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In the spirit of food Friday’s, I decided to look up some interesting, but simple recipes that we can all try.  I guess I’ve been in a little bit of a potato mood lately and it may be because Sergio’s family loves to eat baked potatoes (and now I’ve become a big fan).  This is a clever and delicious looking twist on it.  If you’d like to see the instructional video, visit How to Make Souffle Baked Potatoes at videojug.com.

 Ingredients:

  • 4 large potatoes
  • 3 1/2 oz grated cheese
  • 1/2 fl oz olive oil
  • a pinch of salt
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 oz butter
  • a few chives

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (355 degrees F)
  2. Wash the potatoes, and dry them thoroughly.  Dip a part of the kitchen towel in the olive oil and rub it all over the potatoes.  Then take a pinch of salt and rub that in too–this will make them crispy.  Place the potatoes on a baking tray.  This tray is lined with tin foil to make it easier to clean, but you don’t have to do this.
  3. Using oven gloves, place the potatoes in th eoven on the middle shelf and bake them for about an hour.  Check if you are ready by piercing them with a sharp knife.  They should be soft all the way through.
  4. Make sure you have a rack or heat proof board ready.  Take the potatoes out of the oven and leave to one side until they are cool enough to handle.  Don’t turn the oven off.
  5. Turn the oven temperature up to 200 degrees C (390 degrees F)
  6. It’s important that your bowl is clean and dry.  Take an egg and carefully crack it, then pass the yolk from one side of the shell to the other.  The clear part of the egg will fall into the bowl.  Tip the yellow yolk into another bowl.  Do this to the 3 other eggs.
  7. When the potatoes are cool, cut them in half and use a spoon to scoop the insides into a bowl.  Keep this skins for later.
  8. Mash the potato lightly with a fork.  Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the potato.  Mash it in.  Add a good pinch of freshly ground peper and a couple of pinches of salt, and keep mashing.  Whisk the 4 egg yolks with a fork and stir them into the potato.  Finally, mash in the grated cheese.  Have a taste, and add a little more salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
  9. Whisk the egg whites.  We are using an electric mixer, but if you don’t have one you can use a hand held whisk, although it might take a long time.  The eggs are done when they start to form soft peaks.  Add one scoop of egg white to the potato, and mix it in really well to loosen the mixture.  Use a cutting and folding action.  Add the rest of the egg white one scoop at a time.  Don’t mix as much, as you will want to keep it light and fluffy.
  10. Hold the chives over the bowl and cut them into small lengths.  Use the cut and folding action to mix them in.
  11. Fill the potato skins generously with the mixture and put them on the same baking tray as before.  If you have any left over, spoon it into a greased ramekin and place it along side the potatoes.  Put them in the oven and bake until the filling is golden and rises up.  This will take about 10 minutes.
  12. Eat them straight away before they sink!  They’re great on their own, or try with a few cocktails sausages for a fuller meal.
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My sister made these for her party and although she had her doubts in the beginning about the stuffing’s flavor, these bite-sized appetizers have an explosion of flavor.  It was the first thing that “sold out” at the party and who could blame our guests?  The mushrooms are stuffed with cheese and after you put them in the oven, the top becomes slightly crisp revealing a gooey center leaving everyone wanting seconds.

mushrooms.jpg

Mouth Watering Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:

12 Whole Fresh Mushrooms

1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil

1 tablespoon Minced Garlic

1 (8 oz) package Cream Cheese, softened

1/4 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese

1/4 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

1/4 teaspoon Onion Powder

1/4 teaspoon Ground Cayenne Pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Clean mushrooms with a damp paper towel.  Carefully break off stems.  Chop stems extremely fine, discarding tough end of stems.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add garlic and chopped mushroom stems to the skillet.  Fry until any moisture has disappeared, taking care not to burn garlic.  Set aside to cool.
  3. When garlic and mushroom misture is no longer hot, stir in cream cheese, parmesan cheese, black pepper, onion power, and cayenne pepper.  Mixture should be very thick.  Using a little spoon, fill each mushroom cap with a generous amount of stuffing.  Arrange the mushroom caps on prepared cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes* in the preheated oven, or until the mushrooms are piping hot and liquid starts to form under caps.

*If you’re preparing these the day before, you can bake them for about 10 minutes, cool them, set them in the refrigerator, and bake them again the next day for the remaining 10 minutes right before guests begin to arrive.

I just woke up from an hour nap–it’s been a while since I’ve indulged in an afternoon nap.  But I’m so glad to be back after a short blogging vacation.  My sister is in town so it’s been hard to keep track of the blog and I haven’t really been able to make anything new since we’ve been so busy catching up (it’s different when you see someone in person as opposed to the phone).

I went to the movies twice this week and saw I Am Legend (for the second time) and National Treasure:  The Book of Secretsrespectively.  If you’re looking for some entertaining movies, then I recommend those two.  I won’t say that they’re the deepest, well thought out, oscar worthy movies, but they’re definitely very entertaining.

My family hosted two parties back to back, one for my sister’s friends on the 23rd and one for our family on the 24th.  Those two days were extremely hectic and we all had very little sleep.  Although I’d have to say that the 23rd was exceptional because we went paint-balling before preparing for the party.  Nothing like getting paint filled pellets flung at you at pretty high velocities to bring a family together.  It was my first time and I walked away with about four bruises.  That was about 10 less than I expected, so there’s some good news!

The food on both nights were so amazingly delicious.  I wish I took some pictures because it was both impressive on the eyes as well as the tongue.  I know the holiday season is almost over, but if you’re looking for a quick but surprisingly delicious appetizer to make, I definitely recommend Tomato-Mozzarella Basil Bites.

Tomato-Mozzarella Basil Bites

Serves approximately 12 people

Ingredients:

6 Small Tomatoes (or 4 Medium Sized)

8 oz Mozzarella Cheese

Fresh Basil Leaves

Crushed Sea Salt

Directions:

  1. Slice tomatoes about 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch horizontally (so that they look circular).
  2. Slice cheese approximately the same amount of thickness and size as the tomato.
  3. Top with a basil leaf, sprinkle some salt and insert a toothpick for easy eating.
  4. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cupcakes and Ganache

cupcakes.jpg

Ingredients:

1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature

1/2 (3 oz) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 cup boiling water

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup sour cream

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 large egg whites at room temperature

 

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and insert cupcake liners into cupcake tin.

2.  Place butter and chocolate in large bowl and pour the boiling water over them.  Let it stand until it’s melted and stir together to combine.  Then, stir in vanilla and sugar.

3.  Add the sour cream and mix on medium speed until fully integrated.

4.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

5.  Gradually add the dry ingredients to the batter, mixing at medium speed until smooth.

6.  In another clean bowl with clean beaters, whip the egg whites until stiff and gently fold into the batter.

7.  Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full.  Bake mini cupcakes for about 10-15 minutes or 20-25 minutes for medium sized cupcakes.

 

For Ganache:

Ingredients:

1 cup semi sweet chocolate

3/4 cup whipping cream

Directions: 

1.  Place the chocolate in a bowl.

2.  In a saucepan, bring the whipping cream just to a boil over high heat.

3.  Pour hot whipping cream over the chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted.  Let the ganache cool to room temperature.

 

To Decorate:

Have your choice of toppings (I used rainbow sprinkles and sliced almonds) ready.

Carefully dip the cupcakes into the ganache and let stand on a cooling rack with paper towel under it to catch any dripping ganache or toppings.  Then sprinkle with your choice of toppings.