Tuesday, May 27, 2014

DB: Pão de Queijo

What is Pão de Queijo?  Well per our hostess, here is a brief description. Pão de Queijo ( Pão = Bread; Queijo = Cheese) is a non-yeasted bread, the main ingredient is not wheat flour instead it uses tapioca starch, but it is referred to as "bread". It dates back to the eighteenth century (I had to research that!) it became popular in the 1950's in Minas Gerais (a state of Brazil). You can find Pão de Queijo everywhere now in Brazil, from specialized snack bars that sell them hot out of the oven, to packages of frozen dough balls, sold in supermarkets, ready to bake at any minute in the comfort of your home. However, most Brazilians who like baking have a favorite recipe to make from scratch.

This month's Daring Bakers' Challenge took us on a trip to beautiful Brazil! Renata of "Testado, Provado & Aprovado!" taught us how to make Pao De Queijo, tasty cheese buns that make the perfect snack or treat, and that will make your taste buds samba!

You know me, I'm a carb craving, carb loving fool.  So when I saw what this month's Daring Bakers' challenge was I was over the moon.  What's my next favorite thing, besides bread?  Well, trying new recipes and learning about the traditions, cultures and recipes of other areas.  This time we were taken to Brazil to learn about their traditional cheese bread.

This bread was amazing.  But how could it not be when it's packed full of delicious, stringy, melty cheese?  Not only was is delicious with a little schmear of butter, but we also made toasted sandwiches too.  This challenge has not only opened my eyes to this one Brazilian dish, but has made me want to expand my knowledge of the region even more by researching and making more traditional Brazilian dishes.

Traditional Pão de Queijo


4 Cups tapioca starch
1 Cup whole milk
2 3/4 Tbsp butter
1 Tsp salt
3 Cups Monterey jack cheese, coarsely grated
1-3 Large eggs


Heat milk, butter and salt in a small saucepan until it comes to a boil.  Watch closely to avoid scorching.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Sift the tapioca starch into a large bowl.  Pour the hot butter mixture over the tapioca and start stirring with a fork.  The milk mixture will be a lumpy, but not quite wet enough to form a dough. 

Continue stirring with a fork, breaking down the lumps as much as possible, until the mixture cools slightly. 

Preheat oven to 400.

Add the grated cheese to the mixture and mix well, using hands if needed to really work the mixture together.  Add eggs to a small bowl, one at a time, whisking before adding to the tapioca mixture. Add the whisked eggs, one at a time, to the tapioca mixture mixing with hands between each addition until the dough comes together, but may still be sticky. 

Form Ping-Pong sized dough balls and place on a silicone lined baking sheet.  Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the bottoms just start to turn golden.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.  Be sure not to over-bake as the bread will become hard and bitter.   

Serve immediately.

Monday, May 26, 2014

SRC:Mixed Berry Smoothie

I am a sucker for smoothies.  I love that they are super quick and easy to assemble, and that they are the perfect snack or meal to have in your hand on the way out the door.  They are easily customizable and something delicious can be made from pretty much any ingredients you have on hand.
Along with being packed with a variety of fruit, smoothies can also be a great way to get those veggie servings too.  Adding spinach or kale is a great way to amp up the veggie power and, honestly, it doesn't alter the taste of that delicious smoothie.  Combine some berries, yogurt, even a bit of protein powder and then toss in some of the green stuff and you'll have a nutritious and filling meal or afternoon pick-me-up.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Biscoff Stuffed Puff Pastry Rolls

I am so excited to share today's recipe with you!  Not only is it simple, it is elegant, amazingly delicious, and would be the perfect addition to your dessert table at your next party.  Another plus, they are only 3 ingredients, 4 if you sprinkle them with a little sugar.

These puff pastry rolls come together in a matter of minutes; it's simply unrolling the puff pastry, spread the biscoff and roll.  Then wait about 15 minutes and you're ready to taste the most yummy dessert you've ever sunk your teeth into.  The puff pastry is the perfect base to spread the sweet Biscoff spread on, and I topped it with few miniature dark chocolate chips.  I had to practice self restraint with these little babies, and I'm sure you will too!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Chocolate Pinata Graduation Cap Cookies

Graduation season is here and it's in full swing.  Parties are happening and graduates (of all ages) are being honored.  In a matter of a few days and in the upcoming weeks graduates will be walking through their school campuses for the last time and walking across a stage in a crowd filled auditorium to collect their diplomas.
There are 2 symbols that are synonymous with this time of year; the diploma and the graduation cap.  And the foods and desserts portray those symbols and are displayed in abundance.  When I was looking around the internet trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to make to share with you, I found A LOT of cute ideas that proudly portrayed these symbols but I wanted to do a little something different.  Something that still screamed graduation but something that wasn't readily seen.
Then I saw it.  I instantly knew that I wanted to, no, I HAD to make these.  Chocolate cookies that were formed into graduation caps, but it didn't stop there.  They were like little pinatas and stuffed with mini M&M's and then given candy tassels.  These wouldn't only be a fun addition to the dessert table, but a fun surprise to all who ate them.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

College Dorm Room Survival Basket

In a matter of a few months high school seniors will be gaining the title of college freshman.  Along with that newly earned title, they'll be learning their way around a new campus, meeting new friends and, of course, making their way to their new home away from home.
That means learning to make it own their own, and without all of the luxuries they had at their parent's house.  So to help the freshman transition to dorm room life a little more easily, a little "survival basket" will be a small answer to both the teen's and parent's prayers.
I've put together a simple little basket that includes a few of the many things that the new college attendee will need.  This basket is a fun way to help prepare them for the road ahead and can include as many personalized goodies as you'd like to stuff in there.  You could even take it a step further and coordinate it with colors of their new school...like Razorback red!  Woo Pig Sooie!
This particular basket includes a few essentials along with some snacking goodies to get them through a few of their many late night cram sessions.  I chose to take a large basket, with holes in the side, that could be used for a shower/toiletry caddie for them to take their essentials to the shower.  This will particularly come in handy if they have a community shower versus a personal bathroom.  Inside the basket is a smaller basket that can be used for smaller toiletries, pins, a few snacks or whatever else they'd like to throw in there.  Along with that is a small hand towel, plastic cups, coffee (for those late night study sessions and early 8:00 a.m classes), chips, chocolate milk packets, granola bars, laundry detergent and softener, and gum.
The options are endless with these survival baskets; add a copy of Daphne Oz's Dorm Room Diets to help them eat healthy, in a dorm room and on a budget.  A set of hangers would come in handy, alarm clock, flashlight, first aid kit, shower shoes; the list goes on and on.  Personalize to for the graduate you have in mind.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Graduation Oreo Cookie Pops

Oreo cookies are one of my all time favorite cookies, and I believe pretty much everyone of you out there would agree with me.  At any point in the day, there's nothing better than getting a couple of Oreos and a tall glass of ice cold milk and dunking those deliciously crunchy wafer cookies into milk and devouring them.  What, if anything, could take this insanely delicious cookie up a notch?  Well, coating it in white chocolate.  And yes, Oreo's also thought of that too.
Since it's graduation time and everything's cuter on a stick, and tastes better once it's been enveloped in chocolate; I thought it would be a fun idea to make custom Oreo cookie pops with personalized messages to this years senior class.  And, to add a pop of color they've been rolled in colorful sprinkles!  To customize them even more you could use sprinkles that are the schools colors.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Graduation Candy Gift Basket

It's May; the school year is coming to an end and summer is almost upon us.  Another thing that is right around the corner is graduation time.  Senior rings and caps and gowns have been ordered, invitations have been sent, and senior parties and celebrations are taking place.  In a matter of a few days seniors everywhere will be crossing the stage, shaking the principal's hand and collecting their diplomas.  Then it's time for the next chapter to be written.
But, before they take off on their next journey it's time to shower the graduates of 2014 with fun and gifts. From words of wisdom and encouragement to gifts of towels, dorm room supplies, money and much more. These graduates will be showered with it all.
I have a gift to share with you that is fun, easy and suitable for every graduate. This is a perfect gift for the graduates that already have it all or those that you're just uncertain what to get them.  This idea simply takes a cute and encouraging poem and pairs it with a bucket full of candy.  Now who wouldn't love that?
I had some individuals eyes these buckets as I was putting them together, so I'm sure they'll be a hit for any of the individuals that receive them.  Congratulations to all the 2014 graduates and good luck!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream

About a month ago I was asked to make birthday cupcakes for a sweet and precious little girl.  I didn't hesitate to say yes!  The theme was cowgirl and beyond that I had free reign...even with the flavors.  See, her mom loves my sweets so much she doesn't even bother to give me flavor ideas or recommendations, which normally I'm okay with but at the same time I want to make sure the guest of honor doesn't have any special requests.  After drilling her mom about favorite flavors or special requests and coming up with nothing, my mind starting turning and I started scouring through recipes to find the perfect cake.
I sent emails and texts with different options and still no decisions had been made.  I had countless options and no easy way of narrowing them down.  So, what's a girl to do in a predicament like this?  Well, I turned to my right hand and best helper in the kitchen, my 4 year old son.  I showed him pictures of the options, as well as told him the flavor options and within about 15 seconds the decision had been made!  Chocolate cupcakes, dipped in dark chocolate with salted caramel buttercream.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Pineapple Chorizo Tacos

Happy Cinco De Mayo!  Do you plan on fiesta-ing like there's no manana?  Are you going to hit up your favorite Mexican restaurant after work?  Or, are you just going to come home, have a simple supper and maybe a margarita or two? 
If you picked the later of all the options then I have a simple and delicious taco recipe for you.  Now, let me start by saying that this isn't your typical taco with ground beef that's topped with salsa, cheese, sour cream and whatever else you love piled on there.  This is a taco with a twist, to say the least.  Now before you run off, this isn't so off the wall that you won't try it, I promise!
This taco is actually inspired by one of my favorite local Mexican restaurants, Local Lime.  And it's not your typical Mexican restaurant.  They have taken the meager taco to different levels; stuffing them with a variety of traditional Mexican ingredients that have a unique and delicious twist.  And it doesn't stop with the tacos; their fajitas, enchiladas, and salads are pretty amazing too.  And no trip to a Mexican restaurant is complete without some chips and dip and let me just say that their salsa's are to die for and they know that since they don't limit you to one type.  When you order salsa you get to sample 3 of their amazing dips in their salsa trio; hello mango papaya, verde tomatillo and chipotle!  Just when you think it can't get any better, they have the best hand crafted cocktails you have ever sipped.  Each and every dish and drink is made and crafted with the freshest ingredients, making the dining experience better than you could imagine!
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