Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Portable Cherry Crumb Pie Jars

Portable Cherry Crumb Pie Jars

Today you can read my article on Hoosier Homemade where I discuss the very serious problem of crumb theft.  Yes, the rampant crime spree that occurs in my kitchen whenever I've baked a crumb topped dessert has left me desperate to find a solution.  And since it does seem to be all about the filling and the crumb topping, I've solved the problem by eliminating the pie crust altogether and just handing everybody their own personal crumb filled dessert jars.

Head on over to Hoosier Homemade to see the recipe!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Chicken Milanese Topped with Crunchy Salad

Chicken Milanese Topped with Crunchy Salad

When I have a great meal in a restaurant, I usually try to recreate it at home.  I don't usually wait four years to share it with you, though.  Then again, we waited practically a lifetime in between visits to this amazing place so I'll have to chalk both things up to 'life got in the way' and not try too hard to figure it out.  The restaurant in question was the Union Square Cafe, practically a New York institution and a temple to farmer's market freshness.  The vibe is casual, though expensive, and the food is fresh, simple and perfect.  Exactly like this dish.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Chicken Meatballs in Creamy Tarragon Sauce

Chicken Meatballs in Creamy Tarragon Sauce

What's for dinner?  You know that dreaded question, right?  Day after day after day.  So I'm here today with another option.  I can whip up a batch of meatballs very quickly so it's a frequent go-to meal whenever I have any ground meat.  But that just means it can get a little boring.  A fun sauce, though, makes all the difference.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Savory Tomato Cobbler with Gorgonzola Biscuits

Savory Tomato Cobbler with Gorgonzola Biscuits

We've been going a little tomato crazy around here this summer.  I realize that sounds normal to most of you but...um...I used to hate tomatoes.  Yes.  Hate.  And I know you're thinking that I probably still ate things like ketchup and tomato pasta sauce but you'd be wrong.  Hate is hate.  Happily, tastes can change.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Month in Review - July 2014

The Month in Review - July 2014

I hope you all have been enjoying summer because I certainly have.  It's been a remarkably mild July by New York standards with very few days over 90 degrees.  Typically, July is the hotter and stickier of the summer months so we seem to have gotten through it with very little reason to complain.  August is when the city really slows down, temperatures are lovely and people schedule vacations and beach time.  I'm planning to savor every moment of it.  Speaking of savoring, July was a delicious month in the Hungry Couple household with several ridiculously good new recipes.  So, before we get back to the business of delighting in the weather, let's take a look back at the good eats and drinks of July.  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Salted Caramel Peanut Pie

Salted Caramel Peanut Pie

Happy Grab Some Nuts Day!  No, I'm no kidding and I'm not nuts.  Well...um...not completely.  Anyway, yes this is an actual holiday, people.  Nuts are good and healthy and delicious and we're celebrating them.  By now you should know that my fellow food bloggers and I can't resist these wacky holidays and had to come up with nutty recipes to honor the occasion.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Blueberry Ricotta Cream Cheesecake

Blueberry Ricotta Cream Cheesecake

I've had a life-long love affair with cheesecake but, until very recently, I didn't know there was a National Cheesecake Day.  Even better is that it falls just 3 short days after my birthday.  It's like they know me!  I knew I'd be celebrating today with a huge group of my fellow bloggers but I went ahead and made the cake over the weekend so that it could be my birthday treat.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Fig Salad with Bacon, Blue Cheese and Honeyed Walnuts

Fig Salad with Bacon, Blue Cheese and Honeyed Walnuts

Fresh figs must be one of the prettiest fruits around and I can't quite resist them when I see them.  Sometimes that happens, though, when I have no actual plan for how to use them.  So I just drizzle them with a little honey, crumble on some sharp cheese and munch away as a snack.  But taking that a step further and creating an amazing salad is so worth it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Heirloom Tomato and Gorgonzola Tart

Heirloom Tomato and Gorgonzola Tart

Most Saturday mornings in summer, you'll find me at our local farmer's market.  Yes, Manhattan has farmer's markets and quite a few, in fact.  The big, amazing, awesome, I wish I lived across the street one is at Union Square.  Four times a week, farmers, growers, bread bakers and cheese makers drive down from the Hudson River Valley to set up their stalls.  While I used to have the pleasure of working only two blocks away, it's quite a treck from my upper east side apartment.  Fortunately, there's a smaller version of the market just a few blocks from home.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Kiwi Banana Smoothie and My New Kiwi Love

Kiwi Banana Smoothie

It's no secret that I love summer fruit and I always have a nice selection on hand.  But I have to admit that the little kiwifruit is not usually one of them.  Oh, I like the taste and always enjoy them when they're served to me on a fruit platter somewhere, but the idea of peeling those furry skins just doesn't appeal to me.  So, did you know that you can just scoop out the flesh without peeling them?  Neither did I.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Blueberry Pie with Lemon and Thyme


Today I have the pleasure of kicking off my first article for Hoosier Homemade.  I was in a serious mood for pie and couldn't pass up some beautiful ripe blueberries.  But I also decided to borrow from one of my favorite quick breads and add cornmeal and lemon zest and thyme.  And goat cheese.  Yes, goat cheese and blueberries are a happy couple.  The result was definitely a winner and one that I'll be making again and again.


Head on over to Hoosier Homemade to see the recipe!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Greek Burger with Tzatziki Sauce

Greek Burger with Tzatziki Sauce

Summer brings out my burger craving in a big way!  Sure, there's that whole outdoor grilling thing but, actually, I love mine made in burning hot cast iron pan in my own kitchen.  However they're made, though, I've been wanting them non-stop.  As it happens, my friend, Kita, from Girl Carnivore is hosting a burger month - 31 days, 31 burger recipes by 31 amazing bloggers.  And there are cool giveaways, too, so be sure to enter the raffle at the bottom of this post.

Monday, July 14, 2014

No Churn Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream #IceCreamforOXO

No Churn Blueberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

Cold ice cream, hot summer day - you don't need convincing, right?  So only two questions remain.  What flavor and do we make it or buy it?  I'm guessing that, those of you with ice cream makers, choose to make it while those who don't (that would be me) opt to purchase.  What's that you say?  You can make ice cream without a machine?  Thanks, I think I will!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Creamy Roasted Heirloom Tomato Dressing

Creamy Roasted Heirloom Tomato Dressing

If you've recently noticed fewer salad greens in your local market, it may very well be my fault.  The way I've been buying massive quantities of all sorts of lettuces could have contributed to a nationwide shortage.  What's my sudden passion for romaine and butterhead?  To scoop us this dressing, of course, and shovel it into my mouth.  The next option would be a spoon.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Apple Tarte Tatin

Apple Tarte Tatin

Today my fellow holiday food bloggers group members and I are celebrating the upcoming Bastille Day.  So what is that, exactly, other than an excuse to eat French food?  In short, it's the French National Day that commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution with the Storming of the Bastille on July 14th 1790.  And we're all about helping the French celebrate this occasion.  Here in New York there are actually quite a few celebrations and fairs on Bastille Day so...bring on the French food!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Gelato Crunch Cake

Gelato Crunch Cake

With the July 4th holiday weekend coming up and plenty of summer outdoor entertaining in general, I've been thinking a lot about what desserts to serve.  After a meal of grilled meat and starchy sides there's not usually much room left for a heavy cake.  And the hot weather begs for something cool.  So I find myself scooping out dishes of ice cream but wanting to somehow make it more special.

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Month in Review - June 2014

The Month in Review - June 2014

Excuse me but where did June go?  I mean, didn't it just get here yesterday?  I'm sure that each of the bitterly cold winter months lasted at least 8 or 9 weeks so I'm sorry to see how quickly the first of the summer months disappeared.  But, the lovely outdoor weather hasn't gone to waste and I'm taking every opportunity to be outside.  OK, I spend some time in my kitchen and then go outside.  And that has resulted in some pretty amazing new recipes.  Before we head back outside, though, let's take a look back at the good eats and drinks of June.  Enjoy!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fruity Iced Tea Lemonade

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Lipton, but all my opinions are my own. #bemoretea #pmedia  http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

Fruity Iced Tea Lemonade

When I think of cooling, refreshing summer drinks I think of iced tea and lemonade.  OK, I also think of frozen daiquiris but we'll discuss that another time.  Rum aside, there are usually beverage pitchers in my refrigerator, in various stages of steeping and cooling, so that I can have my favorite drinks handy.  As for the Keurig brewer, I've never paid it much attention since I'm not the coffee drinker in this house.  That is, until I recently discovered that Lipton makes K-Cups of iced tea for the Keurig.  Um...what?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Yogurt Fig Cake

Yogurt Fig Cake

This treat actually came about through circumstance and accident.  Over the weekend I met an old friend for brunch and stopped into a large gourmet market near the restaurant on my way home.  I'd already noticed that the local fruit vendors had figs for sale but they were too soft and wilted.  This market, however, had firm and perfectly ripe figs for sale and I couldn't resist buying them.  But now that I had them, I wasn't sure what to do with them.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies

I don't know if whoopie pies are normally associated with summer but they definitely are for me.  I've heard they're a southern treat but Maine stakes a big claim to them as well.  And it was in Maine that I first fell for these goodies.

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
A few years ago we headed to coastal Maine for summer vacation and a big pillowy chocolate whoopie pie filled with gooey marshmallow cream was waiting for us in our rental cottage.  I'd heard of them but never tasted one.  But that first taste ignited a little fascination for them.  We've been to Maine a few times since then and I always look forward to the plentiful whoopie pies.  But I also knew I'd eventually need them more often and have to learn to make my own.

Last year I tried my hand at an awesome pumpkin version and now it was time for me to master the original chocolate cakes.  And I did include the marshmallow filling with the pumpkin but, where I see chocolate, peanut butter quickly follows. Just as I'd finished assembling this batch, a delivery man came to my door with packages.  After I signed I offered him one and as he was walking away I heard him say to himself 'oh, that's good.'  Enjoy!

Ingredients

Cookies:
1 Egg
1 Cup sugar
1 Stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 Teaspoon vanilla
1/4 Cup milk
1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
1/4 Cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Teaspoon baking powder

Filling:
1/4 Cup powdered sugar
1 Tablespoon milk
1/4 Cup peanut butter
Pinch of sea salt

Chocolate and Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
Add the egg and sugar to a mixing bowl and cream together using a stand or hand mixer.  Beat in the butter and then the vanilla and milk.  In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.  Beat the dry ingredients into the wet.  Using a spoon or scoop, drop balls of dough onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  You can make the cakes any size you like but I used a 1 oz. scoop.  Leave a couple of inches between each cake since they will spread.  Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.  Allow the cakes to cool completely.

Make the filling by beating together the powdered sugar, milk, peanut butter and salt until smooth.  When the cakes are cooled, place a heaping teaspoon of filling onto half the cakes and top with the other half.  I used a 1 oz. scoop and got 24 cake halves which resulted in a dozen whoopie pies.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Frozen Banana Berry "Cake"

Frozen Banana Berry Cake

It's very nearly summer.  It's hot.  Ice cream recipes are everywhere.  But for every rich creamy version out there, I've been seeing ones for 1 ingredient banana ice cream, 2 ingredient banana soft serve, etc.  They're basically frozen bananas with or without a touch of vanilla, blitzed in the food processor until the texture is similar to soft ice cream.  I had to try it.  And I always have bananas in my freezer.

Frozen Banana Berry Cake
What I found was that it is, in fact, a good quick treat but I felt like I wanted something more.  Some small bit of creaminess without raising it to the fat level of ice cream.  A little low fat cream cheese did the trick.  And then I wondered if I could create something fancier but without too much fuss.  Desserts at summer grilling parties seem like they should be cold and light and some version of kicked up frozen fruit would be perfect.

So I put on my mad scientist cap and gave my food processor a good workout trying recipes.  This one looks company worthy, can be made ahead and is really a light frozen treat masquerading as a rich dessert.  Enjoy!

Ingredients
12 Graham crackers
1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen
1 Cup frozen strawberries
4 Tablespoons low fat cream cheese, divided
2 Tablespoons sugar, divided
1 Teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 Cup blueberries for topping

Frozen Banana Berry Cake
Place the graham crackers in a food processor and pulse until they turn into crumbs.  Pour in the melted butter and continue pulsing until it's thoroughly distributed.  Pour the crumbs into a mini spring-form pan (mine is about 4" in diameter) and press down and slightly up the sides of the pan.  Place in the freezer while you make the banana base.

Give your food processor bowl a quick rinse and it's fine to continue using it to make the rest of the layers.  Place two tablespoons of the cream cheese and one tablespoon of the sugar in the bowl along with the frozen bananas and a very tiny pinch of sea salt.  Puree until the mixture is completely smooth and thoroughly combined.  Pour into the graham cracker crust and return to the freezer for about 15 minutes.

Place the remaining two tablespoons of cream cheese, the remaining tablespoon of sugar, another tiny pinch of sea salt and the frozen strawberries into the food processor and puree until smooth and thorough combined.  Pour over the banana mixture and return to the freezer for at least four hours or overnight.  When ready to serve, run a knife under very hot water for a few minutes and then run it carefully along the edge of the pan.  Gently open and remove the spring-form and the crust should remain in tact.  Top with the fresh blueberries.

Note that frozen fruit melts much more slowly than ice cream and this tastes best when it's been sitting at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes.  Makes 3-4 servings or you can double the recipe for a standard 8" pan.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Crunchy Quinoa Salad with Tahini Vinaigrette

Crunchy Quinoa Salad with Tahini Vinaigrette

With summer just a week away, I've been making a list of healthy and filling salads I can make ahead on weekends and keep in the fridge for easy lunches all week long.  Not just plain old lettuce type salads, though.  I needed something heartier that would hold up over a few days and be satisfying.

Crunchy Quinoa Salad with Tahini Vinaigrette
The easiest way to boost the heartiness factor is to add grains and I realized that my jar of quinoa has been sadly neglected lately.  Quinoa it is.  As for the veggies, I wanted options that wouldn't get soggy and provide lots of crunch.  And a little boost of nuts or seeds thrown on just before serving really brings it all together.  Adding regular lettuce wouldn't hold up very well over time but baby spinach leaves do and were a surprisingly wonderful pairing with the tahini dressing.

To me, the mark of a great recipe is one that I want to make again immediately after I've finished eating it.  And this salad has been on perpetual re-make for the last couple of weeks.  Enjoy!




Ingredients
1/2 Cup quinoa
3/4 Cup water
1/2 Cup shredded carrots
1/2 Cup broccoli florets, chopped small
1/4 Cup chopped scallions
1/4 Cup sunflower seeds
1 Cup baby spinach leaves

Tahini Vinaigrette
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon prepared tahini sauce
2 Teaspoons lemon juice
1 Teaspoon mayonnaise
1 Clove garlic, peeled and minced
Salt & pepper to taste

Crunchy Quinoa Salad with Tahini Vinaigrette
Add the quinoa and water to a pot and bring to a boil, cover, lower the heat and cook for 12 minutes.  Turn off the heat but keep the lid on for an additional 5 minutes.

Prepare the vinaigrette by combining the olive oil, tahini sauce, lemon juice, mayonnaise and garlic in a bowl and whisking together.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the carrots, broccoli and scallions to the cooked quinoa.  Pour on the vinaigrette and toss to combine.  Fold in the spinach leaves and finish with the sunflower seeds.  This salad may be served warm or at room temperature.  Makes 4 side dish servings or 2 meal sized servings.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mexican Tortilla Pie

Mexican Tortilla Pie

I'm constantly thinking about the daily question of what's for dinner.  It's a meal that requires more planning than the cereal I pour into a bowl at breakfast and the salad I usually toss at lunch.  I have to make sure I have all the ingredients for whatever I'm going to make and that I've left enough time to prep and cook.  Otherwise, I sometimes get too hungry and just throw the ingredients back in the fridge while I eye the cereal box again.

Mexican Tortilla Pie
This meal had the benefit of being easy to make, of using ingredients I frequently have around anyway and of being ridiculously delicious.  I mean, really, seriously, let's make this again tomorrow, good.  And did I tell you it's a one pot (or pan, in this case) kind of meal?  I was a little uncertain about the refried beans since I usually choose regular black beans for these types of meals.  But as soon as I tasted the result of combining the refried beans with the tomato sauce, I knew I had a winner.  Some flavors are just meant to be together and cooking the beans, sauce, beef, cheese and tortillas together creates the perfect combo.  Go make this.  You'll thank me.  Enjoy!







Ingredients
1 lb. Ground beef
2 Tablespoons taco seasoning
1/2 Cup beef broth
2 Tablespoons canola or olive oil
1 Onion, peeled and diced
4 Cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 Cup chopped scallions
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
1 Cup milk
1 Cup enchilada sauce (tomato sauce is OK as well)
1 Can (approx. 16 oz.) refried beans
2 Cups shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
5 Flour tortillas (10")
Salt & pepper to taste

Mexican Tortilla Pie
In a cast iron pan, brown the beef with the taco seasoning and broth.  Remove from the pan into a dish and set aside.

Ad one tablespoon of the oil to the pan and saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes until translucent.  Remove the mixture from the pan and into the dish with the cooked beef.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan along with the flour.  On medium heat, whisk in the milk and continue cooking until the sauce is slightly thickened.  Return the beef and onion mixtures to the pan with the milk sauce, add the scallions and season to taste.  Remove the mixture to another dish, wipe the pan with a paper towel and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.

In a separate bowl, combine the tomato or enchilada sauce with the refried beans.  Place one tortilla into the cast iron pan, top with half the beef mixture, then the second tortilla, half the bean mixture, the third tortilla, the remaining beef mixture, the fourth tortilla, the remaining bean mixture and then the fifth tortilla.  Top with the cheese and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 - 45 minutes or until the cheese is melted and lightly golden brown.  Makes approximately 8 servings.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Crispy Baked Onion Rings (aka Cooking Actress Onion Rings)

Crispy Baked Onion Rings

Last month, when some of my fellow food bloggers and I participated in Brunch Week, we had the good fortune to work with a number of terrific foods sponsors and sample their products.  So, while it might not sound all that exciting to get a bag of Vidalia onions in the mail, to foodies like us, it kind of is.

Crispy Baked Onion Rings
I also imagine that most people, when faced with a bag of onions, just store them and use them in any recipe that calls for onions.  But apparently food bloggers need to announce the event on Facebook and solicit onion recipes from their cooking friends (yes, yes, I'm so guilty!)

And that is how a rather long FaceBook thread started revolving around this bag of sweet onions.  I got lots of suggestions including one for a bacon onion jam which seriously needs to happen here soon.  But the one that caught my eye was from my friend Kayle who writes The Cooking Actress blog.  Her baked onion rings looked so good, I made them that same day.  And a couple of days later I made them again, and I posted a photo, and then several other friends made them because they saw my photo and posted their own photos and, finally, Kayle herself re-made them because we'd all given her a serious craving for her own recipe.  Who knew onions could be so much fun.

Crispy Baked Onion Rings
Normally this is the point where I would give you the recipe but since I literally did not change one single thing from Kayle's directions, I'm just going to send you over there to get the original recipe straight from the girl who started this whole thing.  So, get yourself some large onions, Vidalia or otherwise, and start cooking.  You're about to become obsessed.  Enjoy!


Crispy Baked Onion Rings by The Cooking Actress

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Cherry Cheesecake Chocolate Truffles

Cherry Cheesecake Chocolate Truffles

Every vacation town we've ever visited has had at least one great candy shop.  It's always crazy busy (at least in summer) and there's a huge selection of lollipops, jelly beans and every kind of chocolate bonbon.  But the ones I want...um...OK, let's be clear that I really want everything, but the ones I buy are big chocolate covered marshmallows and chocolate truffles with creamy centers.  I had no idea how to recreate the truffles at home but I figured I could make the chocolate covered marshmallows.  Big fail.  And after a couple of sad attempts I gave up.

Cherry Cheesecake Chocolate Truffles
Then, recently, I happened on a web site called Chocoley and found myself completely engrossed.  They sell all the supplies to make candies and have a couple of very impressive features.  Tempering chocolate is a huge mystery that I had no desire to solve but Chocoley offers the option of chocolate that needs no tempering.  They also basically ask you what you want to make and then direct you to those products that will help you make it.  Big thumbs up.  More amazing still was that after I was already a fan of the company's web site, they offered me the opportunity to work with some of their products.  Big, big happy!

Cherry Cheesecake Chocolate Truffles
I placed my order and began playing mad candy scientist as soon as it arrived.  My box of goodies came with instructions and tips on how to best work with the products I chose and I produced my first ever truffle in record time.  I chose one of the larger bonbon molds because I thought it would be easier for a beginner and it was.  Even though there are a few steps involved in truffle making, each is easy and the chocolate sets up quickly in the refrigerator.  I knew I wanted to make a cherry cheesecake filling but that didn't stop me from also stuffing the molds with nuts, marshmallows, peanut butter...um, you get the idea.  I was a total kid in a candy store.  And all those fillings were great but the cherry cheesecake is the bomb.  It came out every bit as good as I'd hoped and is worthy of being sold at any of those fancy candy stores.  Now I have to go speak to the Chocoley people because I definitely need more supplies.  Enjoy!

Supplies:
1 lb. Bada Bing Bada Boom Chocolate-No Tempering Candy Molding Formula (link)
1 oz. Bottle cheesecake flavoring (link)
Plastic truffle mold 1.875" size (link)

Recipe to make 8 truffles:
1/2 Cup Chocoley chocolate
1/2 Cup cream cheese
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Drop cheesecake flavor
Pinch of salt
8 Cherries, either maraschino or cherry pie filling
2 Graham crackers, finely crushed

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler (just place a bowl over a pot of simmering water), stirring frequently.  Do not allow any water or condensation to get into the chocolate or it will seize.  Pour about a tablespoon of the melted chocolate into each cup in your truffle mold and roll the sheet around so that the sides are coated.  Lightly tap the mold on the counter and place in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

Cherry Cheesecake Chocolate Truffles

Combine the cream cheese, sugar, cheesecake flavoring and salt and mix until smooth.  Note that the cheesecake flavoring is optional but I found that it gave the filling that baked cheesecake flavor that I didn't get just from sweetened cream cheese.

Cherry Cheesecake Chocolate Truffles
Place about a teaspoon of cream cheese filling into each chocolate cup, place a cherry on top and add some crumbled graham cracker pieces.  Pour another tablespoon of chocolate over the top, making sure not to go over the sides of the mold.  Tap lightly on the counter and return to the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.  To unmold the truffles, simply turn the mold upside down on the counter.  If a light tap doesn't cause the chocolates to pop out, return it to the fridge for another few minutes and try again.  When it's thoroughly cooled and set, the truffles pop out very easily.



Note:  Chocoley provided me with supplies but I was not otherwise compensated and under no obligation to provide a positive review.  I genuinely enjoyed working with these products and highly recommend them.