Monday, April 18, 2011

Oreo Truffles and Ravioli Bites

You can find these recipes floating around all over the interwebs, but here they are in one place for your viewing pleasure.

The oreo truffles kept popping up in an advertisement and I finally clicked on them.  They were a little messy for me, but super delicious.  They're nice to make for when you need something to serve just a little fancier than the box of Oreos (though I seriously doubt anyone could complain about that).  And they were pretty simple, ingredient-wise, just a little tedious.

Mix one 16 oz-ish box of oreos with one block of cream cheese.  How you manage to do this is up to you....I had my husband crush the oreos and then I just threw it all in my Kitchenaid.  You should end up with a sticky black dough.  Chill the dough.  Roll it into balls (stickiness warning) and dip it in melted chocolate, rolling it around to coat it.  The recipe said I would be able to stick the ball on a fork and dip it in the chocolate, but mine weren't firm enough to stay on the fork so I had to roll them around in the chocolate.  I used almond bark, which is what they call white chocolate used for baking.  I ran out halfway through and had to use chocolate chips instead, but those did not melt well in the microwave and I had to throw a lot of it make sure you have a lot of almond bark on hand.  Place the chocolate covered dough in mini-cupcake wrappers (inside a mini muffin pan if you have one - and you should have one) and sprinkle with decorative sugar.  Chill again.  These turn out super cute and yummy, so if you're willing to get a tad messy in the kitchen, they will be worth it for you.  You can decorate them for any occasion as well; I used pink sprinkles for a baby shower.  You could also dye the almond bark, or add a flavoring to the dough like mint extract.

Several weeks later I needed something to serve at an egg hunt at dinner time and I went on a hunt for Pillsbury Crescent Roll recipes, which always turn out soooo soooo sooooo good.  I wanted it to still be a finger food.  I came across Mama Mia Ravioli Bites and gave them a whirl; they won a bake-off and were savory so I figured they'd be perfect and they were!

You'll need two cans of original crescent rolls.  Unroll your crescent rolls and try to smush the seams together.  Apparently you can buy seamless crescent roll dough, but I've never seen it.  Cut it into 24 squares.  This will be six squares across the long side and 4 squares across the short side.  If your mini-muffin pan does not have 24 cups, feel free to adjust accordingly.  Spray your mini-muffin pan with Pam or whatever.  Place one square inside each mini-muffin cup and smush it down to the bottom so you will be able to fill it with cheesy goodness.  The four corners will hang over the edges of each spot.  Mix together the following ingredients in a bowl:

15oz ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
basil, salt and pepper to taste
2.5 oz chopped salami
1.5 oz chopped sun dried tomatoes
1 beaten egg

I eyeballed the amounts based on the sizes of the containers.  If your salami container holds 10 oz, you need one-quarter of the package.  If your sun-dried tomatoes come in an eight-ounce jar, you need a little less than one-quarter of the jar.  (NOTE:  If your tomatoes are packed in oil, for heaven's sake, do not throw that oil away.  It's good olive oil, and now it's flavored with sun-dried tomatoes!  It's delicious for cooking omelets and a number of other things, even just for bread dipping.)

The most tedious part of this was chopping the salami.  Get your husband to do it, or try one of the following:  1) lay one slice flat on a cutting and sort of scrape a grid pattern onto it with the blade of your knife to end up with several little squares.  Works, but you have to do it one at a time. 2) lay several slices on top of each other and sort of muscle the knife through all the layers.  Hard on the wrist.  3) roll up a few slices to then slice and create a "chiffonade."  Nice, but not uniform for stirring.  4) I did not actually try this one.  Get a 2" diameter circular cookie cutter and cut circles out of the salami, then place one circle in the bottom of each pastry shell instead of mixing it into the cheese.  I'm going to try this next time to see if I like it better.

Then once you're all mixed up, simply spoon the filling into the pastry cups.  This recipe was exquisitely written, unlike the oreo one, the proportions were perfect and I had the exact right amount of filling for the pastry.  That never happens.  Bake for 10 minutes at 375 and enjoy the deliciousness.  They even traveled well, and there were no leftovers.  *love*

Moral of the story:  Buy a mini-muffin tin.  I have a regular-sized muffin tin that I have never used, but this mini-one is worth its weight in gold.  It's great with little ones around, because you can make everything that much smaller.  A regular-sized cupcake is a lot to feed a toddler, but a mini-cupcake made with applesauce, at 41 calories, is the perfect size for them (and for yourself if you have that kind of willpower.  I end up eating ten.)  They're great for brownies, cheesecakes, you name it.  I'm not a gadget person - I don't buy a different pan for every recipe or a different slicer for every vegetable, but in this case, you need one.  Enjoy :)

Accidental Lemon Butter Chicken

My intent was to make chicken piccata, but I soon discovered I was out of capers so I decided to experiment slightly.  I seared some chicken cutlets in olive oil and set them aside, then added white wine instead of chicken broth to the hot pan, as well as some lemon juice and a little butter.  Whisk up the yummy goodness stuck to the bottom of the pan and allow the liquid to boil for a minute or two.  What you're going to end up with is a reduction, which is just what it sounds like:  you are allowing the liquid to reduce and evaporate so you end up with a thicker sauce and a concentrated flavor.  Some rosemary would be lovely in this as well.  When the sauce has reduced by half, add the chicken back in to cook through, then remove to a serving platter.  Taste your sauce and test the thickness.  If it's too thin, kick the heat up a little and boil it some more.  If it's too thin, add a little more wine, chicken broth, or even water.  For added richness try adding cream.  Season your sauce and pour it over the chicken.  You can serve this with couscous and sauteed carrots, or whatever you have on hand. 

I usually boil my carrots before seasoning, but I got the extra-small baby carrots this time and decided to try a straight sautee.  I halfed them lengthwise and threw them in a small pan for 10 - 15 minutes with a little olive oil, salt , and pepper and they were DEVOURED.  I may never boil carrots again.

Recently the box of wine I keep in the fridge for cooking has been emptied, but I have a lot of beer left over from when my in-laws visited so I figured, why not?  I've been using it instead of wine in all my sauces and it's just as delicious.  It may fizz a little when you first add it to the heat, but it should incorporate nicely after it cooks for a minute or two.

I have been spending all my time lately studying for Jeopardy.  I'm auditioning next Wednesday and I've been studying non stop and obsessing over what to wear.  It's fun :)  I haven't had an excuse to make flashcards in a long time.

Next up, two new party recipes!!