Honeydew + Mint Sorbet

I am not a huge fan of honeydew.  I enjoy a good cantaloupe, but find honeydew to be an inferior melon.  But I wound up with a whole honeydew melon after trying unsuccessfully to take some cute maternity shots with it when baby was about the size of a melon.  So I had to find something to do with the honeydew.  I figured sorbet would be a good choice and it wound up being one of the best choices I’ve ever made with unwanted fruit!

honeydew6

I found this recipe on Simply Recipes.  There is also a variation for a cantaloupe sorbet.  The mint in this honeydew sorbet makes it extremely refreshing and a perfect light summer dessert.  I think it would be a spectacular ending to a spicy meal.

honeydew5

It’s lovely all by itself, but also quite good with some sparkling water poured on top, making for a rather wonderful slushy drink.  Come June I can easily see myself adding in a little vodka for a spiked version.

honeydew2 honeydew3 honeydew1

Making the mint simple syrup doesn’t take much time, and neither does the prep for the melon.  But then you do have to let it sit in the fridge for a while.  And then you do have to let it freeze for a while longer after it freezes in the ice cream maker.  So this isn’t something you decide to make in the morning and enjoy that evening, unless you’re amazing or have a super cold freezer.  Make it a day or two or a week in advance and it will be ready when you want it.

The texture of my sorbet wasn’t super smooth, more on the icy side.  But it’s still delicious, lovely and sweet with added interest from the mint.  This is definitely a summer dessert that I’ll be making again in the coming months.

Honeydew + Mint Sorbet

From Simply Recipes

Ingredients

  • 5 cups honeydew melon chunks (1 medium sized honeydew melon)
  • 1/2 cup mint leaves (I used 1 pouch of mint, a little less than 1/2 cup)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Directions

  1. Make the simple syrup: combine sugar, water and lemon zest in a small saucepan set over medium heat.  Stir occasionally until sugar has dissolved.  Remove from the heat and stir in the mint.  Let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. Puree the melon in 2 batches in a blender until very smooth.  Transfer to a large bowl after blending.
  3. Strain the simple syrup and pour it with the pureed melon.
  4. Stir in the lemon juice and corn syrup.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight.
  5. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers instructions.
  6. Scoop into a freezer-safe container and freeze for at least a few hours.  Sorbet will be hard, let warm up on the counter before scooping.

Daring Bakers: Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)

This challenge was so simple, so fun and so delicious!  As always I was given the opportunity to try something I’d never tried before, and something I’d never even heard of!  These little light and airy cheesy Brazilian bread balls are something special and I’m excited to share them with you.

Pão de Queijo | Hottie Biscotti

This month’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge took us on a trip to beautiful Brazil! Renata of “Testado, Provado & Aprovado!” taught us how to make Pao De Queijo, tasty cheese buns that make the perfect snack or treat, and that will make your taste buds samba!

Pão de queijo are almost like popovers.  Their airy texture combined with their rich cheese flavor makes them super addictive, especially when eaten warm.  They’re great right after coming out of the oven just cool enough to handle.  But I rewarmed room temp ones in the microwave for about 8 seconds with great success :)  If you’re gluten free, then you’re in luck!  Instead of wheat flour you use tapioca flour here, which I found without any trouble at my grocery store with all the other specialty flours.  The texture is different than a bread made with all purpose flour, of course, but it still has a nice bready chew that would’ve fooled me if I didn’t know they were gluten free.

Pão de Queijo | Hottie Biscotti

Renata gave us the option of using any cheese we liked.  When I searched recipes I found Parmesan to be a popular choice.  So I went with 6 ounces of a goat cheddar and 2 ounces of Parmesan.  I liked the way it turned out, but she says any cheese or combination of cheeses would work, so get creative!

pao5 Pão de Queijo | Hottie Biscotti

The dough is very easy to make, but a little messy since you get in there with your hands and it is a bit sticky.  You don’t need any fancy equipment and your mixer doesn’t have to get dirty.  The recipe I used calls for 1-3 eggs and you may or may not use them all.  I did use all 3.  She recommends whisking all 3 eggs together and then adding what you need as you begin working the dough together.  Once it’s all together it rolls quite easily into balls and bakes up beautifully.

pao3 pao2 pao9

Since these are best eaten fresh from the oven I just baked half of the dough, then shaped the rest of the dough and froze it.  I haven’t tried it, but apparently you can bake them straight from frozen!  And that is what I plan to do the next time I need a last minute appetizer or snack for guests.  Bam.

pao10

Something I wish I’d tried was making this dough in a waffle iron.  I cannot begin to imagine the deliciousness of using this as the bread for a breakfast sandwich!

Thanks for the great challenge this month, Renata!  I really enjoyed it and am excited to experiment more with this terrific bread.

Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)

From Renata of Testado, Provado e Aprovado

Ingredients

  • 4 cups (500 grams) tapioca flour/tapioca starch
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • pinch of salt (or more if your cheese is not salty)
  • 9 ounces of coarsely grated cheese (I used a goat cheddar and Parmesan)
  • 1-3 large eggs, beaten

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Sift tapioca flour into a large bowl.
  3. Combine milk, butter and salt in a saucepan and heat over medium until mixture boils, then remove from the heat.
  4. Pour hot milk over tapioca flour and begin stirring with a fork, working the mixture until the milk is evenly distributed.  It will look crumbly.  Let it cool off a bit.
  5. With clean hands, work in the grated cheese.
  6. Add in the eggs, a little at a time, working the dough together with your hands.  Once the dough holds together, you’re done.
  7. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
  8. Roll dough into balls about the size of ping pong balls.  They puff a little during baking, so don’t crowd them  too closely on the pan.
  9. Bake for 15-20 minutes. until tops just begin to brown.  Remove from the oven and cool just slightly before eating.

 

Chocolate Chip and Toffee Pudding Cookies

In high school and college I was a lifeguard at a community pool during the summers.  A couple of the other girls and I baked treats and brought them up to share with everyone a couple times a week.  One of the cashiers brought chocolate chip pudding cookies a few times and I fell in love with them.  She shared the recipe with me, but since this was more than 10 years ago and it was written on a piece of notebook paper I have lost it.  But thanks to Pinterest I found another recipe for pudding cookies that seems close to the recipe I got from Ashley!  What would we do without the internet?!

puddingcookies2

These are thick, chewy and soft chocolate chip cookies, the kind I prefer.  It’s a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe, but contains a secret ingredient,  a small package of vanilla pudding mix!  This makes them softer than typical cookies and quite addictive.  I added in some toffee pieces along with the chocolate chips.  The options are endless when it comes to mix-ins though.  You could add any kind of chocolate chip, nuts, caramel bits, crushed up pretzels, etc.

puddingcookies3

These are my favorite chocolate chips, milk chocolate chips from Guittard.  They’re bigger than the standard chip, have terrific milk chocolate flavor and melt terrifically in these cookies.  And in your mouth.  I may or may not eat them by the handful straight from the bag on occasion….or daily.

puddingcookies4

 Chocolate Chips and Toffee Pudding Cookies

From Life in the Lofthouse

Makes 24-30 cookies depending on their size

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 small box (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 bag (11 ounces) chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toffee pieces

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugars until fluffy.
  3. Add in the pudding mix and beat to combine.
  4. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating between additions, followed by the vanilla.
  5. Beat in the flour, baking soda and salt until just combined.  Use a spatula to stir everything together from the bottom of the bowl.
  6. Stir in the chocolate chips and toffee with the spatula.
  7. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Scoop dough by rounded tablespoons onto the sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart, 6-8 cookies per sheet.
  8. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until cookies are slightly browned.
  9. Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.  Scoop dough onto the other cookie sheet while the one you just used cools off.
  10. Cookies will firm up as they cool, so if they appear under-baked wen you take them out of the oven, don’t worry.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

This past weekend was spectacular.  The weather has been so nice and I am embracing spring in Texas and trying hard not to think too much about what summer will bring.  We spent this weekend at my husband’s family lake house on Lake LBJ, northwest of Austin.  While we were there we took a little trip to Sweet Berry Farms.  It’s in Marble Falls, a quick drive from the lake.  It’s a quaint and fun place to visit for berry picking in the spring and summer.  It’s also where Ben and I got engaged 9 years ago.  Yes, NINE.  So visiting this past weekend was sweet and nostalgic for me.

Berry Picking

We picked strawberries and had a lovely time (except for my son who kind of lost it due to lack of good sleep and just being 3 1/2.)  If you are ever in the area, please make the time to visit, especially during blackberry season.  Blackberry cobbler is what summer is all about!  And other things too, I guess.  But mainly cobbler.

My mother-in-law and I split the berries and my brain was working on all kinds of ways to use them.  I don’t subscribe to Food Network Magazine, but picked up a copy last week to have some mindless reading material for the lake.  When I saw the recipe in the magazine for strawberry rhubarb pie right after we’d been berry picking I knew it was a sign.  Plus I’d never made or even eaten a strawberry rhubarb pie before.  I had to give it a try.

Sweet Berry Farm Strawberries

I had a few hiccups with this pie.  First the crust.  It says to chill it for 30 minutes.  I chilled it for an hour.  I rolled it out between parchment but when I went to transfer it to the pie plate I lost half of it, all stuck to the parchment in a seriously gooey mess.  So I tossed it and decided to try a different crust recipe.  I went with this one from Smitten Kitchen.

Unfortunately I’d already made the filling, anticipating that the first crust was going to work out.  Silly me!  Fruit releases juice when it sits with sugar and lemon juice, and strawberries and rhubarb release a LOT of juice.  I stuck it in the fridge while I waited for my new crusts to chill for 2 hours.  I think 2 hours is the minimum time for pie crust, you just can’t rush that step.  Unless you roll out the dough between parchment first and then chill it in the freezer…wish I’d thought of that…

strawberryrhubarb9

After rolling out the new crust I went to fill it.  I used a slotted spoon and left all of the liquid in the bowl.  I had a tough time doing it since I knew that stuff had to be good.  But I am so glad I resisted the urge to add a little to the pie.  As the pie baked it released even more juice and even managed to escape the pie plate and get all over the bottom of my oven and fill the kitchen with smoke.  Fun times.  I can’t imagine the mess if I’d added more liquid.  NOTE:  This is why you put foil under fruit pies when you bake them.

strawberryrhubarb12 strawberryrhubarb10 strawberryrhubarb13

 

strawberryrhubarb8

A lattice top adds something so special to pie.  It takes a little extra time than just a top crust, but is well worth the effort.  A little cream and turbinado sugar on top creates a terrifically crunchy and beautiful topping.  Don’t skip this step.

strawberryrhubarb7

After cooling the pie I cut a slice and knew that we were in for a mess.  Maybe the filling could use more flour for thickener?  Or maybe this is just the way it is with this type of pie.  But there was lots of juicy goodness going on that creates a delicious, but not incredibly aesthetically pleasing piece of pie.  The bottom crust was pretty soggy, but the top crust was so crunchy that I didn’t care a bit.  We enjoyed this a la mode, but fresh whipped cream or simply plain would be great.  The filling is tart and sweet but not cloying.  The rhubarb cooks down so nicely and gives a texture to the filling that strawberries alone could not achieve.  And again, that top crust.  Amazing.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie | Hottie Biscotti

So if you find yourself with some strawberries and/or rhubarb this summer, give this a try.  Or these, or this.  Or THIS!  Tis the season!  Why has it taken me this long to try rhubarb?  The checker at the grocery store didn’t even know what it was.  Oh, and if you have access to free or cheap rhubarb, be ever so thankful.  I had no idea it was so expensive, almost $8/pound at our HEB.  Someone tell me, where can I get it for less?

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie | Hottie Biscotti

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Filling adapted ever so slightly from Food Network Magazine

Crust from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

Crust

  • 2 sticks of cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2-3/4 cup ice cold water
  • heavy cream, half and half or milk
  • coarse or turbinado sugar

Filling

  • 1 pound rhubarb, end trimmed and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 pounds strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon

Directions

Crust

  1. In a large bowl whisk flour, sugar and salt together.
  2. Add in the cold butter cubes and using either your hands or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it is relatively evenly incorporated with just a few larger pieces.
  3. Pour in 1/2 cup of the cold water and use either a spatula or your hands to bring the dough together.  Add a little more water, a tablespoon at a time, if the dough seems dry.
  4. Turn out onto a clean work surface and work into a nice ball of dough.
  5. Cut in half, take each piece and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill for at least 2 hours.

Filling

  1.  Combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar, salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract and lemon juice in a large bowl and stir to combine.  Set aside.

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F and place a piece of foil or a foil lined cookies sheet on the lower rack.
  2. Roll one dough ball out (between parchment if you like that method) on the counter into an 11-12 inch circle.  Transfer to a 9 inch pie plate, press into the plate and leave the overhang.
  3. Fill with the strawberry filling.
  4. Roll the other dough ball out into an 10-11 inch circle.
  5. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to slice the dough into long strips, between 1/2 and 1 inch wide.
  6. Lay out half of the strips on to the pie, evenly spacing them about 1/2 inch apart.  Use strips that are longer in the middle and shorter on the edges.
  7. Peel back every other strip and lay a strip perpendicular to the first set, replace those strips, peel back the others and repeat.  Here is a truly entertaining step-by-step for this. (Complete with toddler commentary!)
  8. Trim off any excess from the lattice work, then fold the overhang from the bottom crust over the edges and crimp everything together.
  9. Brush the crust with cream, then sprinkle with sugar.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the oven to 375F and bake for another 40-50 minutes, until filling is bubbling and crust is nicely browned.  Don’t forget to put foil or a foil lined cookie sheet on the rack under the pie!
  11. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before slicing and serving.  Serve with ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.

 

Coconut Milk and Pineapple Popsicles

I might have a little bit of an obsession with coconut and pineapple at the moment.  These ice cream sundaes, the coconut milk and honey lotion I bought yesterday and these popsicles make me wonder if I have a problem.  Maybe it’s the thought of summer and I’m just trying to mentally transport myself somewhere sunny and tropical.  And maybe it’s a pregnancy craving thing.  Either way, I’m ok with it.  And I’m totally ok with these pina colada-like popsicles.  They’re refreshing, the ingredient list is short and they take almost no time to make!  If you haven’t tried making your own popsicles (like me up until I made these) you should try it!

Coconut Milk and Pineapple Popsicles | Hottie Biscotti

All you need for these is a can of coconut milk, a small can of crushed pineapple, a little vanilla and a little sugar.  Mix it up, pour the mixture into popsicle molds and pop them into the freezer until they’re frozen solid.  That’s all there is to it!  Then you can sit outside and eat one of these and pretend you’re at the beach somewhere.  Maybe put on some island music, wear a big floppy hat and put your feet in your kid’s sandbox for added effect.

Coconut Milk and Pineapple Popsicles | Hottie Biscotti

Betsy couldn’t resist trying these, and I was surprised how much she liked it.  She enjoyed her bite so much that I had to go get myself another one because there was no way I was going to pry it from her hands.

Coconut Milk and Pineapple Popsicles | Hottie Biscotti

I found these popsicle molds at World Market.  I like that they have the built in drip catchers, it’s perfect for my kids who get all kinds of bothered when their hands start to get messy.  And really it’s a good thing for adults, too!  To unmold them after a full 24 hours in the freezer I had to run them under warm water and occasionally wiggle the sticks until they were ready to come loose.  Overall I was pleased with the $5 purchase.

Coconut Milk and Pineapple Popsicles | Hottie Biscotti

The texture of these popsicles is creamy thanks to the luscious coconut milk, but with just enough chew from the pineapple to make them interesting.  I found one tablespoon of sugar to be enough sweetness, but if you like things sweeter you could add another tablespoon.  These are also really satisfying because of the coconut milk.  It’s almost like eating ice cream.  Do you have a favorite at-home popsicle recipe?  I’d love to hear about it!

Coconut Milk and Pineapple Popsicles

Makes 6 pops

Ingredients

  • 1 can of full fat coconut milk
  • 1 small can (8 ounces) crushed pineapple
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Whisk all the ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Pour mixture into the popsicle molds.
  3. Freeze for at least 8 hours or until frozen solid.
  4. Unmold by letting popsicles warm up on the counter, or by running molds under warm water (without letting water get into the tops of the mold) wiggling sticks occasionally to see if they’ve thawed enough to remove easily.
  5. Eat and enjoy.

Quick Skillet Lasagna

One day I am going to be a great meal planner.  At this current time however I am not so great at it.  Every now and then I plan a week of meals and I only have to take one trip to the grocery store.  But then there are weeks like last one where I find myself on the couch at 5pm on Friday evening not sure of what we are going to eat for dinner.  I loaded the kids up in the car after browsing through my Test Kitchen cookbook and got what I needed for this quick one skillet dinner.  It was ready by 7pm,  it was a huge hit and a recipe that I will definitely be making again.

Quick Skillet Lasagna | Hottie Biscotti

In this skillet lasagna you have all the goodness of lasagna without all the work of layering and dirtying several dishes.  The recipe calls for broken lasagna noodles, but you could use penne or ziti if that’s what you have around.  I used Italian turkey sausage, but a mixture of ground beef and pork is what is called for in the original recipe.  I added a few ounces of goat cheese to the ricotta because I don’t think that there is a thing on this earth that couldn’t use some goat cheese goodness.  I layered some mozzarella slices on top of the finished dish and broiled it for a few minutes.  I think when you serve lasagna there should be strings of cheese stretching from pan to plate, so this ensures that will happen.  Top it all off with some fresh chopped basil and you have a super delicious and satisfying dinner that is ready in less than an hour.  I realize it’s no 30-minute meal, but it sure does take less time than a proper lasagna!

Quick Skillet Lasagna | Hottie Biscotti

Serve this with lots of good bread and a green salad for a complete meal, and one that will make everyone very happy.

Quick Skillet Lasagna

Adapated slightly from America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 package Italian turkey sausage (16-20 ounces)
  • 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8-10 ounces)
  • 8 ounces of lasagna noodles, broken into 2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan + more for serving
  • 8 ounces part-skim ricotta
  • 3 ounces goat choose
  • 8-10 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Directions

  1. Pour the tomatoes into a quart measuring cup and fill with water to make 4 cups.  Set aside.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.  Season with a pinch of salt.
  3. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Add in the turkey and cook, breaking the meat up into pieces, until meat is cooked through and no longer pink.
  4. Pour in the tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir to combine.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add in the noodles and stir to combine.  Press the noodles down into the sauce so that they are covered and then cover the skillet.  Bring the sauce to a simmer and then reduce heat to medium low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. In a small bowl stir the ricotta with the goat cheese, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper.  Set aside.
  7. Preheat your broiler.
  8. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the Parmesan.  Use a large spoon to dot the top of the skillet with the ricotta mixture, then lay the mozzarella slices on top.
  9. Place the skillet under the broiler until the cheese begins to brown.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the basil.
  10. Serve with extra Parmesan.

 

Simple Sundae: Brown Sugared Pineapple with Toasted Coconut and Almonds

I love ice cream.  And I eat it a lot.  I have some pretty much every night of the week.  And I usually have 2 flavors in my freezer at all times.  I’m not even lying.  Sometimes I keep it really simple, especially if I have a flavor that already has a lot of goodies in it.  When I eat vanilla ice cream, though, I just have to mix something in, chocolate chips, crumbled cookies or chopped up candy like Reese’s or Snickers.

With summer weather upon us I can’t think of anything better than trying out some new ice cream toppings!  This one has pineapple cooked in warm brown sugar sauce and is topped off with toasted coconut and almonds.  It’s real good and real easy,

Brown Sugared Pineapple Sundae with Coconut and Almonds | Hottie Biscotti

This week I found myself with an incredibly delicious container of fresh pineapple after using one as a pregnancy photo prop.  It’s great for snacking and for adding to yogurt, but I wanted to try something a little different with it.  A while back a friend made dessert for a dinner party by just cooking up some fresh pineapple in butter and brown sugar and serving it on top of ice cream.  I used the same method but added some toasted coconut and almonds to make a delicious, quick and simple ice cream sundae.

I used vanilla ice cream in this sundae, but coconut would be delicious and add to the tropical-ness of the dessert.  To toast the coconut and almonds, simply spread them out on a cookie sheet and pop them in a 350°F oven for a few minutes, until everything just begins to brown.  The coconut will brown quicker, so you can do them on separate cookie sheets, or remove the coconut from the cookie sheet and continue to toast the almonds.  But do make sure to have them toasted!  The flavor is better and so is the texture in the sundae.

Brown Sugared Pineapple Sundae with Coconut and Almonds | Hottie Biscotti

Do you have any favorite toppings for your ice cream?  I can always use some new ideas!

Brown Sugared Pineapple, Toasted Coconut and Almond Sundaes

Serves 4

Ingredients

For the Pineapple

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 heaping cup fresh pineapple, cut into chunks

For the Sundaes

  • vanilla ice cream
  • toasted coconut chips or unsweetened coconut
  • toasted sliced almonds

Directions

Pineapple

  1. Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add the butter.  Allow it to melt almost completely.
  2. Add in the brown sugar and increase the heat to medium high.  Stir the sugar and butter together until the sugar has dissolved.
  3. Add in the pineapple and stir to coat each piece of pineapple.  Let it cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar mixture has thickened a bit and the pineapple has warmed through.  Remove from the heat.

Sundaes

  1. Scoop ice cream into 4 small bowls.
  2. Divide the pineapple and sauce evenly among the bowls.
  3. Sprinkle coconut and almonds on top and serve.

 

 

Baked Empanadas with Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas Filling

One of my very best friends introduced me to the wonders of homemade empanadas a few years ago.  I’ve made them with her a couple of times, but never made them by myself.  I am so glad that I came across the recipe again and decided to make them last week.

Pork Carnitas Empanadas | Hottie Biscotti

The dough recipe is simple and can be done by hand or with a food processor.  It does need to chill before rolling, so make sure to give yourself at least an hour for that.  Better yet, make the dough the day before or in the morning and it’s ready to use when you need it.  The dough is easy to handle and it bakes up flaky and buttery and just plain amazing.

This pork carnitas recipe is from Simply Recipes, has terrific flavor and is the perfect filling for the dough.  It’s definitely something I’m going to keep in my go-to file of recipes.  You’ll have leftover meat if you make the full 3-4 pounds, and I plan to use some of it in tacos and freeze some for later.  If you don’t have time to make the pork, then you can use ground beef seasoned with taco seasoning, shredded chicken, beans or a combination of vegetables.  You can even add a little cheese to the filling if you’d like to.

Pork Carnitas Empanadas | Hottie Biscotti

Serve these lovely meat pies with sour cream for dipping, guacamole on the side, salsa, or maybe this sauce that I’ve been drooling over recently.

Pork Carnitas Empanadas | Hottie Biscotti

When we had these for dinner I served this Mexican street corn on the side.  But they can stand alone as a meal with a simple green salad.  You can also make them smaller and serve them as appetizers.  I cut them into 5-inch circles and 2-3 was a good serving size for dinner.

empanadas5 empanadas4 empanadas3 empanadas2 empanadas1

Here are some good tips on freezing both baked and unbaked empanadas, as well as a few delicious sounding recipes for different fillings.  I think I might have to whip up another batch to freeze for when we have a new baby on our hands in 6 weeks!

Pork Carnitas Empanadas | Hottie Biscotti

Empanadas with Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas

From Carrie Hartman and Simply Recipes

Makes 18-24

Ingredients

Empanada Dough

  • 4 1/2 cups flour + extra for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 sticks of cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg for egg wash
  • 2/3-1 cup of ice water
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar

Pork Carnitas

  • 3 1/2 pounds pork shoulder
  • 4 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Directions

Empanada Dough

  1. In the bowl of a food processor pulse flour and salt a few times.  Add in the butter and pulse until butter in is pea sized pieces.
  2. Whisk the eggs with 2/3 cup water and the vinegar.  With the processor running, stream in the egg mixture just until the dough comes together.  If it seems dry, add a few tablespoons of water.
  3. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and pat together into a disk.  Wrap in plastic and chill for at least an hour and up to a day or so.

Pork Carnitas

  1. Combine all the spices in a bowl and whisk them together.
  2. Place the meat in a plastic bag and add the spice mixture.  Turn the bag to coat the meat.  Put the bag in the refrigerator and let the meat marinate for at least an hour and up to overnight.
  3. Place the meat in the slow cooker with the vegetable oil and cook on low for 6 hours.
  4. Remove to a cutting board and let cool until you can handle the meat, then shred it.  If meat seems dry, add some of the juices in the crock pot back to the meat to moisten it.

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Remove dough from the fridge and cut in half.  Return the other half to the fridge.  Let it warm up for 10-15 minutes until it can be easily rolled out.
  3. Flour a clean work surface and roll the dough out to 1/8 to 1/4 inch in thickness.  Cut out rounds of dough about 5 inches in diameter, using a bowl as a guide.
  4. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling onto one side of a round of dough, fold the other half over and pinch the dough together to conceal the filling.  Place it on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Whisk an egg with a little water in a small bowl.  Brush some of the egg wash onto the top.  Crimp the edges with the tines of a fork.  Cut a small vent in the top with a paring knife.  Repeat with the remaining dough.
  6. Take the other half of the dough out and repeat with another cookie sheet (or 2) while you bake the first batch.
  7. Bake empanadas for 15-20 minutes depending on the size until pastries are golden brown.
  8. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

 

 

 

Mexican Street Corn Off the Cob

There is a taco place that originally opened in Austin called Torchy’s.  They have this incredible street corn that I get every time we go.  It is so very delicious.  The corn is crisp and flavorful.  And then there’s this ancho aioli that they put on top with the cilantro and cheese that makes this corn dish truly amazing.  Please try it if you ever find yourself at a Torchy’s in Austin, Dallas or Houston (and apparently Waco, Lubbock and soon College Station!).  And Torchy’s, I’d like that ancho aioli recipe…

I love the idea of street corn on the cob.  It’s also beautiful, all those lovely corn cobs lined up on a platter.  But I think it’s hard to eat and when I’ve had it I find that all the yummy toppings fall off and that makes me sad.  This way you can get the flavors of street corn without the mess or the sadness!

Mexican Street Corn | Hottie Biscotti

I have to honest with you.  This corn is not the same and not quite as good as Torchy’s but it’s still delicious and you can make it at home!  After looking through a few recipes for street corn, esquites, elotes en vaso, and other similar dishes with names I sound like a fool pronouncing, I came up with this recipe.  A good thing to remember when putting this together is to taste as you go and adjust the amounts according to what you like.  If you want your corn extra creamy, use more crema, if you want it more or less spicy, adjust the chipotle.  Adjust the lime juice as well.  If you use queso fresco like I did, you may need a pinch or so of salt.  If you use cojita cheese (which I unfortunately could not find) then you may not need the extra salt since it’s a saltier cheese.

Mexican Street Corn | Hottie Biscotti

Mexican Street Corn | Hottie Biscotti

As people serve themselves they can garnish with as much cilantro, chili powder and cheese as they’d like.  You can leave out the chipotle all together and serve it as a condiment as well, making sure to let everyone know that a little goes a long way!  When Ben and I were newlyweds I made a meal for him that was so heavy on the chipotle that it was almost inedible.  So be careful!

I sauteed the corn in a skillet, but you can boil it or grill it and then cut it off of the cob.  I prefer it with a little color and roasted flavor so grilling or sauteing in a hot skillet would be the best way to go.  I cut the corn off of 5 cobs and got about 2 cups of corn and it will serve about 4 as a small side dish.  Just increase or decrease the amount of corn for the people you plan to be serving.

You can make this earlier in the day, just up to the point where you mix the corn, butter, crema, chipotle and lime juice.  Refrigerate then reheat over medium-low heat until hot, stirring frequently.  Then you can serve and garnish the cups.

Mexican Street Corn | Hottie Biscotti

Street Corn Off the Cob

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 5 ears of corn, husked and corn cut off the cobs
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • kosher salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons of crema mexicana (could also use sour cream or mayonnaise)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of lime juice (plus a few extra wedges for serving)
  • 1 minced chipotle pepper mixed with 3 teaspoons of sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce
  • queso fresco (or cojita cheese)
  • chili powder
  • cilantro, roughly chopped

Directions

  1. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat and add in the corn.  Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring just a few times so that the corn has an opportunity to char a bit.
  2. Remove from the heat and add in butter and salt and stir until butter has melted.
  3. Place corn in a bowl and stir in 1 tablespoon of crema and 1 tablespoon lime juice.  Taste and add more crema and/or lime juice.  Taste and season if needed.  Stir in 1 teaspoon of the chipotle, taste and add more if needed.
  4. Divide into cups and garnish with queso fresco, a sprinkle of chili powder and a few cilantro leaves.  Serve with lime wedges.

 

Frozen S’mores Mousse

The name of this retro dessert in the cookbook I found it in is chocolate marlow, but I figured that while that might intrigue some people, it would be better to describe it more…descriptively.  It’s a chocolate and marshmallow mousse that’s frozen then topped with whipped cream, sugar coated graham crackers and some chopped chocolate.  In other words,  amazing.

Frozen S'mores Mousse | Hottie Biscotti

If you like the flavors of a s’more but want something a little different and dressed up, then you’ll love this.  The marshmallow flavor is there but is not overwhelming or cloying.  The graham crackers are baked with egg white and a sprinkling of sugar that transforms them into something really incredible.  There’s a terrific crunch from the sugar and a kind of toasted-ness that makes these a perfect garnish.  I’d definitely make more graham crackers next time since they’re also a good alternative to a spoon or fork!

After making a chocolate base of marshmallow, chocolate and milk it is chilled then folded in with whipped cream.  After a 1 hour chill in the freezer it is perfectly scoop-able.  If you allow it to harden completely in the freezer you need to let it sit out for 20-30 minutes before scooping.

Frozen S'mores Mousse | Hottie Biscotti

After scooping I decided topping this with a little sweetened whipped cream couldn’t hurt anybody.  A couple of the graham crackers and a square of chocolate top this off perfectly.

Frozen S'mores Mousse | Hottie Biscotti

Crumble up the graham crackers over everything before enjoying!

Frozen S'mores Mousse | Hottie Biscotti

Frozen S’mores Mousse

From America’s Best Lost Recipes 

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

Mousse

  • 2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate (I used 4 ounces semisweet and 2 ounces 60% cocoa) chopped
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups heavy cream

Sugared Crackers

  • 4 whole graham crackers (or more)
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • granulated sugar

Garnish

  • Sweetened whipped cream
  • chocolate squares

Directions

Mousse

  1. Combine the marshmallows, milk and chocolate in a saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly until marshmallows are melted completely and mixture is smooth.
  2. Pour the mixture into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and chill for an hour in the refrigerator.
  3. Whip cream to soft peaks and stir in vanilla.
  4. Fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture,
  5. Scoop into a 2 quart souffle dish and freeze for 1 hour.

Sugared Graham Crackers

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Lay crackers out on cookie sheet.  Brush each with the egg white, then sprinkle evenly with sugar.
  3. Bake for about 5 minutes, then let cool completely and break into pieces.

Assemble

  1. If mousse is still scoop-able, scoop into dessert bowls.  If it is too hard to scoop, let warm up a bit.
  2. Top with whipped cream, a couple of crackers and a chocolate square.