Monday, July 21, 2014

Eggplant Caponata with Goat Cheese Wrap


Eggplant Caponata with Goat Cheese Wrap

I recently went on extended weekend trip to New York City. It was a self-guided culinary tour of The Big Apple and I loved every bit of it. My husband, our two friends, and I grazed our way throughout the city. Needless to say, I have a few inspired recipe ideas and copy cat recipes (all of which are deliciously artery-clogging) that I will be working on and will share in the future.

To maintain some sort of nutritional balance, I have a healthy caponata wrap recipe for you today. Caponata is an Italian cooked eggplant relish that is commonly served as an appetizer or side dish. I’m using it as a sandwich filling. To make it even healthier, choose a multi-grain or high fiber wrap…lavash or pita pocket are also good options. And if you don’t like goat cheese, you might like it in this as it blends well with all the other flavors, so give it a try first. But if you really don’t like it, use mozzarella, feta, or whatever strikes your fancy.

Enjoy!

Eggplant Caponata with Goat Cheese Wrap



Eggplant Caponata with Goat Cheese Wrap:
  
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced 1/8-inch thick
1 cup sliced (1/8-inch thick) celery
1 eggplant (between 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb.), sliced 1/8 to 1/4-inch thick
6 sun dried tomato halves
2 tbsp. sugar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar   
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 cup sliced green olives
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
6 oz. goat cheese
16 large basil leaves
4 multi-grain wraps


Preheat a large saucepan on medium heat. Add olive oil. Add onion, celery, and eggplant. Cover and reduce heat between medium-medium low. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes and bringing the content on the bottom of the pan to the top to promote even cooking.

Meanwhile, soak sun dried tomatoes in boiling water for 5 minutes (skip this step if using tomato packaged in olive oil). Remove tomatoes and slice into 1/4 inch strips. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk sugar, red wine vinegar, and tomato paste.

After 15 minutes of cooking, eggplant should be tender. Add sun dried tomatoes, olives, garlic, salt, and pepper to the pan. Cook and stir, uncovered, for a minute or so. Pour in the red wine vinegar mixture. Cook, stirring frequently until liquid is absorbed for 2 – 3 minutes. Serve on wrap, warm or at room temp.

To assemble wrap: Spread or crumble 1/4 of the goat cheese onto the middle section of the wrap, avoiding the edges. Layer with 4 basil leaves followed by 1/4 of caponata. Fold in the edges and roll up wrap burrito-style. Continue assembling the remaining three wraps. Slice on a diagonal and serve. Serves 4.



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

S’mores Stuffed Cookies with Coconut


S’mores Stuffed Cookies with Coconut

I had to try these S’mores Stuffed Cookies I found at A Cookie Named Desire. What pulled me in were the white and gooey marshmallows that were stuffed in the center. I had to find out how they did not completely melt. The secret, it turns out, is to chill the dough prior to baking to prevent the marshmallow from overheating and dissolving.
                             
My attempts at these cookies have been successful overall with the majority of the marshmallows surviving the baking process. After a couple of batches, I quickly realize that timing is key and waiting too long to remove the cookies from the oven will affect the marshmallow success rate. Cooling them is also key. I would even suggest placing the hot cookies in front of a fan to speed up the cooling process.

made a few of changes to the original recipe. I use entirely all-purpose flour as opposed to the combination of half-all-purpose-and-half-wheat flour, mainly because there wasn't any wheat flour in the house the first time I made the cookies. They turned out great, so I stuck with all-purpose. I also used cinnamon graham crackers as opposed to honey flavored. Lastly, I added sweetened coconut flakes. The flavor complements the cookies perfectly. It is truly a winning combination of flavors—the cinnamon graham crackers, the chocolate chips, the marshmallows, and the coconut flakes blend into a symphony of deliciousness.

S’mores Stuffed Cookies with Coconut



These cookies will take a little bit of effort. Hand stuffing the marshmallows and forming the cookies take some time. The result is worth it though. Make some the next time you want to impress. They will go fast!

Here’s how you can make them.



S’mores Stuffed Cookies with Coconut:
adapted from A Cookie Named Desire

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or half AP and half wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
16 whole (2/3 of a 14.4 oz box) cinnamon graham crackers 
1 cup butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup roughly chopped milk chocolate
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
2 cups mini marshmallows


Whisk flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.

Crush graham crackers into crumbs, being careful not to take them to the powder consistency. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla. Blend well. Slowly add flour mixture blending until just incorporated. Stir in graham crackers, chocolates, and coconut.

Scoop 1 tbsp. dough and make an indentation. Place 4 to 5 marshmallows into indentation. Cover with another 2/3 tablespoon of dough. Form into a flat disc, making sure that the marshmallows are completely covered with dough. The cookie will not spread much during baking. Place on a greased baking sheet. Repeat forming the remaining cookies. Cover and chill overnight or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  

Uncover and bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for a minute. Transfer to a cooling rack. Place in front of a fan to speed up cooling process, optional. Makes about 24 cookies.



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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Caramel Vodka Root Beer Float Shooter



Caramel Vodka Root Beer Float Shooter

Would it surprise you if I said I had more fun than usual with this recipe? And would it surprise you that I have had no shortage of guinea pigs to try this beverage? This root beer shooter is a fun adult twist on a classic and beloved drink. Serve some at your next gathering and watch them disappear!



Caramel Vodka Root Beer Float Shooter



I used caramel flavored vodka in this beverage, but there are a variety of other flavors that are equally tasty: marshmallow fluff, vanilla, and whipped cream. (I have tested them all!)  Have fun experimenting them on your own.You too will have no shortage of ready and willing taste testers!!

Caramel Vodka Root Beer Float Shooter




Caramel Vodka Root Beer Float Shooter:

2 oz. Edy’s Caramel Delight ice cream or similar
1 oz. caramel flavored vodka
3 oz. root beer
1 dollop whipped cream

Note: Adjust quantity to the size of your shooter glass, using a ratio of 1 part vodka to 3 parts root beer. This recipe is for a 5 oz. shooter glass.

Place two leveled scoops of ice cream into a  shooter glass using a 1 oz. scoop. Add vodka. Slowly pour in root beer, waiting for bubbles to subside before adding more. Top with a dollop of whipped cream. Serves 1.



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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Banana-Chocolate Dessert Shells


Banana-Chocolate Dessert Shells

I should have called this post “Plan B” because it was supposed to have some sort of strawberry shortcake title. My original thought was to do a twist on strawberry shortcake. As you can see, that did not happen. I played around with different ideas for the shortcake portion of the dessert. When I came up with this banana-chocolate sponge cake version, I knew I had a winner. Then it occurred to me that the dessert shell is too pretty to cover up with strawberries and whipped cream. Don't get me wrong—strawberry shortcake on a banana chocolate shell is a fabulous thing (I had a few the last couple of weeks)! But why limit the possibilities? I decided to make the dessert shells the star of the show.

Banana-Chocolate Dessert Shells



These shells could be the base for so many other things. How about topping them with ice cream sundaes? What about caramelized bananas, walnuts, and whipped cream? Try chocolate mousse. Now that I got the ball rolling, you can probably come up with some fantastic versions of your own.

If you are not familiar with dessert shell pans, this is what they look like.


The one on the left is the top side and the one on the right is the underside. It is essentially a muffin pan with the bottom of each cavity pushed in creating dome. Once baked, you invert the pan and the bottom becomes the top. All you need to do is fill the bowl with a whole lot of goodness.

This recipe yields 6 shells. I like to keep my dessert recipes small, mainly to avoid a lot of leftovers. My family of four is not a huge consumer of desserts (although ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate brownies do disappear at warp speed). Generally, we enjoy sweets in small quantities and in a nonconsecutive fashion. So when we have leftover, it is a lose-lose situation for me: I would have to deal with the guilt of throwing away good food or the guilt of overconsumption to avoid the guilt of throwing away good food. To avoid this dilemma, I like to create smaller portion desserts. If you need larger quantities, this recipe can easily be doubled.

Enjoy!

Banana-Chocolate Dessert Shells



Banana-Chocolate Dessert Shells:

3 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup mashed banana
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder  
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Beat eggs on high until pale yellow, thick, and creamy, about 3 minutes. Slowly add 1 tablespoon sugar at a time and continue beating for a total of 2 minutes. Add banana and vanilla extract. Blend well.

Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Stir into egg mixture, blending to incorporate without overmixing. Grease a 6-cavity dessert shell pan. Pour 1/3 cup batter in each cavity. Using only half of the chocolate chips, sprinkle some into each cavity. Pour the remaining batter over chocolate chips, filling the cavities no more than 3/4 full. Top off with a sprinkling of the remainder chocolate chips. Bake for 10–15 minutes, checking at the 10-minute mark. Done when an inserted toothpick with a few specks of crumbs. Store in an airtight container. Serves 6.

Note: Best eaten the same day. If kept refrigerated or dries out, microwave each for about 15 seconds or until barely warm to soften before eating.



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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Great Grilling with Chuck Eye


Great Grilling with Chuck Eye

Hello! If you are looking for In Good Flavor, home of great recipes with great taste, you have come to the right place. The page may look unfamiliar because it just underwent a little facelift. I liked my old design but felt it needed a little change. My intention was to go for a white minimal look, but as the design progressed, it seemed to need a little of this and a little of that. In the end, this is what I ended up with. Hope you like it!

Onto the recipe…

Great Grilling with Chuck Eye



One of my favorite budget-friendly cut of meat is chuck eye, specifically labeled as “beef chuck eye steak—first cut” where I shop. It costs much less than choice rib-eye, sirloin strip, or T-bone, but it is very flavorful and tender. In terms of where it is located, it is the cut right next to the rib-eye. I discovered this cut of beef about ten years ago when a butcher at my grocery store ranted and raved over it. She said it was good for grilling; it was tender, economical, and great for feeding a crowd. She highly recommended it.

Chuck?

Grilling?

Tender?

Really?

My husband and I ended up getting some to grill (as I mentioned in one of my previous post, he likes to tag along. Seriously, doesn’t he have a game to watch or something? Sorry honey, I say it with love). We grilled with tepid anticipation. And good golly! To our pleasant surprise, the woman was right on all accounts! We were pleased with the steak and have been grilling it since—the type of meat, not the actual ones we bought ten years ago!

To get the best result, look for cuts that are kidney or lobed shaped. I prefer them over the triangular cuts of chuck eye. Also, choose ones that have some marbling and loosely separated muscle layers over the lean and the tightly packed muscles. If you don’t have this cut in your store, ask your butcher.

Great Grilling with Chuck Eye



The steaks in these pictures were about 3/4-inch thick and were grilled on high for just over two minutes per side. Regular 1 1/4 to 1 1/2-inch thick steaks take about 4-6 minutes and 6-8 minutes, respectively, per side for medium rare doneness. For optimal tenderness, do not cook beyond medium well as the meat tends to dry out more easily than the more expensive cuts.

This recipe is not so much about what to put on your steak (do use kosher salt—it makes a difference) but more about what cut I suggest for a pocket-friendly scrumptious steak dinner. Pair it with the Quick and Easy Thyme Baby Potatoes for a great weeknight supper or for casual entertaining. You will feel like you are eating a steakhouse dinner without the steakhouse price. Grill some this Fourth of July!!

Great Grilling with Chuck Eye



Great Grilling with Chuck Eye:

4 (8 to 10 oz. each) 1 1/4 to1 1/2-inch thick beef chuck eye steak—first cut 
1/2 rounded tsp. garlic powder
1 rounded tsp. kosher salt
1/2 rounded tsp. black pepper


Remove steaks from the refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes or so if there is time (highly recommended). Season both sides with garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. 

Set grill on high. Grease grates with oil. Place steaks on grill, cooking until charred grill marks develop, about  4-6 minutes for 1 1/4-inch thick or 6-8 minutes for 1 1/2-inch thick steaks. Turn over and repeat the cooking time for the second side for medium rare. For medium steaks, increase cooking time an extra 2 minutes per side. Allow steak to rest for at least 5 minutes before cutting. Serves 4.





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