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Jackie Dott-Mallory

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Cucumber Cups Stuffed with Spicy Crab

Barbecue season is upon us. And as much as we need a great sundress and cute pair of wedge heels, we also need great party recipes. What makes a party food recipe great? Three qualities: 1. Tasty (obviously) 2. Travels well (in the event of off site parties) 3. Possible to sit at room temperature for a period of time without becoming a huge mess (sorry cheese dip and ice cream cake, we still love you)

Here are some of my favorites:

1. Jalapeno Popper Filled Potato Bites. The marriage of two great bar snacks

2. Olive & Goat Cheese Tartlets.

3. Caprese BLT Sliders with Puff Pastry Buns 

4. Boozy (or not) Watermelon Stars.

5. And the reason you are all here today: Cucumber Cups Stuffed With Spicy Crab

I saw these a few years ago on Iron chef. Cups made of cucumber. Brilliant. I am embarrassed to say that it took me nearly a year to figure out how it was done. Turns out, it’s so easy. All you need is a melon baller.

For a vegetarian filling, check out my Cucumber Cups With Goat Cheese Caprese 

Beer Steamed Stuffed Artichokes

Ingredients

  • 4 large artichokes, prepared as above
  • 1 large lemon
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1/3 cup chopped shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cups bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups citrusy wheat beer

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Prepare artichokes as instructed above, squeeze 1/4 lemon into the cavity of each artichoke.
  3. In a pan over medium high heat, cook the bacon until browned. Remove from pan, and chop. Drain off most of the bacon grease, leaving about 2 tbs in the pan. Add the shallots and cook until soft. Add the garlic and stir. Add the mushrooms and cook until dark brown. Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients as well as the chopped bacon (other than the beer), stir until well combined.
  4. Stuff the artichokes as instructed above.
  5. Place artichokes upright in the pot, fill with 1 cup beer.
  6. Cover and cook until outer leaves come away easily, about 40-60 minutes.
https://domesticfits.com/cucumber-cups-stuffed-with-spicy-crab/

 

 

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Apricot Mango Creme Brulee Tart

I remember the very first time I had Creme Brulee. A friend of Mr. Fits (a very fancy friend) order it for me while we where all out for dinner at a little restaurant in Pasadena. I was young, in my last year of college, and I was too embarrassed to say that I had no idea what Creme Brulee was. So I waited. Every dessert flanked waiter who came within ten feet of my table was given a thorough visual molesting as I tried to figure out if what he was carrying was, in fact, Creme Brulee. Is that cake-like thing it? Nope. What about that Chocolate thing in that tiny ceramic pot? hmmm, wrong table. And then it was in front of me. I was intimidated. Do I pick off this thick, hard crust on the top? What do I do? I stalled and waited to see what Fancy Friend did with his. Oh..you crack it open by smashing it with the tip of your spoon. I like dessert that involves very subtle violence. I loved it. The fleeting thought did cross my mind that I would love this vanilla custard with the hardened sugar top in a tart shell. Six years later, I did just that.

This week I wrote another article for the Glendale Examiner on the Montrose Farmers Market. It was there that I discovered that apricots are in the last few weeks of their season. I was so drawn to these huge bins of beautiful pale orange fruit they became the center of my recipe. I wasn’t until I was leaving the market that I noticed the lovely Manilla mangos begging to join the party. I obliged.

Apricot Mango Creme Brulee Tart

Tart Crust:

1 1/4 cups of flour

1/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

3-5 tbs ice coldwater

Apricot Mango Filling:

1 cup chopped apricots

1 cup chopped mango

1/4 cup of honey

1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

Custard:

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup of sugar

1 1/4 cup of heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp slt

1/4 cup granulated sugar for brulee crust topping

In a food processor, combine the flour, powdered sugar, and salt. Pulse to combine. Add the cubes of butter and process until combined, about 1-2 minutes. Your dough should resemble course meal. Start with 3 tbs of water, pulse until combined. If the crust doesn’t hold together add more water, a bit at a time, until it does. Dump the dough into a tart pan with a remove-able bottom. Starting with the sides, form the crust inside the pan, trying your best to make it all as even as possible. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a least 3 hours (don’t even think about skipping this step).

Heat your oven to 375.

Once your tart is all chilly cold, remove from the fridge and poke holes in it with a fork.

Place a sheet of parchment paper inside your tart and fill with pie weights. If you don’t have any, dried beans work great. Just don’t forget which beans you’ve used as pie weights and accidentally try to make soup out of them later.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until your tart is a light golden brown.

In a pot over medium heat, combine the apricots, mango and the honey. Sprinkle with the cornstarch and stir. If you hate mangos, or apricots or maybe have an undying love for one or the other, this recipe is easily altered. You need 2 cups of chopped stone fruit, you can use whatever ratio of each that you want or 2 full cups of either. You can even sub in some peaches if you wanna get craaaazy. Cook the fruit, stiring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until it is thick and the fruit is broken down a bit. Add to the bottom of the tart crust.

In a bowl, combine the yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar and whisk until light and frothy. In a pot, combine the cream, salt and vanilla and heat until steamy but not boiling. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. While you whisk the eggs, slowly, slowly add the cream, whisking until combined. If there are any lumps or "eggy bits" in your cream mixture (possibly because you didn’t let your cream cool down) strain the custard through a mesh strainer. Pour into the tart shell on top of the fruit.

Bake at 300 degrees until the edges are set and the middle is still wobbly (it will continue to set as it cools) about 40-45 minutes. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and keep cold until ready to serve. Just before serving, top the tart with an even layer of granulated sugar. Pass the flame of a kitchen torch slowly and evenly over the tart until it’s liquified and a light amber colored. Serve immediately. The sugar crust will start to break down after about an hour.

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Lemon Pepper Biscuits

This was my breakfast this morning. Even if you aren’t a make-it-from-scratch kinda guy, biscuits should be the exception to that rule. A homemade biscuit tastes so wonderful, and it takes only about 10 minutes to throw these babies together. Plus, the leftovers are great for sandwiches.

Lemon Pepper Biscuits

2 cups of flour

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 tsp black pepper

1 1/2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sugar

1 stick (8 tbs) butter, cut into small cubes

1/4 cup whole milk

1/4 cup of carbonated water

1 tbs lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450.

I’ve mentioned this before, a time or 12, but overworking dough makes it tough. The less you work with dough the better the texture. BUT, when making biscuits it’s important to make sure that all the butter is distributed evenly or you’ll get pockets of butter that will cook differently. Your goal is to distribute the butter as quikly and evenly as possible. To do this, cut the butter into small cubes and have a food processor do the quick work for you.

Put the flour, salt pepper, zest, baking powder, baking soda and sugar in your food processor and pulse until combined. add your butter cubes and  process until the butter is evenly distributed, about 1-2 minutes. Then add the milk, lemon juice and carbonated water and process until the liquid is well combined with the dry ingredients, about a minute.

Dump the dough onto a floured surface. Squish together with your hands to form a ball and then flatten into a rectangle about 6 -8 inches long and 2 inches high. Use a sharp knife to cut the biscuits into squares. You can make them as big or small as you want, but this recipe will make 4-6 average sized biscuits.

Place the biscuits on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Sprinkle the top with a bit of sea salt and pepper.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown.

Fondant Basics

I am not usually a baker for hire. Especially cakes. They take so long and frustrate me. I can never get them as perfect as I want and I end up feeling (in a very overly dramatic fashion) that they are a complete disaster. A friend of Mr. Fits asked me to make a Monkey Cake for the baby shower she was throwing for her sister and her sisters wife to welcome their baby boy. Maybe it was the mushy soft spot that I now have for babies since Tater was born (this did not really exist prior to birth of my adorable little lady) or maybe it’s how easy it is to guilt me into baking by merely asking, but I said yes. *sigh*

Fondant 101

If you’re not sure what the stuff is that covers those cakes, it’s fondant. It’s a sugar dough that is rolled out like cookie dough to cover a cake and can even be sculpted, like clay, for decorations. If you have an interest in giving it a try, you should. It takes a little practice but general gives a very impressive look to your cakes.

I have been working with fondant for about 5 years and I have learned a thing or two about this sugar dough that I’ll share with you all.

First, it’s not very tasty. Really, even the good kinds don’t really add to the taste of a great cake. I have never, ever heard anyone say, "This cake tastes really good, but you know what it needs? A nice layer of fondant." It’ll never happen. It’s use is purely aesthetic. If you can perfect the technique of buttercream your cake can look just as good and taste somewhere around a million times better, but that’s for a different post.

Fondat can be difficult to work with, but if you really want to make a cake that  has a professional look to it, this is a great option.

There are three brands of fondant that I have worked with, and as far as my experience goes, these are the three main brands:

Wilton

Satin Ice

 Fondx

The basic rule, when it comes to yummy vs easy, is that the better it tastes the more difficult it is to work with.

Wilton is at the bottom of the yumminess food chain. It tasted like sugary play-dough. I would however, suggest you start here if you have never given fondant a try. Wilton fondant is a tank compared to the other two. It’s forgiving and tough. Use it your first time to get a feel for how to use fondant then move on when you think you’re ready.  Just let your guests know that, although it is edible, you would recommend peeling it off before eating the cake.

Satin Ice is far superior to Wilton in the taste department, but, it’s a bitch to work with. I’ve renamed it Satan Ice and probably won’t use it for cake covering ever again. It has a great flavor and tends to blend well with the frosting but it is extremely fragile, cracking and tearing easily. It is a great option for molding decorations or adorable little monkey mommas and babies.

Fondx, and Elite by Fondx are my favorite. Not as yummy as Satin Ice (although some would disagree), but much easier to work with. It isn’t as hearty as Wiltons, but it is much tastier.

Fondant comes in nearly every color you can imagine and is much easier if you buy it pre-colored. The draw back to this is cost. If you look at the monkey cake picture, you can see there are 9 different colors. If I was to buy 9 different colors of fondant it would cost me about $150. Since I’m pretty sure no one wants to pay that much for a cake that only serves a few dozen, coloring fondant is the way to go. I buy white and then use gel food coloring to achieve the color I want. The use of gel is important in order to keep a solid consistency to your fondant, instead of turning your fondant to a sticky mess with too much liquid. Just add a bit of the gel to your white fondant and knead until the color is consistent. If it starts to turn mushy, add some powdered sugar.

You need to ice your cake at least two separate times. Some call the first icing a crumb coat, because the cake crumbs will invade this first layer, and others (including myself) call it dirty ice, because it sounds more fun. Allow first layer of icing to set completely, about an hour.

The next coat is your final coat and it helps to smooth everything out and cover any bumps or holes in your cake. Think of fondant as that super shiny, thin bridesmaid dress that makes you look awful and shows every flaw, and you would never be caught dead it in it, let alone PHOTOGRAPHED in it over and over, if you didn’t really love your friend–and the final ice is the Spanx that allowed you to keep your sanity and hit on the cute bartender. The final ice is the compression garment of the cake world, makes everything look smooth and pretty.

Fondant will show every imperfection so make sure your final ice is as smooth as you can make it. If you need to go for round 3 on icing, then do that.

Roll out your dough, on a flat surface covered with powdered sugar, the way you would roll out pie dough. Make sure that you roll out a circle large enough to cover your cake with at least a two inch overhang on all sides.  To transfer your dough to your cake, you can either use an extra set of hands, or you can try and slide a large cardboard sheet (like a cake board) underneath.

Once its over your cake use your hands to smooth it down the cake. Start at the top and work your way down.

Using a sharp paring knife or a pizza cutter, remove the excess fondant.

The bottom will probably look a bit rough. Making a perfectly even cut around the bottom is very difficult so don’t beat yourself up about it, just cover it up. To do this, I have used the following:

Long strip of fondant

Small balls made of fondant

Candy gumballs

Marshmallows

Mini cupcakes

If you look at novelty cakes, most of them have some type of bottom boarder.

To get that powdered sugar off the cake, I use a clean make-up blush brush that I bought specifically for the job.

To make the cake shine, spray the fondant with vodka. The alcohol will evaporate so you don’t have to worry about getting the pregnant lady drunk at her own baby shower. I use a small travel sized spray bottle that was probably intended for transporting hairspray across TSA lines.

If you have ever used clay, fondant reacts in similar ways when sculpted. There is an adorable British girl who has several You Tube posts about making fondant animals.

Good luck in your caking adventures. Remember that every cake is a learning process and your first cake won’t be perfect, it’ll be a starting point.

4th of July Treat: Patriotic Mini Pies on Sticks

Clearly, from my recent posts, I have a soft spot in my heart for childhood treats. When these babies were finished, they tasted like Pop-tarts. Strawberry Pop-tarts, which were always the best ones. I loved these so much that I am even going to give you all the cheater notes. And by this I mean the shortcuts to make them in about 15 minutes. While I am a strong advocate for making everything from scratch, I also realize that most people don’t love to spend all day in the kitchen (whaaaat???). So, you can follow my long direction (highly recommended route) or you can go out on your own with pre-made pie dough, strawberry jam (at least buy the good kind) and a cookie cutter.

Mini Pies on Sticks

Pie Dough:

(adapted from Fool Proof Pie Dough, Cooks illustrated 2007)

3 cups of all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbs sugar

10 tbs butter (1 stick plus 2 tbs), cut into cubes

1/2 cup shortening

1/4 cup vodka

1/4 cup cold water

Strawberry Filling:

1 cup of sugar

1 tbs corn starch

3 tbs unsalted butter

2 cups of diced strawberries

Egg Wash:

1 egg white

1 tsp water

plus 2 tbs sugar for sprinkling

Royal Icing:

1 egg white

1 tbs lemon juice

1.5 cups powdered sugar

PLUS:

16, 6 inch wooden skewers

Really, if you have the time, homemade pie dough is the jam. It is so far superior to that store bough nonsense that it could stand on it’s own. You could even make cookies out of it and eat it plain. I have been over this before but there are a few pie dough rules that one must never deviate from:

1. Cold dough will always cook better than warm.

2. The less it is worked with, the more tender it is. Don’t overwork your dough.

3.  Using vodka creates a flakier crust because it cooks off completely, unlike water.

First, food processors are great at getting the job done as quickly as possible, and as previously mentioned, the more you mess with dough the tougher it becomes. So break out that food processor and add 2 cups of the flour, salt and sugar and give it a quick pulse until it’s combined.

Add the cubes of butter and the shortening and pulse until combined, about 1 1/2 minutes. A mix of shortening and butter gives a good flavor and texture.

Now, if you have a larger food processor that mine, then add the remaining flour and pulse until it gathers around the blade. MINE is tiny and I need a new one. So if you are in the same boat as I am, just transfer it to a bowl and add the remaining flour by hand. (if you have a nice big guy food processor, transfer to a bowl after you add the remaining flour)

Then add the water and the vodka and squish it into the dough until its all combined. Your dough will be very moist, but you can add a bit of flour if it is too moist to hold together. Then split into two evenly sized disks and wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for at least 2 hours.

To make the filling, add the sugar and cornstarch to a pot and stir quickly to combine. Add the butter and strawberries and stir over medium heat until the berries are broken down and the sauce is thick and dark. Allow to cool

Once the dough has chilled, roll it out on a floured surface. If it breaks up, which it may since it is a pretty flakey recipe, just smoosh it back together with your fingers. Cut out your desired shape, 3-4 inches seems to be ideal. I used stars because of our upcoming I Heart America holiday, as well as 3 inch circles. Place the bottom circle on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.

Place the stick more at least halfway up into your shape and top with a spoonful of the sauce.

Now, quickness is key at this point. Place a matching shape on top and smoosh the edges together.

I had some red and white straws left over from Taters party that I bought from Sweet Lulu’s that I used for sticks on a few of the pies. I wasn’t sure it they would bake well so I only did a few. I just pinched the  top shut and placed it on the star cutouts. I liked them so much that the ones that had boring ol' 6 inch wooden skewers were covered with those cute striped straws to match. Refrigerate your pies for at least 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, beat the egg white and the water until combined. Brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the tops are goldeny brown.

Allow to cool. If the filling leaks out, its OK. Just try and cut around the shapes with a sharp knife before trying to remove from the pan.

In a small bowl, combine the royal icing ingredients and stir until well combined. Top the pies with the icing and then with the sprinkles of your choice.


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Junior Mint Cupcakes

 

 

I have a confession to make. I really don’t like mint. I respect mint as a flavor and agree with the idea of it…but I don’t love it. There was on ordeal a few years ago when I was in Middle Atlas, Morocco that will always be refereed to as the Moroccan Mint Experience. Overall, I would classify this episode in the "good experience" category, but either way, I have a hard time eating mint ever since. Mr. Fits, however, is a huge fan. And although I don’t prefer mint, I still really loved these cupcakes.

How cute are those cupcake papers? I got them at Bake it Pretty. I love baking cupcakes in something other than standard cupcake papers, makes them feel special.

Junior Mint Cupcakes

Chocolate cake:

2 2/3 cup flour

1 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 1/4 cup of brewed coffee, cooled

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 sticks of unsalted butter

2 1/2 cups of sugar

1 tsp vanila extract

2 eggs

Mint Buttercream:

2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
5 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/3 cup milk
1/4 tsp natural mint extract

Chocolate Sauce:

1 cup dark chocolate chunks

2/3 cup heavy cream

Garnish with Junior Mints if desired.

Preheat the oven to 350. in a large bowl, add the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Sift to combined. in another bowl, add the buttermilk, coffee and oil. In a stand mixer, add the butter and cream until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and while the mixer is on high, slowly add the sugar and cream until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time. With the mixer on medium speed, alternating between the wet and dry ingredients, add each a bit at a time until all three are well combined in the stand mixer. If you are using the cute brown floret baking cups, just place them on a baking sheet, they don’t need to go in a muffin tin. If you are using standard cupcake papers, just line them in the muffin tin as normal. Fill standard cupcake papers 2/3 of the way full and cute floret papers only 1/2 full. Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20-25 minutes.

Mint Buttercream

In a stand mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Your butter needs to be softened, cold butter won’t work. With the mixer on a low speed, slowly add the powdered sugar until all combined (you can add less if you prefer a less sweet frosting). Then add the milk and the extract and beat until well combined.

Chocolate sauce

Place the chocolate in a heat safe bowl. Heat the cream until hot and steam, but not boiling (microwave is fine but you can also heat on the stove) and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Stir for about 3 minutes or until well combined. If you have never made ganache or chocolate sauce you may get a bit concerned about half way through. It is completely normal for your sauce to look like chunky chocolate milk for the first few minutes, just keep stirring and it’ll all work out.

Once your cupcakes are cool, pipe the buttercream on, top with a spoon full of the chocolate sauce then a Junior Mint, if you’d like.

Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts

 

More lemon. I  know, My citrus obsession is reaching a bit of a fevered pitch. Summer, to me, is lemon flavored.

Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts

Shortbread cookie crust:

2 cups of flour

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 stick plus 6 tbs unsalted butter

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp butter extract

Lemon Curd:

2 tbs lemon zest

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup white sugar

3/4 cup lemon juice

5 tbs unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Meringue:

4 egg whites

1/2 tsp Cream of Tartar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

In a bowl, add the flour, powdered sugar and the salt, whisk until well combined. In a stand mixer cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the granulated sugar, then the extracts, beating until well combined. Add the flour mixture, about 1/4 a cup at a time, and beat as little as possible until your dough is combined and the butter is mixed through. You can also finish by squishing with your hands to make sure the butter is well incorporated. Your dough will look like course meal. Put 1 tbs of the dough into a muffin tin (grease it with some butter flavored cooking spray first) and pack it into the bottom, about one inch up onto the sides to resemble a mini tart shell.

Place in the refrigerator and chill for at least 2 hours. Heat the oven to 350 and then bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges start to turn a golden brown.

 

Lemon curd:

Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar and yolks to a bowl and mix well. Add the lemon mixture to a pan over medium/low heat along with the butter

Whisk until thickened, about 8 minutes. Once the mini tart shells are cooled, spoon in the curd.

Meringue. Add the egg whites (not a hint of yolk or this will never work), cream of tartar and salt to a stand mixer and beat on high until stiff peaks form. While the mixer is still on high, slowly add the sugar and continue to beat until well combined and stiffly peaked.

Top the mini tarts with the meringue.

You can brulee them a touch with the kitchen torch if you’d like

Enjoy!

Homemade Twix

 

I’m not a big candy bar eatin' person, but there is something about Twix that I love. It really is pretty simple when you break it down: shortbread, caramel and chocolate. That’s it. I also added chopped pecans and salt to a few. Yum.

Homemade Twix

Ingredients:

SHORTBREAD

1 cup of flour

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 stick plus 3 tbs unsalted butter (11 tbs)

2 tbs granulated sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp butter extract

CARAMEL SAUCE

1/2 cup of granulated sugar

1/2 tbs light corn syrup

2 tbs room temp water

1/4 cup of heavy cream, warm

2 tbs unsalted butter

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

CHOCOLATE

1 cup chocolate, broken up into chunks (I used 56%)

2 tbs butter

1 tbs heavy cream (plus up to 2 tbs more, if needed)

1 tbs light corn syrup

In a bowl, add the flour, powdered sugar and the salt, whisk until well combined. In a stand mixer cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar slowly, then the extracts, beating until well combined. Add the flour mixture, about 1/4 a cup at a time, and beat as little as possible until your dough is combined and the butter is mixed through. You can also finish by squishing with your hands to make sure the butter is well incorporated. Your dough will look like course meal.

hmt-crust-in-kaPlace the dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a log about 10 inches long. Wrap the plastic wrap around your log and CHILL FOR AT LEAST 3 HOURS.

Super important that your dough is cold before cooking, I’ll talk about this over and over, but it’s so true. Cold dough cooks better.

Once the shortbread is cooled, cut off about 1 inch circles

hmt-s-circlesand mold into little logs, about 3 inches long and the width of a finger,

hmt-sfand then make a well down the length of the shortbread finger.

hmt-sf-wellThis recipe should make about 24. Place on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

hmt-poHeat the oven to 300. Bake for about 8-12 minutes or until the shortbread starts to brown along the very bottom edge.

hmt-ooCaramel sauce. This can be scary if you’ve never made it, but it’s pretty simple. put the sugar, corn syrup and water in a sauce pan and stir over high heat until everything is well combined and the sugar starts to boil (use a wooden spoon of a spatula that is very heat resistant, cheap plastic will melt). Stop stirring completely and allow to boil undisturbed. Watch until the caramel turns amber, then remove from the heat and add the warm cream slowly (you can heat it in the microwave or on the stove) while stirring. Then add the butter and the vanilla and stir until smooth.

Once the cookies are cool, spoon the caramel sauce along the well

hmt-caramel-filland place on a wire rack over parchment paper. In a microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate, corn syrup, 1 tbs cream, and butter

ccp-chocolate-ingredients-premeltand microwave for 20 seconds, stir and repeat until smooth and creamy. You can add more cream if the chocolate is not smooth enough to pour. Spoon the chocolate sauce over the cookie and allow to drip over the sides.

hmt-chocolate-pourAllow the chocolate to cool before serving.

 

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Farmers Market + Recipe: Roasted & Stuffed Tomatoes

This week I started writing a regular feature for the Glendale Examiner on farmers markets and creating original recipes from what I find there. I love all of what is involved in the previous statement. Farmers markets are one of favorite places to be. Cooking and writing recipes has become a part of who I am. Writing is a skill that I have dedicated myself to learning. And I get to photograph the entire adventure. Now if only this hobby would pay the bills and I could finally quit my day job! Maybe someday, with a lot of work, I’ll be able to tittle my post: I Quit My Job + A Recipe.

The La Canada farmers market is only about a mile from my house. It sits right below the Angeles National Forest, still charred from a fire that ravaged it a few years ago. Although on the smaller side, this particular market has a diverse selection of goods including homemade cheese, imported salts and fresh caught seafood. You can read more about my adventures at the La Canada Market on my Examiner page. 

The produce was incredible. So beautiful.

lc-tomatoes
lc-asparagus

Of all the booths, none captured my heart like Hepp’s Salt Barrel.

lc-salt-2
salt

I have a special place in my heart for great salt and Hepp’s does it better than most. Don’t ever underestimate the power a great salt has on your cooking. Used properly it can make your food taste 20% better. You can make the same dish as the guy next to you and your salt will make people remember yours and forget his. It has a sneaky way of hiding in your dish, it’s own flavor largely concealed, springing up and grabbing onto the flavors of the other ingredients, brightening and popping them. If a dish tastes “flat” it’s most likely due to salt not being able to do his job.  Salt on the caliber that Hepp’s offers is also a fantastic gift for a foodie, just sayin’.

Somehow, after only a few minutes in his booth, I began to develops a slight crush on Country Fresh Herbs. I was so incredibly impressed by how beautiful and, well, fresh everything looked. It was like produce heaven. My favorite was the Shisido peppers, this is what I want my Trick Or Treat basket to look like next year:

lc-shisido-peppersAfter an hour of wandering among the booths, being sidetracked again and again, I selected 5 ingredients and slowly formulated a recipe.

lc-ingredientsRoasted Tomatoes Stuffed with Goat Cheese and Asparagus

Ingredients:

5 Beefsteak Tomatoes

1 tbs Olive Oil, plus ¼ cup divided

¾ cup Fresh Asparagus, chopped (top half of the stalks only)

1 tbs Chopped Shisido Peppers, seeds removed

½ tsp Salt, plus 1 tsp divided

½ tsp black pepper

1/3 cup Goat Cheese

¼ Cup Israeli Cous Cous

Preheat oven to 425. In a skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tbs olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the asparagus, peppers, ½ tsp salt and pepper, cooking until the vegetables are slightly soft, about 5 minutes.

lc-asp-choppedRemove from heat, allowing to cool a bit. Cut a thin slice off the top of every tomato, enough to expose the insides. Using a spoon, remove the flesh and seeds from the inside of each tomato, leaving the walls and bottomintact.

lc-tomatoes-hulledAdd the goat cheese and Cous Cous to the asparagus pan, stir until combined. In a large bowl, add the remaining olive oil and salt, toss the tomatoes until well coated. Place the tomatoes in a baking dish, cut side up. Fill each tomato with the goat cheese and asparagus mixture.

lc-tomatoes-poCover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Although not officially part of this recipe, I sprinkled each tomato with a bit of my Hepps salt before eating. I might have an addiction in the making.

Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops with a Mango Sriracha Coulis

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A few years ago I found an article in Cooks Illustrated about why I wasn’t able to get a restaurant quality taste out of my grocery store scallops. I had always assumed it my because I just didn’t have the cookin’ chops to compete with a restaurant chef. And while that may be true, it wasn’t the main reason my scallops lacked taste. Here is my Scallops lesson of the day:
Wet vs. Dry
If you buy scallops at the grocery store, they will be wet 99% of the time. This is bad. It means that someone decided to saturate them in a solution of water and phosphates. Because of this, the scallops have a difficult time browning and they have a slightly soapy taste and rubbery texture. If you have a great seafood market, ask if they have dry scallops. If they aren’t sure, the scallops are probably wet. A dry scallop will be, well..dry. If it is sittin’ in a bowl of milk liquid, it’s a wet guy.
I’ll just assume that ya’ll have wet scallops, since that is what is most commonly available, but if you can find dry, buy them. The taste difference is huge (at least to me).
Ingredients

1 quart of water
1/4 cup of lemon juice
2 tbs Kosher or Sea salt
8 jumbo scallops (10-20 per lb size, the little guys just don’t hack it)
2 tbs butter
8 slices of prosciutto
1 tsp-ish of black pepper
1/2 cup fresh, diced mango
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp siracha
pinch or salt
Combine the water, lemon juice and 2 tbs of salt in a bowl and soak the scallops for 30 minutes (if you are 100% bet your $20 worth of seafood on it sure that they are dry, skip this step). Remove the scallops and place them on a stack of about 4 absorbent paper towels, then top them with  more paper towels and press down slightly. Allow the scallops to drain and dry for about 10 minutes. In a sauce pan, melt the butter on medium high until very hot. Fold a slice of prosciutto in half the long way and wrap around your scallop (you can also cut it in half to make two long strips if you’d like) securing with a tooth pick.
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Season the top and bottom of your scallops with pepper. Once the pan is hot, add 4 scallops to the pan (you don’t want to crowd the pan or your scallops will never brown) and cook for about 4 minutes, then turn over and cook on the other side for an additional 4 minutes or until the top and bottom both have a nice brown sear.
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in a food processor, combine the mango, olive oil, honey, siracha and a pinch of salt and puree until smooth.
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Top the scallops with the coulis and enjoy.
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Jalapeno Mac N Cheese

Mr. Fits and I are friends with an amazing couple who own two Gastropubs in Los Angeles called The Fat Dog.  A few weeks ago they asked me to come take some photos of their new joint in Hollywood for their website. I was more than super excited about this for the following reasons:

1. They are amazing, and interesting humans and I will take any excuse to hang out with them.

2. Their bar is full of pictures of bulldogs (my own bulldog included)

3. They make a Jalapeno Mac N Cheese that I have spent the last 3 years trying to duplicate.

Below is my best attempt at recreating my cheesy spicy muse.

Ingredients:

1/2 pound elbow macaroni

3 tablespoons butter

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup of onions, finely diced

3 tablespoons flour

3 cups milk

½ cup pickled jalapenos from a jar, diced

1 large egg

½ cup sharp cheddar, shredded

½ cup Smoked Gouda

½ cup Gruyere (or swiss, or jack if you have a hard time finding Gruyere)

1 tsp kosher or sea salt

1 tsp fresh black pepper

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

Topping:

1 cup panko bread crumbs

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta until almost done.

While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pan, melt the butter. Cook the garlic and the onions until soft, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the flour, make sure it’s free of flour lumps. Stir in the milk, jalapeños (add a little juice from the jar, about 2 tsp), and paprika. Simmer for ten minutes. Allow to cool a bit. In a small bowl, beat the egg with a little of the milk mixture to temper, then add the egg to the pan and stir until combined. Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt, pepper and stir. Fold the macaroni into the cheese mixture and pour into a baking dish. Top with remaining cheese. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs (add some jalapenos for garnish on top). Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

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Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

I’ve had a thing for citrus lately. I can’t stop thinking of all the yummy food that can be made with lemons and limes. Maybe its my way of sending good vibes to the lime tree that I planted three years ago that has produced all of 2 limes it’s entire life. I admit that even though I grew up on some what of a farm (old tractor from my parents farm as quasi proof)

I have managed to kill nearly everything I have ever planted. Although, I am holding out hope for my little lime tree.

Ingredients:

Cake batter:

2 cups of flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 stick of butter

1/2 cups of sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tbs vanilla extract

4 egg whites

3/4 cup of whole milk

1/4 cup of oil

Crust:

3 1/2 cups of lemon shortbread cookies

1 tbs brown sugar

6 tbs melted butter

Filling:

8 oz of softened cream cheese

1/4 cup of sugar

1 egg

2 1/2 tbs lime zest

1/4 cup of lime juice

Lime Buttercream:

4 sticks of butter

3 cups of powdered sugar

1 tbs lime zest

1/3 cup of lime juice

1/2 cup of milk

Preheat oven to 350.

You’ll need a lot of limes for this recipe, I used about 12, but it all depends on size. Start with the crust. Put the shortbread cookies and the brown sugar in a food processor and process until nothin is left but crumbs.

tart-lemon-cookiesAdd the melted butter and pulse until it looks like wet sand.

line muffin pan (this recipe should make 24) with cupcake papers. Add 1/2 tbs of the crust to the bottom of the papers and pack well. Save the left over crust to sprinkle on top of the finished cupcakes.

klc-crust-in-papersMake the cake batter. I have been playing with my vanilla cake recipe for years and this might be the winner. I’ve always used a combo of whites and yolks, but because I wanted it really light I just used whites and it turned out beautifully.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter (softened!) and sugar and cream until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk until well combined. In another bowl, add the milk and oil.

A bit at a time, add the egg whites to the butter and beat on high until well combined and fluffy. With mixer on medium, add the flour mixture and the milk mixture, alternating between the two until everything is just combined (don’t over beat).

Add the batter to the cupcake papers until about 1/2 filled.

klc-batter-in-tinsMake the cheesecake filling.

In a stand mixer, cream the cream cheese and the sugar until well combined. Add the egg, lime juice, and lime zest and beat until combined. And please, please, please use real limes and not that stuff that comes in a bottle or a plastic squeezey lime.

Back to the batter in the cupcake papers. Using a spoon, make a well in the middle but pushing the batter up onto the sides of the cupcake papers, try not to disturb the crust but if you expose it, its fine.

klc-batter-wellFill the well with about 1 tbs of the cream cheese mixture.

klc-poBake the cupcakes for about 35 minutes or until the cake part is springy and slightly golden brown, the filling will still be jiggly.

klc-ooWhile that’s baking, make the frosting. I have to say that although these cupcakes turned out amazing (I would even go as far as to say top 5 I’ve ever made) my only complaint was that there wasn’t a huge differentiation between the filling and the frosting. I’ve used this method to fill cupcakes with cheesecake before and I really like it. I always top my cheesecake filled cupcakes with a whipped cream frosting and I’m not sure why I went to butter cream. Next time I make these I’ll make a lime whipped cream (2 cups of heavy cream, 1 cup of sugar, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1 tsp lime zest in a stand mixer on high for 3 minutes). Here is the butter cream steps, feel free to use whichever frosting you like. Both are super yummy.

In a stand mixer (that stand mixer got quite a work out today, unlike myself) add the softened butter and beat to make sure all the lumps are out. You HAVE to use soften, borderline warm, butter or your frosting will have the consistency of ground beef. Add the sugar and cream.

klc-batter-in-kaThen add the lime juice, zest and milk then beat until well combined.

My cheater piping bag is just a large ziplock bag with a corner cut off. It makes frosting cupcakes really easy, they look amazing AND I don’t have to dig out my really piping bags or clean them later.

klc-piping-bagklc-pre-toppingSprinkle with the left over crust and enjoy.

My floating cupcake shot:

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Lemon Creme Brulee

I had this brilliant idea to serve the lemon creme brulee in a hollowed out lemon. Looks adorable right? Well…don’t try it. It turns out, it’s not a good idea. However, I was smart enough to make this delicious citrusy custard in ramekins as well and that turned out amazing. Next time I make this, and I will make it again, I’ll make it in this tart shell and serve it with this whipped cream.

Don’t be afraid of Creme Brulee. If you’ve never made it, you should try. All home cooks should have a list of five recipes that they want to master. Shoot high. Really. Nothing is off limits and Creme Brulee is a great place to start. It’s a classic recipe, its beautiful, sounds super fancy, and it’s pretty simple.  Creme Brulee tarts are also a great dessert to pull out for guests, guaranteed to evoke major OOOOOHHHH’s.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 tbs vanilla extract

2 tsp lemon zest

4 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar, plus another 1/4 cup for the topping

2 tbs lemon juice

Special equipment needed:

Culinary torch. Don’t be affraid of this either. Easy to use and not expensive. Mr. Fits bought me one at Crate and Barrel. But you can also buy them at Target and Amazon. You’ll also needbutane for it.

Most people cook them in ramekins, but you can use any oven safe, small, shallow dish, a tart or pie shell.

Once you have these three things you can make as much Creme Brulee as much as you want! You’re all set.

Preheat the oven to 300.

Put the cream, vanilla and the zest in a sauce pan over medium heat. cook just until its bubbly around the edges but not boiling. Remove from heat, cover and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.

In a bowl, combine the egg yolks, 1/4 cup of sugar and the lemon juice. Whisk until frothy, about 3 minutes.

While continuing to whisk, slowly add the cream mixture until well combined.

At this point, I cut up about 4 lemons to make the cups. Because the custard has to bake in the cups and then sit for 4 hours until set, the dessert leached too much bitterness from the white rind making it borderline inedible. The cups where really beautiful, so if I ever make a dessert that doesn’t need to be baked and can be served immediately (mousse, curd, pudding) I would make them again. I would coat the inside with lemon juice, then with sugar. I’d serve Lemon Mousse in these.

Using a paring knife and a spoon, I cut out the pulp and juiced it.

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But, for this recipe DON’T make these. Use a ramekin or a tart shell (just have to reiterate that. It was a waste of perfectly yummy custard)

Put your ramekins in a baking dish, filling the baking dish with about 1 inch of water (if you are using a tart crust or pie shell, skip this).

Pour your custard through a mesh strainer into your designated Creme Brulee vessel.

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Cover the baking dish or tart with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool, at room temp, in the water filled baking dish for 30 minutes. Transfer to a plate and allow to chill and set in the fridge for 4 hours. Right before serving, cover the top of your set custard with an even, thin layer of about of sugar (about 1/2-1 tsp). Then run your culinary torch over your sugar, slowly, until it melts and turns an amber color. Don’t touch it. I know, sounds like it should go without saying, but sometimes you get curious and you really WANT to touch it to see if its set or not, and it burns you and you yell profanities and scare your husband.

Another tip: Don’t brulee the sugar until you are ready to serve. After about an hour of just sitting there, the sugar will start to liquify again.

Roasted Garlic and Spinach Muffins Stuffed With Goat Cheese

I love to stuff food with other food. It’s so fun to try and figure out exactly how that can be done. These turned out beautifully, but if you would rather not eat stuffed muffins, you can always serve the goat cheese mixture as a spread.

Ingredients:

1 head of garlic

1-2 tbs olive oil

6 tbs of butter

1 cup of chopped fresh spinach

1/4 cup of onion, chopped

2 1/2 cups of flour

3 tbs baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbs rosemary, minced

1 1/3 cup whole milk

1/4 cup oil

2 eggs

5 oz goat cheese

1/4 cup chopped tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

Makes 12 muffins

Preheat oven to 400. If you have never roasted garlic before, it’s time you start. I love roasted garlic so much, its great to add to so many recipes or just use as a spread on toast. Plus, it smells amazing.  Start by chopping off the top of the garlic to expose the cloves inside. Put him on a sheet of aluminum foil and pour about 1-2 tbs of olive oil over him, salt and pepper.

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Close the foil into a tight package, put in a baking dish and cook for about 30-40 minutes or until garlic is soft.

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While the garlic is roasting, heat the butter in sauce pan over medium heat until melted and bubbly. Add the onions and the spinach and saute until onions are translucent and spinach is soft. Allow to cool

in a large bowl, add the flour, salt, rosemary and baking powder and whisk until well combined. make a well in the center. In another bowl, add the eggs, milk and oil. Once your garlic is done cooking and you have allowed him to cool a bit. Squeeze the garlic into the liquids bowl and break up the pieces as much as you can. Make sure that the papery skin doesn’t make it into the bowl. Stir the wet ingredients until well combined. Add the wet ingredients and the butter/spinach mixture to the well you made in the dry ingredients and still until combined, but don’t over mix. Add the batter to a greased muffin tin until each well is about 2/3 full.

In a small bowl, add the goat cheese, tomatoes, salt and pepper.

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Mix until combined and then form balls with your hands using about 2 tsp of the cheese mixture.

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Add the cheese balls to the middle of the batter filled muffin tin, press down slightly.

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Put the muffin tin in the refrigerator and allow to chill for 15 minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes.

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Salad with Egg Yolk Dressing in a Bacon Basket

There is a beautiful restaurant in Chicago called the Blackbird. They have this amazing little salad that they serve in a crispy basket made out of potatoes. So brilliant. This got me thinking about other foods that would make great crispy edible baskets…bacon.Of course.

It really doesn’t matter what kind of salad you serve this on top of, because the bacon and egg yolk are clearly the star. I just used what I had on hand.

Ingredients:

2 cups of chopped fresh spinach

1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers

2 tbs shredded fresh parmesan

2 tbs olive oil

1 tbs balasmic vinegar

1 tsp crouse ground mustard

1 tbs fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

2-4 strips of bacon (depending on thickness)

1 egg yolk (or two, if you’re like me and pop the first on when trying to separate it from the whites)

Start with the bacon. Preheat oven to 350. Take one or two strips and line the inside walls of a muffin pan. I had really thick bacon so that’s what I used, but I think the next time I make this, super thin bacon would work really well. Cut a second strip in half and use it to line the bottom of the pan, overlapping with the sides.

bacon-cup-rawBake until its stable enough to hold together on its own, about 15 minutes, but again, this will depend on your  bacon thickness. Transfer to a baking dish and continue to cook until its crispy.

bacon-cup-cooking(At this point, you may want to add a pot of water to the stove to boil.)

While your bacon basket is crisping, assemble your salad veggies on a plate. Add the oil, vinegar, and mustard to a bowl and stir it up

salad-dressingThen add the lemon and stir some more.

salad-dressing-lemonTop the salad with the dressing, salt and pepper and toss a bit. Add the beautiful bacon basket to the top.

Separate your egg yolk from your white and flash poach. I’m not completely sure if “Flash Poach” is an actual term, but in Fits Land it means to poach for one minute in rapidly boiling water until the yolk is slightly encapsulated so that it doesn’t break apart upon entering afore mentioned crispy basket.

salad-flash-poachAdd the egg yolk to the basket and stand back and revel in the beauty of a salad that you can’t wait to eat.

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Chocolate Cherry Pie with CHOCOLATE PIE DOUGH!!!

CCP finished slice

It’s pretty clear by my excessive use of capitalization what my favorite part of this pie is. I woke up in the middle of the night (I know, overly dramatic for a food blog post) with the idea of a chocolate pie dough crust. After a quick google search I wasn’t able to find a recipe for inspiration, leading my to wonder if my midnight dessert vision wasn’t even possible. By only modifying my go-to pie dough crust, It turns out that it is VERY possible, and super tasty.

CHOCOLATE PIE DOUGH!!! Ingredients:

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 2/3 cup of all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbs sugar

8 tbs butter (1 stick), cut into cubes

1/2 cup shortning

1/4 cup vodka

1/4 cup cold water

Pie Filling ingredients:

1 1/4 cup sugar

3 tbs cornstarch

5 cups of fresh bing cherries

3 tbs lemon juice from a real life lemon, none of that squeeze bottle crap (about 1 large lemon’s worth)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup chocolate, broken up into chunks (I used 56%)

3 tbs butter

1 tbs light corn syrup

2 tbs butter (for crust assembly)

plus 2 tbs white sugar to sprinkle on top before cooking

I did some pretty extensive research on pie dough over the past few years and I’ve learned a few things that I’ll pass on to you all. First, food processors are great at getting the job done as quickly as possible, and we all know that the more you mess with dough the tougher it becomes. So break out that food processor and add the cocoa, 2 cups of the flour, salt and sugar and give it a quick pulse until it’s combined.

ccp-crsut-fp-dryAdd the cubes of butter and the shortening and pulse until combined, about 1 1/2 minutes. A mix of shortening and butter gives a good flavor and texture.

ccp-dough-in-fpNow, if you have a larger food processor that mine, then add the remaining flour and pulse until it gathers around the blade. MINE is tiny and I need a new one. So if you are in the same boat as I am, just transfer it to a bowl and add the remaining flour by hand. (if you have a nice big guy food processor, transfer to a bowl after you add the remaining flour)

ccp-crust-bowlThen add the water and the vodka and squish it into the dough until its all combined. Vodka is another tip I picked up during my dough research. It cooks off completely (unlike water) creating a super flakey crust. Your dough will be very moist, but you can add a bit of flour if it is too moist to hold together. Then split into two evenly sized disks and wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for AT LEAST AN HOUR, super important, don’t skip this step.

ccp-dough-circles-wrappedYou can chill it for a few days if you need to, in that case, put the wrapped circles in a zip lock bag.

Before you get to the cherries, combine the sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon juice and vanilla in a large bowl and set aside.

ccp-sugar-cs-lemonNow, get out those beautiful cherries

ccp-cherries-asYou’ll have to pit them, so I hope you have a pitter. You can buy them for about $8 and its totally worth it.

ccp-cherry-pittinTo pit 5 cups, it should only take about 10 minutes. Unless, your daughter needs a nap and she won’t sleep and you can hear her jumping in her crib throwing bedtime bunny, sleepy time bug, and her sippy cup across the room and you have to go in and lay her down and tell her that she is a tired lady and she needs to go nigh night….in that case, it may take longer.

Add the pitted cherries to the sugar mixture bowl and stir until the cherries are well coated. Allow to rest for about 30 minutes.

ccp-cherries-bowl-restingGet your cold dough out of the fridge and place it on a well floured surface. I’m not gonna lie to you, this is not the easiest dough to work with. It’ll need a lot of flour on both sides, flour the top to make sure it doesn’t stick to your rolling pin. roll out into a circle large enough to fit into your pie pan with only a little over hang. If it breaks apart, just smoosh it back together with your fingers.

ccp-crust-rolledTransfer to your pie pan, if it breaks, again, just push the cracks back together.

ccp-crust-in-panin a microwave safe bowl, add your chocolate chunks, butter and corn syrup.

ccp-chocolate-ingredients-premeltMicrowave for 20 seconds, stir and repeat until all melty. Pour the chocolate into the crust and smooth out to make an even layer.

ccp-crust-with-chocolateThen add your beautiful cherries

ccp-crust-with-fillinOK, so by this point I was a little fed up with my crust, so the double crust plan was altered a bit. If you want to roll out circle #2 and make it a double crust, be my guest. I decided to roll out #2 and cut him up with two mini cookie cutters. You can also cut strips to do a lattice top.

ccp-crust-cut-outsI then layered them on the top to create parallel lines, brushing each cutout with melted butter to help them adhere to each other

ccp-top-butterI then filed in a bit of the blank spaces with randomly placed cutouts and sprinkled the top with sugar

ccp-oven-readyBy this point you may be thinking, “Why didn’t she ask me to preheat the oven? Did she forget? should I just set it to my go-to 350?” Nope. This is one of those pearls of pie dough wisdom that I am passing on. Ice cold dough cooks better than room temp dough. SInce we have worked this pie dough over pretty good, it needs to rest and chill before going into the oven. SO now, turn the oven on and set it to 475 and place your pie in the fridge to chill. Wait about 20 minutes and then bake your pie at 475 for about 15 minutes. Then, turn your oven down to 375 and finish baking for about 45 minutes or until the filling is thick and bubbly. If your crust looks like it is browning too much, cover it in foil.

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Mini Smores Cheesecakes

If we asked everyone who grew up in America to write down the dessert that most reminded them of summer, I’d bet some good cash that Smores would end up on top. Since memorial day is the unofficial kick off of the summer season, I wanted to reinvent this iconic treat to welcome in the season.

Ingredients:

Batter:

20 oz cream cheese

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

3/4 cup of sugar

1 egg

1/2 cup melted chocolate (I used 56%, because that’s what I had)

2 tbs unsweetened cocoa

Crust:

9 graham crackers

1 tbs brown sugar

1/2 stick of butter, melted

Topin:

3 cups mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350

In a stand mixer (this is what I used, if you want to use a hand mixer, it’ll be OK) combine the cream cheese, Greek yogurt and the sugar, beat until well combined. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend well.

scc-kitchenaidIna food processor, add the graham crackers and the brown sugar and pulse until nothin is left but crumbs

scc-crust-crumbsThen add the melted butter and pulse until it looks like wet sand

scc-crsut-wet-sandAdd 1 tbs of the crust to each well of a muffin tin and pack well into the bottom (you can use cupcake papers to make it easier to get them out of the pan, if you’d like)

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Top the crust with 1/4 cup of the batter, making the batter nearly flush with the top of the muffin pan, slightly below

scc-batter-in-pantop with mini marshmallows, about 1-2 tbs, making sure to keep clear of the far edge so that the marshmallows don’t adhere to the pan. Press down slightly on the marshmallows

sccmarshmallos-in-panBake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before attempting to remove them from the pan. If you are having a hard time getting these little suckers out of the pan, place the entire pan in the freezer for about 15 minutes and then run a butter knife under hot water for a few minutes and run it around the edge of the cheesecakes to loosen them up.

To give them that campfire taste, run a kitchen torch over them for a few minutes.

scc-finished-bruleeOK, so you don’t actually need to light them on fire, unless you are one of those charred marshmallow types.

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Savory French Toast

I love french toast. I’ll take it in any form I can get it. Here is my version for those of you who don’t want to start your day with a large dose of sugary goodness. Although you are free to cook your eggs as you see fit, I have a strong urge to beat the people who like a well cooked yolk. After all, it’s natures perfect sauce.

Ingredients:

2 cups of whole milk

2 eggs + additional 8 eggs

½ tsp onion powder

¼ tsp smoked paprika

1/8 tsp sea salt

½ tsp black pepper

Cooking spray

8 slices of bread

8 slices of bacon, cooked

Serves 4.  In an appropriately sized bowl, add the milk, 2 eggs, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper and beat until well combined. Heat a pan over medium high heat, lightly coat with cooking spray. Soak the bread, one at a time, in the milk mixture for about 30 seconds.  Cook the bread on each side until goldeny brown, about 2 minutes per side. Cook eggs over medium so that the whites are mostly cooked and the yolks are still runny. Top the bread with one slice of bacon, cut in half and then an egg.

Downloadable recipe

Savory French Toast