Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Homemade Cavatelli Pasta

I've been wanting to try my hand at making homemade pasta for a long time now.  Growing up I watched my Grandmother make delicate pastas and gnocchi, and I've finally decided to try the art myself.  I decided to start with cavatelli, a small pasta shape that doesn't require a pasta machine to make.  All that you need to make the cavatelli is flour, water, and a cavatelli paddle.  The only thing more fun than making them is eating them!  There's nothing quite like the taste or texture of homemade fresh pasta, and if you haven't tried it for yourself yet you haven't lived!
  

Ingredients:

2 cups double-zero flour (If you can’t find substitute all-purpose flour)
1 cup semolina flour
1 ¼ cup water
½ teaspoon salt

Directions:

On a large work surface sift together double-zero flour and semolina flour to form a mound.  Make a well in the center.  Pour ¼ cup water into well and add salt.  Using a fork, slowly swirl flours into the water, beginning with inner rim of the well, until a dough begins to form.   


Continue adding water by the tablespoonful until dough comes together (count on using about 1 cup).  Gather dough to form a rounded mass.

Begin kneading with the heels of your hands.  Knead until dough becomes smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes, lightly dusting surface with flour to prevent sticking.   

Divide dough and wrap each half with plastic wrap.  Let rest 1 hour.

Cut each piece of dough in half.  Working with one piece at a time, roll out dough ¼ inch thick.  Cut dough into 1 inch wide strips and with your palms roll into ½ inch-thick ropes.


Lay ropes on countertop and roll with palms to an even diameter.  Cut ropes crosswise in ½ inch pieces, lightly dust with flour.  Repeat with the remaining dough.



To form the cavatelli, place a piece of dough on the ridged side of a cavatelli paddle and press with two fingers as you roll dough downward.  Cavatelli should have ridges on one side and a depression on opposite side.   


Repeat with remaining dough, placing cavatelli on a floured baking sheet.  Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel until ready to use.  


Cook cavatelli in boiling lightly salted water until they float (only about 1-2 minutes).  They cook quickly and will get chewy if overcooked so be ready to take out of the water quickly! 

Toss in whatever sauce you like and enjoy!  I made a quick butter and garlic sauce for mine by melting some butter in a pan with some chopped garlic.  I poured the sauce over the cavatelli and topped generously with fresh Parmesan and basil.

 
Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine

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Monday, February 27, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan


With all of this rain today I was in the mood for something warm and comforting...crispy golden Eggplant Parmesan topped with marinara and lots of bubbly cheese was just the thing!  The eggplant has a crispy golden Parmesan crust, and the inside is tender and meaty.  This dish is a comfort food classic and I remember eating a lot of it when I was growing up. It's also extremely easy to make, and can be prepared in advance, making it the perfect weeknight meal.  Simply prepare the night before, store in the fridge or freezer, pop in the oven when you're home from work, and you've got dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes!


Makes about 4 servings
Ingredients:

1 medium eggplant, cut into ½ inch thick slices
1 jar marinara sauce
2-3 large eggs
2 cups dried breadcrumbs
1 cup flour
1 ½ cup Parmesan cheese
2 cups Mozzarella cheese


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Season the eggplant slices with salt and pepper.  Mix breadcrumbs and ½ cup Parmesan and place in a small bowl, flour in another, and egg in another. 

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Meanwhile, dredge each slice of eggplant first in flour, then dip into egg, then coat in breadcrumb mixture.  Fry eggplant in pan in batches until golden brown, being careful not to overcrowd the pan.  Remove eggplant from pan and drain on paper towels.  


To assemble the dish, first spread some marinara sauce over the bottom of a baking dish.  Add the eggplant to the dish.   


Top with more marinara sauce and equal mounds of mozzarella and parmesan on top of each eggplant slice. Add the remaining marinara sauce to the sides and corners of the baking dish.


Put the dish in the oven and bake until the cheese is golden and bubbling, about 20 minutes.


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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pear-Brie Strudel Rolls

Looking for a versatile dish that can be enjoyed as a dessert or appetizer?  Something that will make you feel all warm and cozy inside...look no further than these Pear-Brie Strudel Rolls!  These little morsels are filled with the rich taste of creamy brie cheese, tender spiced pears, and chopped nuts...all enveloped between layers of paper thin phyllo dough, brushed with butter, and baked to golden brown perfection. 


Ingredients:
1 1/2  cups chopped pears (1 1/2 medium)
1 cup apple juice or water
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon snipped fresh thyme (optional)
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice
15 sheets frozen phyllo dough (14x9-inch rectangles), thawed
1/2 cup butter, melted
18 thin slices Brie cheese (4 ounces)
Fresh thyme sprigs (optional) 


Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil; set aside.

For filling, in a small saucepan combine pears, apple juice, maple syrup, and, if desired, snipped thyme. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 5 minutes or until pears are tender. Drain pears; discard liquid. Return pears to saucepan. Add nuts to saucepan. Add brown sugar and apple pie spice; toss gently until mixed. Set aside.


Unroll phyllo dough. Stack five phyllo sheets on a work surface, brushing each sheet lightly with some of the melted butter before topping with the next. Cut phyllo stack lengthwise in half and crosswise in thirds to form 6 squares total.

Place a slice of Brie cheese near the bottom edge of a phyllo square. Spoon a rounded tablespoon of filling on top. Fold bottom edge over filling; fold in sides. Roll up around filling. Place on prepared baking sheet. 


Repeat with remaining phyllo squares, Brie, and filling. Brush tops with some of the remaining melted butter. 

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes or until rolls are golden. (Rolls may leak slightly during baking.) Cool on a wire rack.

Serve slightly warm. If desired, garnish with fresh thyme.




Recipe Adapted from BHG

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cake Pops

Tonight my work had our Grand Opening Event to celebrate our brand new facility!  I decided to make some of my cake pops last night to bring to the event, and they were a big hit!  These things are addicting...and everyone...I mean EVERYONE loves them!  In fact, I haven't met anyone yet who hasn't liked these little balls of cake and frosting dipped in candy coating and sprinkles...what's not to like right?

I tried to create the most simplest step by step instructions that I could for how to make these tasty little morsels, since everyone keeps asking me how they can make their own!  The next time I make these, when I don't have so many pops to make, I would like to make a video tutorial so that everyone can see just how to make them so stay tuned for that!


Makes about 40-50 cake pops
Ingredients:
1 packaged cake mix
1 can frosting
Wilton Candy Melts
Popsicle sticks
Sprinkles

Directions:

First prepare your cake following the directions on the package.  Let cake cool completely.  Crumble cake into a large bowl and mix in can of frosting.  Use your hands for best results, but be warned it will get messy!

Roll cake into small balls and place on wax paper lined baking sheet.


Place balls in freezer for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat candy melts according to package directions.  Remove balls from freezer.  Dip end of Popsicle stick into candy melts, you want to cover the very end about 1/2 an inch with candy coating.  Then insert the stick side with the coating about 1/2 way into the cake ball.  Do this until all the cake balls have sticks in them.  Place back in freezer for one hour.


Reheat candy melts and remove pops from freezer.  I like to pour candy coating that is heated into a deep mug so that dipping is made easier.  Now it's time to dip the cake pops!  Completely submerge the cake pop into the candy coating and pull out in one quick motion.  Make sure the cake ball is completely covered with coating.


Move cake pop around with your hand to remove some of the excess coating.  You can then tap the cake pop on the side of the mug lightly while rotating to remove any more excess coating.  You want to try to remove as much excess as possible so that the pops don't drip while they're drying.

You can add any sprinkles you like to the pops while they're still wet.

Place cake pops in styrofoam block to dry.  The candy coating dries fairly quickly (about 10 minutes).  Once the balls are dry you can set them up in styrofoam to display (see pictures below) or you can stand them up into gallon size Ziploc bags for easy transportation.



I am so happy to have these cake pops featured in The Cake Pop Daily by KC Bakes!  Make sure to check out the post!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Cajun Shrimp Po'Boy

Celebrate Mardis Gras this year with a hot and spicy Cajun Shrimp Po'Boy!  Crispy fried Cajun shrimp are piled high on a baguette smothered in a tangy Remoulade Sauce, then topped with shredded lettuce and tomato.  This enormously overstuffed sandwich will have you feeling like you're celebrating Mardi Gras New Orleans style in no time!



Ingredients:

Vegetable oil, for frying
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and butterflied
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 small French bread loaves
1 cup shredded lettuce
1 tomato, sliced
1 recipe ramoulade sauce (see below)
1 recipe Emeril’s Creole Essance (see below)

Remoulade Sauce:
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 dill spear pickle, chopped
1 tablespoon shallot, chopped

Mix all ingredients together.

Emeril’s Creole Essence:
2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly.

Directions:

Heat oil in a large deep sided skillet.  Season the shrimp with 1 tablespoon Essence.  In a medium bowl combine flour, cornmeal, and 1 tablespoon Essence.  Dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture, coating the shrimp completely.  Fry the shrimp in the hot oil, in batches if necessary, until golden brown. Remove from the oil and drain on a paper-lined plate.   


Toast the French bread loves in the oven until warm and split in half.  Spread the remoulade sauce on both sides of the bread.  Divide the shrimp evenly between the two sandwiches and garnish with the lettuce and tomato slices.



Recipe Adapted from Emeril

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Red Velvet Cake Balls

I know, I know, I'm a little late to get the memo on the cake ball craze, but I've finally had the chance to make these and they are AMAZING!  You will use this recipe over and over again.  It's so versatile...you can use whatever combinations of cake mix and icing you like, and trust me they will turn out delicious!  Now, I'm not gonna lie and tell you these cute little things were easy to coat in chocolate...they were actually quite tricky, but once I had the right method down they were a breeze to finish.  Follow the steps at the end of this post closely to successfully try these yourself and get ready to impress all who try them!


Makes about 40-50 Cake Balls
Ingredients:

1 box red velvet cake mix (cook as directed on box for 13 X 9 cake)
cream cheese frosting (see recipe below)
1 package chocolate bark (regular or white chocolate)


Cream Cheese Frosting:


8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (3/4 pound)

Place the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix on medium speed just until combined. Don't whip! Add the sugar and mix until smooth. 


Directions:


Bake cake mix per directions on package.  After cake is cooked and cooled completely, crumble into large bowl.  Mix thoroughly with cream cheese frosting.


Roll mixture into balls and lay on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.


Chill for several hours. I put mine in the freezer.


Melt chocolate in microwave per directions on package.

*Tip* Make sure that you are using candy melts and not chocolate chips for this! I tried using white chocolate chips and the consistency was way too thick, also the red coloring was leaking into the white chocolate turning it a pinkish color..not good.  I used Wilton brand candy melts which you can buy at Michaels in almost any color and they worked much better for this.

Here is the tricky part…after lots of trial and error this method worked best for me to coat the cake balls with chocolate:

Stick a toothpick into the top of the cake ball and submerge one at a time into chocolate.  Roll around until most of the cake ball is covered (the top won’t be covered and that’s ok for now). Place cake ball back onto baking tray.  Let harden for a few minutes then stick toothpick in bottom of the cake ball and re-submerge into chocolate (this time covering the top of the cake ball).  Place back onto baking tray or into small cupcake liners when finished.


Recipe from Bakerella

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Heart-Shaped Eggs and Toast

Make your sweetie a romantic twist on the ordinary eggs and toast for breakfast this Valentine's Day!  I saw this idea on Martha Stewart and thought it was so cute!

 
Using a 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, remove the center of a thick slice of bread, and toast it. Melt 1 1/2 teaspoons butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Place bread slice in skillet, and cook until underside is lightly browned. Add another 1 1/2 teaspoons butter, and flip bread. Fit cookie cutter, coated with cooking spray, in bread's cutout heart, and crack an egg into cutter. Cover skillet, and cook until egg is set, 2 to 3 minutes. Use tongs to remove cutter. Serve with toasted heart for dipping into yolk.


Recipe from Martha Stewart