August 18, 2011

Quick & Easy Chocolate Mousse

For a few weeks I've been craving chocolate pudding, so I've been reading up several recipes and I couldn't decide which one to try out. Finally I ended up seeing this recipe for chocolate mousse, but it seemed so easy that I couldn't resist but to try it out immediately. 

While the flavor was good, I didn't like the texture I ended up with, at all. Partly may have been that I used good quality bar chocolate versus chocolate chips, but I the blender didn't get me that silky and creamy texture I was yearning for, but I enjoy the flavor. So I gave the recipe another go, but this time decided to spend an extra 5-10 minutes melting the chocolate over a double boiler. If you don't have an actual double boiler, which I don't, simply put a little water into a small saucepan and put a bowl over it, making sure the water doesn't touch the bottom of the bowl. Once the chocolate was fully melted and smooth I transferred to the blender and proceeded with the original recipe. The result once they set in the fridge for a couple hours, simply amazing. 

The other thing I did differently was use a blend of chocolate. As much as I love dark chocolate, I don't always want that rich taste. So I used about 6 oz milk chocolate and 1 oz dark chocolate with mint! The result: Amazing! The mixture was generously chocolaty flavored, but fresh and crisp from the mint. Better yet it was light and smooth, but also gave me the sense of a perfect hybrid between a mousse and pudding, which is exactly what I wanted in the first place!

7 oz chocolate
1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler. Once fully melted pour into a blender. Add the boiling water and blend for 10-15 seconds. Add remaining ingredients and blend for another 15 seconds. Pour into dessert dishes and refrigerate until they are set, usually around 2-3 hours. If you're patient enough, they are even better the next day.

August 16, 2011

Not-So "Sloppy" Joe's

I had never tried a Sloppy Joe, up until a couple of years' ago. I think it may have been a combination of growing up abroad and that my mother would automatically refuse to give us anything to eat that had the word "sloppy" in its name. Either way, I was finally convinced to make one by my boyfriend who grew up eating them as a kid. I obviously had no idea what it was supposed to taste like, and pretty much all I knew of them was typical pop culture references on TV or some cooking show; so I resorted to using the dry package. I was eventually able to come up with my own version of this American classic.

1/4 cup onion
1.5 lb ground beef
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. chili powder
1 8oz. can tomato sauce
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 tbsp brown sugar
4 Buns (Kaiser Rolls)

Finely chop 1/4 cup of onion. Saute until translucent and add the ground beef, mix well so the onions are evenly distributed with the meat. Add the salt, pepper, paprika and chili powder and mix well. Once the beef has cooked through add the tomato sauce and mix well. At the beginning its going to seem overly liquid, but it will cook down. Once the tomato sauce has reduced in half add the Worcestershire sauce and the sugar. Cook for another 5 minutes until the mixture is a nice and saucy.

I always like to serve on a toasted bun, preferably kaiser rolls, and pair with another comfort food, macaroni and cheese. Feel free to swap out ground beef for ground turkey, the condiments and sauce are what help give this dish a huge boost of flavor.

August 12, 2011

Linguini with Lemon, Garlic & Dill Sauce

During my recent mini-vacation in Costa Rica, I had my fair share of rice & beans to last me through the end of the week. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE rice and beans but in Costa Rica, they eat them every single day for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner! And yes, you read right, they eat the combo so much they even have it during breakfast, which is known as Gallo Pinto. Now this particular post is not about the great food I had during the trip, but more about me not being able to eat rice for about a week.

My first night back I decided to make a light and easy pasta dish, infused with different flavors that I didn't consume much during said vacation. I also knew that I wanted to make something that would be quick and only required minimum prep. My entire prep was done while I was bringing water for the pasta to a boil, and then cooked the chicken at the same time as the pasta was cooking. The picture unfortunately doesn't do the actual flavors in this dish any justice. Its light, but slightly creamy and full of bright fresh flavors that the lemon and dill bring to this dish.

1 lb.chicken
1 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp. garlic
1 1/2 tbsp.fresh dill
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp.pepper
Drizzle olive oil
1/4 cup Mozzarella

Cut the chicken into 1/2 inch bite sized pieces and place in large skillet. Juice the lemons and pour right over the chicken. Finely mince the garlic and add to chicken. Mix well and season the chicken with salt and pepper. Cook over medium flame. (You can also marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for 30 minutes as well.)

Once the water has come to a full boil you can add your pasta and cook to al dente. Strain but keep about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Add the pasta to the chicken mixture and blend well. For the mozzarella, I used Buffalo Mozzarella, the small round ones and broke them apart into small pieces and tossed it with the pasta. I used about 4 of the small balls, once broken apart is about 1/4 cup. Once the cheese starts melting into the pasta, slowly add some of the pasta water and mix frequently as this will start creating a nice light and slightly creamy sauce. Serve immediately.

For those of you who have never used reserve pasta water for thickening a sauce, i think this link is pretty helpful in explaining it.