesting stories to tell, creating the foundation for her interest in the lives of young people.
Meredith is the best and I feel lucky to count her as a friend. I am so happy she hung out with me on the podcast, especially since she was so pumped to share her favorite recipe with us all, as well as a few kitchen tips!
- Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls
- Posts on Smart Girls about our trip to Malawi
- Posts on my blog about our trip to Malawi
- Joel Mozersky Design
Photo of Joel’s Meatballs from MeredithFrench Onion MeatballsRecipe for French Onion Meatballs, as created by Joel Mozersky of Joel Mozersky Design and friend of Meredith WalkerAuthor: Joel MozerskyIngredients
- Onion Mixture:
- 4 sweet white onions, halved, and sliced very thin
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 1½ teaspoons fresh thyme
- ½ bottle white wine - I used chardonnay
- 2 pounds ground chicken (breast or thighs or both)
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 3 cloves crushed garlic
- 1 handful of basil, minced
- 2 eggs
- 1 handful of chopped garlic chives
- salt and pepper to taste
- olive oil for frying
- ¾ cup Comte cheese
- ¾ cup Gruyere cheese
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- garlic chives
- Sourdough bread
- Chop the onions very thin. Put the butter and oil in a stock pot on medium low heat. Add the onions and thyme, and cook them down until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 10 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, and let simmer on low until the liquid concentrates- about 20 minutes to 3 hours- the longer it simmers, the better it gets. You want it to be a somewhat thick soup consistency.
- While the soup is cooking down, combine all of the meatball ingredients in a bowl. Then form the meat into meatballs, a little larger than a golf ball. They might be a little wet, but they should stick together well enough to form. Heat some olive oil in a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Fry the meatballs on all sides until they have crispy edges and are cooked through- about 5 minutes per side. When they are cooked, but them in the pot with the onions and let them simmer for about 5 minutes.
- Transfer about half of the contents of the pot with the meatballs into a casserole dish. There should be liquid underneath and between the meatballs, and the onions as well.
- Cut up slices of sourdough bread. Grill or toast bread with a little olive oil on it. Put it on top of the meatballs. Then top with the cheeses and garlic chives.
- Broil until the cheese melts, serve in shallow bowls with crusty bread.
- Serve the rest of the soup on the side
It’s easy to listen to the show!
- Via the web: Just click play below!
- Via an app: For iPhone and iPad, subscribe to the This Week for Dinner Podcast on iTunes and listen to it through the purple Podcasts app. For Android devices, use the Stitcher, Podcast Addict or Pocket Casts apps. In all cases, launch the app, then search for This Week for Dinner Podcast. The benefit of using an app: once downloaded, you can listen to the show without an Internet connection.
- If you enjoy the podcast, please leave a rating and/or review on iTunes!
- Big thank you to d&m for providing the music for the podcast!
Posted by Jane Maynard at 11:23 am No Comments
Categories: featured recipes, Kitchen Tips, main dishes, Podcast Episodes Tags: french onion meatballs, meredith walker, podcast, this week for dinner podcast |
Wednesday, January 20
My sister-in-law Cora is a great cook and also a great discoverer of recipes. When she texts me about a recipe, I always follow through and make it. I have yet to be disappointed.
The latest Cora recipe was this Pork and Udon Soup found on the Food Network website. She had made a few modifications, sent me the link with her notes, and told me that my nephew ate three bowls. Of course I had to try it!
Them’s the plastic noodles right there.
I’ve had the soup on my menu for two weeks and today I finally made it. And it was delicious. Anna calls it Plastic Noodle Soup. I like the name and will be calling it that from now on. My kids honestly didn’t love the plastic, I mean udon, noodles, so I may try using ramen noodles next time. But they did love the pork, the veggies and the broth very much. Owen never eats the broth but today he did! (Small victories.)
If you want the original recipe, click here. Cora and I both felt the measurements were way off for some of the ingredients and we also adjusted the directions. So, you know, I’d follow the recipe below if I were you. 😉Pork and Udon Noodle Soup, a.k.a. Plastic Noodle SoupPrep timeCook timeTotal timeAuthor: Jane Maynard via Cora WallinServes: 8-10Ingredients
- For the roasted pork:
- 1 2-pound pork shoulder
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- Kosher salt and pepper
- Alternatively: In a pinch, you can use Aidells Teriyaki Pineapple meatballs, about half a package (Cora used the meatballs and said it was good but the roasted pork is probably better)
- For the soup:
- 4 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 2 medium carrots, chopped (my carrots were pretty skinny, I used 4 carrots)
- ½ of a small onion, chopped
- 1½ tablespoons fresh ginger (about 4 inches of root), minced using a zester
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 habanero, seeded and chopped (optional)
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 2 cups cabbage, chopped
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 8 cups chicken stock
- ~1/2 teaspoon salt
- ~3 cups of the roasted pork, shredded
- 2 or 3 7-ounce packages udon noodles (each package is enough for ~4 servings; toss the flavor packet)
- Fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
- Bean sprouts, for garnish
- Lime wedges, for garnish
- Sriracha sauce, for garnish
NotesMy kids didn't love the udon noodles. I think ramen noodles would be equally as delicious in this soup. 1 package of ramen (without the flavor packet) would probably be enough for the entire pot of soup.
- To roast the pork: Preheat oven to 425º F. In a small bowl mix 4 tablespoons olive oil with 4 minced garlic cloves. Place the pork shoulder in a roasting pan, preferably with a rack in the bottom. Brush the garlic oil on all sides, then sprinkle all sides evenly with kosher salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes then reduce heat to 325º F and cook until an instant read thermometer inserted in the center of the pork reads 185º F, which will take a few hours. Remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes. Shred and set aside.
- To make the soup: Prep the onion, carrots, ginger, garlic, chile (if using), mushrooms and cabbage before you start to cook.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once heated add the onions and carrots. Cook until they start to brown. If pan seems too hot while the onions and carrots cook, adjust heat to medium.
- Reduce heat to medium (if you haven't already) then add the ginger and garlic. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add 2 tablespoons canola oil, then add the mushrooms and cabbage. Stir in the soy sauce, then add the chicken stock. Cook for about 10 minutes. At this point taste the soup and see if it needs additional salt. I added ½ teaspoon of salt at this point.
- In a separate small pot, bring about 2 cups of water to a boil. Cook udon noodles for 2 minutes then drain. Divide noodles into 4 bowls.
- Add shredded pork (or meatballs, if using) to the soup and cook for a few minutes, just until meat is heated. Fill each bowl with soup.
- Top with cilantro, bean sprouts, lime juice. Cora and I leave the habanero out of the soup so the kids can eat it, then use Sriracha to add heat to our own individual servings.
It is best to serve and store the noodles separate from the soup. You could in theory cook the noodles right in the soup. Cora said she stored the noodles in the soup for leftovers and they were okay, but it was definitely better keeping them separate.3.4.3177
Wednesday, January 13
Today I wanted to share the easy ladybug cupcakes I made for Cate’s birthday. One of my “things” as a mom is making fun birthday cakes for my kids, but this year Anna simply wanted a cake made out of donuts and Cate wanted chocolate cupcakes with vanilla icing. While I was a little disappointed to not be making more elaborate cakes, I will admit it was a nice break, especially one week before Christmas.
Then, the day of her birthday, Cate informed me that she wanted ladybug cupcakes. I was like, “Uh, what?” I was completely unprepared, but really wanted to come through for her. Luckily I had some red cupcake liners and a pack of candy eyes in the cabinet and was able to pull these off!
These ladybug cupcakes are seriously EASY.
- Cook the cupcakes in red or black cupcake papers.
- Make a batch of buttercream frosting. Color about 2/3 of it with red food coloring (you’ll need a lot of food color!). Color the rest of the buttercream with black food coloring.
- Frost the cupcakes with red buttercream using a butter knife, spreading the frosting on smoothly (doesn’t have to be perfect!).
- Place the black frosting in a piping bag with a small, round tip. Pipe on the outline of the wings, the polka dots, and a head, as shown in the diagram below.
- Finish off the ladybug with small candy eyes placed on the black icing piped on as the head, right at the edge of the cupcake.
I was able to knock these cupcakes out no problem, and the design is so simple even the non-artistic among us can pull it off.
Click here to get the recipes I used for the chocolate cake and buttercream frosting. (Feel free to use a cake mix, I’m not keeping track!)
Posted by Jane Maynard at 3:34 pm 1 Comment
Categories: birthday cakes, kids, Kitchen Tips, sweet things Tags: birthday cake, birthday cake decorating, cupcake decorating, cupcakes, kids birthday cakes |