Monday, May 14, 2018

Vampire Slayer Soup (Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Soup)

It's spring and I'm so excited because it's just another step closer to my favorite season...fall. People always ask me what's with all the Halloween food? The short answer is, it inspires me and it's just plain fun to dream up fun festive dishes that taste amazing. I was inspired to make this soup when I unpacked my kitchen after the remodel and found my stash of plastic vampire teeth in the cookie jar. It was instant inspiration! And the great thing about having a food blog is that I can create my own little slice of fall anytime I want. Who cares that it's spring? I'm channeling fall via Halloween, with this rich and delicious Roasted Garlic Soup which I like to call, Vampire Slayer Soup. Made with lots and lots of roasted garlic and ginger, mellowed with sweet potatoes and carrots and a touch of coconut milk, this soup screams fall with it's bright orange color and it's potent enough to slay the nearest bloodsucker.  Complete protection from vampires and the common cold in a bowl. Enjoy! 
🎃🎃🎃Only 170 days until case you were wondering. 🎃🎃🎃

Vampire Slayer Soup (Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Soup)

(recipe adapted from Bound By Food)
Serves 6

2 T olive oil, divided
4 heads of garlic, peeled and roasted
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
1 large sweet potato, diced
1 medium yellow potato, diced
1 T fresh ginger, peeled, sliced
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 t. fresh thyme leaves
1 t. coriander
1/4 t cayenne
1 can coconut milk
salt to taste
cayenne pepper  (garnish-optional)
grapeseed oil with red food coloring (garnish)
Plastic vampire teeth (garnish)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel garlic cloves and place in foil with 1 T olive oil and fold foil to create a packet. Roast garlic cloves for 30-35 minutes or until cloves are soft and golden brown.  Set aside.

Saute onions, carrots, potatoes, and ginger in olive oil until onions are translucent, ~5 minutes. Add chicken broth and continue to heat until carrots and potatoes are tender, approximately 10 minutes more.  Add roasted garlic, (reserve a few garlic cloves for garnish), thyme, coriander and cayenne pepper and stir. In batches, blend vegetables and transfer back to pot. Add coconut milk and cook 5 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with roasted garlic cloves, cayenne and drizzle with bloody grapeseed oil.
Other Halloween Dishes to try:
Bloody Burger Bites
Love at First Bite Linguini
Rattlesnake Rolls

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Irish Chili

My kitchen remodel is finally complete. I've unpacked and moved into my new, fancy-dancy kitchen. It is so beautiful! I'm super excited about it and I've been planning upcoming dishes to blog. Originally, I intended to blog easy dishes throughout my kitchen remodel but who was I kidding... Cooking was not even possible during the construction process. Dust everywhere, all pantry ingredients, pots and pans packed in boxes in the garage. Nope! Didn't happen. It was two solid months of eating out, cereal, sandwiches and microwave meals. But now that my life is settling down and I have a functioning kitchen again I'm happily cooking and trying out new recipes. One thing that's been tripping me up in my new space is the power of my new professional stove.  I've burnt more food in the last 2 weeks than I have in the last twenty years. It's been quite humbling and a bit frustrating, but I'm learning the quirks of my new beautiful stove and oven.
Anyway, I realize St. Patricks Day is a distant memory now that we are in April but I was able to whip up this delicious Irish Chili in honor of my contractor, Matt from Celtic Construction. He did such a fabulous job on my kitchen that I thought my first dish in my new kitchen would honor his Irish heritage. This is in no way authentic Irish food, it's just my delicious take on some Irish ingredients of Corned Beef and Irish Stout mixed together in this comforting Irish Chili! Enjoy!

Irish Chili

3-4 lb corned beef roast, cooked
1 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 can tomato puree
1 ham hock(I used a leftover ham bone from Christmas)
2 cans Rotel tomatoes with chiles
2 cans kidney beans, drained
1 bottle Stout beer
2 T chili powder
2 t. cumin
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper (to taste)
Dubliner cheese, grated
green onions, garnish

Cook corned beef according to package directions and cut into 1/2 inch chunks and set aside.
In a large dutch oven,  add olive oil, onions, leeks, green peppers and garlic and saute until onions are translucent ~5-8 minutes. 
Transfer cooked vegetables into a blender. Add chicken stock and blend until pureed.
Transfer blender contents back into dutch oven and add, tomato puree, Rotel tomatoes, ham hock, corned beef, beer, chili powder, cumin and bay leaves. Simmer for about and hour. Add kidney beans and continue to heat on low for another hour. Remove ham hock. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with Dubliner cheese and green onions.
More Corned Beef recipes:
Corned Beef Rolls
Corned Beef, Cabbage and Leek Soup
Corned Beef Tacos

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Jeepers Creepers... (Blueberry Stuffed Lychee Fruit)

...where'd you get those Peepers? 
Here's my second installment of taking back the holidays...the Valentine's Day holiday that is...Halloween style! 
The eyes are said to be 'the windows to the soul' and what better way to show your love and commitment by serving this gruesomely sweet fruit garnish of lychees and blueberries with your favorite cocktail. Doesn't it just scream, "I've only got eyes for you!" Watch the flash of uncertainty cross his face when you serve this on Valentine's Day. 💓

These Peepers are made with Lychee fruit and blueberries dripping with bloody gelatin for a realistic look. If you're intimidated by the look of them and if you've never tasted lychees, I understand if you have reservations. My kids wouldn't even try the lychees before the gory wardrobe change, despite my pleas of , "You'll like it! Trust me!" Lychees taste like a cross between pear and guava with a texture that's smooth, sweet and tropical. Add the blueberries and raspberry jello and it's truly divine. A perfect complement to your favorite tropical drink or a sweet side to martinis.

Jeepers Creepers...

(Blueberry Stuffed Lychee Fruit)
Makes ~20 peepers

1- 20oz. can of Lychee Fruit in Syrup, 1/4 c. reserved
20+ blueberries
1 small package raspberry gelatin
1 cup water

Heat 1 cup of water and dissolve gelatin, remove from heat and set aside. Drain Lychees and reserve 1/4 cup of syrup. Add 1/4 cup lychee syrup to cooling Jello. Let cool and begin to thicken but don't allow it to fully set.
Stuff lychees with blueberries and place in a shallow dish. I used a Rubbermaid deviled egg carrier and it worked like a charm. Once the Jello has thickened, use a turkey baster to portion jello mixture over the blueberries. Refrigerate until firm for about an hour. This can be made up to 1 day ahead and refrigerate until ready to serve. Pierce lychees with toothpick and garnish your favorite cocktail.

Here's the cocktail recipe I used in this blog. Feel free to add 1 oz. of vodka to bump it up a notch. 😀

Makes 1 drink
1 oz. Malibu Caribbean Rum with Pineapple Liqueur
1 oz. Pineapple Orange Guava Juice
1 oz. Cranberry Blueberry Juice

Here's another idea using these peepers...If you are feeding a crowd for Halloween Valentine's Day, Triple the batch, pile them high and serve them as this gruesome "Eye of the Beholder Fruit Salad!" 💕💕

Other recipes to try:

Squirmy Wormy Shots
Bloody Eyeball Bruschetta

Friday, January 26, 2018

My Bloody Valentine (Red Velvet Cake with Berry Sauce)

Valentine's day is not my favorite holiday. Honestly, it's an awful holiday. It puts ridiculous pressure on couples, new and old. And don't get me started on the number it works on all the single gals. I remember depressingly quiet and lonely Valentine's days when I was young and single. It's ironic that what was once a dreaded day to endure long ago, sounds like the perfect Valentine's Day to me today. What I'd give for a quiet evening alone...All kidding aside, what better way to improve a dreaded holiday, than by channeling my favorite holiday...Halloween

I redefined all the hearts and chocolates of Valentine's day with this cadaver quality dessert! Sure it looks like a bloody, gory mess but it is actually a  decadent heart-shaped red velvet cake. Dense and moist like a large cake pop with chocolate buttercream frosting mixed in and drizzled with a deep scarlet berry sauce! Scary enough to chase the faint of heart away. If he doesn't run, you've found yourself a keeper! Happy Valentine's Day.

My Bloody Valentine Cake

(Red Velvet Cake with Berry Sauce)
Serves 4

1 box Red Velvet Cake mix
3 T chocolate frosting*
1 heart-shaped Jello Mold 
a smidge of purple gel food coloring

Bake cake according to package directions. Cool completely. In a large bowl, crumble cake and add about 3 Tbsp chocolate frosting and mix until incorporated.

*I made my own Chocolate Buttercream (recipe below), but feel free to use ready made frosting if desired.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
2 T cocoa powder
1-2 T whipping cream 
Cream butter, sugar and cocoa with a hand mixer. Add whipping cream and whip until smooth. 

Place 1 cup of prepared cake/frosting mixture in a separate bowl and add a small amount of purple food coloring to darken the cake slightly. The darker cake mix will be used to make the veins of the heart. 
Using you hands roll small thin tubes of cake mix and place in the contour of the veins of the jello mold. Refrigerate veins for about 30 minutes to harden a bit before topping with more cake mixture.

Remove from refrigerator and fill mold with the lighter cake mixture and then finish the top with the remaining darker cake mix. Refrigerate overnight or until firm. 
To remove from the mold, place a plate over the mold and gently squeeze the mold until the cake releases. Now prepare the berry sauce.

Mixed Berry Sauce
1 cup frozen mixed berries (strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, blueberry)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Add all ingredients to a small sauce pan and heat until bubbling. Smash berries with a potato masher. Set aside. If you want smooth sauce (blood look only) with no berries, strain it and discard the fruit. If you want it chunky, do not strain the sauce. Here's a picture of the cake with the strained sauce where the top picture is chunky style.  Enjoy!
Other recipes to try:

Black Magic Spellcakes
Valentine Peppermints
Red Velvet Brownies with Cookie Crumble Frosting

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Scallops Piccata with Lemon Jam

Happy January everyone! I'm sorry to say I have done very little blogging since December. Once my kids went back to school, I had that horrible flu for a few weeks. Totally sucked! But I'm back to health and I have a lot of plans for this year. One of the biggest plans is our kitchen remodel. I'm so excited to get a new kitchen! The downside is that I'm won't be able to blog too much during construction. However, I'm hard at work coming up with some interesting recipes to make without a kitchen, like creative crockpot meals and grilling. Mainly out of necessity so I don't have to buy fast food every night. It'll be challenging to prepare food without all my usual equipment or a kitchen sink. I also have some fun Halloween ideas in the works that I'll post in the next few days. I know you're probably thinking...Halloween? Already? The short answer is, Yes!  It's always time for fun Halloween food.
In the meantime, here is a simple and delicious main dish of sweet Scallops Piccata made with Meyer Lemon Jam. Enjoy!

Scallops Piccata with Meyer Lemon Jam

Serves 2-4

1 package angel hair pasta
extra virgin olive oil
parsley, chopped
2 cups chicken broth
1 clove garlic, finely grated
1/2 cup white wine
2 T Meyer Lemon Jam
2-3 T capers
1 T butter
salt and pepper
12 oz. jumbo scallops
1 T clarified butter
parsley, chopped
Meyer lemon wedges

Cook pasta according to package directions and toss with olive oil and parsley and set aside.
In a large skillet, add chicken broth and reduce to one cup. Add garlic, wine and lemon jam and bring to a simmer and heat for 5 minutes. Add capers and finish with a pat of butter. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Keep warm over low heat as you prepare the scallops.

Dry scallops with a paper towel and salt and pepper both sides. 

In a large skillet, heat clarified butter until melted and beginning to shimmer.  Add scallops and cook for two minutes on each side. Serve immediately with angel hair pasta and spoon over sauce and garnish with parsley and lemon wedges. 
 Other recipes to try:

Shrimp and Andouille Sausage with Cheesy Grits
Miso Cod with Tangerine Butter
Easy Tuna Ceviche in Avocado Cups