Monday, October 19, 2015

Apple & Pear Galette

Got a bit of cooler weather this past weekend, and because I have absolutely no chill, and have been hard wired to have the excitement of a puppy dog about EVERYTHING, I made a fall dessert. The high was 84. Not exactly screaming fall, but I'm from Houston.

This is a rustic dessert, the best kind in my opinion, made up of a combination of apples and pears, tossed in apple pie seasonings, and put in a puff pastry. Galettes are free form pastries, hence the rustic look.

You can make this in a tart pan if you like, which is what I did, and fold over the edges to give it that gorgeous "I'm not perfect" look. Otherwise, if you don't have a tart pan, simply put this on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. It will still be gorgeous.

I made a quick vanilla simple syrup to put over the top of the galette, but next time, I'm thinking a drizzle of salted caramel.

Super simple dessert, perfect for fall.

Apple & Pear Galette

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly
2 pears, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly (Red or Bosc)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon
1 puff pastry, thawed, but cool
3 tablespoons melted butter
Raw sugar, or turbinado sugar 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

If using a tart pan, lightly butter the bottom and edges. If no tart pan, place a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet.

In a bowl, toss the apple and pear slices with brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and the juice from half a lemon. Watch out for the pesky seeds!

Roll out the puff pastry to a thin 1/8". If using a 9" tart pan, roll it out so that it is bigger than the pan in order to fold in the edges. Place the rolled puff pastry in the tart pan, or place on the parchment paper.

If using the tart pan, place the apple and pear slices tightly and neatly into the pan. Make it as pretty as you like. If using the parchment method, start placing your apple and pear slices 2 inches from the edge of the puff pastry, to allow for the folding.

Once all the apples and pears are cozied up in the pastry, fold in your puff pastry edges on top of the apples, crimping where they meet. Brush on the melted butter and sprinkle with raw or turbinado sugar.

Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, rotating the pastry every 15 minutes to ensure even cooking. 

Once the apples are softened, and you have a golden pastry, it's ready!

You can make a quick simple syrup to glaze the pastry, or drizzle on some caramel, or just simply eat with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! 



Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Pumpkin Butter + Muenster Grilled Cheese

I try to hold out on the pumpkin recipes because they are all over the place! But I discovered pumpkin butter with the help of a friend in book club. She mentioned that she makes grilled cheese sandwiches using pumkin butter and Gruyere. Book club was 3 weeks ago, and it has been on my mind ever since!

I figured I'd pick up a jar from Trader Joe's, but then a favorite blogger of mine, Minimalist Baker, posted a 20 minute pumpkin butter recipe, and I knew, I had to just make it myself.

For those of you new to pumpkin butter, it is a thick, and creamy pumpkin spread . It has the warmth found in anything pumpkin because of the pumpkin spice mix and maple syrup used in this recipe. I could imagine adding this on pancakes or waffles, or incorporating it into desserts like brownies, and cheesecake. I made a half recipe, so about one mason jar worth, which is more than enough for me to last this "fall" season. 

My husband is anti-pumpkin, so I didn't tell him what KIND of grilled cheese we were having. I stood over him while he took his first bite and after he told me how good it was, I let him know it was pumpkin. It was fine. Cheese + butter > pumpkin.

Pumpkin Butter + Muenster Grilled Cheese

Half batch of pumpkin butter 
4 slices of hearty bread
4 slices of Muenster (or any cheese)
4 tablespoons SALTED butter

Turn on oven broiler to preheat.
Heat a skillet over medium-low heat. Spread pumpkin butter inside all 4 slices of bread, arrange cheese slices over the pumpkin butter, one per slice of bread. Close the sandwiches. Spread butter on both sides of both sandwiches and place in skillet. Get a nice LIGHT brown on both sides because we will finish them off under the broiler.

Once the sandwiches have some color to them, stick them under the broiler to melt the cheese and get a golden crust on the sandwich. Flip the sandwiches to do the same on the other side. 

Remove the skillet from the broiler, don't burn yourself, and cut your sandwiches in half.

Enjoy your ooey, gooey, pumpkin-y sandwich!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Lemon Caper Chicken

Hi! I feel like I start all my posts the same way, telling you how crappy I feel that I have waited so long to post. Well, here's another.

The issue with blogging is that in order to post consistently, i feel like you have to be "on," and witty, and maybe inspiring, sometimes all at once before even posting the recipe. I just don't feel like that's who I am as a blogger. Sometimes I just want to post the recipe and scurry off, but since I'm an avid blog reader, I feel the pressure of writing a "piece" before I get to posting what I made in my kitchen.

If it's fine with you, sometimes I may have nothing much to say, but want to share my recipe with you, so on those days, I'll simply post up the recipe with a simple hello.

Here's a one skillet meal for those of us who cook, and also do the dishes.

Lemon Caper Chicken

4 thin chicken breasts (from 2 large breasts)
1 large shallot, sliced thinly
3-4 mushrooms, sliced thinly
2 tablespoons capers
1 cup chicken, or veggie, stock
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, marjoram, oregano, etc.)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
olive oil
8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved
feta cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Don't forget to take out any pots and pans living in there! It happens. 

Heat olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place in skillet. Get a nice brown on both sides of the chicken. No need to fully cook them because they will finish off in the oven. Remove from skillet to a plate.

In the skillet, add shallots, mushrooms, and capers. Saute for a minute. Add chicken stock, garlic, red chili flakes, fresh herbs, and lemon juice to the vegetables. Scrape off the brown bits (this is good stuff), and let this come to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, until the liquid has reduced. 

Turn off heat and whisk in butter until fully incorporated, and then add in the heavy cream. Place the chicken breasts back in the skillet, covering with sauce. Sprinkle in the tomatoes and place the skillet in the oven for an additional 10-12 minutes until chicken if fully cooked.

Remove from oven, and sprinkle on the feta! 


Monday, April 13, 2015

5-Spice Chicken Ramen

This isn't some gussied up packaged ramen recipe, so please keep reading! I have yet to try "real" ramen from a ramen restaurant, but for some reason I just really wanted to make it myself. When I have a craving, it stays on my mind until I have it. I honestly do think about food all. the. time.

Ramen is known as Japanese noodle soup that uses Chinese noodles in a savory meat or vegetable based broth flavored with soy or miso, and uses an array of condiments such as sliced green onions, cilantro, soft boiled eggs, meats, and whatever else you feel like topping it with.

Making a good, healthy, and flavorful ramen at home is easy peasy and worlds different from those .10 packets that most of us know and maybe even love! I am not one to be beneath eating those old school ramen packets. I grew up on those during the tough times as a kid, I ate them as a college kid as a quick, cheap, haven't gotten paid yet meals, and I even had them post college when I lived on my own, perking them up with meat and vegetables. Those packaged ramens helped me have a meal, and therefore, hold a special place in my food life.

My ramen starts with a super flavorful broth, which comes from the addition of sesame oil, lemongrass, ginger, and garlic as the base. I then added some spinach, Napa cabbage, and shredded carrots for extra veggies and color. Topped it off with probably the best chicken I have made in a while, using Chinese 5-spice* plus salt, and a soft boiled egg, drizzled with a little red chili oil. Using good quality Chinese noodles I found at the Asian market near my home completed this classic ramen.

This recipe is just my adaptation. Like I said, I haven't had the chance to try a real ramen place in Houston, and these ingredients are just part of how I thought ramen would be made, and or taste. We had these with some light and fresh summer rolls and homemade peanut sauce. I will share that recipe in a different post.

Make this ramen, make it your own, and enjoy!

*Chinese 5-spice powder is a mix of star anise, clove, black pepper, cinnamon, and fennel. Can be found in the spice or Asian foods aisle of your supermarket. 

5-Spice Chicken Ramen

2 large chicken breasts
1 tablespoon Chinese 5-spice
sea salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1" inch ginger, thinly sliced
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 3" slices
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable)
4 large mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup shredded or matchstick carrots
2 cups baby spinach
chili oil, to taste
2 cold eggs
6 oz thin Chinese wheat noodles (best found at Asian supermarket, or Asian foods aisle)
Garnishes: thinly sliced green onion, thinly sliced napa cabbage, lemons, thai basil, mint, cilantro, Sriracha

Begin by cleaning and drying the chicken breasts and seasoning both sides with Chinese 5-spice powder and sea salt.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and heat up a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle in the olive oil and butter. Once butter is melted and the skillet is screaming hot, place the chicken breasts in. Do not touch and let cook for 3 minutes to form a crust. Flip and cook other side for an additional 3 minutes. Place the skillet with the chicken breasts in the oven to cook for an additional 20-25 minutes until cooked through.

While the chicken is baking, begin the broth. In a large soup or stock pot, heat sesame oil and toss in the garlic, ginger, and lemongrass. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add in the broth, soy sauce, and mushrooms. Bring to a boil, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Add in carrots, and simmer for 5 minutes to soften, and lastly add in spinach until wilted. Add in a few drops of chili oil to taste, if desired.

Follow package directions for the noodles. As water boils for the noodles, work on making the soft boiled eggs. Soft boiled eggs have a creamy yolk center, and is a perfect complement to any ramen bowl. Bring a small pot of water (enough to cover the eggs) to a boil. Gently place in the 2 eggs from the refrigerator into the boiling pot of water. Be careful! Cook for 7 minutes for a creamy, less set yolk, or 8 for a creamy, more set, yolk. I prefer the 8 minute mark. As the eggs boil, make a small ice bath. After 8 minutes, drain the hot water and place the eggs in the water bath to stop the cooking process. Peel and set aside when ready to use.

Once chicken is cooked, place on plate and cover with foil. Time to assemble your ramen!

Grab a large, deep bowl for yourself and start by placing in some noodles. Pour over ramen broth to cover noodles and make it as soupy as you like. Some people like more noodles to broth, and some like less, so up to you.

Thinly slice the chicken breast and top the ramen bowls with chicken, a sliced egg, cabbage, more chili oil, green onions, any other greenery, and Sriracha sauce, if you heart(burn) desires.

Enjoy with chopsticks and your best slurping noises!

Remember to follow me on instagram @liveloveatrepeat and/or tag your creations with #liveloveatrepeat

Friday, January 23, 2015

Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Finally, finally, finally baked a chocolate chip cookie I was happy with! Give me a thick and chewy chocolate chip cookie, alongside a well made coffee, and I am in bliss. This, after so many failed attempts at baking the kind of cookie I love.

I tried so many different methods like keeping the just made cookie dough in the fridge from 24-48 hours before baking, baking cookies as soon as I complete the dough, less sugar, more brown sugar, no baking soda, only baking powder, melted butter, softened butter, corn starch, etc, etc. but they never turned out the way I liked. Almost every time, they spread and would be flat discs by the time they cooled. Some may enjoy a thin, chewy on the inside, crispy edge cookie, but it just doesn't float my cookie boat.

Which brings me to my point that baking is a science. So many factors can lead to different types of cookies or baked goods.  It's not like cooking, where you can throw a bunch of ingredients together and taste as you go to create a dish. Which, I know to some, sounds daunting. Most of my readers love measurements, so I try my best, but believe me when I say this, it's okay if you are not exact in your cooking!  There is room for experimentation/error in cooking.

Baking however, requires exact measurements and weights. It is mostly the reason I never really enjoyed baking, and loved the creativity of cooking with whatever I had on hand with no measurements as a guide. Basically, I cooked like my dad. Now that I enjoy baking and even have made a small business of it, I am very aware of my measurements and take into account every grain of flour because it is so important in making sure your baked goods turn out.

There are many articles out there in the internet world regarding the science behind different types cookies. If you're a cookie baking fanatic, I suggest you Google "cookie science," or "science of baking cookies," or follow this link to my favorite article about the science of baking your favorite type of cookie.

If you read my blog, you'll notice I posted a brown butter nutella cookie recipe almost 2 years ago, and although great cookies, they too were on the flatter side. I think these are better!

My cookie recipe yields a thick cookie, with a chewy center, and slightly brown bumps on top. I use good quality dark chocolate chips,  salted european butter, toasted nuts, and as always, a sprinkle of sea salt on top.  I just got back from a trip to Napa, and went fan girl crazy in Dean & Deluca. One of my buys was vanilla bean salt. I have been craving chocolate chip cookies since that day almost 3 weeks ago.  And my not so secret ingredient, is instant coffee! It gives the cookies a richer, deeper flavor. Trust me on this. If this sounds like a good cookie to you, definitely give them a try!

I would love to know how they turn out for you. You can tag me on instagram with #liveloveatrepeat.

Thick & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: A baker's dozen (aka 13 cookies)

7 tablespoons salted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 + 1/4 cup all purpose flour, unbleached + extra
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso granules
1 cup toasted nuts (your choice, I prefer large walnut pieces)*
1 + 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Sea salt to sprinkle tops (optional)

*To toast nuts, put them in a pan on medium low heat and shake around until they begin to smell nutty. Take them immediately off of the burner and into a bowl to cool

Pop the butter in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 10-15 seconds. You want to the butter to be just slightly melted. Let cool.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and instant coffee or espresso.

In mixing bowl, combine cooled butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.

Scrape down the bowl, and add the vanilla and egg, beating until fully incorporated.

Add the flour and beat on low speed until combined.  Add a tablespoon at a time of the extra flour until the dough comes together with minimal dough sticking to the bowl. I used about an extra 1/4 cup of flour.

Mix in the chocolate chips and cooled nuts.

Let the cookie dough chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop out dough, and then with your hands make a scraggly ball. I'm pretty sure scraggly is a word. In order to get the nice bumps in your cookie, you want the top of your cookie to not be smooth when you scoop out the batter. So basically, form it into a rough ball. If I'm not making sense, just make a ball. It'll still be a cookie.

I was able to fit 6 on my first batch, and 7 on my second, on the cookie sheet. Bake one tray at a time for 9-11 minutes. At minute 5, I sprinkled on the vanilla bean salt (or any sea salt) onto my cookies and promptly closed the oven door to cook for the remainder of 5-6 minutes. Once you see small brown spots on top of the cookie, or the edges are BEGINNING to brown, the cookies are ready. Let cool, or eat them straight out of the oven. Up to you!


Sunday, December 28, 2014

Salted Caramel Baklava Bites

I hope you all had a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, happy Kwanzaa, happy holidays, or just a happy day off from work!

Cannot believe the holidays have come and gone already. I say this every year, but this year just flew by! I am not ready to take down our holiday tree just yet.  It's just so pretty with all the lights on in the dark. Even as I am typing up this post, I have the tree on and am sitting in the dark with the fireplace on.

I wanted to quickly share this recipe because one, I haven't posted something in a while, and two, it was just such a great, quick dessert, and I really wanted to share it with all of you.

This recipe came about completely on a whim because what I thought was a friends potluck dinner tonight, was actually a friends potluck lunch! I went from having all day to make and bring my dessert as promised, to a little over an hour before we had to leave to make it to lunch. My first reaction was to stop by Whole Foods and pick something up, but then I felt bad. I promised a homemade dessert, and I was going to bring one!

I threw on my sweats, hurried off to HEB, and debated between puff pastry or phyllo, and pastry cream or nuts on my drive there. I picked up phyllo shells and nuts. Figured I would make something like baklava with a drizzle of caramel.

If you need a quick dessert, or realize you need to be somewhere at the last minute, these are great to take in hand and share with people you like.

Salted Caramel Baklava Bites

Salted Caramel:
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt

Baklava Bites:
2 packages pre-baked phyllo shells (15 per pack)
1 cup walnut chips
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbs honey
1 teaspoon rose water
zest one orange
juice of half an orange
2 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350.

For the caramel, in a small sauce pan, melt down sugar and a couple drops of water. Keep stirring until the sugar melts and become a dark amber color. Add the butter and stir until butter is melted and combined. Turn off the heat, and take the sauce pan off of the stove.  Add the heavy cream, while stirring. The mixture will bubble, but keep stirring until the cream is incorporated and the caramel is smooth.  Add the vanilla and salt and stir until combined.  Let the caramel cool down to a drizzle consistency.

While the caramel cools down, combine the walnuts, pecans, brown sugar, honey, rose water, zest, and orange juice in a bowl.  Stir to coat the nuts fully.

On a large baking sheet, lay out the shells and fill with the nut mixture. Drizzle in a bit of melted butter into each shell.  Pop into preheated oven for 15 minutes.

Let the baklava bites cool a bit until the phyllo is crispy again. Drizzle on the salted caramel.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pecan Caramel Tart

Still no pumpkin recipe. Sorry, and, you're welcome, depending on how you feel about pumpkin and pumpkin food things.

The season of lots of eating and holiday mayhem is upon us! It's time to bring out the stretchy pants (aka leggings), sweatpants, and large sweaters, cozy up on the couch with a mug of something hot and a plate of pie. I seriously love pie.

The crust is my favorite part of pie, and I count tarts in the realm of pies because there is a crust, therefore, I seriously also love tarts.

This year, I will be taking part in four Thanksgiving feasts all before the official turkey day. Thankfully the bathing suits I picked up for my trip to Cancun next week all have strategically placed ruching on them to hide my food baby. One piece bathing suits for the win!

For Thanksgiving feast number two, which was at work, I signed up to bring a pecan caramel tart. Although I love me some pie, pecan is towards the end of my list, mostly because I am not a fan of the gloopy corn syrup filling.  I usually just eat the crust and the pecans. This tart gets rid of that gloopiness with only combining pecans and caramel.

I tweaked my cardamom shortbread crust recipe from my Sunshine Lemon Tart by adding a dash of cinnamon, toasted up some pecans, and made a batch of caramel.  All combined to make a beautiful, buttery, crunchy, caramel-y dessert.

Homemade caramel is super easy and can be done without a candy thermometer. I mean really, who has those? And is it different from a regular cooking thermometer? I figure my caramel turns out just dandy without a thermometer, so it's one tool I currently do not need. Homemade caramel takes some patience because the sugar goes through stages, but then some magic happens and the sugar turns into a gorgeous brown color and you're like, whoa, I think I just made caramel.  This caramel is my go to. I have used it to drizzle on grilled bananas, ice cream, baked into chocolate chip cookies, and now, this tart. So keep this in your cooking apron because it is one handy treat.

Pecan Caramel Tart

1 cardamom shortbread crust (I added a dash of cinnamon to the dry ingredients)
3 cups pecans
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons water
4 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Demerara/Turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare tart pan by buttering or using cooking spray to coat.  Press in the shortbread crust into the bottom and flutes of the pan.  Use powdered sugar to prevent the dough from sticking to your hands. You can also use the back of a spoon to press down.

Poke holes into the crust with a fork and let it rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

As the crust rests, lay out the pecans into a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes.  Or, if you smell the pecans, take them out to cool.  They are letting you know they are ready!

Once the pecans are out of the oven, pop in the shortbread crust and bake for 15 minutes.  Let cool. If you are good at timing everything, you can toast the pecans and bake the crust at the same time!

As the pecans toast and/or the shortbread crust cools, prepare the caramel.  In a medium sauce pan, add the sugar and water.  Now you will stir and stir until the sugar goes from granulated, to liquid, back to granulated, and into melting. Once the sugar goes from liquid back to granulated, you must constantly stir and break up clumps. I prefer to use a whisk at this step. Don't worry if you have clumps, but try to break them up as best as you can.  Once there are minimal clumps, and your sugar has turned a dark amber color, add butter, and stir/whisk in vigorously.

Take the pan off of the heat and slowly add in your whipping cream while stirring.  Make sure to fully combine the cream in.  Add in your vanilla extract.  At this point you can let the caramel cool into a nice, thick caramel sauce and place into a jar for use. Now give yourself a high five.

For the purpose of this tart, place the caramel on low heat to keep the caramel runny.

Lower the temperature of the oven down to 350 degrees once the pecans are toasted and crust is baked.

In a mixing bowl, combine toasted pecans, brown sugar, and all of the caramel. Combine fully.  Pour into the cooled shortbread crust. Sprinkle with a little Demerara/Turbinado sugar to give it some sparkle. Place in oven and bake 20-25 minutes, until nice and bubbly.

Let the tart completely cool down before popping out of the tart pan.  And then take a moment to marvel in the fact that you made the best dessert this holiday season has tasted.


*Cooking tip*
If the caramel is still clumpy after adding the heavy cream and vanilla, cook over low heat and stir. Low heat will help the remaining sugar clumps to melt.