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Monthly Archives: June 2014
Olivia got a Ballerina Cookbook for Christmas and about once a week asks if we can make one of the recipes. This usually translates to, “Mommy, I’ll pick it out and pretend that I’m going to help. You do everything else.” Her latest pick was Sugar Plum Fairy Pops, or little balls of cheesecake, dipped in chocolate, and covered in various toppings.
After a couple of failed attempts at balling up sticky, mushy cheesecake, I gave up and just cut the cake into bite-sized squares. Tasted just the same but WAY easier. Once I stopped trying to roll impossible cheesecake balls, these were really easy.
Chocolate-Dipped Cheesecake Pops
1 prepared cheesecake
12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp shortening
Sprinkles, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, and any other toppings you’d like
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Cut the cheesecake into 1½ inch squares and place on the baking sheet. Put a lollipop stick in the top of each square and push down so that it goes almost through the other side but not quite. Freeze for about 3 hours or until hard.
- Place chocolate chips and shortening in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir and repeat until chocolate is melted and smooth.
- Remove the cheesecake pops from the freezer and dip each one, making sure the chocolate covers them entirely. Return each pop to the baking sheet and sprinkle with toppings.
- Let set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or until ready to eat.
Makes about 24 cheesecake pops.
Baba Ghanoush is a Middle Eastern spread made of roasted eggplant and tiny bits of Heaven. It is also really fun to say. I have no more words—just make it, eat it, love it.
1 large eggplant
¼ cup tahini, plus more as needed
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
1 pinch ground cumin
salt, to taste
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Heat your grill to medium-high heat, and preheat your oven to 375°F.
- Prick the eggplant with a fork in several places and place on the grill 4 to 5 inches from the fire. Grill, turning frequently, until the skin blackens and blisters and the flesh just begins to feel soft, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Transfer the eggplant to a baking sheet and bake until very soft, another 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, let cool slightly, and peel off and discard the skin.
- Place the eggplant flesh in a bowl. Using a fork, mash the eggplant to a paste. Add the 1/4 cup tahini, the garlic, the 1/4 cup lemon juice and the cumin and mix well. Season with salt, then taste and add more tahini and/or lemon juice, if needed.
- Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and spread with the back of a spoon to form a shallow well. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the parsley.
Summer rolls are an easy and refreshing appetizer that are fun to make, so this is a great recipe to get your little ones involved in the kitchen. This recipe uses lots of “leaves” as my three year old would say, so feel free to modify your filling to suit your family’s tastes. You can fill these with mango, crispy rice vermicelli noodles, julienned carrots, cucumber … get creative!
You can find the rice paper rounds at most international supermarkets if you don’t have any luck at your local grocery store. Keep in mind that you’ll get a bunch in the package, so you won’t use them all in one go (unless you are making these for a party or something along those lines).
A huge THANK YOU to my brother, Josh, for this recipe and for teaching me how to make these—definitely easier than I ever imagined!
1 package of 8-inch rice paper rounds
1 bunch fresh mint
1 bunch fresh basil
1 bunch scallions
1 head of romaine lettuce
½ lb small shrimp
Peanut sauce for dipping
1. Steam shrimp and set aside.
2. Slice scallions into 3-inch pieces. Clean and separate lettuce leaves. Pull mint leaves and discard the stems.
3. Fill a large pie plate with water. Submerge one rice paper round in the water for 5-10 seconds. Place on a clean surface and place a lettuce leaf, 2-4 scallions, a few mint leaves, and 4-6 shrimp.
4. Carefully lift the edge of the rice paper and fold over, pulling back gently towards you to tuck in the fillings. Fold in the edges and continue rolling, burrito-style.
5. Allow the roll to sit for a minute before slicing in half. Serve with peanut sauce for dipping.
If you’ve read this blog before, you know that I love risotto. I tend to turn this side dish into the star by adding vegetables and protein for a one-dish meal. Is risotto versatile and kid-friendly? Absolutely. Is it easy to make when you are home alone with a three year old and an infant? Not so much.
The problem with risotto is that you have to stir it, constantly, for about 30 minutes while you gradually add small amounts of warmed broth. So if the baby spits up everywhere or your preschooler yells from the bathroom that she needs you … well, you (or more aptly, your dinner) are screwed.
So when Kenji Lopez-Alt wrote in Cooking Light how he makes the creamiest risotto (and it doesn’t involve constant stirring), I was all over it.
It all starts by rinsing the rice. Mix together the broth and wine and add the rice, agitating to loosen the starchy coating on the grains. When you strain the rice out, you’re left with a liquid that’s already infused with the essential starch that makes risotto thick and creamy.
Toast the rice with some garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil, just as you normally would. But instead of adding a small amount of the liquid and stirring until it absorbs, you add almost all of the broth (saving one cup for the end), bring it to a boil, give everything a quick stir, and cover. Then you cook it for 20 minutes, stirring just once halfway through. Add the final cup of broth at the end with a touch of cream and Parmesan cheese. That’s it.
I was skeptical that this easier method could yield the same quality risotto that I was used to getting with the more tedious approach. I am thrilled to report that I am now able to balance babies and risotto because this method ROCKS!