Tag Archives: egg-free

Throw Nabisco Out with Homemade Oreos

There are some people who say they’ve never enjoyed Oreos.  I, on the other hand, have always enjoyed them.  In fact, in high school I spent pretty much every weekend of my junior year at my surrogate family’s house–the Carrillo’s.  Veronica (then Carrillo) is (and has been) one of my dearest of friends since I was four years old.  We are complete opposites, share a plethora of memories, and loyalty can always be found in her.

While being the adopted daughter, I would hear the question from Mrs. Carrillo, “Kamille, is there anything you want at the store?”  To which she would hear, “I guess some double stuff Oreos?!”  And come the next couple times around to making the grocery list, Mrs. Carrillo would instinctively have the double stuff on the list (or have them waiting for me).  “But now I’m taking it back, I’m taking it all back.”  Those Nabisco kind have nothing on these chocolatey mixed with white chocolate goodness.

And they went rather well with my mom get away weekend.  I got away with some of my fellow mom friends, and it was beyond glorious.  Being able to spend time to know and be known by these women I dearly love & respect was a glimpse of heaven bound.  So, in terms of these cookies, I must say that the first bite of just the cookies left me a bit disappointed.  I was expecting a little bit more depth of chocolate richness; but, in that first bite I felt it lacking.  However, as the flavors began to meld and the salt kicked in–the chocolate popped, which made me want another bite.  And that’s how these cookies work–you can’t just have one.

Homemade Oreos (printable recipe)

This recipe comes from The Essence of Chocolate.  If you were wondering if you would go back to Oreos after tasting these, the answer is NO!  You will want to make the dough when you’re ready to start rolling it out.  Putting it in the fridge will make it too hard to roll and not necessary.

Ingredients

Filling:

  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped

Cookies:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 3 Tb all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 Tb unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 15 Tb (7 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 3/4-inch cubes, at room temperature

For the Filling:

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil over medium heat.  Remove the cream from the heat and add the white chocolate (making sure all of the chocolate is covered by the cream).  Let stand for one minute then whisk to melt.  It will take about 6 hours to let the filling to get to the right consistency.

For the Cookies:

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add all of the ingredients except for the butter and combine on low speed.  With the mixer running, add the butter a few pieces at a time, until all of it has been added.  The mixture will have a sandy texture at first and then will begin to form pebble-size pieces.  As soon as the dough starts to come together, stop the mixer.

Transfer the dough to a board and use the heel of your hand to shape the dough into a block about 5 by 7 inches.  Cut the block into 2 pieces.

One at a time, roll each block of dough between two pieces of lightly floured parchment paper until 1/8 inch thick.  Use a 2-inch circular cookie cutter (I used a big pastry coupler).  Place 1/2 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking.  Remove from oven and put on a cooling rack leaving the cookies on the sheet for 2 to 5 minutes (the cookies will be too soft to remove initially).  Then transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely.

The dough trimmings can be pushed together once and rerolled to make more cookies (only re-roll twice).

To Assemble:

Place half of the cookies upside down on a work surface.  Whip the filling lightly with a whisk just to aerate it a bit; it will lighten in color and fluff up.  Do not overwhip, or the filling may begin to separate.

Transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/4-inch plain tip or use a disposable pastry bag and cut an opening at the tip of the bag.  Pipe about 1 1/2 teaspoon of filling in the center of each cookie.  Top with another cookie, right side up.  Gently, using your fingertips, press the cookies together until the filling comes just to the edges.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Note: for the leftover dough you have rolled twice, I just put it on the baking sheet and baked it.  Then, had that for the family to munch on.

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Pseudo, yet easy Chocolate Mousse

With spring’s early advent in the Northwest, one cannot escape the driving urge to buy fresh produce (preferably strawberries & rhubarb) to make a pie or crisp to welcome the May Day in March.  However, as we’ve been fooled into thinking it’s time to pull out our swimsuits & sandals, we cannot escape the reality that it’s not the summer sun shining down quite yet. Hence making it impossible to eat that fresh strawberry-rhubarb pie.

During this Lenten season, our family is eating beans & rice Monday through Friday for dinner, trying to embrace simplicity in our everyday lives.  It’s been a fruitful experience thus far.  It’s also fun to read or hear about a number of individuals eating beans & rice for the whole month of March.  As we’ve been partaking in simplicity for our weeknight dinners, it has made Sunday night dinners extra special.  I made this last Sunday along with this Chocolate Mousse.  I was wanting to make a chocolate cream pie, but it was around 4:00 and my ambitious, idealist nature waved the white flag to that simple, realistic side screaming at the top of its lungs.

Now this mousse seriously feeds a crowd (I put the rest in a tupperware and sent it to Ben’s work).  It’s creamy, rich and has a chocolate ice cream sort of taste.  If you’re a fan of these and you don’t have much time to make a dessert, I recommend this hand’s down.  And if you’re standing in your kitchen in late Spring when fresh strawberries are available, but your palate is saying, “chocolatey richness!”  Then, make this and top with sliced strawberries–perfectly divine.

Pseudo Chocolate Mousse (printable recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups heavy cream, cold
  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, I used a bag of Ghiradelli 60% cacao chips
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk

Directions:

Chill an electric mixing bowl & the whisk attachment for about 10 minutes.

In a small pan, fill with about 1 cup of water and place a heatproof bowl on top.  Make sure the water doesn’t touch the bowl.  Heat over low heat, you want the water to simmer.  Add the chocolate chips or chopped chocolate to the bowl, stirring occasionally until melted.  Once melted, remove bowl from pan and let come to room temperature.

Remove the electric mixing bowl and whisk attachment and attach to the mixer.  Pour in the cold whipping cream and turn your mixer on high speed (10 on Kitchenaid).  Beat until stiff peaks appear, because you’re using the whipped cream as your base for the mousse (about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes).  When you raise your beater, the whipped cream should be able to stand up well on it’s own.

Add the can of sweetened condensed milk to the cooled, melted chocolate.  Stir until thoroughly combined (no streaks remain).  Fold in the whipped cream until no visible streaks remain from the whipped cream.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or foil.  Refrigerate for an hour (if you can wait that long).  The longer it sits in the fridge, the more congealed it will get, which is a good thing.


Homemade Graham Cracker Sandwich Cookies

I feel like there are definitely those that fall under the LOVE graham cracker category.  I’m in the other camp, the “meh” camp.  I can recall old roommates getting their sugar craving quenched by putting frosting on graham crackers.  If there are graham crackers in our home, Ben will spread peanut butter on them.  As for me, I would rather have nothing.  The boxed graham crackers tend to have that mass produced taste and lacking in the honey factor (even though the box says ‘Honey Graham’).

So if you’re in the “LOVE” category, you need to make these and your admiration will increase exponentially, making you wonder what you were doing having a love affair with such second rate calories.  If you’re in the “Meh” category, then this might be the start to a “beautiful friendship.”  When you bite into these gems, you taste honey, then cinnamon, then a bit of nuttiness from the whole wheat, the richness of the butter with the bit of salt tying it altogether.  That’s the graham without the frosting, so by adding the frosting it sends you over the top.  Wow your family or guests with these nostalgic childhood snacks and I guarantee that in this instance–simplicity wins out.

Homemade Graham Cracker Sandwich Cookies

(printable recipe)

This recipe is adapted from the cookbook, The Grand Central Baking Book, which is a bakery located in Seattle, WA & Portland, OR. The recipe calls to bake 15-20 minutes, but I found that a 15 minute baking time produces a softer graham (not as golden, but still wonderful).  So start at 15 and add more time if you want them more crispy.

Graham Cracker Ingredients

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all-purpose flour, unbleached
  • 1/2 cup (2.5 ounces) whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup (8 ounces, or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (3 ounces) honey

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces or 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tb heavy cream, 1/2 & 1/2, or whole milk

Directions

  1. Combine the dry ingredients: Measure the flours, baking soda, salt & cinnamon into a bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Cream the butter, sugar, and honey: Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, both sugars & honey on medium speed for 3 – 5 minutes until light in color and fluffy.  Stop the mixer and scrap the sides and bottom of bowl.
  3. Add the dry ingredients and chill the dough: With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until combined.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour or up to 3 days.
  4. Shape the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Lightly dust a work surface with flour and coat a rolling pin with additional flour.  Roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thickness, then use a sharp chef’s knife to cut the dough into rectangles (however large or small you of rectangles you would like, I varied mine between 3×5 and 2×3).  Prick the dough with a fork.  Place the rectangles about 1 inch apart on the parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake: Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.  The cookies should be dry, firm to the touch, and deep golden brown.  Let them cool completely on the baking sheets.
  6. Make the frosting: Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the butter and powdered sugar on low speed until well blended, then increase to medium speed and beat for 3 minutes.  Add the vanilla and 2 Tb cream, and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute.
  7. Fill & assemble the sandwich cookies: Find matching size graham crackers and using an offset spatula (or butter knife) to spread a layer of frosting on the inverted graham cracker.  Put enough frosting to fill the middle and place the other graham cracker on top squeezing slightly until the frosting spreads to the edges.

Posole…

…and my daughter LOVES dinner.  When my oldest was a baby and young toddler she loved food.  The only food she rejected by 11 months was broccoli (still does & I still serve it).  I could count on her to fill mama’s affirmation piggy bank when it came to dinner time with her moans of glee.  When she turned 18 months, I thought I had it made because she never turned to the dark side (a.k.a. the food refusal face) and I must be doing something right.  She ate veggies and I rarely gave her sweets, then it was around 22 months or so and little by little…another food was on the banned list.

Now as we celebrate her birthday week (turning three or “free”), she continues to throw a curve ball during dinner time.  As I wait for her to say something like, “This is too gross for me!”  She says, “I like my Posole!”  Yes, I train my daughter in all things food.

A.) Don’t buy eggs with cracks…to which she continued chanting in the store to check-out.

B.) “Add a little cardamom & nutmeg”…she says this during pretend play (or was it while teaching a baking class about cardamom to her papa & auntie?)

C.) I say, “this is Posole, it’s part of your heritage,”…to which she replies, “more pork.”

And to that I say, “Eat more pork and make yourself some Posole!”  It’s like eating pockets of tamales in stew form…doesn’t get much better.

Posole (printable recipe)

Recipe is adapted from Gourmet.  As I said, I find the hominy reminiscient of the cooked masa found in tamales.  This is not overly spicy.  If you avoid spicy food, then add sour cream as dairy lessens heat.  Plus, my 13 month old & almost 3 year old ate it asking for seconds & then some.

Ingredients:

2 dried guajillo chiles

2 dried New Mexico chiles

2 cups water

2 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 can of stewed tomatoes, chopped

1/2 yellow onion, coarsely chopped (3/4 cup)

2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1-inch cubes (I used about 24 oz)

2 (29 oz) cans white hominy, drained & rinsed

Directions:

Stem and seed chiles.  Combine with 2 cups water in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, and simmer until softened, about 15 minutes.

Transfer chiles, with cooking water, to a blender.  Add remaining ingredients except pork and hominy and blend until smooth (use caution).

Transfer chile puree to a 4-quart heavy saucepan, stir in pork, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

Add hominy and simmer, covered, until pork is tender, about 30 minutes more.  Skim fat from sauce and season posole with salt to taste.  Serve with sliced cabbage, corn tortillas, sliced radishes, lime wedges, sour cream, fresh cilantro, or tortilla chips.


My Roots

IMG_3194I’m notorious for asking people, “What would be your last supper? I mean if you knew you were going to die tomorrow, or on death row, what would be that last ultimate meal?”  Some people answer with something incredibly elegant (think five stars).  However, I think most people go back to comfort.  In fact, when Ben’s office had a celebration dinner for his five year anniversary, his co-worker called to see about his favorites.  All of them very simple comfort foods (garlic mashed potatoes, steak, chocolate cake with ice cream).

Mine are Mexican comfort foods.  Growing up in Yuma, AZ (a border town) has quintessential Mexican food.  There are the special Mexican restaurants in Yuma, the taco stand 10 miles west from Yuma in Algodones, Mexico or in my adopted family’s home, where Mrs. Carrillo taught me how to make nopales con carne & Mr. Carrillo taught me the value of using salt to suck out the flare of jalapenos on my tongue.  One of my favorites is Machaca, but not machaca huevos.  The best is the machaca burrito from the beloved Chili Pepper (sidenote: it’s great how people who grew up in Yuma and moved away still salivate hearing the words…a B&C burrito (bean & cheese)…and upon return will stop at Chili Pepper before seeing the folks).  The machaca burrito is a savory meat at it’s best.  Truly there is something comforting about sucking out flavorful juices from this slowly simmered shredded beef.

So if I had one last meal, I would definitely have a machaca burrito on the menu.  What would yours be?

Machaca Tacos (printable recipe)

I know many Americans prefer flour tortillas; but, please do yourself a favor and use warmed corn tortillas and you won’t regret it.  However, if you make burritos than use homemade flour tortillas.  Recipe adapted from http://www.texascooking.com

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • juice of two limes
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or olive oil

Machaca Ingredients:

  • 2-3 lb Flank Steak
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 1-14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (I used Tabasco)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • vegetable oil for searing beef.

For the marinade, combine all the ingredients in a bowl then whisk to an emulsion.  Add the beef making sure every piece is evenly coated.  Cover & refrigerate overnight.  Before preparing, drain thoroughly and allow meat to come up to room temperature for about 30 minutes.

In a large dutch oven or soup pot, heat a few tablespoons of ol over medium-high heat until very hot.  Sear the beef until a rich brown color is developed on all sides, as well as bottom of pan.

When all the beef is browned nicely and removed from the pan, add the onions, peppers and garlic to the hot pan.  Saute for a few minutes then add the remaining ingredients to the pan along with the beef.  Bring to a boil, scraping the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer slowly for about 2 1/2 hours.  The meat should be very tender and should easily fall apart when pricked with a fork.

You can either take the meat to a cutting board to pull it apart with forks, or do it right in the pot.  Once you shred it, cook it on simmer for another 30-45 minutes.

Heat the tortillas on stove top for best results.

**I liked mine a bit liquidy, but you can cook in the last part until the liquid is reduced and very thick.