Monday, December 30, 2013

Beet, Goat Cheese and Walnut Tart

I love the holiday season. There are just so many wonderful things going on! Celebrating Jesus's birthday, spending time with family and friends, and of course making lot's of delicious food. I love any opportunity to try out new recipes and the holiday season gives me lot's of opportunities for that. My mom and I whipped together this tasty tart for Christmas. It served as the perfect appetizer and just looks so beautiful! It'd be a great thing to make for New Years tomorrow :)

Beet, Goat Cheese and Walnut Tart
Adapted from Alexandra Cooks

Tart Dough

1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon kosher salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and well chilled
4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and the salt. Quickly cut the butter into the flour, using a pastry blender or the back of a fork, until the butter pieces are the size of large peas.
2. Add the ice water. Using just your fingertips and working quickly, combine the flour mixture and the water. Work just until the water is absorbed. The dough will be ragged but should hold together when you squeeze it. If it seems dry, sprinkle on a few more drops of water.
3. Gather the dough up into a ball — it’s fine if the dough does not come together completely at this time. Wrap the dough well in plastic wrap, flatten it a bit, and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least a half hour before rolling. The dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. You can also freeze the dough, well wrapped; allow it to defrost for a day in the refrigerator before using it.
4. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Roll the dough into a large circle — large enough to overlap whatever sized tart pan you are using. Press the dough into the corners and into the sides of the tart pan. Trim off any excess dough. Line the tart with plastic wrap and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Fold plastic up and over to expose the crust. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Remove beans from tart.
Meanwhile Prepare the Tart.
2 to 3 small beets (about 2 heaping cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper1 tablespoon unsalted butter or olive oilmedium onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons dry white wine (or Sherry or Madeira)
large eggs1/2 cup heavy cream
2 ounces fresh goat cheese
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
About 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1. Heat the oven to 450°F. Wash the beets. Place the beets in a small ovenproof pan (like a brownie pan or a pie plate.) Add water to reach 1/8-inch up the sides. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Bake until the beets are tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 45 minutes.
2. Allow the beets to cool. Rub the skins off of the beets with your fingers, then dice the beets into small cubes. (Be careful, as beet juice can stain counters, towels, and even your hands; you may want to wear gloves for this step.)
3. Heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion, season with a little salt, and cook, stirring every few minutes, until the onion is just tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add the alcohol and cook for another minute, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. 
4. Heat the oven to 350°F. Add the beets, onions and walnuts to the blind-baked tart shell.
5. Whisk together the eggs and cream, season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and carefully pour over the beets and onion, letting the mixture seep evenly into the beets. Dot the goat cheese all over the top of the tart. Put the tart on a baking sheet and bake it for 35-40 until just set. Sprinkle the tart with the chopped parsley and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Final Notes: If you can roast the beets ahead of time and prepare the tart shell (or make the tart dough) in advance, this tart can be assembled in no time.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Cookies!!!

Who doesn't like christmas cookies!?!?! There are SO many delicious ones out there to try. I swear I've tried a new one almost every day since I've been home. My favorite? Well that's just impossible. I love cookies cause they're little and it's not like having to commit to a whole piece of cake or something. The only bad thing is, once you start trying one you have to try them all to see which one you like best! I am so glad that overlarge sweaters are fashionable in the wintertime... My mom and I made these cookies for christmas gifts this year! It was so much fun to bake with her. I love you mom!

Peppermint Pinwheels
Recipe from The Shine Project

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough
  • 3 tablespoons milk
Sift together the flour, salt and baking powder and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar together in another large bowl. Add egg, vanilla, milk, and peppermint extract, and beat until incorporated. Gradually add the dry mixture, beating until combined. Remove half of the mixture from the bowl. Add red food coloring, beating until fully combined. You may have to knead the colored dough a bit to get it mixed thoroughly. On a sheet of waxed paper, roll out dough to form a large rectangle, about 1/4-inch thick. Repeat this step with the other half of uncolored dough with no food coloring.

Now very carefully, slide the red dough on top of the white dough and slide the parchment paper out. Trim edges if uneven and patch if necessary. Roll dough into a log, creating a swirl effect. NOTE: do not worry if the dough starts to tear a little when you are rolling it. This is normal. Simply mend it with your fingers as you go along.

Now place a generous amount of sprinkes in a shallow dish and roll the cookie dough log firmly over the sprinkles until they stick and its covered. Wrap tightly with saran wrap and place the dough back in the refrigerator and let chill for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Slice the dough into 1/2-inch slices and place on a parchment lined sheet tray about 1-inch apart. Bake fo2 10-15 minuets depending on how thick you sliced the cookies.

Lemon-Raspberry Fans

1 cup butter, softened
1 3-oz package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup salt
1 tsp finely shredded lemon peel
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon extract
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup raspberry or blueberry or preserves

In a large mixing bowl beat butter and cream cheese until combined. Add sugar and salt and beat until fluffy. Beat in lemon peel, vanilla, and lemon extract until combined. Beat in cornstarch. Beat in flour. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill for 1 -2 hours or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 F. On a lightly floured surface roll each dough half to 1/8 inch thickness. Using a 2 1/2 inch round cookie cutter, cut out dough. Place cutouts 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. 

Spoon 1/2 tsp of jam onto the center of each round. To shape fans, bring opposite sides of each dough round up over the jam and ppinch them together where they meet, forming a point at one end.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are light brown. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute and transfer to a wire rack. Makes about 54 cookies.

Snickerdoodle Croissant Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
2 3 oz packages of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt
1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 tsp ground nutmeg
Powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar for dusting

In a large bowl, beat butter and cream cheese. Add the 1/2 cup brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Beat until combined. Beat in flour. Divide dough into thirds. Shape each portion into a disk. Cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 350 F. On a lightly floured surface roll each dough portion into a 9-inch circle. Lightly brush each circle with milk. In a small bowl stir together nuts, the 2 Tbsp brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle nut mixture over the dough circles to within 1/2 inch of edges. Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut each circle into 12 wedges. Starting from the wide end, roll up each wedge. Bend rolls to shape them into crescents. Place crescents 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 14-16 minutes or until bottoms are light brown. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes and transfer to a wire rack. When cool sprinkle with powdered sugar. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Caramel Ovolmaltine Popcorn

This is seriously some of the best popcorn I've ever eaten. And mind you I've eaten a LOT of popcorn. Ya know how people ask, what food would you eat for the rest of your life if you could only eat one food? Well, my answer is always popcorn. That being said, I've been to many, many a popcorn store and tried so many different kinds of popcorn that I can't even begin to recount the flavors. So, when I say that this is some of the best popcorn I've ever eaten, that is a serious statement! Lacey and I came up with this fantastic combo of flavors when we made this in Brazil. Even though I made it here and loved it, it's just not quite as good as when I eat it in Brazil for some reason...prolly cause it doesn't have Lacey's special touch ;) I miss you Lacey!

Caramel Ovalmaltine Popcorn

8 cups of popped popcorn
Caramelo popcorn package OR 8 caramel candies, melted in a bowl
1/3 cup chocolate chips, melted in a bowl
Ovolmaltine powder, preferably with the crunchies

In a large bowl, drizzle the popcorn with the caramel sauce and chocolate. Sprinkle with cinnamon, ovalmaltine and salt. Toss well to combine. Eat up!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Pão de Mel (Honey Bread)

It's cold outside so what better excuse to be inside baking! My mom and I embraced this excuse wholeheartedly last Saturday and LITERALLY spent the entire day baking. It was so so much fun. We also took every excuse to clean the spatulas and mixing bowls before the dishwasher claimed them...;) Of the five different cookies we made, this was probably the most intense. But oh so worth the intensity. They are just so cute and taste delicious! I got this recipe when I visited Missão CENA's rehabilitation farm outside of São Paulo. Thank you Davi for writing out the recipe for me!! Spice up your Christmas traditions with this traditional Brazilian treat!

Pão de Mel (Honey Bread)

1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 cup water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup milk
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 cup pure honey
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 egg whites


1 can sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup shredded coconut
1 Tbsp butter

4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted in a double boiler at 32º C or 89.5º F (for the topping)

1. Lightly grease a muffin tin (I used a baby muffin tin). Preheat oven to 350º F (180º C).
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir the brown sugar and water just until the sugar dissolves (Remember: You are NOT making a simple syrup).  Remove from heat and set aside until cool.  In a medium bowl, whisk the sifted flour and spices. Slowly whisk the flour mixture into the water-sugar mixture.  Add the cocoa powder and oil, whisking well.  Dissolve both the baking soda and powder in milk and add to the batter.  Add in the beaten yolks, honey, salt, and vanilla, stirring until combined.
3. In a mixer, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the beaten egg whites into the batter in 2-3 different additions to make the batter more aerated.  Put into the tin (fill each well 1/2 full) and bake for about 20 minutes (standard) or 12 minutes for baby muffins. Test cakes with a toothpick: insert in the center of the cake to see if it comes out clean.  Do not overbake  or overmix because the cakes will turn out dry.
4. While the cakes are baking, make the filling. Bring milk and butter to a simmer in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Continue to cook, stirring often, until the milk has reduced to half and thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the coconut, and allow to cool a bit.
5. When cakes are cool, using a serrated/bread knife, remove top of the cakes (you can save them and make sandwich cookies or whoopie pies). Next, slice the cakes into 3 layers (just in half if you're making baby muffins).  Spread them with the coconut filling.  When cakes are assembled, brush them with simple syrup (this will help avoid releasing crumbs into the melted chocolate and will keep the cakes moist).

6. Place the cake on a fork and bathe in the melted chocolate (if the chocolate needs thinning, stir in some vegetable shortening while it is melting). Place on a rack with a baking sheet underneath, and let excess chocolate drain off of the cake onto the baking sheet below.  Transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and let the chocolate set in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes. You can then decorate them however you wish! I just used sprinkles, but feel free to get creative!

*You can make whatever filling you want for these cakes. Other traditional fillings are brigadeiro or doce de leite.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Gingerbread Eggnog Pumpkin Pie

DROOOOOOOOOOOOL. I have been absolutely dying to make this recipe ever since I found it back in October. But alas, I couldn't really make it in Brazil...So, to make up for it, I made one yesterday and one today because it was truly that good. This pie will most definitely be a tradition for me from now on. It's just packed with flavor and oh so fluffy! I love it because it takes all the greatest flavors of the season; gingerbread, eggnog, and pumpkin, and makes something even greater! You WILL regret not making this pie.

Gingerbread Eggnog Pumpkin Pie
Recipe adapted from Thumb in Plum

Pie Shell:

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 Tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 small egg
1/4 cup molasses
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest

In a small bowl whisk together dry ingredients (flour to cloves). In a large mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and egg until well blended. Add in molasses, vanilla, and lemon zest. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator while you prepare the pie filling.

Pie Filling:

1 can pumpkin puree (1 3/4 cups)
3 eggs
1 cup eggnog
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), melted
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp salt
*if you don't have ginger/cinnamon/cloves substitute 2 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Preheat oven to 450 F. In a large bowl, beat eggs with a whisk. Add in remaining pie filling ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Remove the gingerbread dough from the fridge and place on a floured workspace. Using plenty of flour so your rolling pin doesn't stick, roll out the dough into a circle, about a 1/4 inch thick. Unroll it onto a greased 9 inch pie pan, press the dough gently into the pan so there are no spaces between dough and pan. Cut the dough hanging off the edges. Use the extra dough to make gingerbread men or leaves to decorate the crust like I did.

Pour the pie filling into your prepared crust. Make a foil ring to cover all the exposed crust to keep it from burning (the gingerbread is very tricky, if any dough is hanging down it WILL burn). Put into the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 F and bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the filling is cooked through and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Smoky Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Herbed Chickpea Dumplings

I had another roasted vegetable adventure again today! This time, instead of eating em straight up, I popped em into some soup! This soup is probably unlike any other soup you've ever eaten. The smoked paprika really gives it a unique flavor. The herbed dumplings in it also give it a fun twist. The list of ingredients may seem daunting, but I promise, it's SUPER easy to whip together.

Smoky Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Herbed Chickpea Dumplings
Recipe adapted from An Edible Mosaic
  • 1 large head of cauliflower florets, cut into bite-sized pieces 
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 medium-large onion, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot paprika (more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 4 oz tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy or tamari sauce
  • Dumplings:
  • 3/4 cup besan (chickpea flour, also known as gram flour or garbanzo bean flour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 scallion, green and white parts, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/4 cup water (or slightly more or less as needed)
  • Other:
  • Minced fresh parsley leaves, for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread the cauliflower in an even layer on a large baking sheet and roast until tender and browned in spots, about 20 to 25 minutes, tossing once halfway through.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a 5-quart pot over medium heat; add the onion and carrot and cook until slightly softened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, the bay leaves, spices (smoked paprika through black pepper),  stock, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down a bit to keep it at a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the roasted cauliflower to the soup during the last 2 minutes of simmer time. Taste the soup and add additional salt and pepper as desired.
  4. While the soup simmers, make the dumpling batter. Whisk together the besan, salt, baking powder, scallion, and parsley in a medium bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the water a little at a time until it comes together into a thick dough (about the consistency of cookie dough).
  5. Use a 1/2 tablespoon measure to drop the batter into the simmering soup. Lightly spoon a little broth over the dumplings, then cover the pot and cook until a toothpick inserted into a dumpling comes out clean, about 10 minutes.
  6. Ladle the soup into bowls, sprinkle the minced fresh parsley on top if desired, and serve.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Roasted Winter Vegetables

This is one of the things I love most about winter. Roasted vegetables. I devoured a bowl full of these veggies for lunch today and was oh so satisfied after my meal. Even the smell of them roasting is enough to satisfy me and fill me with warmth. You can make this recipe with any veggies you have on hand. And feel free to mix up the spices, this is just one of my favorite spice blends. Get creative and get roasting!

Roasted Winter Vegetables

2 large carrots, sliced into matchsticks
2 medium sweet potatoes, sliced into 1/4" rounds
2 parsnips, sliced into 1/4" rounds
1 rutabaga, sliced into 1/4" rounds
1 lb brussel sprouts, sliced in half
1 Tbsp fresh garlic, minced

1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp oregano
1 Tbsp rosemary
2 tsps basil or herbs de provence

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine chopped vegetables in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil and spices, using your hands to completely coat vegetables. Spread the vegetables on two baking sheets. Bake for 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Roasted Garlic Sage Pesto Pumpkin Soup with Spicy Fried Pumpkin Seeds

Wahoo!!! I'm back to cooking and blogging! I have SO missed doing this, but it isn't really possible for me to keep up while I'm in Brazil :/ I've been dying to make this recipe ever since I first saw it a couple months ago...but obviously that didn't happen until last night! When I got home on Tuesday night, my mom showed me these adorable little pumpkins she'd been saving for me. My mind immediately recalled this recipe and I just had to make it! And boy was it tasty. Even if you don't serve it in the cute little pumpkin bowls, it is totally worth making. Oh pumpkin how I love you!

Roasted Garlic Sage Pesto Pumpkin Soup with 
Spicy Fried Pumpkin Seeds
Recipe from Half Baked Harvest

  • 1 large sugar or pie pumpkin, cut in half and seeds removed and reserved 
  • (plus 4 small ones if you are making the pumpkin bowls)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 small shallots, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup coconut milk + 1 cup water 
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more or less to your liking)

  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Sage Pesto
  • 1 head garlic 
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/2 cup fresh sage
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese (if you do not like blue cheese sub feta or parmesan)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Fried Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • reserved pumpkin seeds from above
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • lots of salt to your tasting
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut your pumpkin in half or into fourths and reserve the pumpkin seeds for later. Place the pumpkin on a baking sheet and rub the pumpkin with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Chop off the top portion of the garlic head to reveal cloves. Peel any excess paper/skin off from the bulb of garlic. Pour about a teaspoon of olive oil on top the garlic cloves and cover with foil. Roast both the pumpkin and garlic together on the same baking sheet for 45 minutes, or until the pumpkin is fork tender and the garlic golden brown and soft. Remove from the oven and allow everything to cool five minutes. Squeeze garlic out of the paper skin into a small bowl and mash well with a fork, set aside.
  3. Scoop pumpkin off the shell and puree with 1 cup of the chicken broth until completely smooth.
  4. Heat a large pot over medium heat and add the butter and shallots. Saute the the shallots until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the thyme and cook another 30 seconds. Add the pumpkin puree, remaining chicken, coconut milk, water, cayenne, nutmeg, maple syrup and crushed red pepper. Bring the soup to a low simmer and simmer 15-20 minutes.
  5. While the soup cooks make the pesto. Add the roasted garlic, parsley, sage and pistachios to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and then stream in the olive oil. Add the cheese and pulse a few more time until combined. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. To fry the pumpkin seeds. Add the reserved pumpkin seeds to a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon coconut milk and 1 tablespoon flour. In a small bowl combine the chipotle chili powder, pepper and brown sugar. Place a skillet on the stove top and set to medium heat, add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the pumpkin seeds into the pan, but be careful! Stir the pumpkin seeds around in the skillet with a wooden spoon continuously until they expand and start to brown. Once the seeds are browned remove from the skillet and place on a paper towel to drain. Toss with the spice mixture and a good pinch of salt. Taste and season accordingly.
  7. To assemble the soup, ladle the soup into bowls (or your roasted pumpkins) and top each bowl with a dollop of pesto, a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and if desired drizzle with coconut milk. 
  8. To make the roasted pumpkin soup bowls. Remove the tops of the pumpkin and scoop out the seeds. Rub the insides of the pumpkins with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes or just until soft to touch but not falling in.