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April 23, 2019

LEMONY CHICKEN ASPARAGUS PHYLLO PUFFS


These light and crispy phyllo puffs are stuffed with a chicken, asparagus, and lemony cream cheese filling. They are perfect appetizers for springtime or anytime of the year!

Lemony Chicken Asparagus Phyllo Puffs
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Whenever I use phyllo dough, I tell myself I need to utilize it more. The paper thin sheets of dough bake up light, airy, and crispy. Phyllo elevates the gustatory experience, and the crunch factor is undeniably satisfying! Sure, you have to use a little TLC when working with this ingredient, but it's not difficult.


If you have never used phyllo, start now because you need to make these! These little packets of flaky phyllo, tangy cream cheese, tender chicken, fresh asparagus, and bright lemon are so good! My picky eater husband liked them despite the lemon (it's outside of his comfort zone). My daughter, on the other hand, gave them two thumbs up because she loved the taste lemon (and I love her). My son, who is often hangry😉because he is once again on a strict workout and diet regiment, opted out of trying the puffs. But I assure you, he would have asked for more had he sampled them!

Lemony Chicken Asparagus Phyllo Puffs

Lemony Chicken Asparagus Phyllo Puffs

If you are unfamiliar with using phyllo, here's how I can help make it a breeze. Remember these few rules and you're going to be aptly rewarded with some tasty goodness!

  • Keep the unused phyllo sheets covered with a slightly damp towel (but not wet) as you work to prevent them from drying out.
  • Phyllo is gossamer thin. Use gentle hands to prevent tearing. If they do, it's not a big deal. They can be patched up.
  • Work with relative speed once the phyllo sheets are removed as they dry out fast. 
  • Cover the unbaked puffs with a slightly damp (but not wet) towel while you work.


Lemony Chicken Asparagus Phyllo Puffs

As evident from these photos, I am not too fussy when it comes to forming the phyllo puffs. I actually prefer the rustic look. The imperfection is more appealing. I love to see the bits of filling and cheesy goodness oozing out of the phyllo. You can reach for perfection if you want to, but it's not necessary in my book.

Lemony Chicken Asparagus Phyllo Puffs


I love the versatility of these phyllo puffs. Since it's springtime, fresh asparagus is in abundance, but for variation, it can certainly be swapped out. Broccoli, spinach, or artichoke would also be delicious. 
What's also great, the puffs can be made ahead and frozen, unbaked. Freeze them individually, wrapped in plastic. They are a perfect make ahead dish for entertaining. Life is so much easier when you can take the frozen puffs straight from the freezer to the oven. All you have to do is enjoy your company!




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LEMONY CHICKEN ASPARAGUS PHYLLO PUFFS 

Lemony Chicken Asparagus Phyllo Puffs


INGREDIENTS:

2 (8 ounce) package of neufchâtel cheese or cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 pounds (24 ounces) boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/4-inch dices
3/4 cups asparagus, chopped to 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 rounded teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 rounded teaspoon onion powder
1/2 rounded teaspoon salt
1/4 rounded teaspoon black pepper
zest of one large lemon, about 1 heaping tablespoon
20 9x14-inch phyllo dough sheets, defrosted according to package directions
1 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil for cooking
2/3 cups extra virgin olive oil for brushing on phyllo
   



INSTRUCTIONS:


Preheat oven to 350° F.

Add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil to a preheated large non-stick skillet on medium heat. Add asparagus. Cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Move asparagus to one side of the skillet. Add 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to the other. Add chicken. Cook for 3 minutes, combining the chicken and asparagus. Stir frequently. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Allow to cool slightly.

Add cream cheese, spices, and lemon zest to the mixing bowl. Mix to thoroughly combine. Remove phyllo dough from packaging and lay out flat. Cover with a slightly damp (but not wet) towel. Remove one phyllo sheet and place on a work surface. Keep the remaining phyllo sheets covered with towel.

Brush oil onto the top of the phyllo. Fold the phyllo sheet lengthwise into thirds by folding the bottom third up and the top third down, forming a 3x14-inch rectangle. Brush the surface with olive oil. 

Add 1 tablespoon of the filling to one of the tips of the phyllo sheet, avoiding the edges. Fold one of the corners diagonally across to the opposite edge to form a triangle, tucking the filling in towards the fold. Fold the triangle onto itself repeatedly, working towards the opposite side of the phyllo sheet. Place triangle onto a lightly greased baking sheet, seam side down. Cover with a second slightly damp towel. Repeat forming the triangles, placing them about 1-inch apart on the baking sheet.

Brush the top of each triangle with olive oil. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the triangle puffs are golden brown.  Serve hot.


Makes 20 servings.


Recipe Notes:

  1. For a buttery taste, use melted butter in place of olive oil on the phyllo sheets. Or use 50/50 combination of olive oil and butter.
  2. For a lighter version, use cooking spray in place of olive oil on phyllo sheets.
  3. To retain crispiness, leftover puffs are best reheated for a few minutes in the oven.
  4. Can be made ahead and bake at a later time. Freeze each puffs individually wrapped in plastic. Add a few minutes of bake time to frozen phyllo puffs.







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April 11, 2019

BLUEBERRY GOAT CHEESE DONUTS WITH LEMON SUGAR

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These donuts with sweetened blueberry goat cheese and coated with lemon sugar are as good as they look! Serve with a cup of coffee or drink of choice, they are a delightful breakfast or snack time treat.

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I have never made yeast donuts before, but after having tried it, I am adding them to my baking repertoire. They require a little bit of effort, but the results are so worth it! After trying out a couple of donut recipes, the one from The Pioneer Woman is a clear-cut winner. The donuts are so light, fluffy, and tender! And it's Ree's dough recipe that I used as the base for these scrumptious, goat cheese and blueberry filled donuts.

Even if you're not a goat cheese lover, you are going to like these donuts. Although I'll eat goat cheese, it is not one of my favorite cheeses. Imagine how delicious it is when I tell you I can eat this filling by the spoonful. The fresh summary taste of blueberries and the sweetness of powdered sugar tone down the cheese's distinctive earthy, musty flavor. It becomes a sweet, mild, and delicious dessert cheese.

March 27, 2019

SWEET AND SOUR CHICKEN RAMEN NOODLES

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Quick and easy Sweet and Sour Chicken Ramen Noodles is a burst of sweet and tangy in every bite. This budget-friendly dish is a great way to use up rotisserie or leftover chicken too!

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I don't take many action shots in my food photography, because it is a situation that usually requires an extra set of long steady arms. And when holding noodles with chopsticks is involved, it needs to be well orchestrated. Not only am I required to hold the chopsticks as steady as possible with one hand, I also have to lean WAAAAAY over to the back of camera to check if said objects are even in frame. Almost always, I have to reposition, then take a shot. What inevitably happens during this process is half of the cascade of ramen that was previously on the chopsticks would have slipped off, which requires the whole process to start over again. (I don't know what I was thinking when I decided to use slippery chopsticks!) After about 20 shots, I can only hope there would be 1 or 2 decent photos.