Friday, December 28, 2012

Chocolate Oreo Truffles

Here we are at the end of another year! I don't know where time is going but it sure is flying. I hope all of you had a wonderful - and delicious - holiday season!

I was so excited about Christmas this year. Baby girl is just about two-and-a-half and for the past month has been so excited for everything Christmas - the tree, the lights, all of the decorated homes, seeing Santa, talking about presents, and the anticipation of the big man coming to her house to bring presents.

As you know, I don't bake, but something about the holidays this year made me want to fill the house with lots of sweet treats! So when assigned a blog for the last Taste of Home Cooking Recipe Swap of the year, I immediately decided to make a sweet treat.

The blog I was given was Simple Gourmet Cooking. I bookmarked a few savory recipes to make in the future but stuck to my original plan of making something sweet. As soon as I saw this recipe for Oreo Truffles, I knew it was the one for me.

 I bought the Oreos, and decided to eat one as I was prepping this recipe. At that moment I realized I hadn't eaten an Oreo in at least 15 years or more! Mmm, I forgot how good they were.

This recipe was SO simple, so quick, and OH MY GOD so rich and delicious. Jon tried one and the look on his face said "oh shit these are really good and you better hide them because I'm going to end up eating every single one." Yup, success.

After he ate it, we were talking about other things we could do with them. He mentioned that coffee would go well with it, and maybe we could roll them in cocoa powder instead of dipping them in a sweet layer of chocolate. Maybe next year I'll play around with the recipe. I think these truffles will be making an appearance for the holidays every year!

Oreo Truffles
From: Simple Gourmet Cooking

  •  1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 package Oreo cookies, finely crushed (I ended up using 2 sleeves, not the whole 3 sleeves in the package
  • 1/2 bag semi-sweet chocolate morsels, melted (I melted them slowly in the microwave with 1 tbsp shortening. I melted for 15 seconds, stirred, another 15, stirred, etc. Total time was 1 min 15 seconds)
  • White chocolate melted, if desired for decorating them (I didn't do this)
  • Mix cream cheese and cookie crumbs until well combined.
  • Roll to shape into truffles.
  • Dip in melted chocolate; place on a wax paper-covered baking sheet. Allow truffles to sit at room temp 1 hour or until firm.
  • If desired, decorate with more melted chocolate, colored frosting, crushed Oreos, etc.
  • Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

Chocolate covered Oreo Truffles. An easy no-bake dessert. Perfect for Christmas. #truffles #oreo #chocolate #christmas

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cauliflower Cheese Fritters

I have been cooking cauliflower a lot recently, so I was excited when I got a recipe for Cauliflower Cheese Fritters from the blog Hezzi-D's Books and Cooks in the latest Taste of Home Cooking Recipe Swap featuring side dishes.

Just a few weeks ago I made  delicious dish called Bang Bang Cauliflower, a tempura battered cauliflower tossed with a creamy Sriracha sauce. These fritters reminded me a bit of the consistency of the Bang Bang Cauliflower which is probably why I ate 4 of them as soon as I finished cooking them! They were really, really good. And while they make a great side dish, they would also make a great appetizer if you made them a little smaller.

I made one small mistake, but it didn't change the flavor of the dish at all. I fried the fritters in just a small amount of oil; the original recipe calls for frying and then finishing in the oven. I let them go longer than instructed, and they became a nice golden brown so I didn't want to overcook them by also throwing them in the oven. And since I only used a thin layer of oil in the bottom of my pan, they weren't all that greasy. But if you want to cut some of the fat, these would work just fine fried and then finished in the oven.

Now the picture below is a bit silly, but I had to take it to show you how big and fluffy these little fritters were! Aren't they pretty? And can't you just tell how crunchy they were on the outside, and fluffy on the inside?

Here is the recipe for Cauliflower Cheese Fritters.

  • 3/4 c flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c milk
  • 2 c chopped, raw cauliflower (I used about half of a medium sized head of cauliflower and chopped it into tiny pieces)
  • 1 c cheddar cheese
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, egg, and milk together in a bowl. Stir until a smooth batter forms.
  • Stir in the cauliflower, cheese, garlic, and red pepper flakes; mix well. Put in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
  • I did this but never ended up baking them - Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet (I used about 1/4 inch max deep of oil in a non-stick pan). Working in batches, drop large spoonfuls of the cauliflower mixture into the oil. Saute for 3 minutes on each side or until just browned. I browned them completely in the pan.
  • If baking them, Transfer to the baking sheet.  Cook for 5-10 minutes in the oven or until cooked through. Immediately sprinkle with salt and serve hot.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Chicken-Spinach-Artichoke Stuffed Shells

While shopping at Wegman's a few weeks ago, I picked up a box of pasta shells just on a whim. I didn't have any recipes in mind, but thought that maybe I'd make them soon.

That weekend, I decided to make stuffed shells, but wanted something different and with a creamy sauce instead of a red sauce. I also wanted to incorporate chicken, as well as 2 cans of artichokes I came across while reorganizing my pantry. Mmm, artichokes got me thinking about my favorite hot dip recipe, Spinach Artichoke Dip. And there it was - my inspiration for these Chicken Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells!

These shells took a little bit of work, but if you poach or bake and chop your chicken beforehand (even the day before), you will save some time. There isn't anything hard about this recipe, it just requires some prep which means a lot of dishes to wash!

My parents and my friend Jenny came over to eat these, and we all loved them! They tasted so much like my Spinach Artichoke Dip which is exactly what I wanted. I will definitely be making these again!

Chicken Spinach Artichoke Stuffed Shells
Original Recipe by Mary Ellen of Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

The amounts are approximate as I created this recipe as I cooked. I go based on look, feel, and taste, adding as necessary instead of adding all of my ingredients at once.

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Dried herbs and spices for poaching the chicken - Italian mix, basil, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper
  • Approximately 4 c of water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Optional: 1-2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Approximately 1.5 c ricotta
  • 6 oz shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 c bechamel (recipe follows)
  • 2-3 handfuls of fresh baby spinach (almost 1 full bag), roughly chopped (or 1 10oz box of frozen spinach would work - defrost and squeeze to get all of the excess water out)
  • 1 can of artichoke hearts, chopped
  • Handful of shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 30 jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups light cream
  • 1 cup grated pecorino romano cheese
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • Place the chicken in a pot with all of the spices/herbs, cover with water and cook on medium until cooked through. Remove from water and chop or shred.
  • The bechamel: Heat butter in a pot over medium high heat. Add flour and whisk until you have a nice roux. Add the cream and bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, whisking until creamy. Season as needed with pepper (it should be salty enough from the cheese).
  • Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onion and garlic (and red pepper flakes, if using), saute 2-3 minutes.
  • Transfer the onion and garlic to a large mixing bowl. Add the chicken, mozzarella, artichokes, and spinach, and then slowly add your ricotta and 1/2 c of the bechamel until you have a nice thick mixture. You don't want the cheese to overtake the chicken, so make sure your ratio of creamy cheesy goodness to chicken works.
  • Cover the bottom of a baking dish with a layer of the bechamel.
  • Stuff each shell with a large spoon full of the chicken mixture and place in the dish. Once you have filled the dish, top the shells with a bit more mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
  • Bake on 400 for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.