Monday, November 25, 2013

Girl Scout Samoa (or Caramel deLite!) Cookie Truffles

My mind has officially been blown.  These truffles taste exactly like the beloved Samoa Girl Scout Cookie and at 5 ingredients, could not be any simpler.

Take Golden Oreos, cream cheese, and caramel ice cream topping and coat it in chocolate and top with toasted coconut.  Easy, delicious, and seriously addicting.  I had to walk away from the tray of these or there wouldn't have been any left for my guests.

Enjoy :)

Samoa Truffles
(adapted from Chef in Training)

1 (14.3 oz) package Golden Oreos
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup caramel ice cream topping
12 ounces chocolate melts
1/3 cup toasted coconut

Finely crush Oreos in a food processor or blender and dump into a medium bowl.
Add softened cream cheese and caramel topping to bowl. Mash softened cream cheese, caramel and crushed Oreos until well combined and a dough forms.
Roll into 1" balls and place on a wax or parchment covered cookie sheet. Place tray into freezer for 1 hour.
When ready to dip, melt the chocolate melts according to package instructions.
Pull the truffles out of freezer, and dip into chocolate one at a time.
Place on a lined cookie sheet and immediately after placing chocolate dipped truffle on cookie sheet, garnish tops with toasted coconut before the chocolate hardens.
Let chocolate set, refrigerate and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Baked Cinnamon French Toast

There's nothing like waking up, popping a delicious casserole in the oven, and having a sweet treat of a breakfast ready in an hour.  My sweet addition to my Christmas breakfast table was this baked cinnamon french toast.  I've made numerous sweet breakfast casseroles but I think this is probably my favorite to date.  The sweet custard that gets soaked into the Challah bread isn't overpowering and the addition fo the streusel on top is a nice surprise.  Next time I'd add some chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans most likely) to give that added crunch.


Baked Cinnamon French Toast 
(adapted from Lovin' From The Oven)

1 loaf challah bread, cubed
8 whole eggs
2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cups sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick cold butter, cubed

Butter a medium sized casserole dish.  Place bread cubes into the buttered casserole dish.  Set aside.  

Mix together eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

In another bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Add the butter and mix until it comes somewhat together, like little pebbles. Store in a plastic bag in the fridge.

The next morning, take the casserole from the refrigerator and let stand for 30 mins while preheating the oven to 350 degrees.

Sprinkle your casserole with the cinnamon streusel topping. Bake for 55-65 minutes or until firm and cooked through.

Serve warm with maple syrup and butter, if desired.

Spinach and Cheese Strata

Make ahead breakfast casseroles are one of the easiest and most delicious things about Christmas morning in our house.  This year I decided to go with a sweet and a savory option.  the savory casserole came from Smitten Kitchen and it did not disappoint - even my mom, who is pretty anti-spinach, gobbled this right up.  I used a mix of gruyere and smoked fontina but any rich, deeply flavored cheese would work!


Spinach and Cheese Strata
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

10 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed of all excess liquid
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated 
12 oz French baguette, cubed
1 cup of gruyere cheese, shredded
1 cup smoked fontina cheese, shredded
1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons coarse Dijon mustard

Mix gruyere, smoked fontina, and parmesan cheese together.  Set aside.

Sauté shallot in butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and nutmeg and continue cooking for one minute. Stir in spinach, remove from heat and set aside.

Spread half of the bread cubes in a well-buttered medium sized casserole dish. Top with half of the spinach mixture and half of the cheese mixture. Repeat layering with remaining bread, spinach and cheese.

Whisk eggs, milk, mustard and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper together in a large bowl and pour evenly over strata. Cover with plastic wrap and chill strata for eat least 8 hours or up to a day.

The next day, let it stand at room temperature for 30 minutes while preheating the oven to 350°F. Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 55 to 65 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bang Bang Shrimp

Any meal that has a title that sounds slightly inappropriate is perfect for me ;)

There is a restaurant named Bonefish Grill that is being built one city over from us and they feature this shrimp dish as an appetizer on their menu.  I'm a shrimp lover so when this recipe popped onto my radar, I knew I'd have to give it a go.  The spicy, creamy sauce on this shrimp was delicious (even with the extra sriracha I added ;)).  I served it over a white rice but on a bed of greens or soba noodles would be just as tasty.


Bang Bang Shrimp
(adapted from SkinnyTaste)

1 pound raw shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
1/2 cup light mayo
1/4 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
2 teaspoons sriracha hot sauce
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup corn starch
2 eggs
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 of a green onion, diced 

In a large bowl, toss the shrimp with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder.
Place corn starch in a shallow dish.
In another shallow pan, lightly whisk two eggs together to create an egg wash.
Dip each piece of shrimp in corn starch to coat, then dip in the egg wash to coat.
When all the shrimp have been coated in corn starch and dipped in egg, heat 6-8 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet on high heat. When the oil is nice and hot, Carefully add the shrimp to the pan. You may need to cook the shrimp in two batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pan.
When the bottoms of the shrimp are crispy, flip the shrimp so that the other side can cook. This should only take about 30 seconds-1 minute per side if the oil is nice and hot.
Remove the cooked shrimp to a paper towel lined plate.
In a small bowl, whisk together the thai sweet chili sauce, sriracha sauce, light mayo. When the mixture is smooth, carefully toss the shrimp in it. You may not need all of the sauce, it just depends on how “saucy” you want the shrimp.
Serve on a bed of rice, greens, or over soba noodles. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Cinnamon Sugar Bagels with Pecan Honey Cream Cheese

Happy 2013!  As with the start of every new year comes the promise of hope, change, and a brighter tomorrow.  This year I decided to treat Mr. TL, baby P, and myself to a decadent breakfast of homemade bagels.

This recipe was brought to my attention by a friend who promised they'd be easy to make and even easier to enjoy.  She and this recipe did not disappoint.

Certainly time consuming, this recipe was simple enough to follow and yielded a bagel that was dense and chewy and rivaled any bake shop bagel in our area.  The nice thing about this recipe is that you can make whatever kind of bagel you'd like to just by changing up the toppings.  I made cinnamon sugar bagels and served them with a pecan honey cream cheese (also crazy easy and I'll include the recipe!) but I have plans to make a garlic sesame bagel with pepper chive cream cheese next.  Yum yum yum!

I followed the recipe from All Recipes almost exactly but I did omit the honey in the boiling step and I didn't notice a need for it.  I also made 8 bagels instead of 6 like the recipe calls for (you could probably even stretch this to 10 or 12 to serve on a brunch type spread).  Another note from a friend - do not toast these delicious doughy spheres of joy.  Slice them in half, lightly butter them, and toss onto your griddle pan for 2-3 mins until the butter gets all warm and the bagel gets toasty.  Ye sit makes it more rich with the addition of a smear of butter but it's better than lighting your toaster on fire from the cinnamon and sugar dripping onto the grates.  Pick your poison, people.


Cinnamon Sugar Bagels with Pecan Honey Cream Cheese
(adapted from All Recipes)

For the Bagels:
1 1/4 cups water
4 1/2 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon instant yeast
4 quarts water

For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Combine 1 1/4 cup water, flour, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, vegetable oil, and yeast in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed using the dough hook until well-developed, about 8-10 minutes. To ensure the gluten has developed fully, cut off a walnut-sized piece of dough. Flour your fingers, and then stretch the dough: if it tears immediately, the dough needs more kneading. Fully developed dough should form a thin translucent "windowpane."

Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and let rise for 2 hours.

Punch the dough down, place it on a lightly floured work surface, and use a knife or dough scraper to divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a sausage shape about 6 inches long. Join the ends to form a circle. Repeat with the remaining dough, and let the bagels rest for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix your cinnamon and sugar together in a shallow bowl.

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Boil the bagels, 2-4 at a time, until they rise to the surface of the pot, about 1 minute per side. Remove the bagels with a slotted spoon and dip the tops of the wet bagels into the cinnamon sugar topping.  Arrange them, topping side up, on the baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until the bagels begin to brown, 12-15 minutes.

Pecan Honey Cream Cheese

8 oz block of cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons brown sugar

Combine cream cheese, pecans, honey, and brown sugar in a mixing bowl.  Whip with an electric mixer until combined.  Chill until serving.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Spaghetti with Butternut Leek Sauce

Although I may not be skinny, I frequent the Skinny Taste blog in hopes of being inspired by her delicious and healthy recipes.  This pasta was no exception with it's creamy and rich sauce - you'd swear it was loaded with heavy cream when in fact that ingredient doesn't even come near this plate of yummy pasta.

My meat loving husband even approved but did say he'd prefer if we added some grilled chicken to it next time - fair enough ;)


Spaghetti with Butternut Leek Sauce
(adapted from Skinny Taste)

1 lb butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 tbsp butter
1 lb spaghetti
1 large leek (white part only)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup grated shaved parmesan cheese
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add butternut squash and cook until soft. Remove squash with a slotted spoon and place in a food processor and puree until smooth.

Add pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions for al dente, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.

Meanwhile, in a large deep non-stick skillet, melt the butter, sauté the leeks and garlic over medium-low heat until soft and golden, about 5 - 6 minutes. Add pureed butternut squash, season with with salt and fresh cracked pepper and add a little of the reserved pasta water to thin out to your liking. Stir in parmesan cheese and mix in pasta until well coated.

Mexican Stuffed Shells

I'm a sucker for all things Mexican/ Tex-Mex so instead of tacos or enchiladas every night, I've been trying to spice it up (pun intended) with my Mexican inspired meals.

These stuffed shells were relatively easy to put together and it made two pans of 12 shells each which means we have a freezer meal waiting in the wings for us.  Yay!

I topped my shells with sour cream and green onions but my less adventurous husband ate them as is and he really enjoyed them.  Next time I might try these with either ground turkey or shredded chicken and maybe add a can of diced green chilies.


Mexican Stuffed Shells
(adapted from The Adventures of Mini Martha)

1 lb ground beef
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 package taco seasoning
8 oz. cream cheese cut into small blocks
1 box of jumbo pasta shells
1 ½ cups salsa (I used medium-heat)
1 cup taco sauce (I used medium-heat)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Green onions- optional
Sour cream- optional

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray 2 baking pans with Pam and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and green pepper and cook until beef is cooked through and pepper has softened. Add drained beans and taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions (most taco seasoning packets have you add 3/4-1 cup of water). Add the cream cheese and simmer until cheese is melted and the mixture has thickened slightly, stirring occasionally to help the cream cheese melt. Set aside and cool.

While the ground beef is cooking, cook the pasta shells according to directions; drain. Place shells on a cutting board so that they don’t stick together.

Pour salsa into the bottom of the prepared baking dishes. Stuff each shell with the filling mixture. Place shells baking dish open-side facing up. Cover shells evenly with the taco sauce.

If you're going to cook, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  At the end of 30 minutes, remove foil and cover with cheddar cheese.  Return to oven for 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Top with green onions and sour cream (optional).

If you're going to freeze, cover with foil and freeze. When it comes time to bake them, thaw in refrigerator overnight then bake for 30 minutes with foil on.  At the end of 30 minutes, remove foil and cover with cheddar cheese.  Return to oven for 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Top with green onions and sour cream (optional).