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Apple Onion Puff


Whenever I see a picture of food and it has puff pastry in it, I always want to eat it immediately.  Unfortunately, I had a bad experience with puff pastry when I accidentally set fire to my boyfriend’s oven.  It was a minor fire, but his housemates were not too pleased about the failed experiment and I haven’t used puff pastry since.  I decided to try to start forgiving puff pastry by using prepared sheets of it instead of making it myself. I wanted to make little appetizer bite for New Year’s Eve and puff pastry seemed like the simplest way to do that.  I just put a few things on top that I thought sounded good and baked them according to the directions.  It was very simple and, I’m proud to say, there were no fires.

I wanted these to be a more savory than sweet so they would be a nice little appetizer instead of dessert.  I used onion, cheddar cheese, and apple on top of a square of puff pastry.  These little bites would be great for a party as an appetizer.  They are flavorful and can be eaten easily as finger food.

Recipe:

Ingredients:

2 sheets of puff pastry (I got mine from Trader Joe’s)

1/2 red onion

1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium apple

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp chili powder

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 15-20 minutes

Servings: 18 3″x3″ squares

Cooking Instructions:

If using frozen puff pastry, remove from the freezer to begin defrosting.  Cut the onion into thin slices.  Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic powder, and chili powder.  Saute the onions until they are soft and browning.  Remove from heat.  Slice the apple into thin slices.  Cut the puff pastry into 3″x3″ squares.  If using  Trader Joe’s puff pastry sheets, this would be 9 squares per sheet.  Gently press the tines of a fork around the inside of the squares leaving about a half inch margin.  Preheat the oven to whatever temperature specified by the puff pastry instructions (I baked mine at 400°F).  Place a small portion of the onion in the middle of each square topped with a slice of apple and followed by about a tablespoon of cheddar cheese.  Place the squares onto a lightly buttered cooking sheet using two if necessary. Bake for the time specified (mine said 15 minutes, but I baked them for about 20 minutes total).  Allow to cool and then enjoy!

Skittles Vodka Party Favors


Isn’t that just what you always want to see when you come to a blog?  Rainbow alcohol.  Absolutely (pun intended)!

With New Year’s Eve coming up, everyone is looking for ideas for their party.  One party I had in college was a “Taste the Rainbow” party.  We infused vodka with each flavor of skittles and had everyone dress up in skittles colors.  Everyone looked funny in their rainbow outfits and had a great time.  The skittles vodka was a hit too.  When I was thinking of things that would make party favors I thought of mini bottles of alcohol.  That seemed boring so then my boyfriend thought of mini bottles of skittles vodka!  Brilliant!

Skittles vodka tastes fruity and delicious, but it’s very strong so be careful.  You can mix this alcohol with fruity juices, sprite, or even ginger ale.  It also tastes good just by itself.  Have fun with this, but remember to be responsible too.  Happy New Year’s everyone!

UPDATE THAT WILL ROCK YOUR WORLD:  Mix the orange skittles vodka with cranberry juice.   It’s magical.  And when you’re done with that, mix the yellow skittles vodka with lime margarita mix.  Delicious.  Ok, continue with the normal post.

Also, I always wondered what the bottles of Absolut say on them.  They have a novel written write on the label.  In case you were curious too, the bottles read, “This superb vodka was distilled from grain grown in the rich fields of southern Sweden. It has been produced at the famous old distilleries near Ahus in accordance with more than 400 years of Swedish tradition.  Vodka has been sold under the name Absolut since 1879.”  History of Absolut on the label.  There you go.

Recipe:

Printable Version

Ingredients and Equipment:

1 lb bag of skittles

30 mini bottles of vodka

Coffee Filters

5 empty containers with lids (water bottles, tupperware, I used cups with plastic wrap on top)

Funnel (or crazy good pouring skills)

Prep time: 45 minutes

Inactive time:  1 day

Cooking Instructions:

Separate all the skittles by color. Pour 6 of the mini bottles of vodka into one of the empty containers.  Save the mini bottles  Add 120-150 red skittles.  Repeat this with all the colors.  You should have 5 containers with skittles of different colors in vodka at the end.  Stir each container.  Cover each container and set aside for at least 24 hours or until the skittles are dissolved.  Shaking or stirring occasionally helps.

Once dissolved, get out about 4 coffee filters and pour a portion of one color through the filters into an empty cup.  Once the flow rate slows down, squeeze the liquid through like how your supposed to squeeze a toothpaste bottle (back to tip).  If there is still white gelatin floating, filter again. Continue this until there is minimal gelatin floating in the vodka.  If your friends are like mine, they won’t care about a little bit left.  I found that the white gelatin stands out most in the green and purple so I filter these twice.  Repeat this until you have filtered all of one color.  Use the funnel or your pouring skills to pour the vodka back into the mini bottles.  Repeat this for each color.  Depending on how many filters you used and how many times you filtered, you may not end up with as many mini bottles full as you started.  You can fill the mini bottles that are only part full using more vodka if you want or just have extra mini bottles for other uses.  You should end up with about 5 or 6 bottles of each color.  Use as party favors for New Year’s or any other adult party.  Enjoy!

Chunky Salsa (and how I met my boyfriend)


Salsa is part of the reason why my boyfriend and I are together. The story of this salsa goes back even further than that though.  My sister got this recipe from a chef in Mexico that prepared the food at the hotel where she was staying during a trip.  She loved the salsa so much that she went and asked him for the recipe.  When she got back to the US, she made it for our family, and I became obsessed.  It was the best salsa I ever had.

Fast forward to college, freshman year.  One of my friends got tomatoes from his professor’s garden (that’s the kind of school I went to) so we decided to make salsa.  As we were walking around campus to go buy the rest of the ingredients, I saw two huge bushes.  My name is Holly and I was wondering if there were holly bushes.  A friendly fellow who happened to be walking by replied that they were, in fact, holly bushes.  He introduced himself to me and ignored my friends.  After talking a little bit, we discovered that we were planning on making salsa in the building where he lived.  We promised to get him when the salsa was finished.   Me and my friends parted ways with the friendly person and continued with our plan to make salsa.  When the salsa was complete my friends urged me to go get the guy that was talking to us by the holly bush, insisting that he thought I was cute.  I did, and we’ve been dating ever since. ♥

This is the recipe for that salsa.  From a hotel in Mexico to bringing a couple together in Washington state, this recipe has gotten around.  Aside from the obvious sentimental value, it still is the best salsa I’ve ever had.  If you have a Chipotle in your area, it’s similar to the chunky mild salsa that they make.  So if you like chunky tomato-y salsa, this one’s for you.

Recipe:

Printable Version

Ingredients:

5 roma tomatoes

½ white onion

3 jalapeños

Juice from 2 lemons

½ cup cilantro

1 tsp garlic powder

Dash of salt

Dash of black pepper

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Servings: Makes about 4 cups (nutrition facts for 1 cup)

Cooking Instructions:

Remove the seeds and core from the jalapenos. Finely chop the cilantro, tomatoes, onion, and jalapeños and place in a large bowl.  Add the lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.  Mix all the ingredients together.  Add a little bit of water if the tomatoes were not juicy enough to blend the flavors together.  Serve immediately with tortilla chips.  The salsa will save a few days, but the tomatoes may get a little wrinkly after some time.  Enjoy and don’t forget to go for second helpings!


Whole Wheat Breadsticks


First of all, I’d like to thank people that have been pinning my posts on Pinterest.  It’s a great way to spread the recipes around, and I want you to know that I appreciate it.  I will be pinning all of my recipes on my board here so if you want to re-pin those pins, that’s fine.  If you don’t know what Pinterest is, you should click here.  It’s a useful tool for finding new ideas and sharing yours.  Now on to the story and recipe!

This week, my boyfriend’s mom had us over for a soup night.  I was in charge of bringing bread.  I, of course, brought made the favorite crumbly bread (recipe to come!).  As it was baking, I thought, “How are we going to dip a crumbly bread into soup?  This makes no sense.  It will fall apart into the soup!”  So I decided to make some breadsticks to go along with the other bread.  One to dip and one to eat on the side.  It turns out that these are PERFECT for a delicious hot soup.  They are strong enough to scoop chunky soups and soft enough to soak up creamy soups.

 

I actually didn’t use my bread machine to make these breadsticks.  I know you all are very surprised since I have a mild bread machine addiction.  I wanted to make sure I was doing it right so I found a useful video to help me with my kneading.  My dough was stiffer than in the video, but it was still a good reference tool.  I ended up adding a little more water to my dough so that I could knead it more easily.  I added about a ¼ cup more than what I have listed below.

 

Recipe:

Printable Version

Ingredients:

1 cup water (plus extra if needed)

1/2 cup milk

2 tbsp honey

1 tsp salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups wheat flour

2 tbsp butter

¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1 tsp garlic powder (optional)

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Bake Time: 20-25 minutes

Makes: 16 breadsticks

Cooking Instructions:

Stir the yeast in the milk and water until mostly dissolved in a large mixing bowl.  Add the honey and salt and continue to mix until the yeast and honey are completely dissolved.  Stir in both types of flour and mix until a ball of dough forms.  Add more water if the dough is extremely stiff (again, I added about ¼ cup).

Remove from the bowl and onto a lightly floured surface.  Knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until you can gently press on the dough with two fingers and have the indentations stay.

Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces.  Roll the pieces out until they are about an inch around.  Grease a cookie sheet lightly and place the breadsticks on the sheet.

Melt the butter and add the parmesan cheese and garlic powder to the butter.  Brush the butter mixture over the breadsticks.  Preheat the oven to 400ºF and let the breadsticks rest while the oven preheats.

Once the oven preheats, bake for 20-25 minutes.  Check after 15 minutes. Remove from the cookie sheet and let cook on a wire rack for a few minutes.  Enjoy immediately or reheat in the microwave and serve with soup. Don’t forget to go for second helpings!

Holiday Spiked Coffee


Since I blog about food, I tend to check out other food blogs too.  Smart, right?  Check out the competition.  Just kidding.  It’s more like learn from people that are better at cooking, or photography, or both and get some good recipe ideas along the way.  As the holidays approach, I’ve noticed more and more posts about homemade Bailey’s Irish Cream.  While I do want to try one of the many variations I’ve seen (preferably one without raw eggs), I found myself wondering what people are going to do with the vast quantities of irish cream they made.  It doesn’t keep long and there’s no point in making a small batch if it takes some time.  I decided to help out.

I created this coffee treat to use up some of the holiday liquors and alcohols that are common.   How many of us have a bottle of Kahlua or Amaretto and no idea what to do with it?  I have the solution!

 

Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 cup hot coffee

1 shot Kahlua for a mocha coffee OR

1 shot Amaretto for a hazelnut coffee

1 shot whiskey for a stronger drink

1 shot Bailey’s Irish Cream (or homemade Irish cream)

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cooking Instructions:

Combine all the ingredients into a heat safe mug.  Stir to combine. Drink and enjoy as a guilty pleasure!

Pita (or Pitta)


This post is part 2 in a series leading up to the greatest stuffed pita of all time.  The first recipe was piquillo pepper hummus and the last is stuffed pita.  This hummus is amazingly and so simple.  If you have time to make these pitas, you have time to make the hummus.  You really need to try it.  You’ll thank me.  The second recipe is for pita.

Pita bread is common in the Mediterranean area and is used as a pseudo spoon to scoop dips or sauces.  It’s puffed up and has  a pocket in the middle that makes them perfect for  stuffing with sandwich like ingredients.  The possibilities are endless when you have a pita.  Whatever your favorite sandwich is, you can turn it into a stuffed pita and make it even better.  Although making any kind of bread takes time, the out come is amazing and I would recommend this recipe.

Recipe for the Pita (Pitta):

Printable version

Ingredients:

1 cup water

1 tbsp olive oil

3 cups all purpose flour, plus some for sprinkling

1-1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp yeast

Active Time: 30 minutes

Inactive Time: 1 hours 45 minutes

Makes: 15- 4″ pitas

Cooking Instructions:

Using a bread machine place all the ingredients into the bread pan in the order specified by your manufacturer.  If you aren’t sure, it’s common to place them from wet to dry (the order that I have them listed).  Set to dough.  Add water if the dough appears too dry (I added about a teaspoon of water and my dough was perfect after that).  If you do not have a bread machine, mix the ingredients in a stand mixer with a dough hook or by hand and knead for at least 10 minutes.  Let rest in a warm area for 1 hour.

When the dough cycle (or resting time) has finished, divide the dough into 15 equal parts.  For larger pitas, divide the dough into fewer parts.  Shape each part into a ball. Cover the balls with a damp paper towel and let rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450°F.  If you have a baking stone place it in the oven to preheat as well.  Roll each ball into a circle or an oval about 1/4″ thick (very thin).  Cover again with a damp paper towel and let rest for 15 minutes.

Move the pitas to the stone or place on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes or until they are puffy and lightly browned.  I had to bake mine in parts so make sure that you give your oven time to reheat from opening and closing the door.  Transfer the finished pitas to a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy with hummus, stuffed, or plain.  And don’t forget to go for second helpings!

Piquillo Pepper Hummus


Hello, all!  I have decided to do a three part series.  I made 3 delcious things yesterday, but I think that this is just too good to put in one post.  Today I’ll be posting about piquillo (or pequillo) pepper hummus (the happiest mistake I’ve ever made).  Next, I’ll post about the pita bread I made to go with the hummus.  Lastly, I’ll post about the stuffed pita I made when I realized my planned dinner had gone bad in the fridge (the second happiest mistake I’ve made).  These recipes are all very delicious and can be made with minimal effort and, except in the case of pita bread, minimal time. So without further ado, I give you the story of why piquillo pepper are in hummus.

I have been trying to clean out my pantry in attempts to make more space.  In the back of one of the shelves I found a jar from Trader Joe’s of Piquillo Peppers.  “Odd,” I thought to myself, “What did I want to make that involved piquillo peppers?”  I put them in front to remind myself to figure out something to do with them and continued with my cleaning and baking.  As I was making the pita bread, I reached for my sugar behind the peppers and… *CRASH*  The pequillo peppers fell out and the bottom of the jar broke off.   Luckily the glass did not shatter.  “Ok…. I guess I’ll use these today.”  So I decided to try to make some hummus to go with my pita and add the piquillo peppers.  Maybe like roasted red pepper hummus?  Turns out, it’s a million times better than roasted red pepper hummus.  Why have we been using red peppers when we could be using these superior peppers?  If you like roasted red pepper hummus, you’ll like this even more.  I will never be buying store bought hummus again and I most definitely will be using piquillo peppers whenever I can.  Give this recipe a try, you’ll be happily surprised.

Recipe for Piquillo Pepper Hummus 

Printable version

Ingredients:

1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans

3/8 cups tahini sauce

1-1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp paprika

2 roasted piquillo peppers (available in a jar at Trader Joe’s), drained and rinsed

1 tbsp olive oil

sprinkle of ground chipotle pepper powder (optional, I found this at Target)

Total time: 10 minutes

Makes: About 2 cups, 1 serving is 2 tbsp

Cooking Instructions:

Combine all ingredients except the last two (olive oil and chipotle pepper) in a blender or food processor.  Scrape sides occasionally to ensure that all the garbanzo beans are blended. Pour into a bowl. Create a little well in the middle  Cautiously sprinkle the chipotle powder, if using, over all the hummus.  Too much can make your hummus REALLY have a kick.  Pour the olive oil into the well.  Serve with fresh pita (recipe below) or pita chips.  Hummus will last a few days in the fridge covered.

Note: To make regular hummus, simply do not add the piquillo peppers or paprika (but you’ll be missing out).

This hummus is delicious and nutritious so don’t forget to go for second (or third, or fourth….) helpings!

Onion Cheese Bread


Last post I hinted that I would be making pasta for my next recipe.  If you read the title, you may realize that this isn’t pasta.  That is because I epic failed at making it.  Pasta and I aren’t talking for a while.  Especially the stupid butternut squash ravioli kind….  The problems first started when I ran out of all purpose flour in the middle and tried to add some whole wheat flour to substitute.  This trick, which normally works well in bread recipes, did not work at all.  The pasta was weird and chewy and looked very frightening.  No good.  I’ll try again, but I moved on and made some bread instead.

This bread was pretty good and made a huge loaf.  I’ll definitely be making it again soon.  I’m experimenting with my camera and different lighting techniques so I don’t have many pictures that turned out well, above is one I really liked.

I got this recipe from a book that I literally have not been able to find anywhere.  I got it on clearance at Borders for my boyfriend a couple of years ago as a present and I have been looking for one for myself ever since then.  He eventually just gave it back to me, but there was a sad time when I didn’t have the book or it’s delicious recipes.  I think that it’s this one but there’s another book by the same name.  It’s very confusing.  Either way, I have the recipe with my modifications below.  Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

4 to 4-1/2 cups flour

2-1/4 tsp yeast

1 tsp mustard powder

2 cups grated Cheddar cheese

2/3 cups lukewarm milk

2/3 cups lukewarm water

1 tbsp butter, melted

Active time: 30 minutes

Inactive time: 2.5 hours (in the down time I made my own light box)

Servings:  Makes 1 humongous loaf

Cooking instructions:

Saute the onions in the olive oil until they begin to brown.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  In a bread machine pan,* combine the onions with the rest of the ingredients, except for the butter and 1/2 cup of cheese, following the instructions from your machine.  Mine have always said to put in the wet ingredients the the dry ingredients, but I guess that’s not always the case.  Set to dough. The dough should not be sticky so you should add more flour until you can touch the dough without it sticking to you.  Add about 1/8 of a cup at a time and allow it to fully mix in before adding more.  I added about another 1/2 a cup.

*If you don’t have a bread machine you can use a stand mixer or your hands.  Just combine the wet ingredients together.  Then combine the dry ingredients.  Mix them together and knead for about 10 minutes adding flour until the dough is no longer sticky.  Allow the dough to rise for about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.

Once the dough has risen, knock it back.  Divide the dough into roughly 20 equal parts.  I did this by first dividing it in half, then quarters, then attempting to divide those into five somewhat equal parts.  It’s ok if it’s not perfect because it’ll make the bread look more interesting.  Spray a 10×5″ bread tin with cooking spray or oil.  Shape the 20 parts into balls (again, it’s ok if it’s not perfect).  Place half of the balls into the bottom of the tray.  Brush the tops of the balls with half the butter.  Put the remaining balls on top.  Top those balls with the remaining butter.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm spot for about 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top until it has reached your desired cheesiness level (Side note:  cheesiness is a real word.  I totally thought I made it up).  Bake for 40 minutes.  If the loaf is still not done as determined by a knife or toothpick, cover the top with tin foil to prevent browning and bake for however much longer in 5 minute increments.  I had to bake mine for 55 minutes total.

Remove from the oven and let cool.  You can slice the bread or pull off the balls you rolled up.  I went the tear off route like pull apart bread.  It was super yummy.   I dipped mine in leftover carrot soup and it was so delicious. This would be a fun bread to bring to a party and share with many people because you can tear off bits and enjoy it with many people.

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