Wednesday, August 11, 2010

hooray for mango sorbet

Before the blistering summer sun melts away, before the leaves start to turn and the school buses start to run, you must make this recipe.
In fact I command you to make this recipe.
I got the idea to make this from a coworker who brought in some mangoes to snack on. They were sweet and fresh and delicious and I thought: this could easily be the most refreshing frozen concoction.
It is.
I am an ice cream girl myself, but sometimes there is a craving for icy cold slush.
The flavor of this sorbet is nothing gourmet or extravagant. It isn't about 12 ingredients and 5 different tastes hitting your tongue. One spoonful of this sorbet and you get nothing but fresh, bright, beautiful, sweet refreshing mango. It screams out MANGO! to your tastesbuds.
(Yes, I have sat on the beach eating this sorbet. And yes, it was as heavenly as it sounds.)
But you really need the blistering summer sun to tempt you, to make you want to make this. Which is why I say hurry!
Unless you're lucky enough to be a South Florida resident in which case you can probably enjoy this up until Christmas.
True story: I wore shorts last Christmas Day. I'm not proud of that.
But back to the sorbet (and mango-picking).

Mango Sorbet
To pick a ripe mango! Pressing on it should leave a slight indentation and the smell should be of this sugary, saccharine sweet mango. In the second batch I made the mangoes weren't as sweet-smelling, but it tasted just as amazing. Do make sure about that indentation, though. You want them soft.

3 ripe mangoes, peeled and diced
3/4 c sugar
3/4 c water
2 T lemon juice

1. Place mangoes in blender.
2. Heat up water and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add to mangoes.
3. Add in lemon juice and puree until smooth.
4. Pour through a sieve to make sure no bit of skin or pit made its way in.
5. Cool completely.
6. Pour into ice cream maker and churn 20 minutes.

Throw in a couple of tablespoons of tequila and swap the lemon juice for lime juice and I'm thinking mango margarita sorbet is your next favorite recipe.

Monday, August 9, 2010

the makings of a great pizza

I am a pizza purist at heart. But I'm growing older and I think my taste buds are saying "No, no! you're not really a pizza purist. You want change! You want more!".
And so now I love nothing more than a bunch of crap on a pizza. Well, not exactly crap, but you know.
Like wednesday night out at my friend's house. Dinner came in the form of a pizza dough and random roaming vegetables in her fridge.
It was incredibly delicious. I do not lie.
The movie on the other hand? Not so much.
And the bit where her puppy ate a frog? Oh, that was a hoot.
But back to the pizza: Take note. Take action.
First: a little compromise (and a bit of blur). San Marzano tomato sauce and basil pesto.
And then a good bit of cheese.

Followed by tomato slices and chicken.
And then some caramelized onions. And bacon. And asparagus. And some broccoli.
And just for the hell of it: how about a snow of parmesan right on top?
Hel-lo divine.
450F for about 10 minutes. 375F for maybe 15-20 more. Surprisingly, with all the goodness on top, it is not hard to eat a slice. It wilts down a good bit, but that does not make it any less fabulous.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

baking delight

it's a baking frenzy!
ok, so maybe not a frenzy.
but perhaps more like organizing.
yes, organizing.
shuffling through tons of never-tried recipes and getting them out of the way.
like these absolutely incredible coconut-vanilla bean cupcakes.

they are moist and delectable, they're crumbly and there is a subtle, almost sexy, taste of coconut that just whispers throughout.
this was a recipe my friend made first and told me about.
though I will admit, I'm not a fan of piles of frosting. a bit too much butter for my taste. these would probably be just as amazing with, say, a thin layer of white chocolate ganache draped over the top.

the crisp shortbread base serves as a perfect vehicle for the ooey gooey chocolate dulce de leche custard right on top. almost reminiscent of frosting, but better. sooo much better. finger-lickin oozy better.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

birthday gouda

if i may, one of my favorite things: the cheese tidbits basket at whole foods.
i had my hands full of daisies that, yes, i was buying myself for my birthday when i noticed a perfect little knob of $2 gouda robusto in that odds-and-ends cheese basket sent down from heaven.
and so i grabbed it, and my daisies, and headed home.
daisies all over my house, a book on my lap, and gouda and crackers by my side.
sometimes, life is good.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

organic cow!

upon learning about the opening of the organic burger joint, Elevation, in Coral Springs, I grabbed my foodie galpal and we headed out.
I love a good cheeseburger. and I mean loooove.
my favorite meal is a greasy, cheesy, gooey cheeseburger. my wish for a last meal would be a greasy, cheesy, gooey cheeseburger. and crispy fries.
it's a cute little place with simple tables and chairs and a big menu hovered right above the registers.
the beef is advertised as 100% usda organic beef, ground right on premises. the fries are fried in 100% olive oil.
we both ordered the simple, single-patty cheeseburger and a side of french fries to share.

of course in perusing the menu we wanted just about one of everything, but resisted temptation. except for the chocolate chip oatmeal pecan cookies made with organic butter and eggs.
too bad they were out. sigh.
but it's ok. we got our chocolate fix with milkshakes and fresh banana add-ins. though options ranged from mango to guava and ice cream options were vanilla and coffee. coffee!
the burger was nice: a thin patty with crisp edges and a piece of cheddar cheese lay sweetly right on top.

the fries were slightly disappointing in that there wasn't any backdrop of olive oil flavor. still, a fry is a fry and a fry is delicious.
the milkshake was super rich and chocolatey and drinking the whole thing resulted in a little upset stomach.

sun sentinel food critic john blahblahblah stated the burger was incredibly juicy and the service was excellent.
yet another reason why I don't like the shmuck.
no, the burger wasn't that juicy. it was good, yes. amazing? not entirely.
and the service? my burger and my galpal's burger came out at completely separate times. along with the fries.
and my milkshake? that didn't make it out until way after my burger did.
maybe it deserves another shot. maybe I'm too much of a cheeseburger elitist. and if an organic one can't woo me, then what can?
oh I'm not so bad.
and neither is Elevation.

Monday, April 5, 2010

italian. ish.

so it's not exactly photogenic.
but it is delicious.
and cheesy and filling and gooey get the idea.
a couple of lasagna sheets, cooked. some browned up sausage, onions, garlic, carrots, mushrooms. some tomato sauce. a handful of spinach tossed right in to wilt into the concoction.
a schmear of ricotta, a heaping spoonful of the sausage mix, and a good roll.
carefully lay them down into your baking dish and cover with a little mountain of cheese.
it'll brown and bubble. it'll meld and melt and the flavors will meet and become friends and when you pull it out of the oven, it will be steaming hot and perfectly delicious.
serve it up with your typical garlic bread and it's a delightful meal. italian-ish and molto buona.
I couldn't help myself.
just like I can't help but to love this dish.
quick advice, though: don't burn the garlic bread. that's not molto buona...

Monday, March 22, 2010

the real deal

inside this perfectly blue goodie bag, inside this little personalized package of happiness lies a heaping batch of the now infamous, delightfully delicious chocolate-caramel-oatmeal-peanut butter bars.

the coworker came back home with a big box of these in tow, each one personalized for its adoring fan.
what a perfect little gift.
they were even better than Iremembered. and savoring each crumbly, chewy bite, I took mental notes. I wanted to know precisely where my knockoffs went wrong and how I could perfect them.
funny enough, I wasn't too far off.

but these were crispier. the dough layers are studded with chopped almonds and oats. there is a subtle hint of peanut butter that happily melds into the nooks and crannies, sits there and delightfully gets along with every other flavor.
the center layer is an ooey-gooey river of caramel. perfectly constructed caramel that doesn't get hard or taste burned. it remains soft, gooey, sticky-sweet and divine.
the chocolate chips nestle right in. fabulous little surprises.
I savored each bite. I made sure to make them last as long as possible.
these are such a delight and such a complete treat when ever I do have them.

and when you come across something like that, you are one lucky gal.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

hear ye!

ladies and gentlemen, behold my very first turkey leg!

almost as big as my head, no??
and delicious!
it was smoky and crispy and moist and juicy and perfectly seasoned.
and so of course, while I was frolicking around the Renaissance Festival, I just could not pass up the deep fried oreos.

Oh yes, I went there.
Deep fried.
And dusted with a mass of powdered sugar. Perfect little pillows nestled right in my paper basket.
The chocolate melts inside and you're left with a crispy, doughy bite and an ooey-gooey chocolatey center. It doesn't ooze out chocolate, it's just a warm chocolate center surrounded by this fluffy outer layer of dough.
It's fabulous.
It's so wrong, it's right.
Here's the problem with fairs and festivals: I wish I could somehow own a second stomach that I could use only in these kinds of instances where the food surrounding me tempts me and calls my name and I want nothing more than to scarf it all down.
Like the kettle corn, with its nutty, sweet scent wafting through the air. I get lifted and carried right to it. Or the funnel cake! Or smoked sausages. Or just everything...
Makes me want to plan another trip next weekend just for the food.
And perhaps, also, a wax hand.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

budding buds

can I tell you how excited i am about springtime??
and my seeds?
and the green little stems poking right through the dirt, saying "hello sunshine! I am here and I am alive!"?
I cannot wait to go outside and pick off some lettuce leaves or basil leaves or cilantro stems or carrots or leeks or whatever else I planted!
oh christmas present, I love you.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

everything's better with bacon!

likewise, everything's better with a little smoked paprika!
oh yes.

Monday, February 22, 2010

my new best friend

there's someone I'd like you to meet.
you've met him before, but perhaps not like this.
he's even better this time around and you will quite possibly love him.
here's the deal with picky eaters:
chances are you don't like something because all you've known is a badly prepared vegetable.
most of us don't like green beans because all we've ever known is the greenish-yellowish, limp tubes sitting on the corner of our lunch trays at school.
most of us don't like mushrooms because all we've ever known is that unindentifiable goopy, gray sludge out of a cream of mushroom soup can.
in order for food to be loved, it needs to be treated with love.
try tasting a perfectly seared mushroom with a good sprinkle of salt and then telling me you don't like it.
or a caramelized brussel sprout. or a sauteed, bright green, crisp green bean.
so let's talk broccoli.

here's a vegetable that, unless smothered in cheese, is disliked by almost everybody.
including me.
but broccoli can truly be delicious if just given the chance.
take a big head of broccoli and hack away until you get little florets.
and please do not throw away the stems. they give remarkable flavor to soups.
spread the florets out on a sheet tray.
olive oil (you don't need much). salt. pepper. maybe even garlic powder if you're feeling wild and frisky.
roast it. roast it for about 20 minutes at 400degrees.
the edges will get dark and crisp and irresistably delicious.
right at the 20 minutes, take out the tray and sprinkle on some grated parmesan cheese. throw it back in the oven for about a minute more.
the cheese will melt and give the broccoli and even crispier outer coating, along with another layer of salt.
plate it up with, say, a vegetable rice pilaf and some breaded chicken cutlets, and I think you've got yourself an absolutely perfect tuesday night dinner.

so say hello to broccoli, your new best friend.

though I must confess: no matter how you cook em, I just loathe peas.

Friday, February 19, 2010

oh good fortune!

thank you, fortune cookie. thank you.

Monday, February 15, 2010


valentine's day has come and gone.
after the card exchanges

and the horrible, exhausting day at work,
I stumbled in at around 1:30am, showered, jumped into my favorite purple whale pajamas, and sat down to an incredibly delicious meal.

the beef was tender and flavorful, the puff pastry was light, crisp, flaky, the duxelle was savory, rich, robust, the mashed potatoes were fluffy (he does make the best...), the green beans still had a bite and the bacon and almonds just added on to the flavor, and I was a happy, happy girl.
along with lovely red roses. in a pitcher I found at TJMaxx for $5 that I just could not resist.

I knew I married him for a reason...)
Dessert was a rather dry (sorry to say) chocolate cupcake from Stork's that I co-worker so thoughtfully got for me.
Either way, I fell into bed with a full, happy that (almost) made me pay no mind to my achy, sore muscles.
Or the fact that the $10 gift limit was slightly bent. But that's ok. Rules were made to be broken, no?
Sigh. Swoon.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

elusive healthy dinners

newlywed natalia would like to get back to healthy eating and healthy cooking and grab hold of that seemingly oh-so-unattainable six pack (of abs).
instead I just get lazy.
and hubby gets lazy.
and the last thing we want to bother with after a late, long day is cooking.
because at this moment, yes, our fridge is full of stuff, but nothing that really makes much sense.
about 20 beers left over from the super bowl, half of a coconut cream pie, and some salsa.
so instead we opt for the dinner cop-out.

we need a good kick in the ass, I know.
I know..
but it was good if that counts for anything.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

the fake fendi

I've got a little confession to make.
these chocolate-caramel-oatmeal bars are a total knockoff.

christmas baking, 2009.
a coworker brought in a famous batch of her mother's cookie bars loaded with oatmeal, peanut butter, chocolate chips, caramel. the works.
and they were all the rage.
so I just had to try one for myself...only to realize, they were all right. it was gooey and creamy and crunchy and just plain amazing.
like that delicious cookie at the cookie swap that everybody can't stop talking about, can't get enough of.
and so I begged for the recipe.
and begged and begged.
and nothing.
until betty crocker came to the rescue, that is.
a similar recipe just happened to pop up one day and I wondered "hmm...this could be it.".
it had the feel of a homey, down-to-earth, no fuss, no frills kind of recipe.
betty crocker could be it!
it's not.
at all.
but that's ok, because just like that knockoff purse, it fills the least a little bit.
and it's not like these aren't totally delicious either, because they are.
I adapted the recipe a bit because the original had a thin layer of gooey caramel running through the middle. along with chocolate chips tucked perfectly in.
warm right out of the oven with a glass of ice cold can't go wrong.
besides, to those who never had the original and don't know the difference, these are authentically delicious.

Betty Crocker's Peanut Butter Chocolate Jumble Bars
adapted from Betty Crocker

1 pouch Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie mix
1/3 c butter, softened
1 egg
1 c quick-cooking oats
1/2 c chocolate chips
about 25-30 caramels, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375degreesF.
2. Make dough by blending cookie mix, butter, egg, and oats. Reserve one cup of dough.
3. Press remainder of dough onto the bottom of a 9x9 pan. Spread caramel over and the sprinkle chocolate chips on top.
4. Press remaining dough on top of caramel-chocolate chip mixture. Make sure to cover caramel as best as you can or else it may burn in the oven if really exposed.
5. Bake about 15-20 minutes. It may take longer but I seem to have Super Oven.

These are truly delicious warm, but I also can't help but gobble them up after they've sat in the fridge a couple of hours to firm up. Either way, a total treat.
Thanks, Betty!