Thursday, January 29, 2009

January Daring Bakers Challenge: Vanilla Tuiles with Lemon Mousse Filling & Raspberry Peach Drizzle

I am so excited to post my very first Daring Bakers Challenge! I actually joined last month, but was unable to complete the challenge due to some unforseen circumstances.

This month's challenge is brought to us by Karen of Bake My Day! and Zorra at 1x unruhren bitte aka Kochtopf. They have chosen Tuiles from The Chocolate Book by Angelique Schmeink and Nougatine and Chocolate Tuiles from Michel Roux.

I loved this challenge! It was a great one for a first, because it was simple, easy, and fun. It was also the first time I had made tuiles (pronounced "tweels"). Traditionally, tuiles are thin, crisp almond cookies that are gently molded over a rolling pin or arched form while they are still warm. Tuiles can be sweet or savory, so the possibilities with these are truly endless! If you are having some dinner guests over and need an impressive looking dessert, this one would be great to try.

But enough rambling, on to the recipe!

Vanilla Tuiles with Lemon Mousse Filling & Raspberry Peach Drizzle

Basic Vanilla Tuiles Ingredients:

65 grams / ¼ cup / 2.3 ounces softened butter (not melted but soft)
60 grams / ½ cup / 2.1 ounces sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 sachet vanilla sugar (7 grams or substitute with a dash of vanilla extract)
2 large egg whites (slightly whisked with a fork)
65 grams / 1/2 cup / 2.3 ounces sifted all purpose flour
1 table spoon cocoa powder/or food coloring of choice
Butter/spray to grease baking sheet


Preheat your oven to 350 F. Using a hand whisk or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle (low speed) and cream butter, sugar and vanilla to a paste. Keep stirring while you gradually add the egg whites. Continue to add the flour in small batches and stir to achieve a homogeneous and smooth batter/paste. Be careful to not overmix.Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to firm up. (This batter will keep in the fridge for up to a week, take it out 30 minutes before you plan to use it). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with either butter/spray and chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes. This will help spread the batter more easily if using a stencil/cardboard template such as the butterfly. Press the stencil on the bakingsheet and use an off sided spatula to spread batter. Leave some room in between your shapes. Mix a small part of the batter with the cocoa and a few drops of warm water until evenly colored. Use this colored batter in a paper piping bag and proceed to pipe decorations on the wings and body of the butterfly.Bake butterflies in a preheated oven (180C/350F) for about 5-10 minutes or until the edges turn golden brown. Immediately release from baking sheet and proceed to shape/bend the cookies in the desired shape. These cookies have to be shaped when still warm, you might want to bake a small amount at a time or maybe put them in the oven to warm them up again. (Haven’t tried that). Or: place a bakingsheet toward the front of the warm oven, leaving the door half open. The warmth will keep the cookies malleable.If you don’t want to do stencil shapes, you might want to transfer the batter into a piping bag fitted with a small plain tip. Pipe the desired shapes and bake. Shape immediately after baking using for instance a rolling pin, a broom handle, cups, cones.

Lemon Mousse Ingredients:

1/2 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 egg
6 tablespoons butter, diced
3/4 cup heavy cream, whipped


In a large, heavy bottomed stainless steel saucepan combine the lemon juice, sugar, egg yolks, egg, and butter. Over medium-high heat, whisk the mixture constantly until thickened. Strain it through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl set over ice and chill, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened. Fold in the whipped cream, wrap with plastic wrap and chill until ready to use.

Raspberry Peach Drizzle Ingredients:

1/4 cup seedless raspberry jam (I used Smuckers Simply Fruit)
1 good glug Peach Schnapps (you can also substitute peach nectar)


Combine ingredients in a small bowl, and put in the microwave for 5-10 seconds, just enough to melt the jam a little bit. Stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a small plastic baggie, and snip a small piece of the corner off to make a piping bag. Use to decorate the plate and the tuiles after they are assembled.

Tuile Assembly Directions:

1. First, prepare your tuile batter and refrigerate.

2. While the batter is in the fridge, prepare your lemon mousse. Please note that it is very important to use a stainless steel bowl (I used my stainless steel bain marie) since you are working with eggs. If you do not have a stainless steel saucepan, I would cook the lemon juice/sugar mixture until the sugar dissolves, and use a little bit of that warm mixture to temper your eggs before adding them in. Otherwise, you'll end up with scrambled eggs in your mousse, which is what happened to me the first time.

3. Bake your tuiles. I used a sheet of parchment paper, and traced around a coffee cup to use as a guide. Then, I spread on my batter in a very thin, very even layer. I only baked two at a time, because after these things come out of the oven, they firm up quick and you want them to stay malleable. I used the handles of my pizza cutter and vegetable peeler to shape them around.

4. Once your tuiles are baked and shaped, fill them with lemon mousse using a piping bag or plastic baggie with corner snipped off.

5. Put them on a plate, then prepare your raspberry drizzle and drizzle over the tuiles.

6. Serve and enjoy!

These are wonderfully tart, sweet, and yummy. Raspberry and lemon is always a great combination!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Cottage Pie

I got the recipe for this super yummy Cottage Pie from one of my favorite food blogs, Picky Palate ( I really admire Jenny and her inventive recipes. I hope to one day progress enough in my cooking to make up my own recipes more often myself.

I call this Cottage Pie because technically, it has no lamb in it, which is what makes it different from Shepherd's Pie. But really, most people in America don't differientiate it. So, if calling it Shepherd's Pie blows your skirt up, go for it. It just may not be "politically correct". Whatever that means, anyway.

This recipe is really, really good. It's perfect for a cold winter day. Super comforting, and the recipe makes a huge amount. I had enough to fill this pretty Emile Henry baking dish you see above AND 8 individually portioned ramekins. I served 4 of the individual portioned ramekins to my hubby and 2 of our friends the night I made it, and then froze all the rest. It froze really well and made for lots of easy, quick meals for my hubby and I later.

I defintely recommend this recipe! Served along with a nice, green salad, you just can't go wrong!

Cottage Pie
recipe courtesy Jenny Flake,


Mashed Potato Topping

4 lbs peeled cubed potatoes

½ Cup butter, 1 stick

1 Cup shredded mozzarella cheese

¼ teaspoon cumin

¾ Cup warm milk

1 ¼ teaspoon salt

¾ teaspoon garlic salt, Lawry’s

½ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

Meat and Vegetable Layer

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

1 lb lean ground beef ( I used ground turkey)

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

¼ teaspoon garlic salt, Lawry’s

1 15 oz can green beans, drained

1 15 oz can mixed veggies, drained

26 oz can Muir Glen Fire Roasted Tomatoes, pureed in food processor or blender (I was running short on time and did not process these and it turned out just fine)

2 Cups shredded cheddar cheese


1. Place potatoes in a large pot of water and boil for 10-12 minutes or until fork tender. Drain then place into a stand or electric mixer. Beat until well mashed then add remaining potato ingredients until well combined. Set aside.

2. Heat olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef, salt, pepper and garlic salt; cook until browned and crumbled. Stir in beans, vegetables and pureed tomatoes. Pour meat mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish or individual size baking dishes. Top with mashed potatoes then sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cheese is melted. For crispy cheese topping bake uncovered, for oozing cheese, cover with foil after 15 minutes of baking. Enjoy!

8 servings

Note: This isn't exactly the healthiest of dishes. Make it lighter by using skim milk, using Neufchatel cheese or low fat sour cream instead of the mozzarella in the potatoes (or cutting out the cheese completely) and by cutting down on the amount of cheddar cheese in the topping (or again, you could cut it out completely). I also substituted ground turkey instead of ground beef. Even with these changes, I still think it'd taste great!

I'll return soon with more tasty recipes! I haven't been cooking very much since lately I've been sick (today I have laryngitis) and we've been very busy working on the house so I have been making really simple dinners. However, I will be posting my Daring Bakers Challenge soon and I am thinking of trying out a pretty amazing looking Tyler Florence chili recipe for Super Bowl Sunday. Stay tuned! Have a great week, everyone!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

These cookies are simply delicious. The macadamia nuts and white chocolate are perfect with the buttery vanilla flavor of the cookie. The secret is to use a really, really good quality vanilla. Trust me, it makes all the difference! I also always bake my cookies for the minimum time given on the recipe. They always come out perfectly golden brown and chewy that way. Make these cookies today... your friends and family will thank you!
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White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
10 ounces white chocolate chips
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped into chunks


Heat oven to 375 F. In large bowl, beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt with electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, beat well. Stir together flour, and the baking soda; gradually add to butter mixture,beating until well blended. Stir in white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. (Edges are golden brown and center is set.) Cool slightly, remove from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool completely.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Barbecued Chicken Hoagies

I just can't get my photos right. I promise you all I am really trying to take good photos of my food to make this blog a little more interesting and aesthetically pleasing for you. It's challenging for me because 1) photography just isn't (quite yet) one of my prime interests; and 2) I just have your run of the mill point-and-shoot. But don't worry; I'm reading articles and I've also downloaded Picasa 3 which should help me edit them a bit. The thing that irritates me about this photo is that the featured recipe is actually in the background, but it was the best photograph I had. The rest of them were too dark or blurry. Oh well! One of these days I'll get the hang of it; until then, bear with me!

Now that my food photography tangent is over, I'll introduce the recipe for you now. This is a very easy, quick weeknight meal and it's delicious. It's not the most healthy thing in the world, but it's not crazy high in calories, so for a once in a while treat, it's not too bad. I whipped this up after my husband and I went to the grocery store one night. We were tired and hungry from shopping, and the season premiere of "24" was coming on shortly, so these yummy sandwiches served with some salad really hit the spot!

Barbecued Chicken Hoagies
recipe courtesy of Taste of Home Cooking for 2 Magazine

  • 1/2 cup reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons chopped roasted red peppers
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 dash hot pepper sauce
  • 2 whole wheat hoagie buns, split
  • 1 cup shredded cooked chicken (I picked up a rotisserie chicken from the store to make this super quick and easy.)
  • 1/2 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce

In a small bowl, combine the first five ingredients; spread over buns. Place on a baking sheet. Broil 3-4 inches from the heat for 2-4 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Meanwhile, in a small microwave safe bowl, combine chicken and barbecue sauce. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Spread chicken mixture over bun bottoms; replace tops.

Makes 2 servings.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu with Parmesan Bechamel Sauce

I made this recipe for my husband and I one weeknight. It was surprisingly quick to whip up and it was so, so tasty and comforting. I think it's good enough for entertaining, too! Everyone loves Chicken Cordon Bleu. The panko breadcrumbs make a world of difference, giving the chicken a crispy, crunchy coating that goes perfectly with the creamy bechamel. I served mine with some leftover carrot souffle from Christmas, spicy collard greens, and a muffin. This recipe's quantities are for 2 servings, but you can, of course, double or triple the recipe if needed. Try it tonight!

Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu


For the chicken:
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 slices deli ham or proscuitto
  • 2 slices of your favorite deli cheese (fontina, swiss, gruyere, or white cheddar all work great)
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
  • pinch black pepper
  • 2 eggs, beaten
For the Parmesan Bechamel:
  • 1/8 cup butter
  • 1/8 flour
  • 1 1/8 cup milk
  • 1/4 parmesan cheese
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper

1. First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2. Crack two eggs in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, combine the panko, Italian seasoning, seasoning salt, and pepper and set aside.

3. Next, butterfly each chicken breast by cutting it in half with a good chef's knife horizontally, but not all the way through - just until it folds open kind of like a book.

4. Fill your chicken breasts by first laying your ham slices on the bottom of each piece of chicken, and then topping it with cheese. Fold the top half of the chicken back over.

5. Bread the chicken by first dunking it in beaten egg, then coat it well in the seasoned panko. Place each coated chicken breast on a baking sheet (I cover mine with aluminum foil for easy clean up) and place it in your preheated oven.

6. Bake the chicken for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.

7. While the chicken is baking, prepare your parmesan bechamel by melting the butter in a small saucepan, and then whisk in the flour. Cook for 1 minute, then add your milk, whisking constantly until it starts to boil. Season with salt and pepper, add in the cheese, cover and lower the heat to a simmer. Let the sauce simmer for about 20 minutes, and add in the nutmeg at the end. Taste the sauce and check for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if needed. If the sauce is too thick, add more milk.

8. To serve, place the chicken on a plate and top with the Parmesan Bechamel Sauce. Enjoy!

To lighten up this recipe: Omit the panko and just season the outside of the chicken breasts with the Italian seasoning and seasoning salt. Use lowfat cheese on the inside of the chicken. You can also omit the bechamel completely, or lighten it by using margarine in place of butter, skim milk, and no cheese. It will still be creamy and delicious.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

coming soon....

Hi everyone! As you can probably tell from my lack of entries, the holidays really got in my way of posting here. I have a backlog of recipes to share with you, so hopefully I can get those up soon. The only problem is we are dog sitting for my in-laws this week (and staying at their home) so my camera and everything else is at home! So, for now, I will give you a little preview of what's coming soon....

  • Newer, Healthier Recipes. This is something that I'm going to try to make a priority this year. My husband and I really need to get better about eating healthier and exercising, which is really hard for me given that 1) I LOVE to cook and it will be a challenge trying to make my favorite dishes delicious and healthy; and 2) we are so busy, which makes a healthy lifestyle that much harder. But I hope we can do it! Of course, I will still be baking and making desserts and everything; they just may get sent promptly off to my work instead of sitting around our house. I need to lose a few pounds after the holidays!
  • Daring Bakers Challenge. Last month, I told you about the Daring Bakers. I had really, really looked forward to my first challenge, but due to the busyness of that month, I was unable to complete it. However, this month, I fully intend on doing so and I am completely excited about it! Look for that post near the end of the month.
I hope you and your families had a wonderful holiday and have a blessed and happy 2009!