July 26, 2016

Ina Garten's Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake

Today, I have a simple make-ahead dessert to share, and it will be a huge hit at any summer party!

I love hosting dinner parties at my house, but I especially love having pizza parties (and my annual Christmas cookie party!).  At pizza parties, it's always hard to come up with a good dessert that is indulgent but not super heavy.   I remember watching an Ina Garten clip where she talked about making this cake and serving it as "thin wedges."  I'm not sure why I thought that "thin wedges" of a chocolate chip cookie layered creation would be a "lighter" dessert, but I decided to give it a go and made for a summer pizza party.  

For this cake, you whip up mascarpone cream, heavy whipping cream, cocoa powder, sugar, and some kahlua.  Then, in a springform pan, you layer thin chocolate chip cookies and top them with the whipped cream.  Refrigerate overnight, and voila, the cookies soften, and you have a chocolatey goodness dessert.  The chocolate Kahlua whipped cream adds a regal flair.  Though I'm not a coffee or Kahlua fan, this did not seem too heavy on the coffee flavor to me.  I think substituting Bailey's would also be good, though you could certainly leave out the liqueur.

You can use homemade or store-bought cookies here.  Ina suggests Tate's Bake Shop cookies, which are thin, crispy chocolate chip cookies.  You can find them at Whole Foods and sometimes even at Costco.  I read that Trader Joe's has a version of thin crispy chocolate cookies and that they are made by Tate's Bake Shop.  I'm not sure if that is true, but the packaging design did look a little similar.  Any chocolate chip cookies will do! :)

So, I may not have exactly served this in the thin wedges described by Ina Garten, but thick or thin, a wedge of this cake will do you and your friends well.

Ina Garten's Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake
Yields 10 servings

2 cups heavy whipping cream
12 oz. mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup Kahlua
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 8-ounce packages of crisp chocolate chip cookies (such as Trader Joe's crisp cookies or Tate's Bake Shop)
Shaved chocolate, for garnish

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with an electric hand mixer, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone cheese, granulated sugar, Kahlua, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla.  Mix on low speed to combine, and then increase the speed until firm peaks are formed.

To make the cake, arrange a piece of parchment paper on the bottom of an 8-inch springform pan, and then arrange the chocolate chip cookies flat on the pan, covering the bottom as much as possible.  Then, spread about one-fifth of the whipped cream evenly over the cookies.  Place another layer of cookies on top, and then add more cream.  Continue layering cookies and the cream until there are about 5 layers of each, and make sure to end with a layer of cream.  Use a spatula to smooth the top, and then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Before serving, sprinkle with chocolate, cut, and serve cold.

Source: Ina Garten

July 18, 2016

Greek Frittata

I have an egg-celent breakfast for you.  Ha, I couldn't resist that one! ;-)

For the past few months, I've been eating eggs for breakfast and have enjoyed coming up with all different ways to incorporate them in my breakfast repertoire.  Egg white oatmeal, omelettes, poached eggs, and hardboiled eggs -- the possibilities are endless!

I've experienced some positives with having eggs in the start of the day.  Eggs have kept me feeling more full longer because of the protein and fat in the eggs.  I've also had some weight loss with eating eggs for breakfast.  I read up on this, and studies have shown that people who eat eggs for breakfast are more likely to lose weight than people who eat a more carb-centric breakfast.

I've been getting a lot of zucchini in my produce box from Door to Door Organics, and one can only make so many spiralized zucchini noodles (zoodles) and zucchini bread. ;)  I'm always looking for more ways to incorporate veggies into breakfast, and a plain veggie omelette is just boring to me.  I had never made a frittata before (not sure why it took me so long), so I experimented with making a Greek frittata with zucchini, garlic, dill, parsley, and feta.  It captured those fresh Greek flavors and made for a filling breakfast.


Greek Frittata
Yields 2 servings

4 large eggs
1 large zucchini, shredded or 2 cups of spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. fresh dill or 2 tsp. dried drill
1 tbsp. fresh parsley or 1 tsp. dried parsley
1/4 cup feta cheese
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, as desired

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, and add any desired salt and pepper.  Then, add in the dill, parsley, and feta cheese, and stir to combine.  Set aside.

In an 8-inch skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil.  Add the zucchini or spinach, and stir for about 4-6 minutes until the zucchini/spinach softens.  Then, add the garlic and continue to stir lightly for about another minute.   Once the mixture is softened, transfer the contents to the egg mixture bowl and stir.

With a paper towel, wipe the skillet so that nothing is sticking to it.  Return the skillet to the stove over medium heat and add in another tablespoon of olive oil to warm.

Pour in the egg mixture.  Tilt the pan or use a spatula to ensure the mixture spreads evenly in the pan. Reduce the heat to low and place a cover over the skillet.  Allow the frittata to cook for about 3-5 minutes untouched so that it can set.

Remover the cover, and use a spatula to loosen the edges of the frittata.  Slide the frittata from the pan onto a flat plate or a cutting board.  Then, use the plate or board to flip the frittata back into the pan, and return the pan to the stove.  Cook for another 3-5 minutes or until the bottom of the frittata becomes more gold.

Source: A Simply Sweet Justice Original

June 21, 2016

Prosciutto, Asparagus, and Cantaloupe Salad

Summer is officially here!  Having grown up in the Palm Springs area, I am very used to hot, dry summers with triple digit temperatures.  Denver has had some days in the 90's lately, and it makes me shake my head to hear how vocal people are about their disdain for the heat.   We may not be setting records for high temperatures, but we are setting records for the number of people talking about the weather!  It's summer--summer is warm. :)  

With summer here, I'm all about the light, fresh summer fare.  This recipe combines a lot of the popular summer produce into one great salad.  Who says salad always has to involve lettuce (or kale - ha!)?  Lightly grilled asparagus and cantaloupe are combined with crisped proscuitto, pine nuts, and fresh mozzarella, and the salad is dressed with a light lemon and olive oil vinaigrette.  It's summer on a plate!  It is a light dinner, but a filling one, and all of the colors just make it feel like a happy dinner.

Prosciutto, Asparagus, and Cantaloupe Salad   
Yields 4 servings

3 oz. prosciutto
1 lb. asparagus
2 cups or 12 oz. melon, sliced into cubes or balls
4 oz. fresh mozzarella balls
2 tbsp. pinenuts
4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350ºF.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon liner.  Place prosciutto slices across baking sheet.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, until crispy.  After crispy, remove from oven and allow to cool for about three minutes.  Then, use paper towels to blot excess oil.  Finally, chop the prosciutto and set aside in a small bowl.

Preheat grill on medium heat, or alternatively heat a grill pan over the stove on medium heat.  In a bowl, toss the asparagus spears with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Grill for about 4 minutes, grill each side for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

If desired, you can toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat for about four minutes.

Combine the asparagus, melon, prosciutto, and mozzarella in a large bowl, and toss with the remaining olive oil and the lemon juice, adding extra salt and pepper to taste.  Then, top with the pine nuts.  Serve and enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

May 25, 2016

Tangerine Curd

I made tangerine curd months ago, and after making lemon curd this past week end in a pie class, I decided it was time to share this recipe!  Tangerine curd is sweet and tangy, and with the long week end coming, it would be something fun to make as part of breakfast.  It would pair well with vanilla scones, just sayin'.

Citrus curds are traditionally served with scones and tea breads or even as a pie filling.  To make curds, you beat egg yolks and sugar with citrus juice over hot water.  Once the mixture begins to thicken, you add butter, which helps it remain thicker.     The curd will last for about two weeks in the refrigerator.  Enjoy!

You could also substitute the tangerines for orange, lemon, or tangelos.  I stumbled upon some pink lemons at Trader Joe's recently, and I'll be making this curd with those lemons soon.

Tangerine Curd
Yields 1 1/2 cup curd

1 egg, plus 4 egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
Grated zest of 1 tangerine
3/4 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice
6 tbsp. cold butter

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, bring 1 cup of water to a low simmer.  In a heatproof glass or stainless-steel bowl, combine the whole egg, egg yolks, sugar, and salt, and whisk to combine.  Then, whisk in the tangerine zest and juice.  Place the bowl over the saucepan of simmering water, and whisk until the eggs begin to thicken, about 3-5 minutes.  Then, whisk in one tablespoon of the butter at a time, and continue whisking constantly until the mixture much thicker and forms a thick ribbon on the surface when dropped from the whisk.

Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic wrap right onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming.  Allow the curd to cool at room temperature for about 15 minutes before refrigerating.

Source: Williams-Sonoma

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