Monday, January 27, 2014

Chocolate Almond Mousse Tart

I'm behind guys. This little football game next Sunday has been keeping this PR lady pretty busy. When you are lucky enough to work with NFL's official beer sponsor and legendary Super Bowl advertiser, there's a lot to do. Clydesdales basically own my ass.

The combination of the Super Bowl and early sunsets has me far enough behind on Carey On Lovely that I'm just getting to a recipe from Christmas. Shame on me. Blogger fail.

But you guys will forgive me if it's delicious and chocolatey, right? Mousse redemption? Don't make this girl beg. There's an ice cream cone crust. That's it, isn't it. I won you back with the cones.

I made this fabulous tart for my big ole' family Christmas dinner. You can make it ahead and it's light enough to cut through big meal fullness. 

Doesn't my Aunt Jane have pretty plates and counters? I should blog at her house more often. Or just move-in to her pantry and use her awesome gas stove every day. Wouldn't be weird at all. 

Don't forget to tune-in to the game. Think of me when you see the adorable animals and delicious beer. Cheers!

Chocolate Almond Mousse Tart
4oz ice cream cones, broken-up
4 graham crackers, broken-up
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons butter, melted
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
5oz semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup raspberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine ice cream cones, graham crackers, salt, sugar and butter in a food processor. Pulse until completely crumbled. Pour in butter and process until combined. Use your fingers to press the crumbs into the bottom of 10-inch removable bottom tart pan or springform pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely.

In a saucepan combine almonds, sugar and water. Bring to a boil and cook for 1-2 minutes. Remove almonds with a slotted spoon and lay in a single layer on parchment. Cool completely.

In a saucepan heat 3/4 cup cream to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate. Allow to cool. In a stand mixer whip the remaining 1 cup cream and powdered sugar to stiff peaks. Fold in cooled chocolate mixture. Pour filling into cooled crust and refrigerate covered for few hours until set.

Garnish with sugared almonds and raspberries. Serve and enjoy!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Citrus Kale Salad

I try to eat local when I can, but these Midwestern winters can leave a girl feeling skurvy-ish. Totally a word, btw. My favorite winter import? Bright, sunny citrus. Tart, juicy bites of grapefruit and orange taste like a little bit of sunshine.

This salad keeps it simple and lets the citrus shine. Kale and avocado add nice texture variety and a sweet-tart vinaigrette finishing things off.

This is definitely an easy weeknight kinda thing, but it does require a bit of technique. You'll feel so much fancier and the texture is much improved if you segment the orange and grapefruit. Great little tutorial here. Be sure to do it over a bowl so that you capture all the delicious juices.

This is a nice alternative to a ho-hum green salad. Try adding a bit of grilled chicken or shrimp if you're looking for a full meal. 

Citrus Kale Salad
1 bunch kale, washed and chopped
1 orange
1 grapefruit
2 tablespoons avocado oil (or olive oil)
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 avocado, sliced

Start by segmenting the orange and grapefruit over a bowl, reserving the juice. Set aside segments and squeeze out remaining juice from the guts of the grapefruit and orange.

In a jar, combine orange and grapefruit juice, avocado oil, honey and salt. Shake and taste; adjust salt and honey to taste.

Toss dressing with kale and let sit for 20-30 minutes to tenderize. Top with orange, grapefruit and avocado. Enjoy!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Honey Roasted Pear and Goat Cheese Tart

There are things we all need in life. We all need to push ourselves to try things that seem hard. We all need to feel schmancy sometimes. And most importantly, we all need a girlfriend with killer dessert instincts. I knocked out three birds with one stone with this Honey Roasted Pear and Goat Cheese Tart.

This stunning dessert takes some time, but it can easily be broken up into phases and prepared ahead of time. Beautiful fruit makes for a stunning presentation, while goat cheese gives unexpected and subtle tang. 

My college bestie is an enviable baker, so it's totally normal for the two of us to have extended text conversations involving the words shrinkage and hot fingers. Get your mind out of the gutter... this is pastry, people. And she did not let me down when she shared Maureen Abood's tart shell recipe. This may be blog blaspheme, but I much preferred it to even Smitten Kitchen's and it was easier. This one really was unshrinkable. 

This shell has a delicious sugar cookie like texture, perfect for delectable fillings.

In a true departure from typical pastry, you don't roll out this dough. You see, almonds give it enough body that even the warmth of your fingers patting it into the pan can't ruin the texture. I like that its less perfect than a rolled crust. In this imperfection, you see the time and craft of the one preparing it. Love in dimpled, uneven dough.

Simple roasting and a drizzle of honey bring out the best of winter pears. And a simple goat cheese filling whips to an airy fluff.

Arrange and beautifully as you can. Don't rush. It's good to take your time every once in awhile. Schmancy deserves a moment.

Once your peaceful pastry moment has passed, send a bunch of pics to your dessert friend with dirty jokes, gloating in your victory. It would only be better if you could enjoy it together.

Honey Roasted Pear and Goat Cheese Tart
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup slivered almonds
11 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 bartlett pears, halved and cored
2 tablespoons honey
8oz goat cheese, at room temperature
8oz whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
1 pint whipping cream

Blend flour, 1/4 cup sugar and almond together in a food processor until nuts are finely ground. Add in 10 tablespoons of butter and pulse until a course meal forms. Add egg and process until dough forms. Turn out dough onto a floured surface and pat into a 1-inch thick square. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour (or as long as overnight). 

Line the bottom of a removable 10-inch base tart pan with parchment. Cut dough into 1-inch slices and lay in bottom of pan, using your fingers to flatten and spread the dough. Line the sides of the pan with slices of dough, pressing into the fluted edges. Use fingers to press sides into bottom dough. Refrigerate for an hour.

While dough is chilling, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pears in a foil-lined baking dish and sprinkle remaining butter over top. Drizzle honey over pears. Roast pears for 45 minutes, until fork-tender. 

Bake crust until golden brown, between 15 and 20 minutes. If dough puffs up during baking, use the back of a spoon to lightly press down while cooling. Allow dough to cool before removing pan edge by pushing up removable bottom. 

Once pears have cooled, cut into 1/4 inch slices. Pat dry with a paper towel.

In a mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment, combine goat cheese, whipped cream cheese and cream. Whip for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Use an off-set spatula to spread cream in cooled pastry shell. Arrange pear slices in a layered spoke pattern. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Green Chicken Enchiladas

I don't know about you guys, but I'm still feeling the need for green after the holidays. All the better when you can get some green into a favorite cold-weather comfort food, like enchiladas. Yeah... I know the photo below exudes a cheesy goodness that would appear to go straight to your love handles, but all the rest of the contents are good for you stuff. Spinach (lots), poblanos and chicken... oh my!

I beg you to try making your own enchilada sauce. A freshly prepared sauce transforms this dish from weird potluck food to a full-flavored wonder. And not to brag, but these are better that many of the enchiladas I've had at sub-par Mexican joints (Chava's... cough, cough).

Unless you have a wood-fired oven in your home, you'll want to crank up the broiler to char your poblanos. They'll take on a smokey flavor and the skins will pop right off.

Those char-delicious-cooked poblanos will join up with fresh spinach in the blender to be the base of your enchilada sauce. 

You'll add in a warmed cream (or in this case, fat free milk) sauce and blend away. Don't forget to pop the top in order for steam to escape. Otherwise you'll blow the top and spend the next three days finding dried enchilada sauce all over your house. Science is a bitch. 

Admire your gorgeous green enchilada sauce before you get to stuffing those bad boys. So pretty, but wait you're hungry. Shredded chicken time. You can roast yourself or use leftover grilled chicken. Rotisserie chicken would totally work too. 

As promised, there's lots of green stuff. Chopped spinach adds more bulk and goodness to the enchilada filling.

Roll it all up in corn tortillas and arrange in a baking dish before pouring over that gorgeous, not-from-a-can sauce. No photoshop here, it's really that green. Photosynthesis.

Baked with cheese to finish the job. Dig in with less guilt knowing you're getting your greens.

Green Chicken Enchiladas
2 poblano peppers
10 oz fresh baby spinach, chopped
2 cups fat free milk
2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
6 tablespoons butter
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups shredded chicken
12 corn tortillas
1 cup shredded Chihuahua cheese
Chopped red onion and cilantro, for garnish

Heat broiler to high. Place poblanos on a sheet pan and put a few inches under the broiler. Watch closely and cook until skins turn black, then rotate. Once all sides are blackened, remove from oven. Place in a bowl and cover with a dish towel to cool. Use clean hands to remove blackened skins. Tear open and remove seeds and stem, discard. Roughly chop and put into jar of blender, along with one cup of chopped spinach.

Reduce oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan warm milk and chicken stock. In a separate large saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook just until fragrant. Sprinkle flour and whisk for 2 minutes. Slowly add milk mixture, whisking briskly to ensure there are no clumps. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Wrap tortillas in aluminum foil and put in the oven for 5 minutes. While tortillas warm, add half the warm sauce to the blender jar and cover. Remove vent in the lid and blend until smooth. Pour back into saucepan and stir in salt.

Line a 13x9 baking dish with aluminum foil and pour in one cup of sauce. Toss chicken in a bit of sauce and then stuff into tortillas with chopped spinach. Arrange tortillas tightly in baking dish and pour over remaining sauce. Sprinkle cheese over the top and bake for 20 minutes, until cheese melts and slightly browns. Serve hot and garnish with cilantro and red onions. Enjoy!

*This recipe freezes beautifully, so I usually double up and make an extra pan.

Recipe adapted from Rick Bayless

Monday, January 6, 2014

For the Love of Dogs

If you follow me on Instagram, you've probably noticed my 10lb fur child, Howard. I come by this Puppy Love honestly, as I was raised with incredible canine companions. They've always been part of our life, so when they leave us, it's heartbreaking. You miss their unwavering love and it truly feels like your family is incomplete.

Sadly, my Mom and Stepmother both had to bid farewell to pets recently. It's hard to figure out the right way to remember them, but when I saw Kim Vargo's Pet Shop portraits, I knew they would be perfect. Needless to say, many tears were shed on Christmas morning. Happy tears and memories.

She expertly captured Abbey and Smudge's personalities through their pup smiles. And at just a few inches, the portraits are a nice way to show off your pets without an enormous dog portrait in your home...awkward.

If you're a dog lover or buying for one, definitely be sure to check out the Pet Shop.