Friday, July 22, 2011

Brazilian Lemonade

Hello. My name is Anne. And I'm addicted to this drink. I make it all the time. I buy limes in the huge bag from Costco and they're gone within a week. My family is also addicted. Which means they are enabling me. But how we could we survive summer without a refreshing limey beverage? Its not possible. Resistance is futile.

Thanks again Our Best Bites! Another winner!
ps- I copied/pasted directly from their site so the recipe is right out of Kate's mouth.


4 juicy limes (try and find ones with thin, smooth skins; they’re the juiciest and the thin skin cuts down on the chance of your drink being bitter)
1 c. sugar
6 c. cold water
6 Tbsp. sweetened condensed milk


Mix cold water and sugar very well and chill until ready to use. This step can be done ahead of time.

Wash limes thoroughly with soap (I just use hand-dishwashing soap or regular hand soap); you need the soap to get the wax and pesticides off of the limes because you’re using the WHOLE lime, baby. Cut the ends off the limes and then cut each lime into 8ths.

Place 1/2 of the limes in your blender.

Add 1/2 of the sugar water, place the lid on your blender, and pulse 5 times. Place a fine-mesh strainer over a pitcher (the one you’ll serve the lemonade in) and pour the blended mixture through the strainer and into the pitcher. Use a spoon to press the rest of the liquid into the pitcher. Dump the pulp and stuff in the strainer into the trash. Repeat with remaining limes and sugar water. Add sweetened condensed milk; DO NOT leave this step out unless you will die of a horrible sweetened condensed milk allergy because this is the secret ingredient! You may want to taste test it at this point; I used giant, thick-skinned limes tonight and didn’t test it and it came out a little bitter. If it’s bitter, just add some more sugar and maybe a little more milk.
Serve immediately over lots of ice. This does not keep well, so don’t make this in advance (although you can cut the limes, mix the sugar water, and measure the sweetened condensed milk in advance). Serves 4, although I can pretty much guarantee you that people will want more; I usually plan on 1 1/2 servings at LEAST per person.

* a note from Anne, which is actually a tip from my fellow Good Eater, Staci. Don't use the Magic Bullet brand blender. Its too powerful and even if you do it for 5 seconds, its going to pulverize the limes too much and the peel will be too fine to strain out and your drink will taste strongly of lime peel because your drink WILL be lime peel. Long story short: use your regular ol' boring blender, capiche?

**Staci here...editing to add...I actually use a VitaMix and I think it would work fine, but don't blend for more than a second or two. You want the mixture to be VERY chunky. I think the first time I let it go for a good 10 seconds which was WAY too long with the Vitamix.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chocolate Mousse Crunch Cake

If you are in looking for a show stopping dessert, you've met your match. Its got chocolate. And a chocolate moussee. And a toffee obsession. What else is there in life? Thanks for the fab gals @ Our Best Bites for posting! If you don't have their cookbook, stop reading now, run out the door and buy one. You won't regret it! Here's a link to their original recipe.

1 package Duncan Hines Devil’s Food Cake
1 recipe (more or less) Chocolate Ganache (posted below)
Crushed Heath bars or a bag of chocolate-covered Heath bits
1 tsp. unflavored gelatin
1 Tbsp. cold water
2 Tbsp. boiling water (just heat it in a small bowl in your microwave)
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 c. whipping cream
1 tsp. vanilla

Bake cake according to cake mix instructions in 2 8″ round pans. Allow to cool and set aside. This can be done several days in advance; just freeze the cakes when you’re done.
In a small bowl, combine gelatin and cold water and allow to stand for about 1 minute. While gelatin is softening, bring 2 Tbsp. water to a boil in the microwave. Whisk into the softened gelatin and allow to cool slightly.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine sugar, cocoa powder, whipping cream, and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer until medium-stiff peaks form. Mix in gelatin mixture and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Prepare ganache according to directions. With a serrated knife, carefully slice the dome part of each cake layer off so the layers are level. Place one layer on the serving plate and spread about 1/2 of the chocolate mousse over the cake. Sprinkle generously with Heath bits.

Place second layer on top of Heath bits. Again, no skimping allowed.

Spoon ganache over the top layer, allowing it to drip down the sides (because that's what makes it look fancy pants) Sprinkle with additional Heath bits and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Ganache Recipe
8 oz. semi-sweet or dark chocolate
8 oz. heavy cream
Combine chocolate and heavy cream in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat for 2 minutes and stir. Heat for an additional 1-2 minutes or until chocolate is fully melted and can be whisked and incorporated into the cream. Be sure and scrape the sides and bottom to make sure you don’t find any globby bits of chocolate when you start working with it.
The ganache will thicken as it cools, so if it’s a little too thin for you, hang tight and it will be ready pretty quickly. When it’s completely cool, it will be thick and fudgey and can be used like frosting. Store in an airtight container. You can reheat it to achieve your desired consistency.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Guacamole Salad

Once upon a time there were 2 friends who had a food blog. Then one friend moved away. The other friend who stayed behind missed her and all the cooking adventures they had. Months passed. Then the friend who left, returned! It was only for a short while, but oh how happy the friends were! They ate and cooked and baked and ate some more. (Maybe they ate a little too much.) One night for dinner, this salad was born and the two friends ate in silence. The one friend said, "This is very good." The other friend said, "This is really good." And that was the end of the conversation because they were too busy eating the salad. With bellies full of good food, the 2 friends parted that night thanking the stars above for each other and for the fantastic thing that is guacamole salad. The end.

*inspiration came from this Mel's Kitchen Cafe recipe.
She is a beautiful person for sharing it with the world.

*need a grilled corn tutorial? click here.

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cans (15oz each) black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4- 1/2 cup diced red onion (depends on how much raw onion you like)
3 ears grilled sweet corn, with the kernels removed from the cobs
1-2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled
1 tsp freshly grated lime zest
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (about 3 limes)
1/4 cup EVOO
1-2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 medium garlic clove, finely minced OR 1 tsp fresh chopped garlic from a jar
a dash (or two or three or seven) of cayenne pepper
3 ripe avocados, seeded, peeled and diced

* a note about measurements before we start with the directions. This recipe serves 6 as a side dish. Or it could also serve 2 ravenously hungry friends who sat down with a bag of tostitos new pepper jack tortilla chips and that was all they had for dinner. First, decide on how many people you are serving. If its on the "more" side, use the bigger measurement. If its on the "less" side, you could tone it down a little and still have lots of salad. You don't want a lot of leftovers because it doesn't keep very well. You know, the avocados turn brown and ruin the prettiness. Its not a "make the day before" salad. Next, adjust to your taste. Don't love corn? leave it out. (really, you don't love corn, what's your deal?) Like more black beans? Throw in another can. This is a starting point really. You can take it and run wild. And try the chips.
Seriously. They were made for this salad.

Throw the tomatoes, yellow pepper, black beans, red onion, corn, quinoa and lime zest in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the lime juice with the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and cayenne pepper and pour over the veggies in the big bowl. Mix 'em up good. Pop in the fridge until you're ready to serve, they can hang out in there for a few hours.

A few minutes before you bring out your salad and wow your guests, get the avocados seeded, peeled and diced and GENTLY fold them into the mixture. Give it a taste test. Or two. Or three. You are the quality control person. Needs another squeeze of fresh lime? Do it now. Needs another dash of salt and pepper? Get 'er done. Then put it on the table and watch it disappear. Every last corn kernel will have vanished. And your guests will be duly impressed. And you will say, "What? I cook like this all the time!" Well done friend, well done.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Heath Bar Cake

I have had this recipe printed out for a long time, waiting for the perfect time to make it. That window of opportunity nicely presented itself last week. This was a delightful cake, simply delightful. So moist and toffee-esque. Might have made that word up, go with me here. Here's the link to the original recipe over at Mel's Kitchen Cafe. If you don't follow her blog on google reader or facebook, you totally should. Good stuff, people, good stuff.

1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
5-6 (1.4 ounces each) chocolate covered toffee bars (like Heath), chopped


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and center a rack in the middle of the oven. Lightly grease a 9X13-inch pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, white sugar, flour and butter. Crumble these ingredients together with a pastry blender, whisk or two forks until the mixture is crumbly and coarse. Remove 1/2 cup of the crumbs to a small bowl and set aside. To the large bowl with the remaining crumbs, add the buttermilk, egg, vanilla, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing it to the edges. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the reserved crumbs and chopped Heath bars. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the center is no longer gooey but a toothpick inserted comes out with moist crumbs. The cake may fall slightly in the center leaving the edges raised. No fear! It will still be delicious.

*a note. I was in a state of frenzy when I was half way through making this cake because I realized that I forget to buy heath bars to crush up! Did I despair? Well, maybe for 5 seconds. Then, I grabbed my bag of skor bits and 1 8oz hershey's chocolate bar and went to town on the crumble. Mmmm, yum.

Monday, March 7, 2011

White chocolate walnut blondies with maple cream sauce

You know that yummy, spectacular dessert that Applebee's has? The one that's served hot with the cookie bar, ice cream and sinfully delicious sauce? You know that one? The one that I would drive all the way to Applebees and not order dinner, just this dessert? Yep, that's the one. Well, thanks to A Hint of Honey, I have found the best knock-off. Ever. Period. The end.
Two things, #1- really splurge and buy the pure maple syrup. suck up the price tag, its worth it. #2- Serve with a really fantastically creamy vanilla ice cream. Make your own or buy a quality brand. It makes or break this. Okay, enough soapboxing from me. Enjoy!

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
10 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
2 cups light brown sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup white chocolate chips

Maple Cream Sauce:
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup pure maple syrup (keep your Mrs. Butterworth's outta here!)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk to combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. In a separate large bowl, whisk to combine the melted butter and brown sugar until well-blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, until moist throughout (be careful not to overmix). Stir in the walnuts and white chocolate chips. (The batter will be very thick.)

3. Pour batter into the prepared baking dish and baked in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool slightly before serving.

4. To prepare the maple cream sauce, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the maple syrup and heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat slightly and simmer for about 30 minutes, until thickened and reduced by 1/3. Let cool slightly before serving. (Or refrigerate and reheat prior to serving.)

5. Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream over top of a warm blondie. Drizzle with warm maple cream sauce, sprinkle with toasted walnuts and serve.

Serves 12.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Steak Fajitas

Have you checked out Our Best Bites? I have been missing out! So many yummy things, so many fun things, so many cool things like a new cookbook and blog make-over. Anyway, found this fantastic recipe and after making it, my husband said it needs to be moved into the "keeper pile." So there you have it. Its a keeper. Fo' sure. I have posted my photo and copied/pasted their exact words. We used 1 lb of skirt steak and my family (2 adults and 3 kids) devoured it, so I am absolutely doubling this next time. We cooked them on the grill, meat directly on the grill racks, veggies in a metal grill basket. Squeeze some fresh lime juice on the meat before you serve it and that really adds the finishing touch. Make this tonight!

Measurements of meat and vegetables are approximate. Adjust depending on your preference and the number of people you're serving. This will serve about 4-6.

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, chicken thighs, or steak
2-3 bell peppers, stem and membranes removed and peppers quartered
1 large onion (any color/variety) sliced into 1/2" slices

1/4 C fresh lime juice
1/3 C water
2 T vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
3 t vinegar
2 t soy sauce
1-2 t liquid smoke
1 t salt
1/2 t chili powder, or chipotle chili powder
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/4 t onion powder

*If you're not familiar with liquid smoke, you can find it near the bbq sauces. Don't make this without it! It's definitely one of the key components. It makes things yummy and smoky and super flavorful. And if you're wondering, it actually is real smoke in liquid form. Interesting, eh?

Place meat in a zip-top bag or shallow dish. Place vegetables in another. In a medium bowl, combine all marinade ingredients and whisk well. Reserve 3-4 Tablespoons of marinade for later use. With remaining marinade, add a splash to the vegetables (enough for a light coating) and the remaining to the meat. Marinate for 4-6 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat bbq grill (my preference), indoor grill pan, or large skillet. If you're using a grill, place everything on at the same time. If using a skillet, slice peppers and onions first. Cook chicken for a few minutes on each side until cooked through and remove from pan. Cover with foil to keep warm. Add vegetables and cook until crisp tender.

Remove vegetables from cooking surface and slice. Slice meat. Toss with reserved marinade and serve.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Pecan Bars

Every time I look at the name of these bars, I have a little voice in my head that says, " Pecan" in the twangest southern drawl ever. I obviously have issues. But moving on, lets talk about these, shall we? Shortbread base- a thousand times yes. Gooey caramel made with real cream- you know it baby. And finally, these bad boys are loaded with nuts, the good kind not the creepy kind. Sooo glad Staci wanted to make these. Good call mi amiga!
Thanks Martha Stewart Cookie Book!


for the crust-
1 cup plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter (2 1/4 sticks), softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups all purpose flour

for the filling-
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups (8oz) pecan halves
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375. Make crust: Put butter and brown sugar into bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in salt. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, mixing until fully incorporated after addition. Continue mixing until dough begins to come together in large clumps.

2. Press dough about 1/4 inch thick into a 9x13 pan. Pierce the dough with a fork. Chill until firm, about 20 minutes. Bake until golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Reduce oven to 325.

3. Make filling: Place butter, brown sugar, honey, white sugar, and heavy cream in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly until mixture coats the back of a spoon, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; stir in salt, nuts and vanilla. Pour filling into the cooled crust.

4. Bake until filling bubbles, 15-20 minutes. Carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Run a paring knife around edges of the pan and invert onto cooling rack. Invert again on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut into 1 by 3 inch bars. Bars can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

* a note. I didn't invert my pan onto a cutting board. I'm low class I guess, we just cut them out of the pan when we served them.