10.26.2014

Kiss My Apron: Wedding Update


Some happy/sad news. My fiance, Kevin, and I had a large wedding planned for May 2015. We decided that focusing on a house was a lot more important than 6 hours of one day. Our wedding has officially been canceled, and re-planned for New Year's Eve! The last month has been ups and downs of planning and making decisions about our big day! I can finally say that the stress has been relieved, and we are all set for it. I look forward to updating you all with pictures from our intimate ceremony with our immediate families. After the wedding, we will be back to eating normal, and experimenting with new creations! Dieting has been dreadful, but I wake up each morning and remember that I have to wear a WHITE dress - eeeek! lol We appreciate the support my family and friends have given us! 65 more days!




Grilled Pork Chops with Blueberry Balsamic Reduction

I am going to bring it back to the first time my soon to be hubby made me dinner. Kevin and I met back in 2012 (match.com success story lol) and the first time he invited me over to his house, he made dinner. I love this story... 
So he chose to make boneless pork chops on the BBQ with broccoli and fried rice, which I later found out to be 90 second rice from the bag (HA! Not hating!) -- These cute, little thin chops must've been BBQ'd for 14-15 minutes, about 7-8 minutes too long lol.. I had to really use my jaws to chew these down! Thank goodness his BBQ'd broccoli was fantastic!
The effort was definitely an A+, but he still hasn't quite gotten the hang of cooking pork chops on the barby! I just bought one of those meat thermometers so maybe it will help! ;) Sorry, Kev, I do love ya and your grill marks are EXCEPTIONAL!

I've always heard of blueberry and pork chops being a big hit. I would tweak one thing - next time I would like to leave a few blueberries whole to add to the sauce. A little more texture would've been perfect! 

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 people

Ingredients:
1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed
3/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1 tbs unsalted butter
6 bone out pork chops, thin cut
2 tbs Olive Oil
Salt & pepper, to taste
* I served this dish with steamed broccoli and carrots*

Directions:
Preheat your BBQ (medium heat)
1. Prep your pork. Brush your chops with olive oil and season with salt & pepper on each side.

2. Place blueberries in food processor and chop for a few seconds. 

3. Fill a medium sized pot with the balsamic. Using a strainer over the pot, pour in the blueberries and smash until the juice is into the pot with the balsamic, leaving the blueberry skins in the strainer. Heat on medium-low heat until simmering. Reduce sauce, about 15 minutes, stirring often. Start step #4 while sauce is reducing.

4. Grill pork chops for 4 minutes on each side. Let sit for 1-2 minutes.

5. Remove blueberry balsamic sauce from heat and add butter. Let cool 2-3 minutes, then drizzle reduction onto pork.










Homemade Peanut Butter Ice Cream

This was our first attempt at making homemade ice cream.. Usually I would wait to post a recipe until it is really perfected and foolproof, but this was pretty perfect as is!
Through facebook, I am apart of a local thirft group and found this cuisinart ice cream maker for sale. After researching a bit on Amazon, I offered a fair price and it was accepted. I know my fiance has been dying to make his own ice cream, so it was a great grab for us - especially being that it was brand new in the box!
I threw together some ingredients that we had at home to make peanut butter ice cream. I would highly recommend the cuisinart ice cream and sorbet maker - it worked better than expected!


Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 30 mintutes
Wait time: 2 hours (optional)

Ingredients
1 cup whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbs peanut butter (I like Peter Pan)
1 tbs pure vanilla extract
2 cups heavy cream
Directions
1. Whisk together in a medium bowl: Milk, sugar and peanut butter, until evenly mixed (about 2 minutes).

2. Add in vanilla and heavy cream and mix by hand until combined.

3. Turn on the Cuisinart ice cream maker and slowly pour in ice cream mixture. Let churn for about 25-30 minutes.

4. Let sit in freezer for about 2 hours, until hardened.














 (Before Freezer)




8.09.2014

Filet Mignon over Asparagus


This is the proper way to start off the weekend! My fiancé and I have been so busy with wedding plans, starting a small business, and house hunting. Barely any time to cook, or at least blog about it! 
While at work last night, I asked Kevin to stop at our favorite butcher - Cow Palace - and pick up a couple filet mignons. He also stopped at a local farm stand to pick up a fresh bundle of asparagus. I've had asparagus once in my life... the "it makes your pee stink" line was never too appetizing to me - but darn are they good!
I seasoned the filet's with salt, pepper and a brush of olive oil. We BBQ'd them for six minutes in each side for medium rare (and you can see the incredible grill marks Kevin makes)! Let them sit a minute or too before cutting. 
For the asparagus, after trimming the thick bottoms off, I pan roasted them in a large sauté pan with unsalted butter and olive oil - about 8-9 minutes. Seasoned with salt and pepper after. 
The béarnaise sauce is quick and easy if you cheat and use the "just add milk and butter" packets. These work great for weeknights or for when you are in a rush. I use the knorrs brand when it isn't homemade. This meal took about 15 minutes to make and it looked so elegant, not to mention that it tasted wonderful!

Check back soon to see what big plans we have in the works! Hoping that our new secret business will open up to big and better things, doing what I actually love!

7.08.2014

Shrimp and Corn filled Tostones


Coming from a Puerto Rican background, I grew up on rice, beans and plantains. My mother is Irish and married my dad who is a full blooded Rican..and luckily before my Puerto Rican Grandmother passed away, she taught my mother everything there is to know about Spanish food. These recipes and skills are being passed down to me - and although I still have a lot to learn, I am adapting pretty well to some new creations!

At age 21 I visited Puerto Rico for the first time. Not only was it gorgeous, but their food was so incredible. While there, I tried my first filled plantain (aka a tostones) - it was filled with shrimp, mango and other delicious flavors. Tonight, I created a dish that includes shrimp, corn, *sofrito, tomato paste and a few seasonings. *Sofrito is a special blend of all different flavors, it is later frozen into cubes and used in many Spanish recipes as a base. There are many sofrito recipes online that you can try, and you can use fresh sofrito instead of the frozen cubes!

Serves: 6-10
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes


Ingredients:

1/2 lb shrimp - peeled, cleaned, deveined and finely chopped
1/3 cup corn (I used frozen and let them thaw out a bit) 
2 Tbs butter
1 frozen cube of sofrito (about 2-3 tbs)
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 tsp paprika 
1 tsp red pepper flakes 
2 Tbs chives, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Garlic salt, to taste
3 plantains, peeled and cut into 1" pieces 
Oil for frying (*NOTE: these are done best in a deep fryer - the plantains will need to be fully submerged in oil while frying)


Directions:

1. Preheat a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Melt 1 tbs butter in pan and cook corn for about 5 minutes, stirring often. 

2. Add the other tbs of butter and chopped shrimp to pan. Saute shrimp for a couple of minutes. Melt in one cube of sofrito, and add the tomato paste, paprika, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and 1 tbs chives - stir well until shrimp is cooked through. Remove mixture from pan and set aside.

3. Preheat oil to 300 degrees. Once the temperature is reached, fry plantains for 5 minutes until golden. (NOTE: I use a deep fryer for this step which is very easy to use). Using a bowl shaped tosterna, also called a tostonera relleno (you can purchase one here for 8$), smash each banana and set aside. *See below for pictures of the smashing process.

4. Preheat oil to 350 degrees, and fry the bowl shaped plantains for about 3 minutes, until golden and crispy. Season with garlic salt.

5. Fill each fried plantain with the shrimp and corn mixture. Garnish with freshly chopped chives and serve hot.







7.07.2014

Giant Cupcake Pan Review


I always LOVED this giant cupcake pan by Wilton (found here).. I gave it a try for the first time yesterday and was so pleased with how it came out! Once the pan is greased, each side is filled up half way with cake batter (because the cake will rise when baking, you do not want to overfill this pan).
I preheated my oven to 325 degrees and baked the cake for a good 34-35 minutes, per box instructions.


After cooling, the cake easily was removed by flipping over the pan and then placing the cake back over on the correct side. The tops of each cake will be trimmed with a knife if necessary, so that there will be no issues with lining up the "cupcake."


Peanut butter cream cheese frosting was used for this particular cake. You can see that recipe here.
For decorations, I used two different wilton tips: for the bottom of the cupcake, wilton tip#32 was used. For the roses decorated on the top of the cupcake, wilton tip# 2C was used. The flowers look beautiful and are really simple to make.

Using a piping bag with your wilton tip#2C, you start each rose from the middle and work your way outward in a spiral motion. As soon as most spaces of the cake were filled with flowers, I used just a squeeze (with the same tip) to fill any spaces left. I finished the decorations off with some blue pearl sprinkles and red sprinkles (for the 4th of July holiday).

I cannot wait to experiment with different decoration ideas. I will be making another one soon!


7.05.2014

Crispy Home Fries


I have never been a big breakfast person.. probably because I am usually running late to work and never have the time! This 4th of July weekend, my fiance and I wanted to make a big, flavorful breakfast for the both of us. After a holiday night of drinking, this was going to be perfect. Scrambled eggs on Rolls, oven baked bacon, and homemade home fries. Hope you enjoy this home fry recipe as much as we did! Look below for a great bacon tip!

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
2 large red potatoes, cut into bite sized cubes
1/2 white onion, sliced into 1" long pieces
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tbs butter
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp paprika
Salt & Pepper, to taste


Directions:
1. Place chopped potatoes in a medium sized sauce pan. Fill cold water into the pot, just enough to cover the potatoes. Add salt to water. On high heat, bring potatoes to a boil (uncovered). Once done, remove from heat and drain.

2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil on medium-high heat. Once hot, carefully place onion slices in skillet and cook for about 6-7 minutes until browned. Constantly stir to prevent them from burning. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Using the same large skillet you cooked the onion in, heat the other tbs of extra virgin olive oil and 1 tbs butter on medium-high heat. Once hot, place potatoes in skillet, making sure all the potatoes have one edge touching the pan. Without stirring the potatoes, let them cook for about 8 minutes, until browned.

4. Carefully flip potatoes and continue to brown all edges, about 10 minutes.

5. Add cooked onions into skillet with potatoes. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Squeeze about 1/4 cup of ketchup into skillet and 1 tbs worcestershire sauce. Mix well and continue to cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.

Ready to serve!





*PS: A great bacon tip - preheat oven to 400 degrees - place bacon on cooling rack, over a baking sheet (see below). Bake in oven for 15-18 minutes until crispy. The grease will drip into the baking sheet and your bacon will be crispy and delicious!

6.16.2014

Sweet Potato Quesadillas

I always THINK that I have brilliant ideas, until I google them and see that I am not the only smart person in the world! I love sweet potatoes and figured to try them in a quesadilla style. These were out of this world, delicious!


Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 20 min
Serves: 2-4 people

Ingredients:
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4" thick
2-3 tbs olive oil, in a small dish
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup baby spinach
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
6 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
8 flour tortillas
* I used this quesadilla maker but you can use a fry pan as well *


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. On a greased baking sheet, place a single layer of the sweet potatoes. Season potatoes with salt and pepper.

3. Using a brush, spread olive oil on top of sweet potatoes.

4. Bake in oven for 20 minutes, or until soft. You can use a fork to check for softness.

5. While your potatoes are baking, preheat a saute pan with 1 tbs olive oil. Once hot, saute spinach for 2-3 minutes, or until wilted. Remove spinach.

6. Using the same pan, saute red onion for 2-3 minutes.

7. Build your quesadillas. Using one tortilla, place layer of sweet potato - add spinach and red onion - top with Gruyere cheese. Place second tortilla on top and cook in quesadilla maker (or fry pan) for 2 minutes. * If you are using a fry pan, flip tortilla after one minute.

Ready to serve!










6.09.2014

Fried Mac and Cheese Balls


You've all been patiently waiting! If you've ever had these at TGI Friday's or Cheesecake Factory, you already know how good they are. The recipe is very easy, believe it or not - but it is A LOT easier if you have a deep fryer. I got my Oster deep fryer from Target (on sale!) and you can find it here from Walmart.
I definitely recommend deep fryers for recipes such as this one, since it may be a little easier than frying them in a big pot. Anything is possible, though! Be sure to have an oil thermometer if you are not using a deep fryer.


Prep time: 30 minutes
Still time: Overnight (10-12 hours)
Cook time: 14-16 minutes
Serves: 30 Large balls (whew, that sounds wrong!)
*It is very easy to cut this recipe in half!*

Ingredients:
Use your favorite Mac and Cheese recipe -- Mine is below
1 lb elbow pasta
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
6 cups milk
16 oz cheese, shredded (I used 8 oz white cheddar & 8 oz marble jack)
1/4 cup pimentos
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper, to taste
*the above is what you need for day 1*
4-6 eggs, whisked - add 1 tbs water to egg wash
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
Canola oil, for frying
*Marinara or Cheese sauce for dipping (optional)


Directions:

1. Boil pasta according to box. Drain and place into baking dish.

2. In a large pot, melt butter on medium heat. Add flour to create a roux, and mix well until there are no lumps. Turn heat down to medium-low and add milk, 1 cup at a time. Continuously stir until thickened.

3. Once all of the milk is stirred into the pot, remove from heat and add cheese, stirring until melted. Add pimentos, paprika, pepper flakes, salt and pepper and stir.

4. Pour cheese sauce into baking dish with pasta. Sir until sauce is evenly distributed. Cover dish with foil/clear wrap and place into refrigerator for 2 hours.

5. Once the mac and cheese has had time to harden up, use an ice cream scooper to create ball shapes. Place each boil on baking sheet lined with wax paper.

6. FREEZE mac and cheese balls OVERNIGHT.

*The next day*

7. Whisk eggs into a small, deep bowl. Pour bread crumbs into separate bowl. Place each ball, one at a time, into the egg wash and then into the bread crumb mixture. REPEAT - it is great to double dip these, which will create a nice crunchy outer layer and keep the cheese from oozing out.

8. Place mac and cheese balls back into the freezer until you are ready to fry.

9. Heat oil to 325 degrees. When hot, fry 4 balls at a time for 15-16 minutes until golden brown. The center should be hot and creamy - you can check by sticking a tooth pic in them.

Choose to serve with or without dipping sauce.

Enjoy some pics below!