Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Steamed mussels with chorizo and white wine

Simply delicious!... Curtis Stone did it again! For a while I wanted to try this recipe, and finally tonight I got a chance to do it. The original recipe was designed to serve 4 big serving bowls. Enjoy it!


1 pound Spanish chorizo, cut into bite-size pieces
4 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 cup dry white wine
3 Tbspn. finely chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
6 Tbsp. (3/4 stick) butter, cut into pieces
1 baguette, torn into large pieces


Place a large wide pot over medium heat. Add the chorizo and sauté for about 8 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Add the shallots and garlic, and sauté for about 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the mussels and toss quickly to coat. Add the wine. Cover the pot and cook over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, or until the mussels begin to open. Discard any mussels that do not open. Add the 3 tablespoons cilantro, and toss to combine.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mussels and sausages to a warmed large serving bowl. Cover to keep warm. Boil the juices remaining in the pan for one minute. Then whisk in the butter. Pour the sauce over the mussels, sprinkle with the additional cilantro, and serve immediately with the baguette pieces.

Source: Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing, Caramel and Walnuts

I found this recipe, and I have to say it... IT IS FANTASTIC!!! I know you often read on blogs how wonderful recipes are being published but this one, you HAVE to believe me. This is amazing!! The most light and moist carrot cake ever!


- For the cake:

Unsalted butter, for the pan
12 ounces, approximately 2 1/2 cups, all-purpose flour, plus extra for pan
12 ounces grated carrots, medium grate, approximately 6 medium
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/3 cups
2 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup firmly packed
3 large eggs
6 ounces plain yogurt
6 ounces vegetable oil

- For the Icing:

8 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 ounces powdered sugar, sifted, approximately 2 cups

- To decorate:

1/2 cup butterscotch or caramel sauce (store bought or homemade)
1 cup chopped toasted walnuts


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Butter and flour a 9-inch round and 3-inch deep cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.

Put the carrots into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process for 5 seconds. Add this
mixture to the carrots and toss until they are well-coated with the flour.

In the bowl of the food processor combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt. With the processor still running drizzle in the vegetable oil. Pour this mixture into the carrot mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes or until the cake reaches 205 to 210 degrees F in the center.

Remove the pan from the oven and allow cake to cool 15 minutes in the pan. After 15 minutes, turn the cake out onto a rack and allow cake to cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting after cake has cooled completely.

For the Cream Cheese Icing: In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter on medium just until blended. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. With the speed on low, add the powdered sugar in 4 batches and beat until smooth between each addition. Place the frosting in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes before using.

To Decorate: Let the cake to cool completely. Add the icing generously all over the cake. Drizzle the caramel and cover the cake with the chopped walnuts. Enjoy!

Source: Alton Brown - Food Network - 2005

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Buche de Noel

As you can tell by now, I am a fun of Food Network Television! The other night I was watching a Throwdown with Bobby Flay about Buche de Noel, I wanted to make the one with chocolate mousse in it, but I only had a few hours for a dessert recipe, so I sort of tried Bobby's but skipping his decorations and simply pipe some of the icing and throw some nuts on top... the result was very-super-much pleasant! delicate and seasonal flavors, perfect after a Christmas dinner!

Here we go, then!


- For the Walnut Biscuit:

5 eggs, separated, room temperature
100 grams granulated sugar
25 grams granulated maple sugar
125 grams cake flour, sifted
3 ounces toasted walnuts, finely chopped

- For the Pastry Cream (Filling):

4 large egg yolks
55 grams cornstarch
40 grams sugar, plus 75 grams sugar
75 grams maple syrup
2 tablespoons whiskey (recommended: Jack Daniels)
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
2 cups milk
28 grams butter
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon maple extract
1 cup heavy cream

-For the Buttercream:

113 grams sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 to 2 tablespoons whisky (recommended: Jack Daniels)
1/4 teaspoon maple extract
12 ounces butter, room temperature


For the Walnut Biscuit: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a half sheet pan, line with parchment paper, butter the paper and dust with flour.

Whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Beat in both sugars and whip to a stiff, glossy meringue.

Alternately fold the cake flour and egg yolks into the meringue in 3 batches, starting and ending with the flour. Fold in the nuts.

Spread the batter evenly in the pan, and bake until the cake is pale gold, the center springs back when you press it lightly with your finger, and the edges start to pull from the sides of the pan, 10 to 12 minutes.

For the pastry cream: Whisk the yolks, cornstarch, and the 40 grams sugar in a medium bowl; the mixture will be very thick, but try to whisk enough to remove most of the lumps.

Put the 75 grams sugar in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until dark brown; don't worry if it crystallizes a bit. Turn the heat to low and whisk in the maple syrup, then whisk in the whisky, turn up the heat, and let simmer for 1 to 2 minutes to boil off the alcohol.

Whisk the milk and vanilla bean scrapings into the caramel mixture and bring to simmer. Slowly whisk about half of the hot mixture into the yolks, then whisk that mixture back into the pot, bring to a boil, whisking, and cook, still whisking, until thickened. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, salt and maple extract. Pour into a shallow dish, press plastic wrap onto the surface, and chill until set and very cold, about 4 hours.

Beat the cold pastry cream in a standing mixer until smooth. When ready to use, whip the cream until it is very stiff, then beat into the pastry cream. Chill until ready to use.

For the buttercream: Put the sugar in a medium pot and add enough water just to moisten; use your fingers to wet the sugar evenly. Bring to a boil. While the sugar is heating, start beating the yolks and egg in a standing mixer with the whisk attachment.

When the syrup reaches about 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer (softball stage), pour it into the yolks with the mixer still running, taking care not to pour it onto the whisk. Beat until cooled to room temperature. Beat in the whisky and the maple extract.

Cream the butter in another mixing bowl using the paddle attachment. Beat in the cooled egg mixture until smooth. You can use it right away, or chill it overnight; if you chill it, rebeat when you are ready to assemble the cake.


Turn the cooled cake onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper with a long side near you. Spread the chilled pastry cream evenly over the surface, leaving a 2-inch border across from you. Using the parchment paper to lift, roll the cake as tightly as possible. Set seam side down on a platter or large pan, and chill for an hour or so.

Frost the cake with the buttercream, smoothing the surface so it looks like bark. Pipe some decorations on top and add some halved walnuts.

Source: Food Network Website (Bobby Flay)

Glazed Smoked Ham

Get yourself ready for Christmas and try this recipe. You won't regret it!!!! It adds such a delicious flavor to the ham and it simple looks fantastic!!


1 large onion, quartered, root end intact
1 (5 to 7-pound) smoked ham (shank end)
3/4 cup apricot jelly
1/4 cup water
8 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped
3 tablespoons yellow mustard
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch ground cloves
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Score the ham with a cross hatch pattern through the thick layer of skin and fat. Arrange the onions in the center of a foil lined sheet pan large roasting pan and set the ham on top of them. Bake for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, stir together the apricot jelly, water, thyme leaves, mustard, 3 tablespoons of the vinegar, the molasses, worcestershire, allspice, and cloves in a saucepan. Whisk over medium heat until the jelly has dissolved and sauce is smooth, about 4 minutes. After the ham has been baked for 1 hour, brush with the apricot mixture every 15 minutes for another 45 minutes or until nicely glazed. Transfer the ham to a serving platter, tent with foil and set aside while making the sauce.

Discard the onions, remove foil and pour the sauce into a skillet. Add the broth and bring to a boil over high heat. In a small bowl, mix the butter and flour together until you form a paste. Whisk into the pan juices and let sauce simmer until thickened like gravy. Finish with the remaining tablespoon of vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Thinly slice the ham and serve with the sauce.

Source: Food Network Website

Baked Mashed Potatoes with Mozzarella, Parmesan and Bread Crumbs

I saw this recipe on Food Network (Giada de Laurentiis) and couldn't resist to make it for a dinner party we hosted. She was absolutely right. This is SO GOOD!!!!!!


1 tablespoon butter
4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter and set aside.

Cook the potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water until they are very tender, about 15 minutes. Drain; return the potatoes to the same pot and mash well. Mix in the milk and melted butter. Mix in the mozzarella and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Transfer the potatoes to the prepared baking dish. Stir the bread crumbs and remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the mashed potatoes. Recipe can be prepared up to this point 6 hours ahead of time; cover and chill.

Bake, uncovered, until the topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Source: Food Network Website

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, topped with cherries glaze

I made this recipe for my brother-in-law on his birthday. It is a very simple recipe, even when you read the word Cheesecake!


- For the crust:

1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg

- For the Cheesecake:

3 Sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 Cup / 210 g sugar
3 Large eggs
1 Cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract and the innards of a vanilla bean
1 Tbsp. Rum, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake (*)
1 Tbsp. flour (*)

- For the Cherry glaze:

1 or 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) tart cherries in water, or 1 quart fresh or frozen fruit
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 drops red food coloring (optional)


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a 10-inch springform pan.

For the crust: In a mixing bowl with a paddle, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and butter. Mix until the mixture is crumbly, then add the egg and continue to mix until a soft dough forms.

Press the dough on the bottom and an inch up the sides of the prepared pan; dock with a fork, and bake for 15 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

For the cheesecake: One hour before you star making the cheesecake, put the vanilla bean with the sugar and let it sit covered until you are ready to mix ingredients.

Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, vanilla bean innards, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy. Mix until well combined.

Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.

Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. If you have an instant reading thermometer the temperature should be 175º. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. (I left a kitchen towel to prevent a complete closing of the oven door). This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to decorate.

For the glaze: Whisk together the water, sugar, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan until the cornstarch dissolves. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils, becomes clear, and thickens.

Remove from the heat and add the food coloring and the drained cherries. Let the mixture cool to room temperature, then spoon it over the cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate the cake until you're ready to serve.

Monday, November 9, 2009

French Apple Tart


- For the pastry:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup ice water

- For the apples:

4 Granny Smith apples
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced
1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
2 tablespoons Calvados, rum, or water


For the pastry, place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse for a few seconds to combine. Add the butter and pulse 10 to 12 times, until the butter is in small bits the size of peas. With the motor running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse just until the dough starts to come together. Dump onto a floured board and knead quickly into a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the apples.

Peel the apples and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baler. Slice the apples crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of apples diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with apple slices. (I tend not to use the apple ends in order to make the arrangement beautiful.) Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the apples start to brown. Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don't worry! The apple juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine! When the tart's done, heat the apricot jelly together with the Calvados and brush the apples and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture. Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn't stick to the paper.

Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.

Source: Ina Garten/Back to Basics

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tilapia over Leek Ragout

We absolutely loved this recipe! It's full of flavor and EASY to make. Just a little warning, I halved the recipe and ended up with this platter full of food, so if you need to feed a big crowd, this is the recipe for you!


- For Leek Ragout:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 onions, chopped
1 cup white wine
6 leeks, white and tender green parts only, thoroughly soaked in salt water to release grit, and sliced on the diagonal into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
Salt and pepper

- For the Fish:

12 (3-ounce) tilapia fillets (these are thin fillets, so each person will get about 2 fillets)
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 1/2 cups semolina flour
2 tablespoons Irvine Spices Roasted Garlic Pepper Seasoning (I used plain garlic powder)
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 cups milk, as needed to moisten fish
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 fresh lemons, sliced
12 sprigs fresh parsley (about 2 ounces)


To begin the creamed leeks, heat the olive oil and butter in a medium saute pan over medium heat and saute the onions until translucent. Deglaze the pan with wine and add the leeks, cooking gently until the liquid is almost all gone. Make a slurry by gradually adding the cornstarch to the cream, and then whisk in the Parmesan. When the wine has mostly evaporated, stir the slurry mixture into the leeks, season with salt and pepper, and reduce heat to a simmer to allow reducing and thickening. Set aside in a warm place.

Slice each fish fillet in half lengthwise. In a plastic bag, shake together cornmeal, flour, garlic pepper seasoning, and salt. Moisten fish by dipping in milk and shake in bag to coat with cornmeal mixture. Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a large skillet, and cook each side of coated fish until golden brown. Do not overcook the fish - it is done when it springs back upon gentle prodding.

Spoon some leek ragout in the middle of serving plate, top with tilapia, and garnish with parsley and lemon slices.

Source: Food Network/Robert Irwin

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Blueberry Yogurt Smoothies!

The other day I ran out of yogurt for my guys, so I went to one of my favorite recipes website: The Pioneer Woman. Please check this one out. You won't regret it!


1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup blueberries (I used frozen)
Splash of milk
Ice (I didn't use ice since I made the recipe with frozen berries)


Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Source: The Pioneer Woman Cooks!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Apple Caramel Pecan Cheesecake Pie

I was checking my Google Reader the other day and Annie made it again, she posted such a wonderful recipe! I decided to make it at home for some friends that came to eat with us, and the result was amazing! I have to warn you though... if you have leftovers you won't stop checking your fridge until you end up eating them all!


- For the crust:

1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
5 1/3 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
½-¾ cup caramel
1 cup chopped pecans

- For the apple filling:

5 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
¼ tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
5-6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

- For the cheesecake:

8 oz. cream cheese
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

- For the topping:

¾ cup heavy cream
3-4 tbsp. confectioners' sugar
¼-½ cup caramel
Chopped pecans


To make the crust, preheat the oven to 375° F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Toss with a fork until all the crumbs are moistened and the ingredients are evenly mixed. Transfer the mixture to the prepared springform pan and press the crumbs in an even layer over the pan bottom and about half to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pan. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until golden in color. Let cool for about 10 minutes. Pour a layer of caramel into the bottom of the crust and sprinkle evenly with the chopped pecans. Refrigerate the crust while you prepare the filling.

To make the apple filling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Mix in the brown sugar, salt and cinnamon and cook for 1 minute, until bubbling. Mix in the apple slices and toss well to coat. Cook over medium to medium-high heat until tender and most of the liquid has been reduced, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and pour into the prepared pie shell. Set aside.

Reduce the heat of the oven to 350° F. To make the cheesecake layer, combine the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Mix in the vanilla, egg and lemon juice until fully incorporated and smooth, 1-2 minutes. Spread the cheesecake filling into an even layer over the top of the cooked apples in the crust. Bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

To serve, carefully remove the sides of the springform pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and confectioners' sugar on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form (being careful not to overbeat.) Spread gently over the top of the chilled cheesecake layer. Top with dollops of caramel sauce and swirl with a knife to create a marbled effect. Sprinkle with a handful of chopped pecans if desired. Slice with a long, thin knife to serve.

Source: Annie's Eats Blog

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pumpkin Waffles

A couple weeks ago, yes, it's been that long since I made this recipe :), I wanted to give my guys some fall flavor to their breakfast and this is how I came out with this recipe. You can double it with no problems (this one yields 5 regular waffles).


1 cup self rising flour
1/2 cup milk
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 egg
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/3 cup pumpkin filling
1 tspn. vanilla extract
1/4 tspn. pumpkin spice

** Optional: Chopped walnuts for garnish


Preheat your waffle maker.

In a medium bowl, mix all the ingredients together until blended. Pour one ladle onto the waffle maker and proceed according to manufacturer's instructions.

In this case, I quartered the waffles and add some butter between each piece. Then drizzle with syrup of your preference (Maple in this case) and top them with the chopped nuts. Serve and enjoy!

Cheddar - Dill Scones


4 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra-large eggs, beaten lightly
1 cup cold heavy cream
1/2 pound extra-sharp yellow Cheddar, small-diced
1 cup minced fresh dill
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk, for egg wash


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Combine 4 cups of flour, the baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Mix the eggs and heavy cream and quickly add them to the flour-and-butter mixture. Combine until just blended. Toss together the Cheddar, dill, and 1 tablespoon of flour and add them to the dough. Mix until they are almost incorporated.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it for 1 minute, until the Cheddar and dill are well distributed. Roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. Cut into 4-inch squares and then in half diagonally to make triangles. Brush the tops with egg wash. Bake on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 20 to 25 minutes, until the outside is crusty and the inside is fully baked.

Source: Food Network/Ina Garten/Barefoot Contessa Cookbook

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pumpkin Banana Mousse Tart


- For the crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs (14 crackers)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

- For the filling:

1/2 cup half-and-half
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 extra-large egg yolks
1 package (2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 ripe banana, finely mashed
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
For the decoration:
1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Orange zest, optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter in a bowl and mix well. Pour into an 11-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and press evenly into the sides and then the bottom. Bake for 10 minutes and then cool to room temperature.

For the filling, heat the half-and-half, pumpkin, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until hot, about 5 minutes. Whisk the egg yolks in another bowl, stir some of the hot pumpkin into the egg yolks to heat them, then pour the egg-pumpkin mixture back into the double boiler and stir well. Heat the mixture over the simmering water for another 4 to 5 minutes, until it begins to thicken, stirring constantly. You don't want the eggs to scramble. Remove from the heat.

Dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water. Add the dissolved gelatin, banana, and orange zest to the pumpkin mixture and mix well. Set aside to cool.

Whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Carefully fold the whipped cream into the pumpkin mixture and pour it into the cooled tart shell. Chill for 2 hours or overnight.

For the decoration, whip the heavy cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whisk until you have firm peaks. Pipe or spoon the whipped cream decoratively on the tart and sprinkle, if desired, with orange zest. Serve chilled.

Source: Food Network/Ina Garten

All-american barbecued baby back ribs

My husband was dying to have some ribs and I really didn't have a good recipe to make them at home... so after looking and looking around... I realized I had this one from my favorite chef: Curtis Stone.

It took a while to get the ribs ready, since it has some steps you need to follow, but the result was very pleasant! Did I mention that this was the best homemade barbecue sauce ever?!?!?!


- For the dry rub and ribs

1 tspn. Cajun or Creole seasoning
1 tspn. dried oregano
1 tspn. ground cumin
1 tspn. sweet or hot paprika
2 1/2 pounds meaty baby back pork ribs (about two large racks)

- For the Barbecue sauce

2 Tbspn. unsalted butter
2 medium onions, chopped
1 small celery stalk, finely chopped
2 cups beef broth
2 cups ketchup
1 cup distilled white vinegar
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbspn. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbspn. steak sauce
1 1/2 tspn. chili powder
1 tspn. paprika
1 tspn. salt
1/2 tspn. dry mustard
1/2 tspn. freshly ground black pepper
1 tspn. hot sauce


Mix the Cajun seasoning, oregano, cumin, and paprika in a small bowl to blend, and rub the mixture all over the ribs. Wrap the ribs in heavy-duty foil, encasing them completely, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the wrapped ribs on a heavy baking sheet and bake in the foil for about 1 hour, or until the meat is very tender. Unwrap the ribs and let them cool.

Meanwhile, make the barbecue sauce: Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and celery, and sauté for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Mix in the beef broth and all the remaining ingredients, and bring to a boil over hight heat. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour, or until the sauce reduces and thickens slightly.

Coat the ribs with half of the sauce and marinate for at least 1 hour at room temperature or for up to 1 day in the refrigerator. Reserve the remaining barbecue sauce.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Place the ribs on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet and roast, uncovered, basting often with some of the remaining barbecue sauce, for about 25 minutes, or until the ribs are heated through. Rewarm the remaining sauce and serve it alongside the ribs.

Source: Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pumpkin Bars

This is a great fall recipe. Easy to make, easy to eat and easy to share! I saw this recipe at Food Network (Paula's best dishes) and decided to try it. The original recipe calls for Cream Cheese Icing, I wanted to make the Pumpkin flavor the star, so I changed a little bit the recipe.


- For the Bars:

4 eggs
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
15-ounce can pumpkin
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda

- For the Icing:

8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
2 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1/8 tspn. ground cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 Tbspn. dark Rum


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Using an electric mixer at medium speed, combine the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until light and fluffy. Stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients to the pumpkin mixture and mix at low speed until thoroughly combined and the batter is smooth. Spread the batter into a greased 13 by 10-inch baking pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting. Cut into bars.

To make the icing: Combine the cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix together and add the sugar mixing at low speed until combined. Stir in the vanilla and rum. Mix again. Spread on cooled pumpkin bars.


Source: Food Network/Paula Deen

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pebre (Chilean salsa)

Pebre is one of the salsas you can hardly stop eating because it is just so fresh and delicious. During Independence festivities it's the dish that has to be present for the homemade chilean bread and asado (chilean steak).


1 bunch of cilantro, washed and chopped finely
2 chopped white/yellow onions (finely)
Lemon juice from one lemon
1 Tbsp. red vinegar
3 garlic cloves minced
4 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 tomato chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Chili Sauce (creamy chilean paste) --optional


Mix all ingredients together and let it macerate for at least an hour. Enjoy!

Source: www.nuevoanden.com

Squash au gratin

This is a perfect side dish for a special dinner, or you can bake it in individual casseroles and have it as a main dish too!


Good olive oil, for frying
3/4 pound yellow squash, unpeeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 extra-large egg
1/4 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup good bottled marinara sauce


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat about 1/8-inch of olive oil in a very large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add several slices of squash and cook, turning once, until they are evenly browned on both sides and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Be careful, it splatters! Transfer the cooked squash slices to paper towels to drain. Add more oil, heat, and add more squash until all the slices are cooked.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the ricotta, egg, half-and-half, 1/4 cup of the Parmesan, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Place a layer of squash slices on the pan you'll be making the gratin, then sprinkle with Parmesan, salt and pepper and spoon 1/2 of the marinara sauce. Next, add a second layer of squash, more salt and pepper, half the ricotta mixture, and finally 1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan on top.

Place the gratin on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the custard sets and the top is browned. Serve warm.

Source: Adapted from Barefoot Contessa

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Texas Sheet Cake

If you feel like you have not much time to make a delicious dessert, or even to bring a cake to a party or potluck, here is a very good alternative. You only need between 45 to 50 minutes and you are done, yes... you are done!

In order to make it easier and faster the execution of this cake, I've separated the ingredients in three groups. Make sure you have all the ingredients ready and handy before starting working on the recipe.


Group 1:

2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tspn. salt
1 tspn. baking soda

Group 2: (Heat it until boiling)

2 sticks unsalted butter
1 cup water
4 Tbspn. cocoa (I used dark cocoa)

Group 3:

2 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tspn. vanilla

Chocolate Icing:

1 stick butter
4 Tbsp. cocoa
6 Tbsp. whole milk
1 tspn. vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar


Preheat your oven to 375ºF. Grease or line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Put group 3 into a bowl, beat it until mixed and set aside. Fit your mixer with the paddle attachment and pour group 1. Stir it for 30 seconds, then add group 2 to group 1. Mix well. Add group 3 until all combined.

Transfer the batter to the prepared sheet and bake it for 30 seconds.

While the cake is being baked for about 15 minutes, start working on the icing. Use a heavy bottom pot and bring it to a boil the following ingredients: butter, cocoa and milk. Transfer this mixture to the mixer bowl and add the powder sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until reaches a silky and smooth consistency.

Once the cake is baked, get it out of the oven and spread the icing on top, making sure it is smooth and nice. You can top the cake with some chopped walnuts. Let it cool at room temperature until the icing is set and cut it into squares.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Semola con Leche con Caramelo de Crema y Ron (Semolina Custard smothered with Cream Rum Caramel)

This is one of the desserts that take me immediately home. It is so fresh and light, soft and easy to make, yes, VERY easy to make, so if you want to give this a try... let's get started then!


- For the Semola con Leche

1 quart of milk
1 cup of semolina
1/4 cup of sugar
1 cinnamon stick
orange or lemon peel

- For the Cream Rum Caramel Sauce:

1 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of water
1 tspn. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. Dark Rum
1 cup heavy whip cream


In a heavy small sauce pan put the water and sugar under high heat until it dissolves and reaches amber color. In a measuring cup for liquids mix the cream, rum and vanilla extract. Using a sieve on top of the pot, pour the cream mixture. It will bubble hard and even splatter. Do not remove the sieve. Once the mixture has settled a little, remove the pot from the heat and stir it with a wooden spoon. Transfer the caramel to the pan you'll use for the Semola con Leche (I used a tube pan), and set aside.

In a bigger pot, pour the milk, cinnamon stick, orange or lemon peel and sugar in a pot and let it boil. In the mean time, dissolve the semolina in cold water. Once the milk is boiling, add the semolina mixture and stir it with a wooden spoon or a whisk until it thickens (You have to do it constantly, otherwise you'll get lots of lumps). Make sure to adjust the heat of your stove so it only simmers and do not boil hard. Once is thick and silky, pour the mixture over the caramelized pan.

Let it cool off at room temperature. Then, refrigerate for at least an hour. Once you are ready to serve, simply place a platter on top of the pan and flip it upside down. Let the caramel cover the semolina.

French Toast Flavored Scones

Scones are the perfect companion for a hot and delicious coffee or tea. So, I decided to mix one of my favorite breakfast flavors (french toasts) with a flaky and soft scone. The result is right here!


- For the Scones:

3 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling over the scones before baking
1 1/2 stick of unsalted butter cut into little chunks
1/2 cup half and half
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup maple syrup (almost)
1 tspn. ground cinnamon
1/2 tspn. ground nutmeg
a pinch of salt
1 egg and 2 Tbspn. of milk, for egg wash

- For the glace:

1/2 stick of butter, melted and cooled
4 Tbspn. maple syrup
1 tspn. vanilla extract
1/4 cup powdered sugar


Preheat your oven to 425ºF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the little chunks of butter and work it with a pastry cutter until the pieces are about the size of small peas. Set aside.

In a measuring cup (for liquids), pour the half and half, vanilla and fill it up with maple syrup until reaches 1 cup (it is almost half of a cup).

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry mixture and work it as little as possible. Damp it over a floured surface and divide it into two pieces. Shape (one at a time) into a ball and put it on the prepared baking sheet and pat it until it shapes like a disc, not thicker than one inch. Do the same with the other one and cut them into 8 wedges each. Separate them about 1 each from each other. Brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle some sugar on top. Bake for about 15 minutes (it can vary from one oven to another, so make sure they are golden and if you insert a toothpick in the middle of one it has to come out clean and dry).

Once they are baked, drizzle the maple butter glaze over the top of the scones.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Peach Paradise / Copa de Duraznos

This is one of my favorite chilean desserts. It's easy to make, fast and delicious. Besides you can twist it enough to make different flavors and textures. It's a very versatile, happy and fresh flavor dessert.


1 can of peaches in light syrup
3/4 cup of peaches syrup from the can
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
Shredded coconut and peaches slices for garnish


Put 3/4 of the peaches, syrup, condensed milk and lemon juice in the blender and process it until is creamy and smooth. Pour into goblets or any other glassy dessert dish and refrigerate for at least one hour (to set).

Garnish with coconut and peach slices.

Blueberry Streusel Muffins

Ina is my hero! I love her recipes and I was looking for something to make for breakfast and got this amazing recipe!! They have so much flavor and a beautiful texture. If you want to give this recipe a try, just get your whisks ready!


- For the Muffins:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups buttermilk, shaken
1/2 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 extra-large eggs
2 cups fresh blueberries (2 half-pints)

- For the Streusel topping:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and blend with your hands. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, butter, lemon zest, and eggs. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a fork, mixing just until blended. Fold the blueberries into the batter. Don't overmix! With a standard (2 1/4 inch) ice-cream scoop or large spoon, scoop the batter into the prepared cups, filling them almost full.

For the topping, place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until the butter is in very small pieces. Pour into a bowl and rub with your fingers until crumbly. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the streusel on top of each muffin. Bake the muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown.

Source: Back to Basis - Ina Garten

Friday, August 28, 2009

Capellini with garlic shrimp and homemade pesto

If you want to feed a crowd and please them, this is your recipe! Amazing! Of course, from one of my favorite Chefs ever (and the most handsome one --don't tell my husband I said so!) Curtis Stone.


- For the Pesto:

1 1/2 cups (lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

- For the Pasta:

12 cherry tomatoes on the vine (mine didn't have the vine)
4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
9 ounces fresh linguine (I used capellini)
2 garlic cloves, minced
20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Parmesan shavings, for garnish


To make the pesto: Grind the basil, pine nuts, and grated Parmesan cheese with your food processor. Slowly add the olive oil, grinding until a smooth sauce forms. Season the pesto with salt and pepper to taste. The cover and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Place the vine of tomatoes in an ovenproof skillet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over the tomatoes, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper (I also drizzled some balsamic vinegar). Roast the tomatoes in the oven for 8 minutes, or until heated through.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking, until al dente.

While the pasta cooks, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and the shrimp and sauté for about 3 minutes, or until the shrimp are just cooked and the garlic is tender. Stir the pesto into the shrimp mixture.

Drain the pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta in a large bowl with the shrimp-pesto mixture, adding enough of the reserved cooking liquid to moisten the sauce so that it coats the pasta evenly.

Using a two-prolonged carving fork, swirl some pasta around the fork. Slide it off the fork, letting it mound in the center of a plate. Repeat. Arrange the shrimp and the roasted tomatoes around the pasta. Garnish with the cheese and serve.

**This is a variation of the dish: I used fetuccini noodles and topped with some bacon bites

Source: Relaxed Cooking with Curtis Stone

Sunday, August 9, 2009

AMAZING Doughnuts!!!

We love doughnuts in our family. We've established a tradition as a family. Saturday morning is our doughnuts run! I don't like to fry at home, but sometimes you have to do it, and this is one of those times! So, absolutely worthy it!


- Raised doughnuts:
2 pkgs. regular or rapid rise yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105−115 degrees)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk (scalded then cooled)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup shortening
5 cups all−purpose flour
Vegetable oil
Creamy glaze or chocolate glaze


Dissolve yeast in warm water in 2 1/2−quart bowl. Add milk, salt, sugar, eggs, shortening and 2 cups flour. Beat on low speed scraping bowl constantly, 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed scraping bowl occasionally, 2 minutes. Stir in remaining flour until smooth. Cover and let rise in warm place, until double, 50−60 minutes. (Dough is ready when indentation remains when touched.) Turn dough onto floured surface; roll around lightly to coat with flour. Gently roll dough 1/2−inch thick with floured rolling pin. Cut with floured doughnut cutter. Cover and let rise until double, 30−40 minutes.

Heat vegetable oil in deep fryer to 350 degrees. Slide doughnuts into hot oil with wide spatula.

Turn doughnuts as they rise to the surface. Fry until golden brown, about 1 minute on each side.

Remove carefully from oil (do not prick surface); drain. Dip the doughnuts into creamy glaze, set on rack, then when slightly cooled spread chocolate glaze on top. Can dip in sprinkles or other toppings after chocolate if desired.

- Creamy glaze:

1/3 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
4−6 tbsp. hot water

Heat butter until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla until smooth. Stir in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chocolate with White Chocolate Chunks Cookies


1/2 pound unsalted butte,r at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2/3 cup good unsweetened cocoa
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds good white chocolate, coarsely chopped


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well. Add the cocoa and mix again. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and add to the chocolate with the mixer on low speed until just combined. Fold in the chopped white chocolate.

Drop the dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, using a 1 3/4-inch ice cream scoop or a rounded tablespoon. Dampen your hands and flatten the dough slightly. Bake for exactly 15 minutes (the cookies will seem underdone). Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Yields: 40 to 45 cookies.

Source: Copyright 2001 Barefoot Contessa Parties!