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Friday, September 28, 2012

1. This recipe calls for diced green chilies.  Don't let that fool you, these are NOT spicy in the least.  My 3 year old and 1 year old love them.
2. If you would like, you can substitute Greek yogurt for the sour cream in the recipe.  It is a 1 for 1 substitute.
3. If you cook your chicken first (rather than using a rotisserie chicken), you may wan to add some spices to give it extra flavor.  I like the chicken to have good flavor.  I tend to cook my chicken in the crock pot with some ground cumin, garlic powder, and ground black pepper.
4. You can make this ahead and keep it in the fridge up to 24 hours.  Just put it in the oven and increase the time a bit.  You will want to make sure they are heated through.
5. This sauce does not freeze well.  Then enchiladas themselves freeze really well.  I freeze a few pans of them double wrapped in foil and then I just make the sauce the day of.  Thaw them first, add the sauce, cook according to original instructions.
6. Yes, your friends and family will like their plate and ask for you to bring them to every gathering from here on out.
Chicken enchiladas with green chili sour cream sauce
*These are seriously so so good*
10 soft taco shells
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 (4 oz) can diced green chillies

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9x13 pan
2. Mix chicken and 1 cup cheese.  Roll up in tortillas and place in pan.
3. In a sauce pan, melt butter, stir in flour and cook 1 minute.  Add broth and whisk until smooth.  Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly.  
4. Stir in sour cream and chilies.  Do not bring to boil, you don't want curdled sour cream.
5. Pour over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
6. Bake 22 min and then under high broil for 3 min to brown the cheese.


Sweet and Sour Chicken

adapted from: Mels Kitchen Cafe

Chicken Breading:
3-5 chicken breast
salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup canola oil

Rinse chicken, trim off fat or extras and then cut into 1 inch cubes. season with salt and pepper. Dip chicken into cornstarch and coat all the way and then into eggs. Heat oil in large skillet. Cook chicken until browned. Place in baking dish. 3 chicken breasts can be in a 9x9 but 5 chicken breasts fits better in a 9x13.

3/4 cups sugar
4 Tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Whisk until smooth. Then pour evenly over chicken. Turn chicken so the sauce gets on both sides and then put in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. turn chicken and then cook for 15 more minutes.

Homemade Pretzel Yum!
Ingredients:For the Dough:12.5 oz all purpose flour (2.5 cups)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sugar
2.25 tsp instant quick rise yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
For the Topping:1/2 cup warm water
1 tbsp baking soda
vegetable oil for greasing the sheet pan
coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Combine all the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer, and mix with the paddle attachment until somewhat combined (or just mix by hand with a wooden spoon). Change to the dough hook and knead on medium low for 5 minutes. The dough should feel soft and smooth, not sticky to the touch.
Lightly dust the dough with flour, then place in a ziploc bag and let the dough rise for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, and lightly grease a baking sheet with vegetable oil. You could also do parchment paper if you can find one that’s rated high enough (most parchment papers I’ve seen only go up to 420 degrees F).
Remove the dough from the bag and place onto a lightly oiled countertop. Divide the dough into 8 pieces (just cut it with a knife).
Whisk to combine the warm water and baking soda and cook in the microwave for 1 minute. FYI it’s not going to dissolve completely, and that’s okay.
Roll each of the eight pieces into a long rope, and shape each one into a pretzel (see the step-by-step photos on the blog post to see how to do this).
Dip each pretzel into the soda wash and place onto the greased baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt, then let them rest for 10 minutes.
Bake for 9 to 10 minutes until the pretzels are golden brown. Brush the pretzels with the melted butter while they are hot out of the oven, so the bread can soak up all the buttery goodness. Mmm.
Enjoy while they are hot, and keep in mind these don’t taste as amazing the next day. So this pretty much means that you’re allowed to eat all of them now =) Enjoy!
Recipe adapted from Glenda’s Hot Buttered Pretzels who adapted from King Arthur Flour.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
8 slices white or whole-wheat sandwich bread
6 slices bacon
6 large eggs
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly butter 6 standard muffin cups. With a rolling pin, flatten bread slices slightly and, with a 4 1/4-inch cookie cutter, cut into 8 rounds. Cut each round in half, then press 2 halves into each muffin cup, overlapping slightly and making sure bread comes up to edge of cup. Use extra bread to patch any gaps. Brush bread with remaining butter.
In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium, until almost crisp, 4 minutes, flipping once. (It will continue to cook in the oven.) Lay 1 bacon slice in each bread cup and crack an egg over each. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until egg whites are just set, 20 to 25 minutes. Run a small knife around cups to loosen toasts. Serve immediately.
Cook’s Note
Standard muffin pans come in 6- or 12-cup size; if baking 6 items in a 12-cup pan, leave empty space in between. Nonstick pans are nice but not essential. Beware of very thin pans, which often lead to burning. Place pans on a baking sheet to make them easier to get in and out of the oven.

Read more http://www.pincookie.com/breakfast/

Chick-Fil-A Nugget recipe.
2 skinless and boneless chicken breasts
1 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/4 cups flour
2 TBSP powdered sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
peanut oil (is best) or canola oil
In a medium bowl whisk the egg and stir in the milk. Trim any fat away from chicken. Cube chicken into bite size pieces. Place chicken in milk mixture,and cover. Let it ‘marinate’ for 2-4 hours in the fridge. This will make the chicken very nice and tender. In a gallon size resealable baggie combine flour, powdered sugar, salt and pepper. Seal and shake to combine. Place about 2 inches of oil in a medium deep pot. Over medium high heat (more towards the high side) heat oil until hot. If using a thermometer let the temperature reach 375°. If you don’t have a fancy gadget like most people, I always test my oil by dropping a few drops of water into it. You want it to sizzle and not pop too much. Adjust your heat if necessary. Using a fork or tongs remove cut chicken from milk mixture and place in the flour mixture. Seal and shake until nuggets are completely coated. Place about a 6-8 nuggets into hot oil and let them cook until golden brown, turning half way through once the edge of your chicken starts to turn white. About 1 minute each side. Always double check to see if any chicken you make is cooked through. I always just make a tiny cut to see if it’s pink. Remove and drain on a paper towel. Repeat until all nuggets are cooked. Serve with your favorite sauce! I will let you in on a secret that only my bestest friends know…I ALWAYS eat my nuggets with honey! Always.

Low Fat Baked Onion Rings
Servings: 2 • Serving Size: 1/2 • Old Points: 1 pt • Points+: 2 pt
Calories: 74.7 • Fat: 0.6 g • Carb: 14.7 g • Fiber: 1.6 g • Sugar: 1.7 g • Protein: 2.9 g
1 medium onion, sliced into 1/4 inch rings
2 1/4 cups low fat buttermilk
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup Italian seasoned whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup crushed corn flake crumbs
salt to taste
olive oil baking spray (I used my Misto)
Place slices of onion in a shallow dish. Pour the buttermilk over the top and let them soak for about 1 – 2 hours, refrigerated.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
Combine panko, bread crumbs and corn flakes and place half of the crumbs in a large dish, season with salt. Reserve the rest for when the first batch is used up. This should help avoid clumping and they should stick better to the onions.
Dip each soaked onion ring into the crumb mixture; coat well. Place rings onto two cookie sheets. Lightly spray with oil. Bake about 12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, room temperature if possible
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, cream together butter, sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time and add in vanilla. Add in flour, baking soda and salt. Beat until well combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir in white chocolate chips and macadamia nuts.
Drop about a 1/2 tablespoon (or whatever your desired cookie size is) onto the baking sheets, at least 1 1/2 – 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until bottoms are slightly golden brown. The cookies do not really brown, so don’t overbake them!
Recipe from Ghiradelli

Chocolate Macarons with Whipped Nutella Ganache
For the macarons:
110 gm blanched slivered almonds
200 gm minus 2 Tbs powdered sugar
2 Tbs cocoa powder (dark or regular)
100 gm egg whites (took me about 3 ½ large eggs), aged in the fridge for 3-5 days
50 gm granulated sugar
Start by putting the almonds in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add in the powdered sugar and cocoa powder and give it a few pulses to combine. Set aside.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer (or you can use an electric mixer), beat egg whites to a foam. It should resemble bubble bath at this point. With the mixer still running, slowly add the granulated sugar and continue beating just until smooth and stiff peaks have formed. Check it often so you don’t over mix. You want to stop right at the beginning of the stiff peak stage.
Add the almond mixture to egg whites and carefully incorporate with a spatula. You want the mixture to be thick enough to pipe, but thin enough that it won’t form peaks when piped. I suggest testing the batter by spooning out a small amount on a plate and checking that the batter “melts” into itself. If it doesn’t, give it a few more strokes and try it again.
Place macaron batter into a piping bag fit with a large, round tip and pipe small circles (about 1 inch to 1 ½ inches in diameter) onto your prepared baking sheets. Let macarons rest for at least 45 minutes to an hour, or until a hard shell has developed on the top. You can test this by carefully brushing your finger over a macaron. If it feels dry, you’re ready to go. If not, give it another 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 300F.
Bake for 9-11 minutes, one baking sheet at a time. Let cool completely before filling.
For the Nutella ganache:
½ cup of heavy cream
2 oz bittersweet chocolate
3 Tbs Nutella
Place chocolate and Nutella in a medium sized heat-proof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream to a simmer. Pour hot cream over the chocolate and Nutella and let sit for 20 seconds. Stir to combine until smooth. Place ganache in the refrigerator until thickened, but still pourable. Make sure to stir a few times during the process so the ganache is a uniform consistency throughout. Using an electric mixer, whip ganache until it is a pipeable consistency and light in color. Place ganache into a piping bag and pipe a small circle onto one macaron shell. Top it with a similar sized shell and squeeze together carefully.
Keep macarons in the refrigerator. Let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before serving.
Recipe adapted from Annies Eats

Toffee Pretzel Bark (Makes 1 1/2 lbs of bark)
14 oz dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup toffee chips, divided
1 cup pretzel pieces, divided
4 oz peanut butter chips
4 oz milk chocolate chips
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In a double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, melt dark chocolate chips until smooth. Mix in 1/2 cup of toffee chips and 1/2 cup pretzel pieces. Spread mixture in a thin layer on the parchment paper using a spatula. Let the baking sheet chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. You don’t need to wash your bowl or double boiler before the next step.
For the next layer, melt peanut butter chips and milk chocolate chips in your bowl set over simmering water or your double boiler until smooth. Spread the mixture over the chilled dark chocolate layer using a spatula. Sprinkle the remaining toffee and pretzel pieces over the chocolate/peanut butter. Press them down with a spatula to make sure they are stuck well in the chocolate. Return the baking sheet to the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. After the chocolate has set, break the bark apart into desired sizes. If the chocolate is too hard to break with your hands, you can aide it by scoring the chocolate with a knife. Store the bark covered in the refrigerator.
Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker

Fudge (makes 1 8×8 pan)
14-oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup walnuts, dried fruit, toffee chips, or any other mix-in (optional)
Line an 8×8 pan with aluminum foil and spray very lightly with cooking spray.
Place chocolate, sweetened condensed milk and butter in a double boiler. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is incorporated.
Pour mixture into the pan and smooth the top. Cover and chill until firm, about 1-2 hours. Cut into small squares before serving.
Recipe from AllRecipes

Oreo Truffles (makes about 40 truffles)
16 oz package of Oreos, divided (or Joe-Joe’s, or Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s)
16 oz cream cheese, softened
16 oz semi-sweet chocolate
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Pulse 9 of the Oreos in a food processor (or blender) until finely groung. Place them in a bowl and set aside.
Place the remaining Oreos (36) in the food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add in cream cheese and processor until a dough-like mixture forms. Form the dough into 1/2 inch balls and place on the cookie sheet. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
Heat chocolate in a double boiler until smooth and melted. Remove the truffles from the refrigerator. Using 2 forks, cover each truffle in chocolate and return to the cookie sheet. Sprinkle a bit of the reserved cookie crumbs on top of the truffles and return them to the refrigerator. Let the chocolate set for at least 1 hour before serving. Keep remaining truffles covered in the refrigerator.
Recipe from AllRecipes

Sour Cream Cookies(makes about 60-70 cookies)
for the cookies:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening (Crisco)
2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs (beaten lightly)
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda. Set aside.
Cream together butter, shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in sour cream, vanilla and eggs until combined. Slowly mix in dry ingredients until incorporated. Refrigerate overnight.
Preheat over to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Alternatively, you can grease pans lightly with Crisco or butter.
On a cleaned, floured surface, roll out dough to a 1/4 inch thickness and cut into desired shapes. Bake until bottoms are a very light golden color, about 6-8 minutes. Do not overbake!
for frosting:
5 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 Tbs vanilla extract
6 Tbs milk (plus more, as needed)
food coloring (optional)
Just mix everything together with an electric mixer and thin down with milk until the frosting is a consistency you like.

Hot Onion Dip (serves 4-6, appetizer portions)
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1 Tbs butter
12 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Saute onions in butter over medium heat until soft and golden brown. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 400F.
In a mixing bowl combine cream cheese, mayo, red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese. Stir in onions. Place the dip into oven safe ramekins or a small oven safe dish. Bake for 30 minutes and serve hot.
Adapted From AllRecipes

Southwestern Egg Rolls with Avocado Ranch (makes 48 mini rolls, or 24 regular rolls)
For the egg rolls:
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1-15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
1-9 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry with paper towel
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
1-7oz can diced green chiles, drained
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 package of egg roll or wonton wrappers
Preheat oven to 425F. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil and spray lightly with cooking spray.
In a large bowl mix together corn, beans, spinach, cheese, chiles, onions, cumin, chili powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Using a small spoon, scoop a small amount of filling onto the wrapper. Starting at a corner, carefully start to roll the wrapper. When it’s slightly rolled, tuck in the two side and continue rolling to the last point. Wet your finger with water and dab a bit on the corner to seal the egg roll. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling, placing them slightly apart on the baking sheet.
Lightly spray the tops of the egg rolls with cooking spray and bake for 15 minutes, flipping them at least once during baking.
For avocado ranch:
3/8 cup mayonnaise
3/8 cup sour cream
3 Tbs buttermilk
1/2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 Tbs lemon juice
1/2 green onion, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1 avocado, peeled and pitted
Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth. Use immediately.

Chocolate Mint Cupcakes (makes 24 cupcakes)
for the cupcakes:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 cup boiling water
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 muffins pans with cupcake papers and set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add in eggs, milk, oil and extracts. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Pour in boiling water and whisk to combine. Batter will be thin.
Fill each cupcake paper 2/3 of the way full with batter and bake for 16-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before frosting.
for the frosting:
6 egg whites, room temperature
1 3/4 cups plus 2 Tbs of sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) of butter, room temperature
2 tsp of vanilla extract
2 tsp peppermint extract
green food coloring, as desired
Whisk together egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set bowl over a small pot of simmering water and whisk constantly until the sugar dissolves. You know it’s ready with the you cannot feel the sugar when you rub a small amount of mixture between your fingers.
Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer and use the whisk attachment to beat the egg whites into stiff peaks, about 10 minutes. The bowl should be cool to the touch before you move on.
Switch over to the paddle attachment and set the mixer to medium speed. Add the butter 2 Tbs at a time, letting it incorporate before adding another piece. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and beat until the frosting comes together. This will take a while, so don’t worry if it looks soupy or curdled at any point. I find that it helps (if it’s not cooperating) to briefly chill in the fridge for a few minutes and then remixing.
Place half of the butter cream into a small bowl and whisk in vanilla extract. Set aside. Using the remaining half of frosting in the stand mixer bowl, mix in peppermint extract and green food coloring. Alternately, you can mix 1 tsp of vanilla and 1 tsp of peppermint into each bowl if you want the peppermint flavor to be consistent through both colors. I’ve done it both ways and don’t have a particular preference. Place frosting in piping bag as detailed above and pipe as desired. Sprinkle cupcakes with chopped Andes or other chocolate mint candies.
Cake from Hersheys & frosting from Annie’s Eats

Tuxedo Cake makes a three tiered 8 or 9 inch cake
For the cake:
2 sticks of unsalted butter
2 cups water
1 cup canola oil
4 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour three 8 or 9 inch cake pans. Place a round of parchment paper in the bottom of each pan.
Place butter, water and oil in a small saucepan and heat until butter is melted. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa powder and flour. Pour melted butter mixture into the dry ingredients and whisk until incorporated and smooth. Whisk in the eggs one at a time, incorporating eggs between each addition. Whisk in buttermilk. Add baking soda, salt and vanilla and give it one more whisk to combine all the ingredients. Divide batter between prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of each cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cakes cool in their pans for about 20 minutes. Invert them onto a cooling rack and let cool completely before frosting.
For the frosting:
4 cups heavy cream, chilled thoroughly
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
Place heavy cream into a large mixing bowl and whip on medium-high power with an electric mixer. Once soft peaks have formed add powdered sugar. Continue to beat until stiff peaks have formed.
Frost cooled cake and chill in the fridge for at least a hour before glazing.
For the chocolate glaze:
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
Place chocolate in a small heat proof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until simmering. Immediately pour cream over the chocolate and let sit for at least 20 seconds. Whisk together mixture until chocolate and cream are completely incorporated. Add in corn syrup and vanilla. Pour glaze into a liquid measuring cup, small pitcher, or anything with a pouring spout. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Remove the cake from the fridge and pour chocolate glaze over the cake, allowing it to drip down the sides. Move quickly because the frosting will start to melt a bit. Immediately return the fridge to set, at least an hour. Top with chocolate covered strawberries if desired.
Recipe from The Pastry Queen
Smoked Salmon Tartare and Cucumber Appetizer
(Makes 12)

You will need:
4 oz smoked salmon, finely chopped
2 tsps fresh chives, finely chopped, plus more stalks for garnish
1 tsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsps freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 avocado, peeled and mashed
1/2 of long cucumber, sliced into twelve 1/4 inch thick round slices

In a bowl, combine smoked salmon, soy sauce and lemon juice. Let stand for a minute, then mix in sesame oil and chives. Adjust ingredients to taste, as suitable for your own palate. To assemble, place cucumber slices on a serving platter and spread a small amount of the mashed avocado on each slice, enough to cover it. Carefully spoon the salmon tartare on top of each slice. Top with chive stalks for garnish. Serve or refrigerate up to one hour until serving.

Sour Cherry Tartles
(Makes 8 tartlets)

You will need:

1 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour, plus more for dusting
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt
10 tbsp butter
3-5 tbsp ice-cold water, plus more if needed
8 tartlet molds with removable bottoms (about 2 1/2 inch diameter)

2 lb pitted sour cherries, or two 14.5 oz cans of same (no sugar or other additives), drained
1/2 cup agave syrup
3 tbsp corn starch


Make the dough:

1. Whisk flour, sugar and salt together in a medium bowl. Slice butter into 1/4 inch cubes and add to the flour mixture. Working quickly with your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture, breaking the butter into smaller pieces until the entire mixture has a sandy, crumbling texture (similar to granola). Add 3 tbsp of water to the mixture and mix swiftly with your fingers. The dough will begin to stick together. Add 1-2 tbsp more water, until you can form the dough into a ball (if the dough is too sticky, add a sprinkle of flour; if it flakes, add a few more drops of water). 

2. Separate the dough into 3-4 pieces and form each into a ball. Taking each in turn, place on dusted wax paper and, with the heel of your hand, press down and smear the dough across the wax paper. This process blends the butter into the flour. Repeat with remaining dough, then form it back into one piece. Place in a bowl, dust with flour, cover and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Pre-bake the shells:

3. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Butter each tartlet mold. On a dusted counter or wax paper, with a dusted rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 13 inch round, about 1/8 inch thick. With a cookie cutter slightly larger than the diameter of the molds, cut out the dough into about 8 rounds (you can also use an inverted glass). Place each round inside the mold, pressing it to conform to its shape. Fold in any dough remaining over the top and press it into the sides. Roll the rolling pin over each mold to flatten the tops. 

4. Place the shells on a baking sheet, and in order to prevent the sides from shrinking and the bottom from bulging, line each shell with foil (additionally, you can weigh them down with baking beans). Bake the shells for about 8 minutes. Remove from oven, remove the foil, and prick the bottom of each shell with a fork to prevent it from rising. Replace the foil and bake 2-3 minutes more, until the sides start to separate from the mold slightly and the shells begin to change color. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

Make the filling and bake the tartlets:

5. To make the filling, whisk together agave syrup and corn starch in a bowl, add the cherries and toss until combined. Spoon the filling evenly into the pre-baked tartlet shells. Bake at 375ºF for 20-25 minutes, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling. Remove from oven and let cool slightly, then remove the molds. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

Mini Mojito Cupcakes
(Makes 24 minis or 12 regular cupcakes)

Rum Cupcakes

You will need:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter (1/2 cup), softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp lime zest
1/4 cup dark rum
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line two miniature 12-muffin pans with fluted cups. 
2. In a bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside. In a separate large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until creamy and the mixture forms ripples, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the lime zest and rum and beat until combined. Then, with mixer on low speed add in alternate batches the flour mixture and apple sauce, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just combined. 
3. Divide the batter between the muffin cups. Bake until a rich golden brown, 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a cupcake comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool in the pan slightly then place the cupcakes onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Mint and Lime Buttercream Frosting

You will need:
2 sticks butter (1 cup), softened
4 cups confectioner's sugar
2 tbsp lime juice (about 1 lime), or to taste
1 tbsp freshly grated lime zest
1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1 1/2 tsp Triple Sec (optional)

1. Beat butter in a bowl with an electric mixer until creamy, about 1 minute. In batches, gradually add confectioner's sugar, and beat until well blended and the consistency is smooth and somewhat stiff, about 3 minutes. Add lime juice and beat well to combine. In a food processor, combine lime zest and mint leaves and pulse a few times until the mint leaves are very finely chopped. Add to the frosting and beat until combined.
2. Spread or pipe onto cooled cupcakes (rounded and petal tips were used in the photos). If not using immediately, cover the frosting with a damp paper towel and plastic wrap, and refrigerate until needed.


You can serve this appetizer as an ordinary shrimp cocktail, with shrimp and sauce on the side (or in a martini glass). However for most efficient and effective delivery of this sauce, porcelain Chinese soup spoons are best. They're perfect for single servings, avoid the issue of double-dipping, and can hold a sufficient amount of sauce to allow it to fulfill its promise of going straight to your head.


As always, feel free to adjust the proportion of the vodka to the sauce to suit your own preference for a stronger taste or one with less bite.

Bloody Mary Shrimp Cocktail
(makes 16 single servings)

You will need
16 medium to large shrimp, cooked, peeled and deveined
3 tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup (80 ml) water
1 oz (30 ml) vodka
2 1/2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp horseradish
1/8 tsp sugar
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste 
jalapeño slices (optional, for garnish)

Whisk tomato paste and water in a measuring cup until smooth (the mixture should be of a somewhat thick consistency). Add vodka, lemon juice, horseradish, and sugar. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Place in a small serving bowl and serve as a dipping sauce for the shrimp; alternatively serve individually in porcelain soup spoons by adding about 1/2 tbsp of sauce into each spoon, topped with a shrimp and a jalapeño slice. Serve chilled.