Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Crab, Chives and Brie Bunches


My family is Greek so, of course, I am fairly familiar with cooking with filo dough. It can be tricky, and sometimes frustrating, but once you bite into a flakey, buttery filo crust you won't regret one bit of it! This recipe makes for an awesome appetizer, and it's really pretty simple once you get the hang of it. For those of you who're unfamiliar with filo, it's a paper-thin dough that you layer and brush with melted butter to keep moist. You can use it to make all sorts of things, both sweet and savory. My mom made this once before and it was fantastic. Hope you all like it!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Jeremy's Guacamole


My absolute favorite dip in the world is guacamole. Not only is it creamily delicious, it's actually pretty good for you. Yes, avocados have a high fat content, but they're the good fats that make your skin springy and soft! Jeremy, (my live-in boyfriend of, sheesh, going on almost 5 years now!) is half Mexican and his dad makes the best guacamole I've ever had. Jeremy showed me how to make it recently and I couldn't wait to share it with everyone. I hope you guys like it as much as I do, it's mildly spicy and creamy with nice crispy bacon pieces and chunks of fresh veggies. If you want it a bit more spicy, add one or two more jalepenos to the mix. Hope you enjoy it!


Ingredients:

10 Small Ripe Avocados, peeled and pitted, with one pit reserved on the side
6 Quality Bacon Slices (any smoked variety is tastiest), pan fried until crispy and then finely chopped
6 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Medium Tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 Medium White Onion, coarsely chopped
2 Jalepenos
1 Teaspoon Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
Salt & Pepper  


Using a gas stove top, place the jalapenos on a long grilling fork and roast over the open flame. The skin of the jalepeno will blacken and bubble within a minute, once this happens turn the peppers over and roast them for another minute on the other side. Place the jalapenos in a plastic bag, seal it, and allow to steam in the plastic baggie for about 5-7 minutes. Remove the jalapenos from the bag, chop them finely, and set aside.


Place the avocados in a large bowl and mash them with a large fork until the avocados have mostly combined together but there are still large chunks of them. Now mix in the lemon juice, cilantro, jalepenos, onions, tomatoes, garlic and bacon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more lemon juice if you'd like as well. Serve cold with tortilla chips. 

If you have leftovers, add another tablespoon of lemon juice, place the remaining avacado pit in the dip, cover and refrigerate.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Red White and Blueberry Cheesecake


Every year on the 4th of July my family makes a cake with the American flag on it, (not the most original idea but a solid one considering the occasion!) I think my mom saw it in a magazine once when we were kids, she used to make it with white Sarah Lee cake, the kind you can get frozen at the grocery store. I, however, am I huge cheesecake fan and have been making it as a cheesecake for the past few years. It's light, fluffy, and tastes great after a nice big plate of barbeque! I got to go home to Portland for the 4th this year and made it for the fam, they loved it and so did I! I don't have kids, but I think it would be fun for them to make as far as assembling the berries onto the cake, the cheesecake filling is pretty simple too.


Ingredients:

1 Ready-Made Graham Cracker Pie Crust
16 Ounces Cream Cheese, softened
14 Ounces Cool Whip
1/2 Cup Blueberries
5 Ripe Strawberries
1/3 Cup Sugar
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract


Using a mix master, blend together the cream cheese and whipped cream until fluffy and smooth and there are no longer cream cheese chunks, (you can do this by hand as well, but it will take quite a while to get all the clumps of cream cheese to blend in with the whipped cream). Add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix well.

Pour the cheesecake filling into the graham cracker pie crust. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour to help solidify the texture. In the meantime, cut the strawberries into thin slices length-wise. Then lay those slices flat and cut them in half again, as seen in the first picture.


Decorate the cake with the berries within an hour and a half before you plan on serving the cake, I say this only because the red in the strawberries can bleed slightly onto the white, depending on how juicy the strawberries are, and if you're dead set on having a pristine shade of white around the strawberry slices then the closer you can decorate the cake to the time you'll be presenting it the better.

Now, place the blueberries in straight lines covering the upper 1/4 corner of the cake. Then take your strawberry slices and lay them out in lines facing the same direction with about an inch of white space between each row. Serve chilled.