This vegetarian dish looks like you spent all day making it but is actually very easy. Not only is it delicious, but it’s healthy too. If you have a mandoline, use it. It’s not absolutely necessary, but it sure makes nice even eggplant slices. You can also make your own marinara sauce or just buy a jar, like I did. They have lots of healthy ones out there nowadays. This recipe makes a big 9×13-inch casserole. If you’re feeding less people, cut the recipe in half.
Chocolate Ganache is used as a filling, a frosting, or a glaze for cakes and pastries. It’s very easy to prepare. This recipe is wonderful made with a good quality chocolate like Scharffenberger chocolate, but it’s just as good made with chocolate chips.
Make sure the chopping board, bowl, and utensils you use are completely dry because water will cause the chocolate to seize when it’s melted. Also when working with ganache, bear in mind that while it’s warm, it’s liquid and pourable, but it thickens and firms as it cools. If you need to soften it, just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds and stir.
My cousin, Pooh, was going to Las Vegas to take an FPC (Fundamental Payroll Certification) course so she could be certified as a payroll professional. Pooh is the Payroll Manager at her office and they were footing the bill for her trip. So she asked me if I would like to tag along. All I’d have to do was pay for my airfare since the hotel was already paid for. Of course, I said a resounding yes!
We spent all of last week in Vegas and we decided that while we were there, we should take the opportunity to try some of the fancy restaurants you read about in magazines and see on T.V. So we were at the Cosmopolitan looking to have some dessert one night and lo and behold, there was Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar.I have the Momofuku cookbook. It was given to me by one of the nurses at work, but I have to admit I’ve yet to try a recipe from it.
We made a beeline for the Milk Bar and I ordered the Cereal Milk Soft Serve Ice Cream that I kept hearing people going on about. All I can say is O-M-G! OH MY GOD! Where has this been all my life? It was so good, I could have eaten 10 of them! I especially loved the crunchy topping they sprinkled over it. So of course, the first thing I did when I got home was to pull out my cookbook and make the family a batch of the crunchy topping, simply called Cornflake Crunch. If you like that combination of sweet and salty, you’ve got to give this a try. Sprinkle it over some ice cream and I promise you’ll be a fan for life!
CORNFLAKE CRUNCH (from Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook)
5 cups cornflakes
½ cup milk powder
3 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
9 Tbsp. melted butter
Preheat the oven to 275°F.
Pour the cornflakes into a bowl and crush them to one-quarter of their original size.
Add the milk powder, sugar, and salt and toss to mix.
Add the butter and toss to coat. As you toss, the butter will act as glue, binding the dry ingredients to the cereal and creating small clusters.
Spread the clusters on a parchment or Silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes, at which point they should look toasted, smell buttery, and crunch gently when cooled slightly and chewed.
Cool the cornflake crunch before storing or using in a recipe.
NOTE: Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the crunch will keep fresh for 1 week; in the fridge or freezer, it will keep for 1 month.
This vegetarian dish is popularly eaten in Peru. Besides being healthy and good for you, it’s also very easy to make. I think you could add other veggies to it if you wanted to, like carrots, mushrooms, kale, or peas, which makes it quite the versatile little dish. Just make sure you keep in the potato and corn which are what make it classically Peruvian. Oh and I forgot to sprinkle the cilantro over it before I took the photo above. Don’t do what I did. The cilantro adds a delicious pop of flavor so you don’t want to leave it out. This recipe serves 2 people, but could very easily be doubled or tripled to feed more.
PERUVIAN QUINOA VEGETABLE STEW [Serves 2]
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
½ red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. paprika
¾ tsp. ground coriander
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ cup water
2 cups vegetable broth
1 red potato (6 ozs.), unpeeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
⅓ cup quinoa, rinsed well
⅓ cup fresh, canned or frozen corn kernels
1 small zucchini, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 avocado, diced
queso fresco, crumbled
1 lime, cut into wedges
Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat.
Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, paprika, coriander and cumin.
Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are softened and spices are fragrant, about 5 minutes.
Stir in water, scraping up any browned bits.
Stir in broth and potato, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes.
Stir in quinoa and simmer for 8 minutes.
Stir in corn and zucchini and continue to simmer until quinoa and vegetables are just tender, 6-8 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide stew into 2 bowls.
Top each with a sprinkling of cilantro, a little avocado, some crumbled queso fresco, and 2 or 3 lime wedges for your guests to squeeze into the stew before eating.
I saw the Pioneer Woman make this on TV one weekend and decided to try it. I wasn’t disappointed. It was delicious! This salsa is great served with grilled fish or chicken. You could probably serve it as an appetizer with tortilla chips, too.
2 pints strawberries, hulled and diced
½ small red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
½ bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
juice from 1 lime
salt and pepper, to taste
In a bowl, combine strawberries, red onion, red pepper, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime juice together.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Before serving, taste and adjust seasoning, adding more lime juice or salt and pepper, if desired.
My mom used to make this cake for us all the time when we were growing up. Pineapple Upside Down Cake is an old-fashioned cake that sort of died down in popularity over the years. It’s delicious, though, and definitely deserves a comeback. I’ve altered my Mom’s original recipe to make the cake more moist and added more pineapple to it, but the basic recipe is still hers. It’s easy to prepare and my family loves it judging by how quickly it disappears every time I serve it!
PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE
⅔ cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 20-oz. can pineapple slices, drained and juice reserved
1 8-oz. can pineapple slices, drained and juice reserved (optional)
1 jar maraschino cherries
2½ cups flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
16 Tbsp. reserved pineapple juice from the cans
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup butter, softened
1½ cup white sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Place butter in a 9×13-inch cake pan and put it in the oven to melt the butter.
When butter is melted, remove pan from oven.
Sprinkle brown sugar over melted butter. Spread evenly with a rubber spatula.
Arrange pineapple slices over the butter-brown sugar mixture in any pattern you want. You can leave the slices whole or cut them in halves or quarters to make a fancier design.
Cut a few maraschino cherries in half and nestle them, cut side up, around the pineapple slices in the cake pan. You can leave the cherries whole if you want, but my mom always cut them in half. Probably to save money.
In a medium bowl, stir flour, baking powder, and salt together.
In a small bowl, stir pineapple juice and vanilla together.
With an electric mixer, beat softened butter and white sugar on high until thick and light colored.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating until well-combined.
Reduce speed to low and beat in the flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with the pineapple juice mixture until just incorporated.
Pour cake batter evenly over the pineapple slices in the cake pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until cake springs back when pressed down lightly on top.
Allow cake to cool for 10-15 minutes, then turn it out onto a rectangular plate. If a pineapple gets left behind in the pan, just pick it up with a metal spatula and flip it over onto the spot it came from on the cake.
NOTE: You only need one 20-oz. can of pineapple, but if you want to completely cover the top of the cake with pineapple rings like I have pictured, you’ll find one can is about 2 slices shy. My family likes a lot of pineapple so I add the second smaller can, but if you don’t want to bother with that, you can make do with one 20-oz. can and just space the slices farther apart so they’re evenly distributed. Bear in mind, if you do decide to use just one 20-oz. can of pineapple slices, you might be a little short on the pineapple juice. Different brands have different amounts. If you’re short, just add enough water or cooking oil to make 16 tablespoons.
Spaghetti alla Carbonara is one of the most delicious pasta dishes the Italians make. With just four main ingredients, it’s a breeze to prepare. People worry about having raw eggs in the sauce, though I think the eggs cook with the heat from the spaghetti.I’ve never had a problem, but if you’re really concerned, you could use pasteurized eggs or omit the eggs altogether.
Traditionally, Spaghetti alla Carbonara is made with guanciale. Guanciale is an Italian bacon made from pork cheeks or jowls. It’s delicious, but unfortunately, I can’t get guanciale where I live. Thankfully, you can substitute bacon or pancetta. Half a pound of bacon is good for a pound of pasta, but my family likes lots of bacon so I use a whole pound. I never have leftovers when I make this dish.
SPAGHETTI ALLA CARBONARA
1 lb. spaghetti noodles (can also use fettucine or linguine)
1 lb. bacon (or pancetta or guanciale), sliced into ½-inch strips
½ small onion, diced
3 large eggs
1½ cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt, plus extra for the boiling water
¼ tsp. pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
While waiting for the water to boil, set another large pot over medium heat and fry the bacon until crispy; then remove the bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.
In the same pot, sauté the onions in the bacon grease until the onions become translucent; remove the pot from the heat and add the bacon back in.
When the water in the first pot is boiling briskly, add the spaghetti and boil until al dente.
While the spaghetti is boiling, prepare the sauce. It’s important to make the sauce while the pasta is cooking to ensure that the noodles will be hot when the sauce is done. The heat from the noodles is what cooks the raw eggs in the sauce.
To make the sauce, beat the eggs in a bowl with a fork; then stir in the parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
Drain the cooked pasta well, reserving ½ cup of the pasta cooking water.
Slowly drizzle the reserved hot pasta water into the egg mixture, mixing well. This tempers the eggs, so you don’t end up with scrambled eggs in your pasta.
Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pot with the bacon and onions.
Pour the egg mixture over the pasta and toss all together until the noodles are well-coated with the sauce and the cheese is melted.
Taste the spaghetti and adjust the seasonings. Depending on the pork you used, you may need to add more salt.
This cake is a play on my Chocoflan Cake. I was making a Chocoflan Cake for Cinco de Mayo and I started thinking how fun it would be to make a coconut flavored flan cake, so I went out to buy ingredients for a test drive. It took a few trial runs over the next few weekends, but eventually my Cocoflan Cake was born! Thankfully my family doesn’t mind being the guinea pigs who have to taste and EAT all my kitchen experiments.
I like how this final version turned out. The dessert isn’t overly sweet, the cake is moist, and the flan is smooth and creamy. It looks like a lot of steps, but if you read through the recipe, it’s really not hard to do. Give it a try and you’ll see what I mean.
1 cup white sugar
¼ cup water
½ cup macapuno, you can add more if you like
4 ozs. (½ box) cream cheese
1 can (14 oz.) condensed milk
1 can (13.5 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
1 Tbsp. coconut extract
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¾ cup cream of coconut (or coconut milk)
2 tsp. coconut extract
½ cup butter, at room temperature
¼ cup coconut oil
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
Make the Topping:
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and place on stove over low heat.
Let come to a boil and continue to cook until sugar starts to caramelize. Watch it carefully! The sugar can burn in an instant.
Once the sugar starts turning reddish brown, take it off the heat immediately. It will continue to darken and you don’t want it getting bitter.
Pour the sugar syrup into a bundt pan and swirl the bundt pan around so the sugar syrup coats the bottom and about an inch up the sides of the pan. Be careful. The bundt pan will get very hot so use oven mitts!
Put the bundt pan down on a trivet.
Distribute the macapuno evenly over the sugar syrup.
Set the bundt pan aside to cool.
Prepare the Flan:
Place cream cheese in a medium bowl and heat in microwave for about 30 – 40 seconds so the cream cheese becomes very soft.
Add the condensed milk to the softened cream cheese and whisk vigorously together with a wire whisk until well-blended and very smooth.
Add the coconut milk, eggs, and coconut extract, and whisk together well.
Set flan mixture aside while you prepare the cake batter.
Make the Cake:
Prepare a water bath by placing a roasting pan half full of water into the oven.
Turn oven on to 350ºF to preheat.
In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and baking soda.
In another small bowl, stir the cream of coconut and coconut extract together.
With an electric mixer set on high speed, beat butter and coconut oil together until smooth.
Slowly add sugar, continuing to beat until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.
Reduce speed to medium and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 batches of cream of coconut mixture.
Beat until just combined.
Pour the cake batter on top of the macapuno-sugar syrup in the bundt pan, smoothing the batter evenly with a rubber spatula.
Slowly pour the flan mixture through a sieve over the cake batter. Don’t worry if it sinks or causes the batter to separate in clumps.
Cover bundt pan tightly with a piece of tin foil and place into water bath in oven.
Bake for 1 hour, then remove foil and bake uncovered for 30 minutes more or until cake springs back when touched lightly in the center.
Remove from water bath and allow to cool to room temperature; then place in refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
To serve, invert cake onto a large cake plate or serving platter.
This cake is best prepared a day or two in advance and kept chilled in the fridge until ready to serve.
Macapuno is a Filipino delicacy. It’s basically shredded young coconut that’s been cooked in syrup to preserve it. It’s sold in jars in Asian food markets. If you can’t find macapuno, you can omit it from this recipe.
This is one of the easiest chicken dishes you can make. My local grocery stocks jars of black bean garlic sauce, but you can also find it in Asian food stores. Black bean sauce is a common condiment in Chinese cuisine. It’s made from fermented black soy beans and is really delicious, though extremely salty so use it sparingly. A little does go a long way with black bean sauce. It’s best to start with a tablespoon at a time, tasting and adding a little more at the end if you need to.
STIR-FRY CHICKEN IN BLACK BEAN SAUCE
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in cubes
½ small onion, cut into a half-inch dice
1 bell pepper, cut into a half-inch dice
3 tbsp. black bean garlic sauce, or to taste
Heat a little bit of cooking oil in a wok or frying pan.
Add chicken and 1 tablespoon black bean sauce and stir fry until chicken is half cooked.
Add onions and 1 more tablespoon black bean sauce, continuing to stir fry for another minute.
Finally add bell pepper and remaining 1 tablespoon black bean sauce, and stir fry until bell pepper is crisp-tender.
Taste for seasoning, and stir in a little more black bean sauce if desired.
This is an old recipe that I’ve had for many years. I got it from one of my old cookbooks, but sadly, I don’t remember which one. Probably a Junior League cookbook. Clam Dip is rich, creamy, and utterly delicious. I haven’t tried making it with low-fat cream cheese or mayo, but I don’t see why you couldn’t if you felt inclined to try cutting down on the calories. Let me tell you though, calories or not, this dip is worth every scrumptious bite!
HOT CLAM DIP IN BREAD BOWL
1 (1½-lb.) unsliced round bread bowl
2 (8-oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
a couple of dashes tabasco sauce, or to taste (optional)
4 (6½-oz.) cans minced clams, drained
4 large green onions, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Slice top 2 inches off bread and reserve for lid.
Cut out insides of bread, leaving a 1-inch-thick shell.
Tear cut-out bread into pieces to use for dipping.
With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, mayonnaise, worcestershire sauce, and tabasco (if using) in large bowl until well-blended.
Stir in clams and green onions.
Season with salt and pepper.
Pour filling into bread bowl.
Place reserved lid on bread.
Wrap bread tightly in 2 layers of heavy-duty foil and place on cookie sheet.
Bake until filling is very hot and bread is crusty, about 1 hour.
Unwrap bread and place on serving tray.
Remove lid and lean lid against bread at angle for a pretty presentation.
Lid can later be cut into cubes for dipping.
NOTE: If you can’t find a bread bowl, or you just don’t feel like doing the whole bread bowl thing,you can skip it (like I did in the photo above). Just beat the cream cheese, mayonnaise, worcestershire sauce, and tabasco together in a microwave-safe bowl until smooth. Microwave for 3 minutes or until cream cheese mixture is hot, stopping to stir every 30 seconds or so. Mix in drained clams and green onions. Microwave 30 seconds more. Stir well and serve with sliced baguette bread for dipping.