Nacho dips

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I know, I’m a terrible blogger! I haven’t written anything in weeks! Well, I was in the Dominican Republic for a week, and I wasn’t going to make anything there, and I kind of had a slow start after that!

But I’m back in the kitchen now. And on Saturday I made two nacho dips. My sister and mum were throwing a surprise 40th birthday party for our cousin and they asked me to being a nacho dip. Our family always has the same one at all functions, so I knew I had to make that one, but I wanted to try something new. So I made two!

Both Dips

I made the regular one that we always have, and I made a 7 layer one. Both were good and went over really well!

The one I’ve been making for years is very simple, with easy ingredients:
-1 tub of sour cream
-1 package of cream cheese
-1 package of taco seasoning
-salsa
-cheddar

I made it better this time than it normally turns out, and I credit that to using a tub of cream cheese instead of a brick. I’ve always had this delusion that brick cream cheese is cheaper, so I’ve always used that. But it’s not. I really do know that, but sometimes it’s hard to convince myself. So I ” splurged” and got the tub this time.

I love my stand mixer, because I can prep other ingredients (grate cheese) while the dip is mixing. To make this dip really smooth, I always mix the cream cheese by itself for a little while first, until it is soft. Then I add the sour cream to the mixture in about three additions. I find that if I don’t let the cream cheese mix by itself, or I add the sour cream all at once, I get an odd consistency. It’s almost as if there are little tiny balls of cream cheese in the mixture. Not nice. Then after these two have mixed well, I add the taco powder. Let that mix, and then I’ve got a beautiful start to the dip! If I’m having a lazy day, I might just put this dip in a bowl, and have at it! But I usually spread it nicely into a pie plate or glass casserole dish and top it with salsa, maybe shredded lettuce and grated cheese.

Delicious!

Simple Dip

But this time, I also made a 7 Layer dip. Essentially, you just need to layer the ingredients in a glass dish or on a serving platter in the order they’re listed:
-refried beans mixed with taco powder
-cream cheese combined with sour cream (first two steps from the other dip)
-salsa
-guacamole (I used store bought, but homemade is even better)
-chopped tomato
-1/2 of a chopped green pepper
-2 chopped green onions
-grated cheddar

Huh. I just realized that is eight layers! Dammit! I wasn’t going to put the guacamole in because it wasn’t as green as when I first bought it (that’s what happens when it’s in the fridge for a day!), but I thought that I would only have 6 layers. Holy crap, I’m dumb sometimes!

Either way, I thought it was very good! A lot of people agreed!

7 Layer Dip

So I would make this recipe again for a party. Not for home though, as the guacamole, salsa, tomatoes, and green peppers are just some things my husband won’t eat, and I don’t need the entire thing to myself!

Sadly, I forgot my camera at my parents house, so no pictures today, but I will add them when I get it back.

Happy Cooking!

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Eggplant Parmesan

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Every Monday and Tuesday for the next few weeks I have school. So usually for dinner, I end up eating something really simple for dinner. Usually something like Perogies, veggie dogs, or grilled cheese. Today I had a test in class. If you know me and tests, you know that I was finished within about 20 minutes. So I got home exceptionally early! So for a change, I thought I would make something good for dinner. I had bought the ingredients for eggplant parmesan to make one day this week, but I wasn’t set on a day, so I decided that today was the day!

 

I’ve made eggplant parmesan from recipes 2 or 3 times before, but I thought I would wing it today. All I have to say about that is: I love eggplant parm!

 

This recipe takes a few more ingredients than my typical “winging it” recipes do.

 

Ingredients

  • Eggplant
  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Basil
  • Garlic Plus seasoning
  • Parmesan
  • Tomato sauce
  • Salt
  • Provolone
  • Olive oil

All those ingredients and the process may seem daunting, but it’s really not that difficult. I made some homemade tomato sauce a few months ago and had it in the freezer, so I decided to use that, but canned sauce is good too. I just took it out of the freezer and warmed it up on the stove.

 

Next, I washed the eggplant and cut it into disks. It can also be cut lengthwise, but I prefer the smaller slices, that way it’s easy to enforce portion control. You might want one and a half long pieces, but not want to cut a piece in half. Easy solution – three round pieces!

 

Chopped Eggplant

Then I made my breading station. This requires three dishes – one with just flour and a little salt, one with beaten egg, and the third with the breadcrumb mixture. I mixed breadcrumbs, dried oregano, dried parsley, dried basil, Garlic Plus seasoning (Clubhouse) and parmesan together. Fresh herbs are probably better, but whenever I buy them, I use about half, and the other half goes bad in the fridge. So dried herbs are best for me. If you like different herbs, you can use them. And use them in whatever  proportions you want.

 

Breading Station

So here comes the messy part. You need to use one hand for the cleanish portion, and one for the messy portion. With the clean hand, lift up a slice of eggplant and place it in the flour. Turn it over and make sure that it is completely covered. With the clean hand, pick it back up and place it in the egg. With the other hand, turn it and make sure it is covered in egg. With the same hand, take it out of the egg, and repeat with the breadcrumbs. Then with the messy hand again, place the eggplant on a plate and then repeat with the rest of the slices of eggplant.

 

I chose to use one frying pan, so I worked in three batches. While I was dredging the eggplant, I let my frying pan heat up to medium with the olive oil coating the bottom. You need a lot of oil for this dish. Once I had my first batch of eggplant dredged, I put the slices into the frying pan and let them cook while I worked on dredging the next batch. Once I flipped the frying eggplant and let the second side cook, I placed them on a rack over a cookie sheet.

 

After I fried up all my eggplant, I sprayed my cookie sheets with Pam and put the fried slices on there. I topped each with a bit of warm tomato sauce and some provolone. I then put them in the oven and let them bake at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes.

 

Baking

Yummy!

 

Dinner time!

Happy Cooking!

Chocolate Chip Waffles and Strawberry Sauce

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Ready to Eat

This Saturday morning is a rainy gloomy one. And what better way to pick up the day than to start it with a delicious breakfast? I have a certain disdain for breakfast lately, so I asked my husband what he wanted me to make for breakfast this morning. His response: “Chocolate chip waffles and strawberry sauce!” And evidently his wish is my command… At least for breakfast today!

 

I wanted to try a new waffle recipe, and I actually had some fresh(ish) strawberries in the fridge that I needed to use up.

 

I googled “chocolate chip waffle recipe” and came up with a few good recipes. I don’t have any buttermilk, so I went with the first one that doesn’t require any: Chocolate Chip Waffles.

 

Waffle Ingredients

I only made very few minor substitutions. I didn’t have and cooking spray (Pam), so I used olive oil and a brush; I didn’t have enough butter, so I added some margarine; and I didn’t have any mini chocolate chips, so I just used regular ones. These waffles turned out great though!

 

Egg Whites

I think the key is probably in whipping the egg whites into submission! The above picture is what the 3 egg whites looked like all whipped up with the ¼ cup of sugar. This incorporates air and makes them light and fluffy!

 

Waffle Batter

For the Strawberry Sauce, I used three very simple ingredients:

  • Fresh Strawberries
  • Orange Punch
  • Sugar

Sauce Ingredients

I just sliced the strawberries and put them in a pot over medium heat. Then I added a splash of orange punch – probably no more than ¼ – ½ cup, and 2 tablespoons of sugar and stirred.

 

Cooking Sauce

I brought it up to a boil and let it cook and reduce for about 10 minutes, and then reduced the heat to low when it was the consistency I wanted, stirring occasionally.

 

Finished Sauce

Homemade berry sauces are so easy to make, I don’t know why someone would buy one! Even if you don’t have fresh berries, frozen berries can be used too.

Waffles without sauce

 

This must have been a great breakfast, because after his first bite, my husband exclaimed “Oh yea!” And when I finished, I said that I would actually pay for this breakfast. Big words from me!

 

Happy Cooking!

Stuffed Potatoes

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Today I made stuffed potatoes for dinner. I’ve made versions of these before and they’ve always been better than tonight’s.

 

I know that the best way to bake potatoes is to actually bake them. Either on the BBQ or in the oven. But some nights, I just don’t have the time or patience to bake a potato for an hour, and then do other stuff to it afterwards. So for my stuffed potatoes, I microwave them, and then finish them off in the oven.

 

I washed my two potatoes and put them in the microwave for 10 minutes – 5 per side. That was my downfall! These were medium potatoes. 10 minutes is fine for large potatoes, but 10 minutes made these poor little guys almost unusable.

 

Either way, when they came out of the microwave, I knew they weren’t going to be gourmet, but I didn’t feel like remaking them. So I made do with what I had. I sliced them in half when they were cool enough to handle and scooped the flesh out and put it in a bowl. I added some onion cream cheese dip, shredded cheddar and some milk to the potatoes and mashed them. I then spooned the filling back in the skins, topped with more cheddar and baked at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.

 

Potato and Green Beans

They looked ok, but I wasn’t a huge fan.

 

Happy Cooking!

Ginger Chocolate Cherry Cheesecake

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It was my husband’s birthday on Sunday and I asked him a week in advance what he would like me to make for his birthday dessert. I know it’s typical for people to have a birthday CAKE, but we’re not necessarily that kind of couple. Don’t get me wrong – if he asked for a cake, I would have baked the hell out of a cake! In the past, I’ve made him an Oreo cake, a chocolate peanut butter pie, I tried a chocolate peanut butter cake, and last year I even made three desserts – brownies, a Layered Strawberry Cheesecake Bowl, and the Oreo cake again. This year he asked for a cherry cheesecake!

Cherry Chocolate Cheesecake

I wanted something a little different than just an ordinary cheesecake, so I suggested a chocolate cherry cheesecake! I saw the recipe for a ginger chocolate cheesecake in my new Gordon Ramsay cookbook, and I was dying to try it! I just changed his suggestion for garnishes and toppings and used canned cherry pie filing. I figured it would work – something like a Black Forest cheesecake.

Gordon Ramsay's Family Fare

I quite enjoyed it!

Recipe

So I busted out my trusty cookbook and made my grocery list. I actually had to google one of the ingredients though – fromage frais. I had never heard of it before and I wasn’t sure that I would be able to find it at the grocery store. Wikipedia says “Fromage frais is a creamy soft cheese made with whole or skimmed milk and cream. It has the consistency of cream cheese, but with fewer calories and less cholesterol. Where available, low-fat cream cheese is an acceptable substitute for fromage frais.”

I looked for fromage frais, but no luck, so low fat cream cheese it was!

Ingredients

Procedure

I couldn’t find chocolate with ginger in it either, so I just used regular chocolate. Two good quality bars – one was a milk chocolate and one was a dark chocolate. I mixed them and melted them with a double boiler to make a bittersweetish chocolate. Probably not exactly the same, but I was in the chocolate bar section of the store and didn’t want to go back to the baking section and I couldn’t find a bittersweet chocolate bar.

Double Boiler

Overall, I think it turned out pretty good!

Yum!

The only complaint any one had out of the 11 people that tried it was that it was too gingery. And I didn’t even put as much ginger as suggested!

I liked it. I’d never tried a mascarpone cheesecake before, and I liked it. The texture was a little bit different than the cheesecakes that I normally make, but I think this was better. I find mine are either too runny or they crack. This was solid and uncracked. And I didn’t even use a bain marie!

I’ll make it again!

Happy Cooking!