Meyer Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Quick Bread {recipe swap}

By Coleen

Meyer Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Quick Bread

Dear Winter: What’s up with you? The past few years, you’ve been pretty mild, sometimes a little chilly, but that never lasted long. This year? Let’s just say, I don’t remember moving to Antarctica. The cold shoulder is getting old. Let’s move on and try again next year, okay? Signed, The Redhead Baker.

Spring can’t get here soon enough. But until it does, I’m perking myself up with bright flavors, like citrus. I always paired citrus with summer in my mind, yet the peak season for citrus is right now.

Meyer Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Quick Bread

I bought a bag of Meyer lemons from Wegman’s, and was looking for a recipe in which to use them. Then I got my recipe swap assignment from our host, A Taste of Home Cooking, and saw that she had a lemon blueberry yogurt quick bread that I really wanted to try. I giggled a little to myself, because it’s the same blog I was assigned almost exactly a year ago, and in that swap exchange, I chose another blueberry-lemon recipe, and subbed in Meyer lemons instead. What can I say? I love Meyer lemons. And they pair well with blueberries.

The yogurt loaf is essentially a quick bread. It’s very easy to put together the batter, and just under an hour later, you have a delicious, moist, sweet-tart bread perfect for a light breakfast or quick snack.

Meyer Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Quick Bread

Meyer Lemon Blueberry Yogurt Quick Bread

Adapted from Sweet Beginnings

Ingredients

For the Loaf

  • 1 ½ cups + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup vanilla greek yogurt (no-fat, low-fat or regular)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • Zest of 2 Meyer lemons
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 ½ cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

For the Lemon Glaze

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • Juice of 2 Meyer lemons (about 3 tbsp)
  • Splash of vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine 1 ½ cups of flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. In a larger mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly mix in the dry ingredients.
  4. In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, then fold gently into the batter.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes then remove the loaf and cool on a wax or parchment paper-lined wire rack.
  6. While the loaf is cooling, make the lemon glaze: mix the powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, and a splash of vanilla together in a small bowl. The mixture should be thick but pour-able. Add up to another tablespoonful of lemon juice if the mixture is too thick. Spoon the lemon glaze over the top of the loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the loaf sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes for the glaze to set before slicing and serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

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Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas + a cookbook giveaway

By Coleen

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas + a cookbook giveaway

I believe I have confessed before that I was rather picky as a child. For a period of time, I boycotted tomatoes in all forms (even pizza). For nearly two decades, I refused to touch any kind of fish or shellfish. The most “exotic” cuisine I would eat was Americanized Chinese takeout.

I’m happy to say, I’ve branched out. I’ve discovered new ingredients and ethnic cuisines. I’ve hesitated when offered something new, but quickly resolve to at least taste something before saying I don’t like it.

And though I’ve tried several new ethnic cuisines, there are many more I have yet to try. So, I was thrilled when Cooking Light sent me an advance copy of their newest cookbook, Global Kitchen by David Joachim.

Global Kitchen by David Joachim #GlobalKitchen #CookingLight

The book contains 150 iconic recipes from cuisine all around the world, from Chinese steamed pork buns to Lebanese baba ghanoush, a Moroccan tagine to Greek moussaka, and Argentinian pork with chimichurri to American blueberry cobbler.

As I flipped through the book, trying to decide what to make first, I knew it had to be the empanadas. I’ve had them each time I’ve gone to a local Cuban restaurant, trying a different filling each time: beef, pork, chorizo. Delicious!

This is a time-consuming recipe, but it’s totally worth it. It’s very make-ahead friendly, so you can spread the steps out over a day or two, then freeze until you’re ready to eat them.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas + a cookbook giveaway

We loved these empanadas — there’s a lot of flavor and spice, but not a lot of heat. If you like mouth-burning spiciness, roast a jalapeño along with the poblano, leave in a few seeds, and add it to the filling mixture.

I served two empanadas per person with a side of Mexican rice and tomatoes, and was more than satisfied. Between the sweet potatoes and the black beans, this recipe has a lot of filling fiber!

Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom of this post to enter to win your very own copy of Global Kitchen!

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas + a cookbook giveaway

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Empanadas

Slightly adapted from Global Kitchen by David Joachim

Ingredients

  • 2 scant cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • ¼ cup cold water
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 poblano chile
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 cup canned low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 5 green onions, white and light green parts only, chopped
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp ancho chile powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray

Directions

  1. Measure flour by weight, or by lightly spooning flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Pour the flour into a medium mixing bowl. Add the ¾ teaspoon of kosher salt, and stir with a whisk. In a large measuring cup, combine the canola oil, cold water, vinegar and 1 egg. Whisk to combine. Gradually pour the wet ingredients into the dry, stirring just until the dry ingredients are moist. Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead until smooth. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 24 hours.
  2. Peel and dice the sweet potato. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the sweet potato and boil for 10 to 15 minutes, until the potato pieces are easily pierced by a fork. Drain, and return the potatoes to the hot pot. Mash until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Preheat the broil to high heat. Place the poblano chile on a baking sheet and roast for 6 minutes; flip with tongs, and roast another two minutes. Immediately place the pepper in a paper bag and fold to seal tightly. Let sit for 15 minutes. This steams the pepper and will make the waxy skin easier to peel off.
  4. Peel the skin off and discard. Slice the pepper in half, remove and discard the seeds; chop the chile pepper. Set aside.
  5. Combine mashed sweet potato, chopped poblano, cumin, black beans, chopped green onions, cilantro, ancho chile powder and ½ tsp kosher salt in a large mixing bowl. (NOTE: At this point, the filling can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated up to 24 hours before proceeding.)
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  7. Divide dough into 10 portions (~1 ½ oz each, if you choose to weigh portions). Roll each portion out on a floured suface into a circle 5 inches in diameter. Place two to three tablespoons of filling in the center of each circle. Moisten the edges of the dough circle with some of the beaten egg, then fold the dough over the filling and press the edges together to seal.
  8. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, and place the empanadas on the baking sheet. Cut three diagonal slits in each empanada to allow steam to escape.
  9. Bake for 16 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.

Diet type: Vegetarian

Number of servings (yield): 10

Calories: 209

Fat: 8.4 g

Protein: 51 g

Win a copy of Global Kitchen by David Joachim!

Disclosure: Cooking Light provided me with one copy of Global Kitchen to review and keep, and another copy to give away. I was not compensated financially for this post. All opinions contained in this post are my own.

Giveaway Terms & Conditions
* Odds of winning depend on total number of entries received
* Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, March 19, 2014
* Winner will be selected at random by the Rafflecopter widget
* Winners will receive one (1) hardcover copy of “Global Kitchen” by David Joachim (valued at $29.95)
* Prize must be claimed within 7 days or it will be forfeited
* Prize can only be shipped to a US address
* Official giveaway rules can be found here

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Stocking Your Kitchen: Refrigerator & Freezer

By Coleen

Stocking Your Kitchen: Refrigerator & Freezer Staples

Wow! Based on the pageviews for Stocking Your Kitchen: Dry Pantry Staples, you really like this series idea!

As I mentioned last week, having a well-stocked pantry helps save money. If you have the staples needed to throw together a last-minute meal, it saves you from ordering take-out, or making an extra trip to the grocery store (and the impulse buying that goes along with it!).

Now, unlike the dry pantry staples, you can’t really “stock up” the way you can with boxes of pasta, or jars of peanut butter. But there are certain things I like to keep on-hand in the refrigerator.

Stocking Your Kitchen: Refrigerator & Freezer Staples

Top shelf, on the right, are the eggs. Yes, 3 dozen eggs. Actually, 2 ½ dozen (one carton is half-empty). I’m making more breakfast taquitos.

Then the dairy: two gallons of milk (the toddler loves his milk), half-and-half for coffee, buttermilk, salted butter for toast and dinner veggies, cream cheese for bagels, Greek yogurt. Plus Liam’s berries. And a bottle of wine.

Then the middle shelf has Liam’s string cheese, other cut fruit, flavored yogurt for snacking, and containers of chopped veggies as part of my meal prep. Chopping veggies ahead of time makes cooking go faster when we get home from work during the week.

The drawer has deli meat, more cheese (LOTS of cheese), and bacon. The bottom shelf has dinner leftovers, and more fruit. Keeping it in plain sight makes it more likely that we’ll reach for it as a snack.

The bottom drawer on the right has both fresh herbs and Gourmet Garden herb-in-a-tube that I received when I attended the Big Summer Potluck. Have you ever bought a packet of fresh herbs, used about a teaspoonful, and the rest went bad? Gourmet Garden’s herbs and spices in a tube aim to prevent that. The organic herbs and spices are grown, chopped and blended and sealed in a tube. You simply squeeze out the amount you need. The tubes last three months after opening. (Disclosure: Gourmet Garden provided samples of each of their herb and spice tubes at the Big Summer Potluck. The opinions expressed here of their products are my own.)

The drawer on the left contains our fresh veggies, which will vary depending on our meal plan. Currently, there are sweet bell and poblano peppers, celery, carrots, zucchini and butternut squash.

Stocking Your Kitchen: Refrigerator & Freezer Staples

On the door, we keep our condiments, sticks of butter and blocks of cream cheese for baking, open boxes of stock and broth, Liam’s yogurt tubes, and beer.

Stocking Your Kitchen: Refrigerator & Freezer Staples

Ahh, the freezer. Or as I call it, Real Life Tetris. On the top shelf, you can see a frozen ball of pizza dough. I always have at least one ball in there. Behind the pizza dough are the frozen waffles that Liam takes to daycare for breakfast. In the middle are frozen veggies (broccoli, green beans, corn, carrots, etc.), and a loaf of bread. Our grocery store occasionally has buy one, get ones sales, so we’ll buy two, but we don’t go through a loaf very quickly, so we’ll freeze the second. On the right, I have frozen puff pastry dough, frozen Girl Scout cookies, and behind that is my stash of Ben & Jerry’s.

On the bottom are our frozen meats, poultry and seafood, and Liam’s chicken nuggets.

We try to moderately stock up on meats/poultry/seafood when they go on sale. I say moderately because, obviously, we don’t have a ton of freezer space. And sometimes we go to my parents’ for dinner, and my mom surprises us with pork chops, or steaks, or chicken breasts that she bought in bulk at Sam’s Club and split between themselves, my brother and sister-in-law, and us.

What’s the point of having a well-stocked freezer for throwing together a last-minute meal? After all, it takes time to defrost something that’s frozen.

Obviously, defrosting in the refrigerator is the preferred method. But that can take 24 hours or more, and if you need the frozen item faster than that, there are two methods you can try:

  1. Placing the frozen meat/poultry/seafood in a ziploc bag, placing it in a container in the sink, and placing it under a steady stream of cold water (you can submerge it in cold water, but you need to change out the water every 30 minutes). Not exactly FAST, but faster than thawing in the fridge.
  2. Thawing in the microwave. This is the fastest method, though there is a greater chance that bacteria could begin to grow. The meat will not thaw evenly, so some spots will be warmer than others. Only use this method if you will cook the meat immediately after you defrost it.

Next week, my baking pantry staples!

Stocking Your Kitchen: Dry Pantry

By Coleen

Stocking Your Kitchen: Dry Pantry Staples

Last year, I wrote a post about meal planning, which has by far been one of the most popular non-recipe posts on the blog. I’ve gotten follow-up questions about “must-have” pantry items and kitchen tools, so I thought I’d start a series of “Stocking Your Kitchen” posts.

Why keep a stocked kitchen? Believe it or not, it will save you money. Forgot to defrost something for dinner? If you have a stocked pantry, you can throw something else together, saving you the cost of an extra trip to the grocery store, or ordering takeout.

I’m going to start with dry pantry staples — basically, anything that’s not refrigerated or frozen. This isn’t an authoritative list. It’s based on our taste preferences and cooking style. It would be pointless for me to keep dried beans in my pantry, since I don’t like them and would never cook with them.

Here’s what we always keep on hand (note this list does not list my baking pantry items; that will be a separate post):

  • Pasta: I like to keep at least three different kinds on-hand: spaghetti or fettuccine; bow ties or shells; penne or ziti (I usually stock up when grocery stores have boxes for $1 or less)
  • Bread crumbs: Plain, seasoned, Panko
  • Other grains like couscous, rice, quinoa and rolled oats
  • Oils: Olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, canola oil
  • Vinegars: Distilled, balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar
  • Canned items: tomatoes (whole peeled plum tomatoes, diced tomatoes)
  • Spreads: Peanut butter, hazelnut butter
  • Sweeteners: Honey; maple syrup
  • Other sauces: Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce
  • Dried herbs and spices: (see this post for my storage method) thyme, sage, cumin, parsley, red pepper flakes, paprika, smoked paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, ginger, garlic powder, chili powder, chipotle chili powder, bay leaves, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds.
  • Salts: Table salt, kosher salt, sea salt
  • Peppers: Black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper

Stocking Your Kitchen: Dry Pantry Staples

The photo above is an over-the-counter cabinet, just to the left of my stove. On the bottom shelf, beginning on the right-hand side, I have my oils, vinegars, other sauces, sweeteners, and salts. And the instant coffee. Because it fits there.

If you look to the left of the cabinet, you’ll my most-used herbs and spices in metal tins attached to the fridge with magnets.

On the middle shelf, I have my cans (canned tomatoes and tuna fish), my less-often-used spices, my tea bags and hot cocoa mixes, and my spreads.

And then on the top shelf, snacks: cookies, crackers, puree pouches, applesauce, etc.

Stocking Your Kitchen: Dry Pantry Staples

This photo above is the under-the-counter cabinet just to the left of the stove. This is where I keep my unopened broth and stock, pasta, rice, grains, pancake mix, cornbread mix, and cereal (no comments on my Cocoa Krispies addiction — we all have our vices!). Behind the pasta boxes on the left, there is a cardboard box where I keep my onions, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

I’ll do refrigerator and freezer staples next Monday!

Chorizo and Egg Breakfast Taquitos

By Coleen

Chorizo and Egg Breakfast Taquitos

To be perfectly honest, I’m lazy. I get my showers at night, so I can sleep a little later in the morning. I will skip a recipe that sounds great if it will involve washing too many dishes. I often eat cold cereal or a bagel in the morning because it’s faster. I definitely feel better in the morning when I have some protein, but I’m way too lazy to wake up early enough to cook myself some eggs in addition to getting myself ready for work in the morning.

I have had these breakfast taquitos on my Pinterest board for a while. I finally made a batch on a Sunday, had two for breakfast that day and froze the rest to eat throughout the week.

And I love that the taquitos can easily be adapted to suit your taste. I added sauteed bell pepper to the original recipe, and changed the bacon to chorizo. You could also use hot or mild Italian sausage, and change up the variety of cheese.

I think the chipotle-lime dipping sauce makes these even better, but you can also just dip them in salsa.

Chorizo and Egg Breakfast Taquitos

Chorizo and Egg Breakfast Taquitos

Adapted from Pink Parsley

Ingredients

Taquitos:

  • 4 oz fresh Mexican chorizo, casings removed
  • 1 medium green or red bell pepper, diced
  • 12 large eggs
  • ¾ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 ½ cup grated cheese – cheddar, Colby jack, pepperjack, etc
  • ½ cup salsa (thick and chunky preferred over a thinner salsa)
  • ¼ cup minced green onions
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 12 to 16 8″ flour tortillas
  • Cooking spray or olive oil

Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • Juice of half a lime
  • ¼ tsp chipotle chili powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt

Directions

  1. Line a 9×13 baking sheet with tinfoil and spray with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add the fresh chorizo and diced bell pepper. Cook until the peppers are soft and the chorizo is browned. Remove the chorizo and peppers with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper-towel lined plate. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of the rendered fat from the chorizo.
  3. Place the eggs, Greek yogurt, salt, pepper, and cumin in a medium mixing bowl. Use a microplane to grate the clove of garlic into the egg mixture. Whisk to combine.
  4. Set the pan back over medium heat. Add the egg mixture to the skillet, and cook, stirring often, until the eggs are nearly completely scrambled. Remove the skillet from the heat.
  5. Add the shredded cheese, bell pepper, chorizo, salsa, green onions, cilantro and lime juice to the skillet and fold everything together.
  6. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  7. Place the tortillas on a plate and cover with a dampened paper towel. Microwave for 20 to 30 seconds (warm tortillas are less prone to cracking when rolled). Working quickly, place one tortilla on a clean surface. Spoon about 1/3 of a cupful of the egg mixture in the center of the tortilla, and tightly roll it up. Place it in the prepared baking pan, seam-side down.
  8. Repeat with the remaining tortillas (re-heating for 5 to 10 seconds as needed if they cool down) and egg mixture.
  9. Place the baking pan in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, until the tortillas are lightly browned and crisp.
  10. While the taquitos are baking, whisk together the cup of Greek yogurt with the lime juice, chipotle chili powder and salt.
  11. When the taquitos are done baking, let them rest for a few minutes, then serve two per person with a few tablespoonfuls of the chipotle-lime sauce for dipping.

Number of servings (yield): 6

Tiramisu Tarts for Two

By Coleen

Tiramisu Tarts for Two #whatsbaking

Have you ever had a craving for a sweet treat, but just didn’t want tons of leftovers hanging around, tempting you? After all, January is a time when a lot of people resolve to shed the holiday weight. I believe that even sweets can be included in a New Year’s diet (all things in moderation). I think that might be why this round of What’s Baking is “recipes for one or two people.”

whatsBaking

So, this is where recipes made for one or two people come in handy.

One of my favorite desserts is tiramisu. I love the combination of mascarpone, marsala, coffee and chocolate. But it’s incredibly high in calories, so having just two servings with no leftovers is brilliant.

So, instead of a 9×9 pan of creamy, coffee-flavored amazingness, I made two 3 1/2-inch tarlets with cream filling. Instead of espresso-soaked ladyfingers, you have a mocha shortbread crust, with a no-bake marsala-flavored filling.

One issue I had with this recipe is that in order to make the crust thick enough to stay in one piece when removing it from the tarlet pan, it would be too thick to accommodate any filling. Even after three attempts at making the crust, whenever I tried to take it out of the tartlet pan, it would crumble. So, I served these tartlets in the baking pans.

As an alternative, you could serve this filling in a store-bought mini chocolate graham cracker crust, you just wouldn’t have the traditional coffee flavor in the crust. If you still want that flavor, reduce the marsala to the 1 tablespoon, and add a tablespoon of strongly-brewed coffee to the filling.

Tiramisu Tarts for Two #whatsbaking

Tiramisu Tarts for Two

Recipe by The Redhead Baker

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 4 tsp powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp instant espresso powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • Splash of vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 3 oz mascarpone cheese (or cream cheese), at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp marsala
  • Splash of vanilla extract

For garnish:

  • Small bar of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, or Dutch-process cocoa powder

Directions

  1. Place the powdered sugar, cocoa powder, all-purpose flour, cornstarch, espresso powder and salt in a mini food processor. Pulse a few times to combine.
  2. Add the cold cubes of butter and the vanilla, and pulse until small crumbs form.
  3. Divide the filling between two 3 ½-inch tartlet pans, and use the back of a rounded tablespoon to press the crumbs onto the bottom and up the sides. Put in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  5. Place the tartlet pans on a baking sheet and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Place on a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together (with a whisk or hand-held mixer) the cream cheese, sugar, marsala and vanilla until smooth.
  7. Divide the filling between the two cooled crusts.
  8. To garnish, grate a little semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, or sift a little Dutch-process cocoa over each tartlet.

Number of servings (yield): 2

The Power of a Virtual Community

By Coleen

Today’s post is not recipe-related; if you’re just here for the food, check back on Wednesday!

Light and Love for ZB

I would bet that if I told you I had a friend, you’d assume it was someone I met with, in person, on more than one occasion, right? Maybe someone I’d known since school, or someone I’d met while pursuing a mutual interest? 

I have hundreds of people I consider friends, most of which I have never met.

Back when I lost Ben, sure I received well-wishes and messages of sympathy from family, and from past school-friends, and fellow animal rescue volunteers.

But my biggest supporters were women I had never met: women from a pet-centered chat board; women from all over North America who had babies due in December 2011; and women from a food-centered chat board. They sent me cards, comforting snacks, pampering products, and gift cards to treat myself. They sent me the most beautiful memorial necklace.

This past week, I saw the same response to a time of need, multiplied by hundreds.

A mother, a woman I call my friend even though we’ve never met in person, was frightened — her young daughter needed emergency surgery. The little girl seized and coded during surgery, and the prognosis was uncertain at best. In the end, there was too much brain trauma, and her parents made the heartbreaking decision to let their little girl go, while donating what they could so that others could live.

This mother was a long-time member of many virtual communities. The very night of the surgery, one of the virtual communities collected donations to purchase items for a care package, when it seemed that the parents would spending 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the hospital.

They put together a YouCaring fundraiser, to help pay for hospital meals, medical bills, funeral costs, and lost wages, and raised over $40,000 in TWO DAYS.

We are devastated that none of our efforts could make their little girl well.

But so many of us made similar comments, “We’ve never even met her …” yet we were all sobbing as if our “in-real-life” best friend had lost a child. I know more about some of these women than I know about my “in-real-life” friends, or even family. I will never again feel embarrassed to admit that I have a network of “virtual” friends.

Please, if you can spare a few dollars, donate to the YouCaring site. In this time of unimaginable grief, finances should be the last thing on their minds. Thank you.

Light and Love for ZB

Triple Chocolate Tart {recipe swap}

By Coleen

Triple Chocolate Tart #dessert #chocolate

Our recipe swap host, A Taste of Home Cooking, chose the theme holiday cooking/baking for this round.

My assigned blog, Dough See Dough, didn’t have a dedicated “holiday recipes” index, so I browsed several of her categories to see what looked good. Since I am usually the one to make the holiday desserts, that’s where I ended up.

I saw several recipes that looked good, but kept coming back to the chocolate-glazed chocolate tart. So rich and decadent, with three distinct layers of chocolate, yet her commentary said it was so easy to make. I had to try it out. After all, in my opinion, if it’s not chocolate, it’s not dessert.

It was just as easy as promised. The part that took the longest was patting the graham cracker crumbs into the tart pan. The filling took about five minutes. But the tart is very rich, fitting for a special occasion. I think it would be even better with a layer of light whipped cream on top, to balance out the thick filling.

Triple Chocolate Tart #dessert #chocolate

Triple Chocolate Tart

Barely adapted from Dough See Dough

Ingredients

For crust:

  • 1 cup chocolate graham crackers crumbs (from 10 full crackers)
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted

For filling:

  • 1 ¼ cups heavy cream
  • 9 ounces Ghirardelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt

For glaze:

  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 3 ½ ounces Ghirardelli white chocolate chips
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Add the melted butter and stir until everything is moistened. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and ¾ of the way up the sides of a 9-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.
  3. Bake the crust for 10 minutes*, then cool on a wire rack.
  4. While the crust is cooling, make the filling: place the bittersweet chocolate chips in a medium mixing bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat. When tiny bubbles begin to form at the edge of the pan, pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips, and let the mixture stand for a minute. Then whisk until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Add the two eggs, vanilla and salt and stir gently until combined (you don’t want to create air bubbles).
  5. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, just until the edges are set. The center should still jiggle slightly. Let cool on a wire rack for one hour.
  6. Once the tart has cooled, make the glaze: place the white chocolate in a small bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan, just as before. Once the tiny bubbles form at the edge, pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for one minute. Then whisk until smooth. Add the corn syrup and stir until fully incorporated.
  7. Pour the glaze over the tart, tilting it so the glaze covers the tart evenly. Store the tart in the refrigerator.

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Check out other recipes from the swap by clicking on the thumbnails below!

Antipasti Pasta Salad

By Coleen

Antipasti Pasta Salad

Antipasti pasta salad — say that three times fast.

Antipasti is typically thought of as a first course, or even an hors d’oeuvre, since the translation means “before the meal.” It’s normally served before the pasta course.

Combing antipasti and pasta in this salad version could be served as a first course, but it could also be served as a side, or even the main course of a lunch or light dinner.

You can adapt this salad to your taste by adding in anything typically included on an antipasti plate: cubes of provolone, capers, artichoke hearts, marinated mushrooms, anchovies, etc.

We ate this pasta salad warm, but it can also be served room temperature, or cold. It’s a great option to bring to a potluck any time of year.

Antipasti Pasta Salad

Antipasti Pasta Salad

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

  • 1 lb twisted pasta, such as fusilli, campanelle or rotini
  • 4 ounces bocconcini (mini mozzarella balls), quartered
  • 2 jarred fire-roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 8 pitted green olives, sliced crosswise into rounds
  • 2.5 ounces sliced genoa salami, cut into quarters
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions to al dente.
  2. Drain the pasta, and return it to the pot. Add the mozzarella, roasted red peppers, olives, salami, vinegar, and oil.
  3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with parsley and oregano and serve warm or at room temperature.

Preparation time: 15 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

How to Use Vanilla Beans

By Coleen

How to Use Vanilla Beans

Long, thin, brown and wrinkly: vanilla beans don’t look all that special, or even appetizing. And they are expensive! But are they worth it?

In some recipes, yes. If you are making a recipe where vanilla is the primary flavor (vanilla pound cake, vanilla shortbread, vanilla ice cream, etc.), using a vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract is well worth it. So, this blog post is all about that shriveled bean.

What kind of vanilla beans should I get?

There are three varieties of vanilla bean: Tahitian, Madagascar (Bourbon), and Mexican. There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. All three are good quality, if you get fresh beans. Each has its own subtle differences in flavor. It’s all about personal preference. I like Madagascar.

If you can, buy in bulk. Buying single beans in a grocery store is very expensive. A single vanilla bean can cost $5 apiece or more. Stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark area, vanilla beans can be kept for a very long time. I buy my beans in bulk from Amazon.com, from JR Mushrooms. A quarter-pound of vanilla beans (25 to 30 pods) costs $18.95, and they’re Amazon Prime eligible — free shipping!

How do you use a vanilla bean?

You’ll need your vanilla bean, a small cutting board, and a sharp paring knife. There are two ends: one short and stubby end, and the other end has a slight curl. There’s no “wrong” way to cut a vanilla bean, but I prefer to place the vanilla bean parallel to me on the cutting board so that the curled end is on the left. I hold the curled end with two fingers on my left hand, and place the tip of the paring knife just to the right of my fingers, in the center of the bean, and cut to the right, splitting the bean down the middle.

How to Use Vanilla Beans

Still holding the vanilla bean the same way, use the flat of the blade to scrape the tiny seeds out of each half of the bean and add them to your recipe.

How to Use Vanilla Beans

In 99% of recipes, you will not need the pod once the seeds are scraped out. But don’t throw it away! I’ll get to that in a minute.

How do I substitute vanilla beans for vanilla extract?

You may have a favorite vanilla recipe that calls for vanilla extract, but you want to use a vanilla bean instead. After all vanilla beans provide fresher, more intense vanilla flavor. Extracts vary in flavor intensity, as do vanilla beans (fresher beans have more intense flavor). I use one vanilla bean in place of one teaspoon of vanilla extract.

When to add the vanilla bean seeds will depend on what type of recipe you’re making. If you’re making cookies, I would add the vanilla bean seeds at the beginning, beating them with the butter and sugar. If you’re making something like ice cream, you would need to steep the vanilla bean in the cream first before even starting the recipe. If you’re unsure, feel free to contact me with your question.

What can I do with spent vanilla beans? 

1) Make vanilla sugar: place two cups of granulated sugar in a container. Bury the spent vanilla bean in the sugar, and cover the container tightly. Let sit for one to two weeks. Use it like regular sugar: add it to coffee, use it in recipes to add extra vanilla flavor.

2) Make your vanilla extract: you’ll need a clean glass bottle with a cap or stopper. Pour 8 ounces of vodka in the bottle. Mid-quality vodka is fine, you don’t need top-shelf stuff. Add one or two split vanilla beans to the vodka, and seal the bottle tightly. Let sit in a cool, dark place for four to six weeks, giving the bottle a good, vigorous shake every two to three days. After six weeks, use in any recipe that calls for vanilla extract.

How to Use Vanilla Beans

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