Thursday, August 22, 2013

Popovers with Aged Gouda and Herb Pesto

I love popovers!  Bread and rolls are good too and I do love them but popovers are special.  They are light and puffy inside and crispy on the outside.  They are elegant too.  If you are having a dinner party they are the perfect thing to fill the bread basket with.  Have some elegant bread plates and butter knives at each place and pass the popovers.  Or just set the basket on the buffet for a more informal gathering.  But don't just reserve them for company, your family deserves some loving too!  They are not hard to make. 

This version is a little more time consuming because I made an herb pesto to go inside but it was worth it.  You can use any herbs you want.  I picked a selection from my garden.  Definitely use a good quality extra virgin olive oil because it really shines through in the end.  I used an aged gouda for the cheese but you can use any full flavored cheese.  These popovers were light and crispy on the outside.  The inside was creamy and rich - a little moister than a plain popover because of the pesto.  I used a popover pan but you can use muffin tins.  They will not rise as dramatically in a muffin tin but they will still taste great.  Enjoy. 

Herb Pesto

3/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh herbs (I used 1 tablespoon each chopped fresh Oregano and Rosemary and 1/3 cup each chopped Parsley and Basil)
1 large clove garlic crushed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend until finely chopped, scraping down the bowl as needed. You will have about 3-4 tablespoons of pesto.

Popovers   - makes 6

1 cup AP flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup of milk
2 eggs
1 batch Herb Pesto
1/2 cup grated aged gouda cheese
butter for popover pan

Preheat oven to 350.  Place about 1/2 teaspoon of butter in each popover pan. 

Mix together the flour and the salt.  Heat the milk until very warm (about 120 F).  Beat the eggs. 
At this point place the popover pan in the oven to heat it up and melt the butter. 
Add the milk to the eggs and whisk to blend.  Whisk in the flour mixture until blended.  A few lumps are ok.  Add the Herb Pesto and blend it in. 

Remove the popover pan from the oven and use a pastry brush to distribute the butter.  Divide the batter among the cavities.  Top the batter with some cheese,
dividing it among the popovers. 

Bake the popovers for 45 minutes.  Remove from pans and serve hot.

Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Great American Pie Festival Winner

Great American Pie Festival Winner
The winner of the tickets to the Never Ending Pie Buffet at this years Great American Pie Festival is Kim!

Remember, this event is going to be held in Celebration, Florida on April 27th and 28th, 2013.  It is a lot of fun for the whole family. 
You can find more information regarding the festival at:

For some great pie recipes check out the ones posted on their site here:


Thank you to all and tune in early next week for some yummy new recipes.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Banana Cream Pie and a Giveaway!

Today I made Banana Cream Pie for the first time and it came out really good.  As I mentioned in the previous post for Empanadas, Latin hand pies, I am making pies in honor of next weeks All American Pie Festival, an event that has been held in Celebration, Florida for the past 12 years.  My family looks forward to this event every year.  It is a lot of fun for the entire family.  You can read my write up on this event here:

You can also check out this official website for more information:

I have been given the opportunity to giveaway a family 4 pack of tickets to the Never Ending Pie Buffet! If you will be in the Orlando area during the Great American Pie Festival (April 27th and 28th, 2013) and would like to win these here's what to do:

Please place a comment on this post telling me what your favorite pie is. One comment per entrant please. Contest ends Monday April 22, 2013 at midnight Eastern Standard Time. The winner will be picked by random number generator on Tuesday April 23, 2013  and will be notified by email.

Banana Cream Pie

1 refrigerated pie crust (I used Pillsbury)
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tbls cornstarch
2  tbls all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cup milk
3 large egg yolks
1 tbls unsalted butter
2 tsp banana extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 medium bananas thinly sliced
1 recipe Whipped Cream Topping, below

Preheat oven to 425.  Roll out dough and fit into a 9 inch deep dish pie pan.  Crimp edges.  Prick the shell all over with a fork .  Bake shell for 15 minutes until brown and fully cooked.  Set aside while you make filling.

In a saucepan combine sugars, cornstarch, flour and salt.  Whisk in cream and milk.  Heat over medium until the mixture boils and thickens, about 8-9 minutes, stirring constantly.   Remove from heat. 

Beat egg yolks on high with an electric mixer until light.  Beat in 1 cup of the hot mixture.  Stir the egg yolk mixture into the sauce pan.  Return to medium heat and cook 2-3 minutes until thick.  (do not let boil)  Remove from heat and stir in butter and extracts.  Cool for 15 minutes.

Spoon 1/2 the filling into cooked pie shell.  Cover the filling with banana slices.  Spoon remaining filling over the bananas.  Cover pie and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Whipped Cream Topping

1 tsp unflavored gelatin
4 tsp cold water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Dissolve the gelatin in the water.  Heat water in the microwave and stir the gelatin mixture until thoroughly dissolved.  Beat the cream with an electric mixer on high until it starts to thicken.  Beat in the gelatin mixture then the sugar and vanilla.  Beat until soft peaks form.  Spread the whipped topping over the pie. 


Today I made Empanadas, those wonderful Latin hand pies!  I used a traditional Picadillo mixture to fill these with but there are all kinds of wonderful combinations out there from savory to sweet.  This post and my next post will be featuring pie because next weekend is the All American Pie Festival!  This is the 12th year that this festival will be held in Celebration, FL.  I have been to the last four events and plan to be there again next weekend. 

I wrote a post on it last year which you can find here:

You can also obtain information on this years event at the official website here:

If you are in the Orlando area this is a great event with lots of activities for the entire family.  I have also been given a family four pack of tickets to the Never Ending Pie Buffet to give to one of my readers.  Instructions on how to enter will be on my next post for Banana Cream Pie.  For now though, here is the recipe for the Empanadas....

The dough was super easy to work with.  Make the dough first so it has time to chill in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

Cream Cheese Empanada Dough

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter
6 ounces cream cheese
1 egg yoke, (reserve the white for brushing the empanadas)
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
ice water as needed

Mix dry ingredients together.  Cut in butter and cream cheese until course crumbs form.  Blend in egg yoke, lemon juice and enough water to bring the dough together.  (I used about 2-3 tablespoons of the water).  Form mixture into a ball and put into the refrigerator. 

Picadillo Filling

1 LB ground chuck
1 TBLS olive oil
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup finely diced green pepper
2 coves garlic, minced
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup white wine
1/3 cup raisins, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup green olives with pimentos, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Brown beef and drain off fat.  Set aside.  Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the onion, bell pepper and garlic.  Cook until softened.  Add the beef and all the remaining ingredients except salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer and simmer gently for 25-30 minutes and most of the liquid has cooked off.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.

Pre-heat oven to 400. To assemble the empanadas:  roll out 1/4 of the dough at a time on a lightly floured surface to about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut into 3 inch circles.  Place about 1 tablespoon of filling onto each circle.  Bring the edges of the dough together to form a half moon and crimp the edges with a fork to seal.  Place on a greased baking sheet.  Brush the empanadas with the reserved egg white.  Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Mini Loaded Baked Potato Bites

When I was at the produce market picking up jalapenos for my Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers I saw some small creamer potatoes and I started thinking of all the wonderful finger foods you could make with them.  For today's post I made Mini Loaded Baked Potato Bites, a perfect make ahead finger food for parties.  I was torn though.  Last week a food website I was browsing posted mini shepherds pies only they used a pastry crust and did them in a mini muffin tin.  My thoughts were that they were totally missing the boat here.  Why not get the small creamers and make the mini shepherds pie right in the mini potato shells?  So watch for that one to be coming up soon!

These are great for parties.  They can be made ahead right up to the point where they are ready to be baked for the final time.  Just add a few minutes to the baking time if they are coming from the fridge.  These came out so good.  I barely had time to photograph the finished product before they were gone!

Mini Loaded Baked Potato Bites

20 small creamer potatoes
2 tablespoons butter, softened
4 tablespoons sour cream plus more for topping
2 tablespoons real bacon bits plus more for topping
1/2 cup coarsely grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup finely grated cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne
paprika for garnishing

Preheat oven to 400.  Cut a small slit in each potato so they do not explode like one of mine did.  Bake the potatoes for 20-25 minutes until soft.  Let them cool.

Cut each potato into 2 halves.  Scoop out the centers into a bowl.  Add the butter and sour cream.  Mash into the potatoes.  Mix in the bacon, the coarsely grated cheese, the garlic salt, pepper and cayenne.  Taste and adjust seasoning. 

Lightly spoon the mixture back into the potato shells.  Top each with some of the finely grated cheese.  Sprinkle with paprika. 

Place back into the 400 degree oven and bake on the top rack for 8 minutes and then turn on the broiler for 2 minutes more to lightly toast the tops. 

Let stand for 5 minutes after removing from the oven then transfer to a serving dish and top each with some sour cream, some bacon bits and a dash of paprika. 


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

I do not usually attend Super Bowl parties but when I do my motivation for doing so is more for the social aspects and, ah, the food.  In fact, of all the glutinous days (Christmas, Thanksgiving), I think the Super Bowl beats them all.  I just can't see "Super Bowl favorites made healthy" as a big draw. 

In the weeks leading up to the big event I browse the internet and drool over pictures of oozing cheese, crisp bacon, glazed chicken wings, etc.  So diet the week before and after.  In fact, diet at Christmas and Thanksgiving and save the calories for the comfort food that counts - the Super Bowl party food.

I will start you out with these Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers.  They are one of my favorites but if you do not like the peppers you can just make the filling and serve it warm with chips. 

For this recipe I started out with 24 jalapenos, 12 green and 12 red.  They were very large, at least 3 inches in length.  There was only a small amount of filling left though not for long because I heated it up and ate it then and there with some chips.

These are best made the day before you plan to cook them so the filling can firm up before you cook them.

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

4 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces shredded Mexican blend cheese
2 processed American cheese slices
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder (or chili powder)
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
24 large jalapeno peppers
1 pound thinly sliced bacon

One day ahead:  Put the cheeses in a bowl an set aside to come to room temperature. 

Cut a slit in each pepper from stem to bottom.  Hold the pepper open in your palm and scrape out the seeds.  (I like to leave some membrane for heat).   I use the small paddle end of a lobster pick for this task. 

Blend the cheeses together. Add the chili powder and cumin and continue to blend.  Add 1/2 the beans and stir them in.  Add the rest of the beans and stir them in.  Some will get mashed but you want texture.  Stuff the peppers with the cheese mixture.

Wrap the peppers in bacon, covering the slit as much as possible.  Put in the fridge overnight so the filling and bacon can firm back up. 

Heat a large non stick skillet (or two) to medium.  Add the peppers, filling side down.  Cook and turn so the bacon browns on all sides and the peppers get nice and tender.  This will take about 20 minutes.  Serve warm.