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Pasta/Pizza Quick and Simple Recipes Sauces Tested Recipes

The Daring Cooks Challenge – handmade spätzle (with meatballs in cream sauce)

Spätzle with meatballs in cream sauce

This month’s challenge was to make noodles, with a suggestion for Spätzle.  A long (long) time ago I lived in Germany for several years and became very fond of them but although I’ve made lots of other types of noodles,  for some reason just never tried these.  I know my choice of meatballs in cream sauce really isn’t traditional with them, there was the usual time crunch and I had some ready made meatballs on hand that could be made quickly.  Thanks for the great idea and I will be making these more often (and with more traditional meals – maybe schnitzel) now that I know how quick and easy they are!
Steph from Stephfood was our Daring Cooks’ July hostess.  Steph challenged us to make homemade noodles without the help of a motorized pasta machine.  She provided us with recipes for Spätzle and Fresh Egg Pasta as well as a few delicious sauces to pair our noodles with!
I followed the recipe given by Steph for the Spätzle but instead of the sauce she provides, I made the weekday meal version – prefab meatballs with a simple cream sauce to serve with them.
Spätzle:
Boiling the spätzle

Draining

Meatballs and Cream Sauce
Ingredients:
1 lb fully cooked meatballs (purchased or your favorite recipe)
1 medium onion finely chopped
2 TBS butter
2 TBS flour
1 TBS Better than Bullion (or 1 teaspoon bullion granules)
2 cups milk or half and half
Procedure:
Heat and brown the meatballs in a large skillet adding a little oil if needed, then remove and set aside.  Add the onion to the skillet and brown well (add a little more oil if there is not enough fat from the meatballs).
Saute the onions and meatballs

Add the butter and stir in the flour and cook until it is lightly browned.
Make the sauce

Stir in the Better than Boullion or bouillon granules then add the milk or half and half. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Return the meatballs to skillet and heat through, about 1 minute.

Dessert Food photography gifts Recipes Sauces

Citrus cream parfaits

Citrus Cream Parfait

While I was visiting the LA Times test kitchen, Noelle Carter was gracious enough to share a great trick with me.  Instead of whipping cream with a whisk or mixer, try doing it in the food processor.  The cream has less air and is more substantial so it holds better and tastes amazing, a little more buttery.  I couldn’t wait to get home and try it out and since I had collected quite a few fruits from my sister-in-law’s trees and the Santa Monica farmer’s market, I decided to make a citrus cream parfait.  I used the lime cream recipe (Printable Lime Cream Recipe) substituting a mixture of lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges to make a double batch.  Use whatever citrus fruits you have, as long as it equals the right amount of juice.  I zested all the fruits because I like things tart, but you can do only some if you prefer a slightly sweeter recipe.
Citrus Cream

Once the citrus cream was ready, I made the whipped cream by adding 2 cups of heavy whipping cream, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon of vanilla to the food processor and processing for a brief (1-2 minutes) time until it was smooth and thick.
Gently fold 1/2 of the whipped cream with 1/2 of the citrus cream.  In dessert cups or nice glasses, add a layer of the citrus cream, a layer of the cream mixture and a layer of whipped cream, then repeat if you are using large glasses.  You could also do it in a single large glass bowl like a trifle.  That’s it!
A double batch of the citrus cream and 2 cups of whipped cream makes 4-8 servings depending on the size of your glasses.
Lime Cream Coconut Pie

The citrus cream is great for desserts or put it in a jar for gifts.  You can use it to make pies, filled cookies, tarts and almost anything you would use lemon curd for, even just on toast or muffins so while I was at it, I also made a double batch of the lime.  I put it in a pre-baked pie shell and sprinkled with some toasted coconut for another quick dessert.
Enjoy.

Dessert Food photography Recipes

Blueberry Cheesecake

Blueberry Cheesecake

Cheesecake is always popular around here and I recently got a large container of blueberries.  When I asked what I should do with them, Son’s girlfriend suggested blueberry cheesecake and since she was about to graduate and planned on celebrating at an Italian restaurant it seemed like a great idea for an at home dessert after the meal.  Of course Son (who loves cheesecake but not so much blueberries) forgot to take or mention it so it didn’t make it to the celebration.  I have no doubt it will be eaten anyway!  I recently used this same basic recipe for an Oreo version requested for a birthday and found it is an excellent one, a little lighter texture than my usual favorite (which uses 2 2/1 pounds of cream cheese and no sour cream).
Printable Version Blueberry Cheesecake
Ingredients:
Crust:
1 1/2 cups finely ground cookie crumbs (I used the white chocolate peanut butter ones)
2 tbs butter (because these cookies were very moist I didn’t add the extra butter to keep the crust from being soggy, but if you use a dry cookie you should)
9 or 10 inch springform pan
Filling:
1 1/2 lbs cream cheese (room temperature)
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs (room temperature)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup flour
8 oz sour cream
Topping:
1 lb (about 4 cups) fresh blueberries (frozen or canned works too – if you use canned in syrup, don’t add sugar)
1/2 cup sugar (I like them to stay a little tart so if you want sweet add 1 cup instead of 1/2 cup)
1 teaspoon butter
grated zest from one lemon
juice from 1/2 lemon
2 cinnamon sticks
Procedure:
Cookies in the food processor

Place the cookies in a food processor and grind them finely.
Ground cookie crumbs in the pan

If the crumbs will not stick together between your fingers, add small amounts of melted butter until you can just flatten them together.  Place on the bottom of a springform pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Set aside.
Filling:
Cream Cheese

Beat the cream cheese until it is light and fluffy, add sugar gradually and keep beating until it is mixed in completely.
Add eggs

Add the eggs one at a time blending well after each egg.
Add vanilla, salt and flour

Add the vanilla, salt and flour and mix until smooth, scraping down the bowl to incorporate all ingredients.
Sour cream

Add the sour cream and mix well.


Pour into prepared pan and bake in a preheated oven at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes.  When the time is up slightly open the door and let the cake stay for an extra hour without disturbing – no peeking you want it to cool slowly to prevent cracks, although in this case the blueberry topping will cover any that might happen.  After an hour, cover with plastic wrap – not touching the top but over the pan and refrigerate at least overnight.
Topping:

Ingredients for fresh blueberry sauce
Blueberries in the pan

Wash the berries and place in a medium saucepan.  Add the remaining ingredients.

Blueberry popping

Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower to a simmer to thicken to the consistency you prefer.  A little less time and you will still have some whole blueberries, a little more and a thicker sauce.  Remove the cinnamon sticks and refrigerate, covered until ready to serve.
For serving you can either cover the top of the cheesecake, or serve the blueberries on the side, topping each slice separately.

Blueberry Cheesecake

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Recipe test: Rachael Ray’s You Won’t be Single for Long Vodka Pasta Sauce

I know I haven’t always been kind to some of Rachael’s recipes, but this is one of my favorites.   I make it quite often and even follow the recipe You Won’t Be Single for Long Vodka Pasta Sauce pretty faithfully, which is quite unusual for me.  The only change I …