Saturday, September 3, 2016

Rice Krispie Brownies

I made and enjoyed Mel's Kitchen Cafe Killer Crunch Brownies recently.  A fudge brownie layer is topped with marshmallow creme, then topped with a mixture of melted chocolate, peanut butter, and Rice Krispies.

Rice Krispie Brownies
adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

1 (12 oz) bag chocolate chips
1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

7 oz jar marshmallow crème
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 cups rice krispie cereal

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper and lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray. (I skipped lining it with anything; just sprayed non-stick spray.)

2. To make the brownies, in a medium saucepan over low heat, melt butter and chocolate chips, stirring constantly. Remove from heat when the chocolate chips are completely melted. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, stirring well after each one. Add flour, salt and mix until well-combined. Pour batter into your prepared pan and bake 25-30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

3. To make the topping, dollop the marshmallow crème on top of the brownies and smooth into an even layer. Then in a medium saucepan, over low heat, melt peanut butter and chocolate chips, stirring constantly. When completely smooth and melted, remove from the heat and stir in rice krispies. Carefully spread over the marshmallow layer and gently spread into an even layer. Let brownies cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until the topping is set, at least1-2 hours. Serve cold or at room temp.  I enjoyed the flavor more at room temp, but they are more solid in the fridge.
**This post and photos are property of **

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Indonesian Chicken Soup- Soto Ayam

 I love chicken soups from around the world.  I need to try more, but one favorite is Portuguese Canja. My Thai friend also made some really good soups for me when she lived here.  This soup, Soto Ayam, is simmered with kaffir lime leaves, fresh lemongrass, ginger and other herbs.  The flavor of this soup is awesome.  You can enhance it with garnishes like fried shallots, hard-boiled eggs, chopped cilantro, mint, and basil, and Sriracha or other hot pepper sauce.

Indonesian Chicken Soup- Soto Ayam
adapted from NY Times

1 free-range chicken, about 3 pounds, quartered (or buy pre-cut chicken pieces)
2 stalks fresh lemon grass, bruised with the handle of a heavy knife and tied in a knot
6 kaffir lime leaves, fresh, frozen or dried (optional)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 ½ tablespoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
5 shallots, peeled and halved
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh turmeric, or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric**
2 tablespoons finely minced ginger
3 tablespoons oil
4 ounces glass noodles or thin dried rice noodles, called vermicelli, bihun or bun (Filipino rice pancit noodles work well)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped celery leaves, mint, Thai (or regular) basil or cilantro leaves
2 shallots, thinly sliced and fried in vegetable oil until brown (optional)
Quartered limes
chili paste (such as sambal) for serving (or Sriracha)
Cooked white rice (optional)
Hard-boiled eggs, sliced, for serving

1.  Place chicken in a medium pot with lemon grass, lime leaves (if using), salt and 2 quarts water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Skim off any foam and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender, about 45 minutes, skimming as needed to make a clear broth. Remove chicken pieces from broth and set aside. Remove and discard lemon grass and lime leaves; reserve stock in pot. When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and shred meat into bite-size pieces.

2.  Meanwhile, combine peppercorns, coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a small food processor. Pulse until ground. Add halved shallots, garlic, turmeric and ginger and pulse to a thick paste. Add a little water if needed. (My paste was always kind of chunky, but it was ok- you cook it so it does break down a little.)

3.  Heat oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. When very hot, add spice paste and cook, stirring until paste is cooked and beginning to separate from the oil, about 5 minutes.  Add cooked spice paste and chicken meat to stock. Bring to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.

4.  Cook noodles according to package directions. Turn off heat under soup and stir in lime juice. Taste for salt.

5.  To serve, divide noodles in large soup bowls. Ladle chicken pieces and soup on top and sprinkle with celery leaves or herbs, and fried shallots, if using. Pass lime and sambal at the table.
Eat from soup bowl, or serve a scoop of rice on a side plate, sprinkled with more shallots, and put a mouthful of noodles and chicken on rice. Combine on a spoon, dab with sambal, and eat.
*I tried this both with noodles and jasmine rice, and found the rice easier to eat.  It was very tasty both ways.  
**I found the turmeric at my local international foods store.  It was SUPER cheap- a bag for only 1 Euro.  I also found the rice noodles there.  Some may also have the Kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass.
**This post and photos are property of **

Monday, August 15, 2016

Grilled Balsamic Zucchini

When we grill lately, we've been grilling this zucchini to go with whatever we're grilling, and it's almost always my favorite part of the meal.  It's so flavorful, plus super easy and healthy.  We had these when we grilled the Serbian Sausages recently.

Grilled Balsamic Zucchini
by What a Dish!

olive oil
balsamic vinegar (I've used both thin regular and thicker aged)
freshly ground pepper

1.  Rinse zucchini and trim off ends.  Slice lengthwise, not too thick and not too thin.  Lay on a platter and drizzle with oil and vinegar.  Then sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill on a hot grill, turning once, until they get dark and a little crispy on the edges.

**This post and photos are property of **

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Rainbow Birthday Cake

My little boy just turned 5 years old (yesterday) and really wanted a rainbow cake for his birthday.  I found a great design and some helpful tips from Bakerlady.  For the inside, I just used a homemade yellow cake (instead of making colorful layers from boxes mix like she did.)  I actually used my new favorite recipe for yellow cake, and it comes from Joy the Baker. It's super easy and uses buttermilk. This is the third time I've made it in about six months. I made a 9x13 with it back in February.

To make this, you frost the cake white (you can do a crumb layer first- pic above is frosted with crumb layer).  Use skittles for all the colors, except for blue- use M&M's.  Take a few minutes to separate everything into little bowls. Print out this rainbow coloring page and outline it with white icing (in a plastic baggie with the corner cut off). Turn it upside down onto your cake so the icing sticks onto your blank cake, and you can use the candy to form an even rainbow this way.  Use white frosting to stick on mini marshmallows for clouds.
Buttermilk Yellow Cake
adapted from Joy the Baker

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1.  To make the cake, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2, 8 or 9-inch round cake pans.* Set aside. (Place a round of wax paper inside the pans before flouring.  You can also grease the wax paper.)

2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (you can also use a large bowl and electric hand beaters) cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Stop the mixer and and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition. Beat in vanilla extract.

3.  In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients all at once to the butter and egg mixture and beat on low until just combined. Add the buttermilk and beat on low for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds more.
Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for about 25 minutes or until cooked through and the top springs back lightly when touch. Test the cake by inserted a skewer into the center of the cake. Cake is done when just a few crumbs are left on the skewer.

4.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 30 minutes.  Remove the cakes to a wire rack to cool completely. Let cool completely before frosting.
*You can also make this cake in a greased 9x13 pan.

White Frosting

1 cup butter, softened (use salted)
1.5 pounds powdered sugar (may need more)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
milk, a few tablespoons

1.  In a stand mixer or a hand mixer, cream butter.  Add sugar, vanilla extract, and milk, whipping until smooth.  Beat for a few minutes.  You can add more powdered sugar if needed.  I actually used 2 lbs so I'd have enough frosting, but it was really sweet.

Rainbow Cake
adapted from Baker Lady

1 layer cake (above)
white frosting (above)
blue sugar (or blue frosting if desired, or that blue frosting spray paint)
1 bag Skittles
1 bag regular M&M's
mini marshmallows

1.  Frost cake white, with frosting in between layers.  Sprinkle blue sugar on the top.  (Or frost it blue, or use that spray paint frosting stuff.)  Separate Skittles into bowls by color, and separate out all the blue M&M's.  Using this coloring page, outline (with white icing or gel) the rainbow.  Turn it upside down onto the smooth surface on top of your cake.  Use this as a guide to form your rainbow.  Starting with red, then orange, then yellow, then green, then blue, then purple. Then, pile up mini marshmallows on the bottom of it for clouds.  Use white frosting to help them stick.  With the leftover candies, make a border around the top and bottom of the cake.  You can do the same color pattern- red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple.

**This post and photos are property of **

Monday, August 8, 2016

Cevapcici (Serbian Grilled Sausages)

We had a Slovenia adventure a few weeks ago.  I never posted about it, but maybe I will later.  (I only have phone pics.)  We ended up needing to be towed back to Italy because our car died, and we had a barbecue with our tow truck driver the night before we left.  His friends came (all Slovenians seem to speak English) and we ate delicious food, including Grilled Serbian Sausages.  I wanted to re-create them at home.

I would say these are more like Cevapcici-inspired, since I couldn't even find lamb to use.  (I only tried one butcher, but the Italian gentleman told me "It's too hot for lamb right now!"  That's why they didn't have it.  I never buy lamb, so I know nothing.)  Anyway, I used a mix of equal parts pork and beef.  The flavor of these was very good, but not quite the same as what we had in Slovenia.
Cevapcici (Serbian Grilled Sausages)
adapted from Allrecipes

1 kilo mixed ground pork/beef (roughly 1 lb. beef, 1 lb. gound pork, can also use lamb)
1 egg white
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika

1.  Preheat a grill for medium-low heat.  In a large bowl, combine the ground meat and egg white. Add the garlic, salt, baking soda, black pepper, cayenne pepper and paprika. Mix well using your hands, and form into finger length sausages about 3/4 inch thick. (Can form these ahead of time and store in fridge, covered, until ready to grill.)

2. Lightly oil the grilling surface. Grill sausages until cooked through, turning as needed.  
**This post and photos are property of **

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Buffalo Dip

I've been interested in making a Buffalo Dip for awhile but never have.  I finally did a few weeks ago and love the flavors of spicy, creamy, salty, cheesy, and the tang of blue cheese.  This recipe made a ton, and we enjoyed it for one night and some leftovers at lunch the next day.  The day after that, we used the dip for a grilled sandwich filling.  It was so good in there.  We have a European sandwich griller which makes delicious grilled sandwiches and you don't even have to use butter. I love it.  (It's different from a panini press; it was only about 14 Euros too.)

Buffalo Dip
adapted from Taste of Home

2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese (Neufchatel is great), softened
1/2 cup ranch salad dressing (I used "homemade" from the dry Ranch mix)
1/2 cup sour cream
5-6 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
2 cups shredded cooked chicken (from a rotisserie chicken)
1/2 cup Buffalo wing sauce
1 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 green onion, sliced, optional
Tortilla chips

1.  Preheat oven to 350 F.  Grease a baking dish- larger than 8x8 but smaller than 9x13.  In a large bowl or electric mixer, combine all ingredients (save a few tablespoons of cheddar) until mostly smooth.  Place in greased baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese; bake for 15-20 minutes until heated through and lightly bubbly at edges.  Sprinkle with onion. Serve with tortilla chips.

**This post and photos are property of **

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tomato Feta Salad

I spotted this simple & delicious salad on The Kitchn's website (via their Facebook feed).   I've made it three times in a few weeks- I really love it.  It contains tomatoes, cucumbers, sweet bell peppers, red onions, kalamata olives, feta, fresh basil & mint, and dill weed.  (Fresh would be good but I used dried cuz I had no fresh.)  The recipe calls for putting the salad on a platter to serve, leaving the juices behind, but I serve it all together, to let people decide if they want some of the flavorful juices or not.
The first time, we enjoyed it with rice and grilled Cilantro-Jalapeno pork chops.  It was a delicious combo.  It's a great summer dish and I love the flavor so much.  (Soak the onions in cold water while you're chopping the other veggies to take the bite out of them.)
Tomato Feta Salad
adapted from the Kitchn

1/2 red onion
1 pound tomatoes, about 2 large, 1 red and 1 orange
1 clove garlic
Flaky sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1/4 cup fresh dill, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1.  Finely slice the red onion and put the slices in a bowl of cold water while cutting up the rest of the vegetables, 10 to 15 minutes. Cut the tomatoes into bite-sized chunks. Drain the onion and pat dry.

2.  Place the garlic, a pinch of salt, and the vinegar into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil while whisking.

3.  Add the red onion, red pepper, cucumber, olives, and herbs. Add the tomatoes and feta, and toss gently to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve (with a slotted spoon if desired).
**This post and photos are property of **