Can you imagine anything more perfect? A delicate, little cream puff filled with light, airy chocolate mousse, this is heaven. Filling these with chocolate mousse is a great way to change up a traditional cream puff, and your guests will be very impressed by them! These are any kid’s, or adult’s, dream!
Speaking of kids, I made these with the help of some very special people. My aunt and cousins live in west Texas and came to stay with us for a few days on their way to Tennessee. The two little girls, Gracie and Molly, had so much fun helping me make these yummy treats.
They are the sweetest little cuties, and I always enjoy getting to spend time with them and their family!
Chocolate Mousse Cream Puffs
Make your pat a choux and bake the cream puffs.
In the mean time, make the chocolate mousse, but double the recipe so that you have some left over! (BTW, I did not have enough heavy cream to make 2 recipes of chocolate mousse, so I just beat 2 egg whites with a pinch of salt in a mixer until stiff peaks formed and used that as well as the heavy cream.)
When the cream puffs are completely cool, fill a piping bag fitted with tip#12 with the chocolate mousse and fill each cream puff. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Keep the rest of the chocolate mousse in the refigerator in ramekins wrapped with plastic wrap and save to enjoy another night.
Cheesecake is one of those things that’s really easy to mess up! When you’re making a traditional cheesecake, it can crack, or not cook through all the way….there’s just a lot of things that can go wrong. Well, this is one cheesecake recipe that is full-proof! It’s practically impossible to mess it up, and the taste is out of this world good! For all you cheesecake lovers out there, this is one recipe you MUST try.
As I mentioned before, this recipe is full-proof. You bake this cheesecake in a 9×13 baking dish, which allows the heat to be distributed more evenly than a spring-form pan. Plus, you don’t have to worry if it has a few cracks here and there because you just pour a bunch of chocolate over the top! Is there any reason not to make this?!?!
Cheesecake Bars (Bakerella)
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
3 Tablespoons packed brown sugar
6 Tablespoons melted butter
3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, softened (This recipe makes a ton of cheesecake! It’s also very easy to cut in half!)
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons flour
8 oz. sour cream
1 Tablespoon vanilla
- Chocolate Ganache
8 oz. heavy whipping cream
2 oz. butter
8 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
Mix graham crackers and sugar together. Add butter and stir until combined.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cream the sugar, cream cheese, and flour with an electric mixer on medium until light and fluffy. On medium low, add eggs one at a time, mixing well with each addition. Add sour cream and vanilla and mix until just combined.
Pour on prepared crust and bake for about 45 minutes. Remove and cool. Meanwhile, heat cream and butter on stove until just before boiling. Remove from stove and pour over chocolate. Stir until completely combined. Add confectioners’ sugar and beat with a wire whisk until combined and smooth.
Pour over cooled cheesecake. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Cut into bars and serve. Makes 30 bars. Enjoy!
This dinner was inspired by a beautiful dish I had at our local Central Market cafe; it was penne pasta with chicken, zucchini, and yellow squash swimming in a velvety, smooth alfredo sauce. I loved every second of it, and I knew that I just had to recreate the dish at home! Thus, this beautiful pasta was born! And who knew it would taste even better than the one at the cafe?!?! The combination of the rich sauce, smoky vegetables, and succulent chicken makes this to die for. Enjoy this one, guys!
Alfredo Pasta with Chicken and Veggies
- 4 chicken breasts
- 1 zucchini
- 1 yellow squash
- 1 box of button mushrooms
- 8-10 stalks of asparagus
- olive oil
- 1 lb. penne pasta
- 3 c heavy cream
- 1 stick butter
- 1 1/2 c parmesan cheese
- 1/3 c mozzarella cheese
- a handful fresh parsley, chopped
- salt and pepper
Slice all the veggies except the asparagus.
Then, put the zucchini, squash, and asparagus in a bowl with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill them until they’re tender and cooked through. (You could also roast or saute them.) When they’ve cooled down enough, cut them into bite-size pieces.
In the meantime, put the mushrooms on a sheet tray and drizzle them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast them in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown.
Grill the chicken until it is cooked through. Then once it’s cool enough to handle, shred it and put it on standby. Cook the pasta, as well.
For the alfredo sauce, combine the heavy cream and butter in a saute pan and whisk them together until the butter melts. Add the parmesan and mozzarella cheese, salt and pepper, and parsley and whisk it until the cheese melts. Add the veggies, chicken, and pasta into the pan and toss it to coat. Serve alongside crusty ciabatta bread and enjoy!
As you can probably tell, I really love food. When it’s done right, and each ingredient is used to it’s full potential, a dish can be magical. Here, I’m going to share with you a few tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your ingredients, and reach that “magical” stage.
Flour- Whenever I’m baking or using flour to cook, I always “lighten” it before I use it. This is how I do it:
…then scoop up what you just dropped!
It really makes the cake or cookies or whatever you’re making lighter and fluffier. Whether you’re using all-purpose flour, self-rising flour, cake flour, almond flour, whole-wheat flour, buckwheat flour…I could go on and on, but the point is, always be sure to lighten it!
Nuts- Whenever I use nuts, I always toast them first. You can throw them in a dry skillet and toast them over medium heat or on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees. You kow they’re done when you can smell them, and as soon as you do, pull them off the heat! Toasting the nuts really just brings out all their essential oils and makes them taste so much more fresh and flavorful.
Seeds and Spices- Coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cardamom seeds, red pepper flakes, black peppercorns, white peppercorns, cumin seeds, caraway seeds, and many other spices are so much more flavorful when they are toasted in a dry skillet, just until you can smell them, and ground up with either a mortar and pestle, or a coffee grinder dedicated just to seeds and spices!
Pasta- When boiling pasta, always be sure to salt the water ABUNDANTLY and add some really good olive oil. It makes the pasta taste so much better and keeps the noodles from sticking together.
Vegetables- Whenever I blanch vegetables, I always make sure to salt my water ABUNDANTLY and only cook them for 3-5 minutes. Then, I put them in an ice bath, consisting of a bowl filled with water and ice, that has been salted ABUNDANTLY. Again, it just makes the veggies taste good! Plus, the ice bath stops the cooking process and makes sure that the green color of the veggies is still there.
Herbs- Never use dried ones. Always go with the real deal.
Produce- Everyone has a different opinion when it comes to produce. I, personally, don’t go with the organic produce just because it tends to be a little more exprensive. If you are an organic-produce-eater, then that’s great! I love it! But for those of you like me, you can still eat the best of the best without it being labeled “organic.” Try looking at your local farmer’s market or raod-side produce stand; they will usually have the best (and cheapest) options. But if all you have is your grocery store, then just make sure that the produce is really fresh, smells like what it is, and isn’t too mushy or too hard!
Citrus- Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, etc.) are such a great ingredient to use! You can use the zest and the juice. The zest is the outside colored part of the fruit, and you can remove it a few different ways. A hand-held grater, box grater, vegetable peeler, or a citrus zester (you’ll have to chop the zest up after you use this, though) are all ways to get the zest off the citrus fruit. Just remember that you only need the colored part of the zest, the white part is bitter. And if you’re juicing citrus, either roll the fruit on the cutting board a few times while applying pressure, or stick it in the microwave for 5 seconds. This just helps loosen up all the juices inside.
I hope these help you make your dishes magical!
(Picture at the top of page URL: http://www.theluxuryspot.com/2009/07/10/nyc-restaurant-week/ I didn’t really make that! )
I’ve always wanted to try making true Cajun food, and what better place to start than a big ol’ bowl of jambalaya!?!? I have to admit, I was a little skeptical at first, but I was amazed at how much flavor was packed into just one dish!
The type of sausage that is typically used for jambalaya is called andouille (an-do-ie) sausage. It’s got a kick to it, but also has a great smoky flavor as well. If you can’t andouille sausage, then hot Italian sausage works great, too. But the andouille goes really well with the succulent shrimp, smooth rice, and tangy tomatoes.
Gulf Shrimp Jambalaya (Anne Burrell)
- 2 pounds medium gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined, shells reserved
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound andouille sausage, cut into rounds
- 2 green peppers, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 3 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 4-5 scallions, diced
- 1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- Kosher salt
- Pinch crushed red pepper
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups long-grain rice
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 1 bundle fresh thyme
For the shrimp stock (I’ll do a whole post on this later!): toss the shrimp shells in a large pot and fill with water. Add whatever “trash” you have: scallion tops, celery leaves, onion peel and root, pepper stems, whole peppercorns, salt, and some bay leaves. Bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat and let sit for at least 15 to 20 minutes, although longer is fine. Strain out the shells and everything. Make as much as possible to freeze!
Coat a large, wide pot with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Add the andouille and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the sausage starts to brown. Add the peppers, celery, and onion, and scallions to the pan, season with salt and a pinch crushed red pepper. Cook 7 to 8 minutes or until the mixture has softened and is very aromatic. Toss in the garlic and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and cayenne. Stir in the rice. Add 4 cups shrimp stock, bay leaves, and thyme bundle. Season with salt and taste it to make sure you are on the way to something delicious. Cover and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes. Stir in the shrimp and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes or until the shrimp turn pink.