See all that cheese? How can anyone resist? With a little guacamole on the side (or stuffed inside), these arepas make a great dinner.
Vanilla is such an important ingredient. It goes into pretty much every dessert I make, and lately I’ve started putting a capful in my morning coffee, too. Sometimes when I’m baking, the worst thing happens. I suddenly realize there are only three drops of vanilla left in my little bottle. This has been happening all too frequently since I developed my vanilla cafe au lait habit, so I decided to put an end to my vanilla extract shortages for good. I got the idea to make my own vanilla extract from this post on Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes.
All you need are some cute little bottles (I used these), vanilla beans (I got these Madagascar beans), and some vodka. It doesn’t have to be high quality vodka–the quality of the beans is much more important. Vanilla beans are expensive, but more reasonable if you buy a bunch of them. Also, vanilla extract is expensive, so I think if you use enough of it you’ll definitely save money by making your own. If you don’t want to make all the beans you buy into extract, you can store some in an airtight container to use in baking or custards. A lot of desserts call for vanilla bean seeds instead of extract, so it’s great to have some around. As soon as I get my ice cream maker, I am going to use my leftover beans to make vanilla bean ice cream with those great little specks of vanilla seeds in it.
Guess what? This vanilla extract would make a great gift, and is a gift that keeps on giving. If you start running low, just top off the vodka and let it sit for a few weeks before using it again. After doing this a couple of times, you will probably want to add some new beans. Ina Garten says she’s been doing this to refresh the same bottle of vanilla that’s been in her pantry for twenty years!
Vanilla beans (6 beans per cup of vodka)
Make sure your bottles are really clean. I sterilized mine by boiling them in water for ten minutes. Let them dry completely (I put mine in the dishwasher top rack to dry).
Cut each vanilla bean in half lengthwise, and then crosswise to fit in your bottles if you’re using small ones like me. I used three beans for each of my four-ounce bottles. Pour in vodka, leaving a little bit of space at the top (if you can find a funnel, you won’t make as much of a mess as I did). Store in a cool, dark place, and shake every day or so. The extract will be ready after two months, but continues to develop a more pronounced flavor if aged longer.
I made my labels in Microsoft Word, printed them on regular paper, and stuck them on with a permanent glue stick. I can’t figure out how to post the document up here for you to download, but if you want these labels, drop me a note with your email address and I’ll send them to you.
This is a delicious pantry soup, meaning you can make it with ingredients that might already be in your pantry. It’s healthy and filling, and topped with lots of good stuff. Also, it comes together in less than half an hour and packs a little mini punch. Yum!
P.S. I am calling this a bisque, because it sounds so much fancier than soup. However, according to Wikipedia, bisques have to be made with seafood stock. Oh well! No seafood here, but still delicious.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1/2 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic paste
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 15 ounce cans of black beans
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1 packet Sazón Adobo seasoning
A few pinches cayenne pepper, to taste
1 cup water
Splash of silver tequila (optional)
3 tablespoons cream or coconut milk
Chopped fresh cilantro and scallions, for serving
Heat the butter or olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and corn, and raise the heat to medium high. Stir in the garlic paste and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about ten minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the beans along with their liquid. Add the oregano, cumin, Adobo seasoning, cayenne, and water. Stir to combine. Simmer for ten minutes. Towards the end of the cooking time, stir in the tequila and let it bubble away for another minute or so.
Remove soup from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, remove about half of the beans and puree them in a food processor until smooth. Return the puree to the saucepan, add the cream, and stir to combine.
Serve the soup with a generous scoop of corn and onions, and a sprinkling of scallions and cilantro.
Here’s the perfect Cinco de Mayo breakfast! Arepas (my favorite thing ever since I made these), eggs, and guacamole. These are pretty quick to throw together, and very filling and satisfying. Plus, who doesn’t love a chance to make guacamole first thing in the morning? I know I do!
I was excited to try arepas with some shredded cheese mixed into the batter, but once they were cooked I didn’t really notice the cheese. Oh well. Next up in my all-arepas-all-the-time series, I’ll be trying arepas with a big chunk of cheese stuffed in the middle. Cheese-bellied arepas, if you will. Stay tuned! I won’t make you wait long, I promise.
Ingredients (serves four):
For the arepas:
1 cup masarepa
(precooked fine yellow or white cornmeal)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
1/2 cup shredded cheese (optional)
Butter for cooking
For the guacamole:
1 ripe avocado
1 clove garlic, minced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Juice of one lime
Salt and pepper to taste
4 eggs, poached or fried
Salt and pepper
To make the guacamole, place all ingredients in a bowl and mash with a fork until combined but still chunky.
For the arepas, mix the masarepa, salt, and water and let sit for 5 minutes. Heat some butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Mix the cheese into the batter, then form patties about four inches across and half an inch thick. Fry until golden and crisped on both sides, about 10 minutes.
Spoon a generous layer of guacamole on top of a hot arepa, then top with an egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve hot.
I LOVE curry made with coconut milk. It’s the most delicious thing ever. But, I am not the biggest fan of rice. I mean, rice is fine, but for me it’s nothing to write home about.
But, noodles? Noodles are my jam. All kinds of noodles. Italian noodles, Asian noodles…where are the noodles in Indian and Mexican cuisines? Big problem. Someone get on that quick.
Anyway, whenever I see noodles, I’m interested. Even in places where noodles might not seem to belong–bring on the noodles! One of my favorite Thai restaurants has a dish called Noodle Curry, which is a delicious yellow curry served over udon noodles. Genius! Curry and noodles are a match made in heaven. Watch out, rice. You ain’t got nothing on noodles.
Ingredients (adapted from The Little Foodie):
1 pound rice noodles
1/3 cup coconut cream (scrape off the top of a can of coconut milk that has not been shaken)
3 tablespoons red curry paste
2 Japanese eggplants, halved lengthwise and sliced into half-moons
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into strips
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 tablespoons fish sauce (omit for a vegan or vegetarian dish–you may need to add some salt)
1 can coconut milk (Not the same can you scraped the cream off of! We need a lot of coconut love here. Save the other can for smoothies!)
1-2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 pound snow peas
Sliced scallions and chopped fresh cilantro for serving
Boil water and cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set aside.
Heat the coconut cream in a skillet over medium-high heat. When it bubbles, add the curry paste and stir to mix. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, for about ten minutes.
Add the pepper and onion and mix well. Cook for five more minutes. Add the garlic, fish sauce, coconut milk, brown sugar, and snow peas. Cover the pot, and turn the heat down so the mixture simmers. Cook for about five more minutes, or until the snow peas are cooked but still crunchy and bright green.
Serve noodles in a bowl with vegetables and curry spooned on top. Garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro and serve hot.
caught my eye, and guess what? It had a super easy recipe for arepas right on the back.
(fine yellow cornmeal)
Chocolate truffles are so easy to make, it’s amazing that places like Godiva get away with charging so much for them. If you want yours to be even more like the ones at the chocolate shop, you can melt your favorite milk or dark chocolate and dip the chilled truffles in it instead of rolling them in cocoa powder and confectioner’s sugar. Use a fork to remove the truffle once it’s covered in melted chocolate. Let the extra drip off, and place the truffle on wax or parchment paper or in a candy cup. This is a deliciously rich, fancy, no-bake dessert that will impress anyone. Chocolate truffles also make a great gift wrapped up in a cellophane bag or placed in a decorative box or tin. This recipe makes about 20 truffles.