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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lindt Lindor Truffles

Lindt makes some amazing Lindor chocolate truffles. So amazing that I had to blog about them! These truffles come in dark, milk, and white chocolate as well as peanut butter, raspberry, hazelnut, and mint. For they holidays, Lindt carries peppermint and snowman flavored slow melting fillings. These treats are absolutely irresistible and the perfect gift to share with loved ones this time of year.


Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

This sauce goes good with everything. The bold and romantic red color, thick and full-bodied texture, and immediately mouthwatering flavor is absolutely to die for.

Take a red bell pepper and wrap it in aluminum foil. Place it on the top shelf of your oven and broil until the exposed portion is burnt and black.



Rotate the pepper until all sides are broiled evenly and then remove from the oven.

Carefully (the pepper will be hot) remove the blackened skin from the pepper as well as the stem and seeds.  



Pour 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar (I used Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar from Navidi’s) and 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a blender with the remaining roasted red pepper and blend well and serve.

My boyfriend and I used the Roasted Red Pepper Sauce as dip with our Steamed Artichoke appetizer and soaked up the rest with a warm baguette. 

Steamed Artichoke

Artichokes are actually very simple to prepare and eat although their appearance might seem a little intimidating. I searched how to steam these peculiar vegetables on Google and the hit that came up was a family friend's blog who resides in St. Louis, Missouri. What are the odds, right?

Alanna is a renown blogger who owns A Veggie Venture and Kitchen Parade.  She helped my Mother get started blogging, who now owns My Own Sweet Thyme. A few years later... my Mom had inspired me to get started in the blogging world. 

I had the opportunity to visit Alanna this last summer in St. Louis, Missouri. We started talking blog business one morning over iced coffee and breakfast mango smoothies on her patio at her home. There, she helped to get the blogging bomb ticking and left me with some very good ideas on getting started. 

Now, here I am with Brie My Love. And Alanna is again, helping me along my way in blog land with how to make a steamed artichoke and she doesn't even know it... [= 

Steamed Artichoke
Adapted from Alanna's Artichoke Recipe

Cut off the stem, wash, and peel off any browning leaves. Trim up the sharp tips if you think you might get hurt. 

Place the artichoke in a microwave safe dish and cover with a microwave safe lid. Microwave anywhere from 5-8 minutes for one artichoke.

Check and see if the artichoke is soft and if the meat from an inside leaf scrapes off easily with your teeth. If so, it is done. If not, return to the microwave until it is soft enough to easily remove the edible portions.



Steamed Artichoke goes great with my Roasted Red Pepper Sauce as an appetizer. 

Clementine Salad

It’s that time of year when Cuties are available and juicier than ever. Clementines (a variety of mandarin orange) are a seasonal favorite of mine.

I decided to make a salad out of these orange, citrusy festivities to go with my Lovely Lasagna I made last weekend.

I simply tossed together a bag of lettuce, slivers of red onion, a few peeled clementine pieces, feta cheese, and toasted hazelnuts with Navidi's Blood Orange Balsamic Vinegar and Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar to taste. It made for the perfect accompaniment to my Lovely Lasagna. 


Lovely Lasagna

Last week I made plans to go snowboarding with my boyfriend Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I was extremely stoked to spend quality time shredding snow with my boyfriend who happens to be an amazing snowboarder and snowboard instructor.

Last winter, my boyfriend invited me to go snowboarding in Lake Tahoe with him at Heavenly. He really took care of me. He and his sister provided me with everything I would need to enjoy myself (board, bindings, goggles, gloves, waterproof pants, and even a cabin to crash at) and then he stuck with me and gave me personalized lessons the entire week. He really wanted me to learn to enjoy his favorite sport. At the end of my stay with him in Tahoe, he gifted me the snowboard he had let me borrow all week. What a keeper, right?

Now a year has passed and we are still making plans to go snowboarding together.

I had already scheduled the day off work on Monday and my boyfriend had already bought train tickets to come down from Seattle and visit. Everything was going to be absolutely perfect…

Until the weather forecast came out for the weekend… And it read, “Rain, rain, and more rain.”

So we decided on a change of plans. Instead of snowboarding in slushy, icy, awful conditions, we chose to spend time together in the kitchen making delicious food and enjoying each other’s company.

So on Saturday evening, we opened up a bottle of Malbec wine and started making lasagna. We put on an Italian playlist and took over my mother’s kitchen.

He cooked the beef with plenty of fresh oregano and basil while I prepared the cheesy mix we would layer together between oodles of noodles. While we baked we munched on a warm baguette with chocolate from my Baguette & Chocolate recipe and drank Argentinean wine. After sprinkling parmesan cheese thoroughly all over the finished creation, we set it in the oven to bake into a hot, delicious mess.


Lasagna

1 (16 ounce) package lasagna noodles
1 lb lean ground beef
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 garlic clove, crushed
plenty of fresh oregano
plenty of fresh basil
½ cup minced onion
2 teaspoon salt
1 pound small curd cottage cheese
3 eggs
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until noodles are done. Drain the noodles and set aside.

Place the beef in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown.

Stir in tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, garlic, oregano, basil, onion, and salt. Simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl, combine cottage cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and shredded mozzarella.

In a 9x13 inch baking dish, place a layer of noodles on the bottom of the dish. Layer the beef, cheese, and noodles in whatever way preferred. Finish off the layers with a heavy even sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.


Cover with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes. Let the lasagna stand for 10 minutes before serving.

The result is a hearty, alimentary meal for everyone! We paired the Lasagna with my Clementine Salad recipe.

Enjoy!

Chocolate Baguette


Turn a plain baguette into heart warming treasure. Simply sandwich thick pieces of quality chocolate bar into toasted baguette slices.

The easy bake baguettes you can purchase at the grocery work perfect. I chose to use Lindt milk chocolate and Cadbury milk chocolate.

The chocolate will melt and ooze in between the warm bread with every bite. Eating this sensuous snack might get a little messy, but it is definitely worth it!

Cinnamon Rolls

Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Frosting make baking easy. Pop the can, arrange the doughy rolls in a pan, let them rise in the oven, then smother them in sensational frosting and devour! These rolls never fail to impress. And you can never have too many.


Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pambiche


My boyfriend took me out to Pambiche the first weekend I moved to Portland. I remember the night perfectly. He looked so handsome. He was wearing a sexy shirt I had bought him for his birthday that year. The night was cool but Pambiche has heated outdoor seating so we took a table outside.

We couldn't keep our hands off eachother. The table we sat at was tiny so we could hold hands sitting across from each other and kiss over our drinks of beer and Limonada de Cuarapo (Cuban ‘sugar cane lemonade’).

The server was helpful and polite. He guided us through the menu of authentic Cuban food based on traditional family recipes. We ordered Espinaca con Queso Empanadas to share as an appetizer. But when we received our meals we realized that no appetizer was necessary.

Our meals were gigantic and incredible. We both liked his meal the best: Plato Cubano—tender slices of pork simmered in a rich creole red sauce, built with bacon sofrito and scented with plump raisins and toasted almonds. I ordered the Pollo Criollo which was also fabulous, but the pork my boyfriend ordered was just so tender I couldn’t resist. And both our meals came with banana chips… a Cuban treat.

Pambiche
2811 Northeast Glisan Street
Portland, OR 97232

Hours:
Sunday-Thursday: 7am-10pm

Camembert

Recently I have been trying to explore different cheeses. During some investigation, I read that camembert cheese is very similar to brie…

Here's the facts:

Both brie and camembert are soft and made from cows milk. However, brie originates from Ile de France whereas camembert originates from Normandy. Also, camembert is supposed to have less fat than brie. And since I like to fit into my jeans, this little difference makes a big difference to me. So I decided to give it a try.

And I loved it!

Camembert has a delicate salty taste. But I believe it has a slightly bolder and more distinct flavor than brie. Give your taste buds the ultimate treat and try camembert with some crackers and red wine.

Brie & Mushroom Quiche

I've always been a huge fan of brie. I'm the type of girl to purchase a wheel of brie and devour it all. It doesn’t even matter what time of day… I’ll gladly enjoy brie for breakfast.

If your anything like me, try this Brie & Mushroom Quiche! Its a treat for brie lovers like myself.



Vodka Pie Crust
taught by my Mom

1 ¼ cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup cold vegetable shortening
1-2 tablespoons cold vodka
1-2 tablespoons cold water

Mix together flour and salt with a whisk. Cut in cold butter (cut into 6 pieces) with a pastry blender until the crumbles are pea size. Cut in shortening (cut into 3 pieces) and continue with the pastry blender until the mixture resembles course meal and the crumbles are again about pea size.

Mix cold vodka and water. Sprinkle liquid slowly over the mixture and toss with a fork until the mixture starts to hold together when pressed against the side of the bowl. NOTE: You do not necessarily need to use all of the vodka/water solution. Sprinkle sparingly until at perfect consistency.

When at the correct consistency, cover dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 10-15 minutes or until cold. Place the dough on wax paper and sandwich with plastic wrap. Roll out the dough under the plastic wrap into a circle until it is large enough to line the pie plate. Transfer the pastry to the pie plate by peeling off the under layer of wax paper and using the plastic wrap as a guide. Take off plastic wrap carefully off the crust. Then trim and form edges as desired.


Brie & Mushroom Quiche Filling
adapted from Mom's recipe

8 ounces brie cheese (rind removed)
8 ounces fresh mushrooms
2 Tablespoons finely chopped onions
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Line a 9-inch pie dish with Vodka Pie Crust. Cut brie into 1/4 inch slices and arrange over the bottom of the unbaked pie shell.

Heat the olive oil in a skillet or saucepan on medium heat. Sauté the mushroom and onion in the oil until they begin to soften. Layer these over the brie. (Be careful to remove any moisture the mushrooms may create while sautéing with a paper towel before layering over the brie).

Beat eggs slightly. Add half-and-half, salt, pepper and thyme, stirring until thoroughly combined. Pour the egg mixture into the shell over the onion, mushroom and brie.

Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn heat down to 300 degrees and continue baking for another 30 minutes or until lightly browned on the top, or a knife inserted halfway between the center and edge of the pie comes out clean. Remove from oven. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

NOTE: I recommend making the pie crust the night before. It will save a lot of time in the morning so you can get straight to the point… enjoying the quiche!

Enjoy!