Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sweet and Savory Grilled Cheese Bites

Sometimes after a long week at work (and last week felt like the longest week ever) it's hard to find creative energy for this blog.  Lucky for me, I'm engaged to an incredibly thoughtful man who is fearless in  the kitchen and knows when I just don't have a blog post in me.

He had been talking about this grilled cheese sandwich idea all week.  I can't lie,  I was a little nervous when I heard that raisin bread and pepperoni were involved.

But then, I ate a bite when he was trimming the crust ... DELICIOUS.

He picked up some hot and sweet honey mustard from Trader Joe's and it really brought all the flavors together. The salty pepperoni and the sweet raisin bread tied together perfectly with the kick of the tangy mustard.

"See baby, sweet and savory, just how you like," he said.

He does know me well.

He used Swiss cheese (make sure it melts!) and trimmed the crust into cute little squares. Perfect for a Superbowl spread.

Shopping list (makes a dozen bites)
1 package sliced pepperoni
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 slices of raisin bread
4 table spoons of butter
Hot and Sweet Mustard from Trader Joes

Butter the tops of your raisin bread with 1 tablespoon of butter each.

Buttered side down, place 1 raisin bread slice in a medium sized frying pan on medium heat. Carefully spread the hot and sweet mustard on top of the bread in the pan. Add your pepperoni slices next and then 2 slices of swiss cheese and then your second slice of bread, butter side up.

When the bottom of your sandwich is golden and crisp, about 2 minutes, flip and leave for another 2 minutes.

Place sandwich on a cutting board and trim the crusts (eat them yourself!) and cut the sandwich into three long strips and then across into six mini squares. Tip: try not to push down on the bread too much when you cut the squares, you want them to stay fluffy and not smooshed.

Repeat with second sandwich.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Heart Shaped Jello Shots with Cherries

Can you believe it's almost Valentines Day? We haven't even taken down our Christmas tree yet!

Where does the time go? I guess in my case it's spent in the kitchen, making cute little party treats like these.

These shots came out exactly how I imagined them in my head. That doesn't happen often (in life or in the kitchen) so I was pretty excited.

More Valentines Day posts coming soon!

P.S. Shoot me an email with a picture of your jello shot hearts if you make them! I've been getting some photos from you guys over the past few months and I would love to share them with everyone. ThatsSoMichelle@gmail.com

Shopping List (Makes 12 heart shaped shots)
1 cup Three Olives Cherry Vodka
3 oz. box cherry jello
1/2 cup coconut milk
4 table spoons sugar
1 packet Knox Gelatin
12 cherries with stems
1 heart shaped cookie cutter (I bought this Wilton 6pc set from Michaels so that I would have the right size for my cupcake tin)

(For a kid friendly, non-alcoholic version just use cold water instead of vodka)

1. White layer: Pour 1/2 a cup of water and 1/2 a cup of coconut milk into a sauce pan and then sprinkle  1 packet of Knox gelatin on top. Let is sit for one minute, then turn on medium heat and stir until dissolved. Add 1/4 cup sugar and heat until dissolved.

Turn off the heat and wait until the mixture is just warm and then add 1/2 a cup of vodka.

2. Lightly grease cupcake pan with baking spray. You can use a brownie pan too. Wipe off excess spray with a paper towel.  (Won't effect in taste or form, but it helps in unmolding the jello later) Fill tins or pan halfway with coconut jello and vodka mixture.

3. Let white layer firm up for 1 hour in the fridge.

4. Prepare cherries by drying them and slicing off the bottoms so they sit flat on the coconut layer. Place cherries directly in center of the tins.

5. Add Cherry Jello packet to 1 cup of boiling water in a small sauce pan. When dissolved allow to cool and then add 1/2 cup vodka.

6. Carefully pour cherry jello and vodka mixture into the cupcake pan on top of coconut jello so that it just the top of the cherry is visible. Do not fill to top, the cherry will float and not stay upright.

Refrigerate overnight.

8. Unmold by rimming the tins with a knife loosening the jello. Carefully lift up from the bottom with a fork (like a mini spatula) and quickly slide your hand under jello to prevent breakage.

9. With a heart shaped cookie cutter slowly cut out your heart shape right around the cherry. Push once lightly and wait ... then ease into the jello carefully until you hit the bottom. Too much pressure will split the heart.

Keep refrigerated until serving, you can double the recipe easily if you need more shots.

Don't break any hearts ;) 

For featuring on your website please make sure to contact thatssomichelle@gmail.com

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Clams Casino Dip

I love dip.

It's true, ask my friend Ericka. The first day we met at our new journalism internships we had to introduce ourselves in front of everyone as well as mention something we love.  I said, "Hi, I'm Michelle and I love condiments and dip."

What?!  Why would I say that?  Ugh, I'm blushing right now, but I have to admit it's funny.

Especially because here I am six years later, still writing, not about politics anymore but my love for DIP.

This recipe might be my new favorite (watch out buffalo chicken dip). I'm trying desperately to stop eating it right now while typing. Cream cheese on the keyboard is a no-no.

I didn't have any chips at home, so I used toast points. But I'm thinking that salty chips would take this dip right where it needs to be.

How about Old Bay seasoned chips. YUM.  Go Ravens!

Shopping List (serving size is good for a small gathering during the big game)
10 oz can fancy whole baby clams
1/2 red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chives or green onions
2 oz bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped
8oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup light sour cream
1 table spoon lemon juice
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and mince your garlic, chop your red peppers, crispy bacon, green onion and half of the can of whole baby clams -- set aside for later. 

In a oven safe pan/bowl mix your softened cream cheese, 1/4 cup light sour cream, garlic and shredded mozzarella.

Place pan in the oven just until cheese becomes warm and melted (about 5 minutes).

Carefully pour in baby clams,  red peppers, bacon, and green onion. Stir lightly. Add tablespoon lemon juice and stir again.

Pour in clean serving bowl while still warm and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Panko Fried or Oven Roasted Cauliflower?

Did you know that cauliflower tastes a lot like chicken? No really it does, cauliflower absorbs and retains a lot flavor no matter how you prepare it.

Also awesome -- cauliflower has only 28 calories per cup.

You can roast it, fry it, boil it or blanch it  ... so many choices.  I tried two.  I loved them both but surprisingly I was partial to the healthier roasted version.

General Tso's Cauliflower

Shopping List (serves two)
1/2 Head cauliflower
Green onions
General Tso sauce of choice
Panko bread brumbs
1/3 cup coconut oil (I have a large pan, if your frying pan is smaller you only need enough to have about a half inch of oil to lightly fry in)
Salt & Pepper
2 Eggs

Boil cauliflower florets in salted water just until slightly soft (about 5 minutes in boiling water). Beat eggs and set aside in bowl.

Mix panko with with salt and pepper and set aside in a bowl next to the eggs. Get some coconut oil hot in a large frying pan (1/2 inch thick of oil)

Drain your boiled cauliflower, pat dry with a paper towel. Season again. Dip into egg, then cover with panko then place in hot oil. Repeat.

Flip your cauliflower so it browns on each side, with tongs when removing shake off excess oil and let cool on a paper towel to remove all excess oil. Top with General Tso's sauce and chopped green onions.

Roasted Ranch Cauliflower

Shopping List (serves two)
1/2 Head cauliflower
Salt and Pepper
1/2 lemon
1/2 small packet of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning
Olive oil
Capers (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl toss your cauliflower florets in salt and pepper, about 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice (from your half lemon), and 1/2 a small packet of ranch seasoning.

Spread florets evenly on cookie sheet and bake until toasty and brown (about 30 minutes). Flip occasionally so florets brown evenly.

Sprinkle in capers if you like (I love capers)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Grilled Shrimp Salad (with a Light Thai Peanut Dressing) and 5 Tips to Eat Less

I don't typically write about healthy meals.

Not because I don't eat healthy food, but because I like to think of this blog as a place to find food for entertaining or even at times ... decadence.

But just like everyone else in the world right now ... I'm on a diet.  I can't make cupcakes, or cheesy melty chili dogs, or even high calorie cocktails like chocolate jello shots.

So .... while the rest of the world is with me, on a quest to take off a few inches, I thought I would share with you this awesome salad and few tips I live by to eat less.

1. Fill your plate with veggies. Let's say my fiance and I are having a turkey burger with no bun for dinner with a cucumber side salad. Typically I have so much cucumber on the side of my plate there is hardly any room for the burger. It helps me stay full and I "feel" like I had a huge dinner, when in reality it was just a whole lot of veggies.

2. Use chop sticks. So I know this one sounds silly, but I bet you have heard about eating your food slowly right? By eating slower, you’ll consume fewer calories and feel full faster. This is easier said than done. UNLESS it's hard to even pick up your food! I use chop sticks for salads and noodles and basically any dish I can. Try it, it works!

3. Spice it up. Spicy foods contain chemical compounds that boost your metabolism. I add spice to almost everything I make, a little bit of red pepper flakes or Sriracha Sauce can go a long way!

4. Drink water.  Juice, wine, DIET SODA. These are all no-no's in my book. Empty calories. Drink water with all meals. Zero calories and it is good for your body.

5. Don't be too hard on yourself. All celebrities have a cheat day. I have one too. Don't be too hard on yourself. Eating well has to be a lifestyle not a binge diet. Give yourself some room to enjoy some of your favorite things once and while.

Shopping List (serves 1)
1/2 bag mixed greens (I like the spring mix with spinach)
5 grilled shrimp (I used a tablespoon of  coconut oil on my grill pan for more flavor. It was awesome)
1 lime

Dressing: (will have left over dressing for salads for the week)
1/4 cup light soy sauce
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons low fat, low cal peanut butter (I use Better 'n Peanut Butter)
1 teaspoon Sriracha Sauce
1 handful chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime

Add all of your dressing ingredients to a blender and blend until combined. Taste test to your liking.

Grill your shrimp on a grill pan with coconut oil until they are just pink with a slight char.

Fill a deep small bowl with salad and top with shrimp, about two tablespoons of dressing and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Keep a lime on the side to squeeze on for more flavor whenever you want more. (I looooove lime with Asian inspired flavors)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Cassava Cake

On Christmas this year I had my very first piece of cassava cake, a Filipino dessert made from shredded cassava root (or yucca) and coconut milk.

Now I know it looks kind of plain... but you have to listen to me... It's so good.

This cake is light, sweet and soft, kind of like Thai sticky rice or flan, but better (is that possible?).

We craved the cake for days, until we had to go to a Filipino market and pick up some cassava so I could try it on my own. I used fresh cassava root instead of the frozen stuff hoping this would help it taste more authentic!

Of course, it turns out  this is not necessary, just get the frozen stuff folks. Experts in real deal Filipino food tell me the frozen stuff even tastes better.

I was worried that much like my attempt at pancit, it would take awhile to pull it off, but guess what? It was easy!

This video from Panlasang Pinoy helped me through the process, I changed the recipe a little bit though, no shredded cheese in mine, I swapped it for more coconut flavor.

Shopping List (makes two pie pans)
2 packs shredded cassava (about 2 lbs total weight)
1/2 cup condensed sweetened milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 can coconut milk
1/2 can evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1 tablespoon cream of coconut

1/2cup condensed milk
3 egg whites
4 table spoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two circular pie pans.

In a large bowl add all of your ingredients except the coconut milk (shredded cassava, butter, condensed milk, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs,  shredded coconut and cream of coconut) and mix thoroughly with a large spoon or fork.

Add coconut milk to the combined ingredients and mix again. To make the topping mix all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. 

Pour into pie pans and bake for 50 minutes.

Take the cassava cakes out of the oven and evenly pour topping on each. Bake for 10 more minutes.

Let cake cool completely before serving. At least 3 hours in the refrigerator.  The consistency will not be right if the cake is warm.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Bacon Cupcakes: Sunny Side Up

I wish that my post today actually matched up with my new year resolutions.

My goals this year include; eating yogurt for breakfast everyday, eating only veggies for lunch and running a half marathon.

Bacon cupcakes just don't seem to fit in with those goals do they?

But I do want to worry less and try to be more positive about life and it's ever approaching challenges.

I guess we could call this a  "Sunny Side Up" approach.  Maybe?

Truthfully, they were just so cute I had to make them.  (Thank you to my future mother in law for the Betty Crocker cupcake book for Christmas!)

These cupcakes would be awesome to serve for a brunch or breakfast birthday party. Of course I love anything sweet and savory so I would eat them any time and place.

I used a regular white cake box mix but added some bacon and maple syrup. The egg yolk is a butterscotch candy. The "pepper" on the "egg" frosting is poppy seeds.

Shopping List
(makes about 18 cupcakes)
White box cake mix
3 egg whites
9 pieces of crispy crumbled bacon
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup water
2, 8 oz packages of cream cheese (room temperature)
Confectioners sugar to taste (about 1 or 2 cups)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, line your cupcake pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl mix your cake mix, egg whites, water, coconut oil and maple syrup with an electric hand mixer.

Cook your bacon until it's crispy (microwave or pan fry, but make sure it's not greasy) and rough chop into small chunks.

Mix your bacon bits lightly into your batter with a spoon. Fill your liners with the batter, about 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for 15-22 minutes or until they pass the tooth pick test.

While baking make your frosting. In a large bowl add your cream cheese and sugar. Mix until combined and until you achieve the sweetness you desire. Remember this is a sweet and savory cupcake so it can still resemble cream cheese, just a sweetened version.

After cupcakes are baked and cooled top them with the cream cheese frosting and butterscotch candy. Sprinkle poppy seeds and serve.
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