Best Chocolate Pudding………………….

All I can say is this….this is THE best chocolate pudding I have ever had. Very decadent, creamy, heavenly.  Seriously.

Simply said……..Simply made. I am happy….

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pudding3  Best Chocolate Pudding

5  Tblsp cocoa powder (6 if you like a stronger, darker chocolate)
3  Tblsp corn starch
1/8 tsp salt
1  cup heavy cream
2 large egg yolks
2 cups WHOLE milk  (none of that low fat, watered down fake milk) trust me.
1/2 cup sugar

Sift the cocoa powder, cornstarch, salt together in a medium sized bowl. Mix in the heavy cream, smooshing out the lumps. It’s going to be thick. Mix in the egg yolks until well combined. Set it aside.

In a medium sized sauce pan, heat the milk and sugar over medium heat, stirring often with a wooden spoon. Let the sugar dissolve. Just when you see the little tiny bubbles forming, remove from heat and stir in half of it into your cocoa/cream  mixture. Once it is smooth, pour it into the sauce pan with the rest of the milk. Bring it to a soft boil, whisking slowly and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching. Your mixture will start to thicken. Let it come to a big boil. Start whisking for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Transfer the pudding into a shallow baking dish or ramekins and chill for at least an hour. YES, 1 hour at least. Now you must know that I didn’t wait. I LOVE hot pudding. But I also saved some, that I did let chill. I conduct strict quality control, you know! Oh my….I am in love.

This recipe is based on a recipe that I found awhile back in a magazine. But I don’t remember who to give credit to…sorry. But whoever you are, your pudding is fantastic.

Pasta with mushrooms and cheese…..

I have been craving pasta. Actually, I am always craving pasta. But I didn’t want the standard tomato sauce….I didn’t  want anything  too heavy either. So I made a wonderful pasta with fresh mushrooms, garlic, and rondele Cheese. Rondele cheese comes in a round little tub and it is creamy and flavored with herbs. It is great to stuff chicken breasts.

I used ground chicken too. No beef!! Now, that is a huge deal for me because I am a beef loving girl. I like chicken, but chicken bores me and what could be more boring than ground chicken! Normally I would use Italian sausage in this dish, but I gotta tell ya, the ground chicken worked. It was mild enough to not compete with the wonderful, earthy flavor of  the mushrooms.  The mushrooms are the star of the show, here. This dish is all about those mushrooms. Oh, and that creamy, delicious rondele Cheese. Yes-sssssss. I broke up some lasagna noodles and it was perfect with this sauce. Big folds of pasta coated with this creamy sauce. To top it all off, I sprinkled it with some grated Romano cheese. The only thing that was missing was some crusty French bread to dip in that sauce! So make sure you have some good bread with this dish. Enjoy..

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chickmush3 DSCN0053 DSCN0055 chickmush6Pasta with Mushrooms and Cheese

1  1/2 lbs of fresh mushrooms (I used button mushrooms and baby portobellos)
2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1/2 cup of vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup of rondele cheese
1/2 lb of ground chicken or Italian sausage (meat is optional) This is just as good as a vegetarian dish
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup grated romano cheese
approx. 3 cups of your favorite cooked pasta (I used broken lasagna noodles)

In a large skillet, fry chicken or sausage in a little bit of olive oil. Add the minced garlic and mushrooms. Allow mushrooms to cook. Add the stock. Let simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the Rondele cheese, black pepper and about 1/4 cup of the romano cheese. Add cooked pasta and stir until everything is mixed. Allow to cook at low heat for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining romano cheese and serve with some good, crusty bread. Yum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon Bars….

What can I say about lemon bars? Everyone loves them. I think most people have made them. Some are super sweet, some have that sour pucker…..which I like. Some have a graham cracker crust but most are made with a shortbread crust. That is what I like. But I put a little bit of almond and vanilla in my crust. I also slightly undercook my crust, so that it is soft and tender and just melts in your mouth. M-mmm. I also use extra lemon zest. A dear friend of mine had a birthday today. I told her that I would bake her anything that she wants. She didn’t even hesitate. She wanted lemon bars……and lemon bars she got. Happy Birthday Stephanie.

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lemonbar4Lemon Bars

For crust:
2 sticks of softened butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1  3/4 cup flour
1/4 ground almonds (food processor makes this easy)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For filling:
6 large eggs
3 cups of sugar
3 tablespoons of lemon zest
1 cup of fresh lemon juice
1 cup of flour

For the crust: Heat oven to 350. Mix together the butter and sugar. Add the flour, almonds and vanilla. When it all comes together into a nice dough, place it into a 13×9 baking dish and press evenly until the dough covers the entire bottom of the pan. Chill for about 15 minutes. Bake for 20 minutes, until light brown. Allow to cool.

For the filling (oh yum, the best part): Whisk the eggs, sugar, zest together until well mixed. Add the lemon juice and the flour. Whisk, whisk until really smooth and all the little flour lumps are gone. If you have to smoosh the lumps against the side of your bowl, do that. You want a smooth filling! Pour this onto your cooled crust and bake at 350 for about 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Ohhhhhhhhhh, you are going to love, love these.

Note: you don’t have to use almonds in your crust. Just replace the almonds with flour. But its really good with almonds. Pistachios are great too. Maybe you should make two batches! one with nuts, one without! yes!

 

 

Beef Bourguignon……………………

When I think of this dish, I think of Julia Child. Everyone knows that it’s one of her signature dishes. We all have our own little twist on the recipe, but for the most part, it’s the same……..beef, carrots, little mouth watering onions, mushrooms and wine. Ohhhhh yesssss. Wine. It’s hard for me to cook with red wine. “They ” say that you should cook with what you would drink. Don’t use some crappy old wine that has been laying around, that you wouldn’t dare drink. If it tastes blekh in a glass, it’s going to taste blekh in your dish. So that’s why it’s hard for me to cook with wine, because I prefer it poured into a wine glass and sipped. But the wine just makes this dish taste magical. It’s rich and bold in flavor…….a special dish indeed. Use a chuck roast or stew beef for this. Don’t worry, it will be nice and tender…melting in your mouth. Enjoy it with some egg noodles or rice. Your taste buds will be dancing.

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beefborgy2                       beefborg3

Beef Bourguignon

4 slices Bacon, diced
3 pounds chuck roast (cut into big chunks) or stew beef
2 cups of pearl onions, fresh and peeled (you can use frozen)
3 cups red wine (a nice hearty wine……cabernet sauvignon, good red blend, Zinfandel) Don’t forget a sip for yourself! 🙂
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
2 cloves fresh garlic
1 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
3 sprigs of fresh parsley, minced
3  tablespoons butter
1 pound fresh mushrooms
2 carrots, cut in big chunks

In a large pot, fry up the bacon. In the meantime, coat beef with flour, salt and pepper and brown it in the bacon grease with the bacon. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook on medium high till it starts to boil. Then reduce your heat to a simmer and cook for  about 3 hour or until your beef is fork tender. At the last half hour of cooking, you may have to thicken the sauce. To thicken, add 1/2 cup of your broth in a bowl, with about 3 tablespoons of flour. Mix with a fork till smooth. Add to your pot and stir. You don’t want it super thick. Allow to cook and thicken.

Serve with egg noodles. Serves 4.

You can cook this in a slow cooker too. It should cook on low setting for about 5 hours or so.

Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts………..

I’m willing to bet that some of you are wrinkling your nose as you read this. That is if you are even reading this at all, after seeing the Post title. Most people I know do not like brussel sprouts. I happen to love them. I even loved them when I was a child and my parents would just boil them….and boil them….and boil them some more. They were plain, kind of a pale gray green….and I loved ‘em anyway. But today, they are so popular and served at many restaurants. They are delicious pan roasted, oven roasted, shredded up for slaw or salad. I love to pan roast them till they are getting a bit caramelized (brown and crispy-ish). Good word…..CRISPY-ISH. I like it. Ok, so anyway..I love to roast them with bacon or pancetta…another good word…PANCETTA. I say this with my best Italian accent. I wish you could hear it. Add a little shaved parmesan cheese and deeeeeeelicious.

Oh and they are oh so delicious tossed with some cooked potato chunks. Please give them a try. Ester, do you hear me? My friend Ester is a nose wrinkler when I mention brussels. Stop making that yucky face…and go give them a try.

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Pan Roasted Brussel Sprouts

 1 pound (approx.) of brussel sprouts, washed and ends cut off.
A few slices of bacon or pancetta (say pancetta with your best Italian accent)
Salt and pepper to taste
Shaved parmesan (optional)
1 diced cooked potato (optional)
1 tablespoon of oil

Dice up the bacon and start frying in a good size pan, on a medium heat.  Cut brussels in half.  Add brussels and the oil to your pan of bacon and cook with the frying pan covered for 5 minutes. Remove cover, stirring occasionally until they are all browned and to the consistency you like. Season to taste. At this point, add potatoes and toss around till potatoes are coated with all that bacon yumminess. Serve.

Note: if don’t want to do them on the stove top, you can do them in the oven. Put everything on a baking sheet in the oven. 375 degrees. Be sure to stir them around after about 15 minutes or so. Do this till they are nice and roasty looking and bacon is thoroughly cooked through….about another 15 minutes. Check for desired done-ness. Enjoy.