Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gender Reveal Cheesecake Truffle Pops

This recipe came about because I was asking my friends at work if they had ever heard of gender reveal parties. I had come across a friend of a friend on Facebook that went all out, and at first I thought it was totally cheesy. My coworkers said they had heard of them, and they decided that I should make gender reveal TRUFFLES when I found out what I was having. I laughed at them. But then I started thinking about it and the more I thought about it, I realized that it is not totally cheesy but it is totally cute and fun! I was brainstorming ideas, and I came up with the cheesecake filling - because it would be easy to turn the filling pink or blue. So I got all excited about making these truffles. I went out and got the ingredients and was ready to make them - but the baby wasn't ready. I went for my 20 week ultrasound two weeks ago and the tech was only 75% sure of what I was having. So...I had to make another appointment to come back. All through my pregnancy I've been determined that I know the gender already, and then realized if I was wrong that any confusion that my child may have later in life is all my fault!

Since I had gotten so excited about making the truffles I decided to make both fillings - pink and blue. I shared them with my family, friends, and coworkers and let them know that I was either having a boy or a girl - surprise! Well, I went back today and I found out what I am having.

So, is it pink or is it blue? Let's look at the recipe, then we'll find out!

Recipe for Gender Reveal Cheesecake Truffle Pops

3 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. of granulated sugar
1 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
3 eggs, at room temperature
9 - 10 ounces of your favorite kind of baking chocolate (I used dark chocolate)
Pink or blue food dye or gel
Lollipop sticks
Decorative sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease the bottoms and sides of a spring form pan with butter. In a large bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla with an electric hand mixer set on medium speed. Mix for a few minutes until ingredients are well incorporated. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing on low after each addition. Then mix on medium-high for a few minutes or until the mixture is completely smooth. Add in the pink or blue food dye or gel. Add just a tiny amount at a time and mix until you reach a good color. Then pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 35 - 40 minutes, watching closely so it does not burn on the top. It is done when the center is firm but it still jiggles a bit when you gently shake. Remove from oven. Let cool completely, then transfer to the fridge. Let cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Remove the cheesecake from fridge. Use a cookie dough scoop to scoop up some of the cheesecake and then use your hands to roll into a 1-inch ball. Place each ball in a foil-lined container(s). Cover the container(s) and place in the freezer for a couple hours or more.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper. Set by the stovetop. Place sprinkles (and a spoon to sprinkle with) in a smallish bowl. Break chocolate into small pieces and place in a pan that will go on top of the double boiler. Prepare the  double boiler with water, place it over medium heat, and set the pot with the chocolate on top. Stir frequently (when chocolate is almost fully melted, remove cheesecake balls from freezer and uncover) until the chocolate is fully melted. Drop a ball into the chocolate and use a spoon to coat. Place on the parchment paper and top with sprinkles. Continue this process until all are dipped. Then carefully pick up one with your hands and insert the lollipop stick in until it holds. Lay sideways on the parchment paper and then continue with the other ones until you are finished. Place the pan with the truffle pops in the fridge and allow to harden before serving (about 20 minutes). Enjoy!

Recipe makes about 2 dozen truffle pops.

Recipe adapted from: Chocolate Moosey 

So what am I having? Let's just say that my mom totally loves and adores these two wild and crazy guys....

But she is excited to have a...

granddaughter! And I am tickled pink!
(And guess what - all along I thought it was a boy! I hope I have
better instincts as a parent)!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Easy Chicken Risotto with Caramelized Onions

Last weekend my husband very graciously volunteered me to make a meal for one of our neighbors. Wasn't that nice of him? Just kidding, I was happy to make a meal. Our neighbors have been our second Home Depot since we started these home renovations forever ago. If Greg needs anything, he just goes over to Don's house, because Don has almost everything! We are lucky to have such awesome and generous neighbors. Anyways, I chose to make this risotto dish for Don and Rita because it makes a lot, it is comforting, and it is delicious. They told me it was one of the best things they have ever had! I've made this risotto many times before, and I was actually shocked that I had never posted the recipe on the blog. In the past, I actually cooked the chicken - but I decided to cheat this time. When I stopped in the grocery store to pick up the lemon and parsley, I saw the cooked rotisserie chickens and they called my name. Let me tell you, it made things SO much easier when I made the meal, and I think I will always "cheat" when I make this risotto. This risotto is fairly easy to make and it is absolutely amazing. It is definitely one of my favorite winter time meals. If you have never made risotto at home but have always wanted to, I suggest you try this recipe. Enjoy!

Recipe for Easy Chicken Risotto with Caramelized Onions

For the caramelized onions:
2 1/2 tsp. of olive oil
1 yellow onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 tsp. of granulated sugar

For the risotto:
One fully cooked rotisserie chicken (make it easy - purchase at your grocery store)
6 cups of chicken broth
4 Tbsp. of unsalted butter, divided
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups of Arborio rice
1 cup of dry white wine (I used cooking wine)
3/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
2 tsp. of freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. of chopped parsley
Freshly ground black pepper

Make the caramelized onions first. Put the olive oil into a large skillet and set over medium heat. Add in the onions and sugar to the skillet and toss to coat. Cook the onions, stirring frequently, until they are golden brown in color. It takes about 12 -15 minutes for the onions to caramelize. Transfer the onions to a bowl or plate and set aside.

Put the chicken broth into a fairly large saucepan and set over medium high heat. Allow it to come to a simmer while you start the risotto. Put the 2 Tbsp. of butter into a Dutch oven and set over medium heat. When the butter melts, add in the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Then add the Arborio rice to the pot and stir to coat with the butter. Cook and stir until the grains are translucent around the edges, about 2 - 3 minutes.

Add in the wine to the pot and stir. Cook, stirring the entire time, until the wine is fully absorbed - about 2 minutes. Stir 5 cups of the simmering broth into the rice (save the remaining broth for later and keep it over medium low heat so it stays hot or turn off heat and then bring it to a simmer just before the risotto is finished cooking). Reduce the heat  on the rice to medium-low, cover the pot, and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes. Stir two times during the cooking. The risotto is done when almost all the liquid has been absorbed.

Add 1/2 cup of the hot broth to the risotto and gently stir until the risotto becomes creamy, about 3 minutes. Add in the Parmesan cheese and stir. Remove the Dutch oven from heat, cover, and let sit for 5 minutes.

While the risotto is resting, shred the chicken into small pieces. If you had the chicken in the fridge, zap the shredded chicken on low in the microwave until it is warm. Then stir the chicken and the caramelized onions into the risotto. Set the pot back over low heat. Add in the rest of the butter, the lemon juice, and the parsley and stir well. Grind some freshly ground black pepper over the risotto, if desired. Serve immediately.

Recipe Adapted from: Annie's Eats

*Recipe makes about 8 servings - the risotto is also great leftover (just zap for about a minute in the microwave). Store in an airtight container in the fridge. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Super Easy Pad Thai

I had never attempted to make pad thai until just recently. It always seemed way too hard to me - I'm not sure why, it just did! Since I have been craving Thai food recently, I thought I'd try to make it since going out for Thai every week has started to get expensive. A friend of mine had said she pinned a recipe to her Pinterest board for vegetarian pad thai, and she told me she had made it and it was ready in less than 15 minutes. I checked out her Pinterest board, read the recipe, and thought - hey, I can make this! It is super easy to make and it is delicious. Greg and I have had pad thai three times in the past three weeks. Since there is no meat in this pad thai recipe, it is very simple. It is also a fairly cheap meal, which is always a good thing. If you love pad thai, you should try this recipe. Enjoy!

Recipe for Super Easy Pad Thai

One 8-ounce package of pad thai noodles or wide flat rice noodles
3 Tbsp. of freshly squeezed lime juice
3 Tbsp. of soy sauce
2 - 3 Tbsp. of dark brown sugar
Sriracha sauce
1 Tbsp. of vegetable oil or canola oil
3 chives, chopped (white and green parts)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Honey-roasted peanuts
Lime wedges

Soak the pad thai noodles according to package directions. While noodles are soaking, make the sauce. Put the soy sauce, lime juice, a dash or two of the sriracha sauce and brown sugar into a bowl and mix well. Then chop the chives and the garlic, and crack and beat the eggs. Put the oil into a large skillet. Once the noodles are finished soaking, drain well in a colander. Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add in the white part of the chives and garlic and cook for 30 seconds, Pour in the eggs and cook, stirring gently until they are almost set - about 45 seconds. Transfer the eggs to a plate. Add in the rest of the chives, sauce, and the noodles to the skillet. Stir and toss the noodles with the sauce. After about a minute, add the eggs to the skillet. Cook for another minute, breaking up the egg gently and evenly throughout the noodles. Plate up the noodles. Top each serving with honey roasted peanuts. Add a wedge of lime, if desired.

Recipe Adapted from: Brownies for Dinner

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Thai Butternut Squash Soup with Sweet & Salty Pumpkin Seeds

I've been wanting to post this recipe for a few weeks now. I absolutely love Thai foods and flavors, and I'm always trying to make Thai-inspired foods in my kitchen. However, I don't find myself having much success with it. If I were to say I am having any pregnancy cravings, it would definitely be for Thai foods! When I saw the recipe for this soup, I knew I wanted to try it. It has a good spice and kick to it and it has a nice Thai flavor. This soup is really healthy - you probably get your Vitamin A intake for several days in just one serving! The sweet & salty (and a little spicy) pumpkin seeds add a nice crunch and they are totally worth the extra 5 minutes or so of time and effort. Enjoy!

Recipe for Thai Butternut Squash Soup with Sweet & Salty Pumpkin Seeds


For the sweet & salty pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup of granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. of coarse sea salt
A pinch or two of cayenne pepper (optional)
1 Tbsp. of canola oil
1 cup of pumpkin seeds

For the soup
48 ounces of precut butternut squash pieces
1 Tbsp. of olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. of butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 one-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled & diced
1 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder
3 cups of water
1 13.5 ounce can of full-fat coconut milk
1 - 2 Tbsp. of red curry paste
1/2 tsp. of salt
Cream, for drizzling (optional)

For the pumpkin seeds:
Use the cayenne pepper only if you want a little kick to the seeds - if you just want sweet and salty, leave it out!

Put the sugar, salt, and cayenne pepper (if using) into a medium sized bowl. Put canola oil into a skillet and set over high heat. Add the pumpkin seeds and cook, stirring constantly, until the seeds begin to brown and they pop quickly, about three minutes. Remove from heat. Carefully transfer the cooked seeds to the bowl with the sugar. Use a spoon to coat the seeds in the sugar mixture. Place the coated seeds on a foil lined baking sheet and allow to cool. Use about a tablespoon of seeds per serving of soup. Any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container - and they are great for snacking!

For the soup:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Place the butternut squash pieces on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Place in oven and cook for about 20 minutes, or until you can insert a fork all the way into the squash. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
Melt the butter in a large pot set over medium heat. Once butter has melted, add in the chopped onions and the ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until onions are softened. Add in the garlic powder, stir, and cook for another 30 seconds. Pour in the water and coconut milk. Stir in the curry paste and salt. Let the mixture come to a boil, then add in the cooked butternut squash pieces. Return to a boil, then lower heat to medium low and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Then remove pot from heat. Allow it to cool just slightly. Then use an immersion blender or regular blender (an immersion blender is much easier, if you don't have one, I suggest buying one) to puree the soup until it is smooth. Return the soup to the heat and cook on low for a couple minutes until heated through. Ladle the soup into bowls and top each with a drizzle of cream and about a tablespoon of sweet and salty pumpkin seeds. Enjoy!

Soup Recipe Adapted from: Alexandra's Kitchen 
Pumpkin Seed Recipe Source: Alexandra's Kitchen 

*Does the sweet and salty pumpkin seed recipe look familiar? That's because I topped the pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting with them! These cupcakes are the BEST.*