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July 2013 -

Recipe Challenge – July: Wine & Honey Roasted Pears with Chocolate Ganache & Whipped Cream

I like to watch cooking shows. Usually it's some sort of show Chef Ramsey is in. My favorite though is Master Chef. I love seeing what all of these non-professional home cooks can come up with. Once in awhile, a poached pear crosses the competition line, and it always looks freakin' fantastic. I wanted to make a version of my own for fruit month, and decided to go with Wine & Honey Roasted Pears with a Chocolate Ganache and Whipped Cream. Sounds a little more difficult than it really is. And, if you have guests over this recipe is easily doubled or tripled without creating a lot of extra work.
Ingredients:

Roasted Pears -

  • 2 to 3 - Firm but ripe pears
  • 2 Cups - Sauvignon blanc
  • 1 Cup - Water
  • 2.5 TBSP - Honey
  • 1/4 Cup - Granulated Sugar

Chocolate Ganache -

  • 1/2 Cup - Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 Cup - Semi Sweet Chocolate

Whipped Cream -

  • 1/2 Cup - Heavy Cream
  • 1 TBSP - Powdered Sugar

Process:

Roasted Pears -

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Combine honey, water, wine, and sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a slow boil. Continue to boil for 30 minutes until liquid has reduced by half.
  3. Peel, cut, and core pears. Place cut side up in a baking dish just big enough to hold the pears and the syrup.
  4. Pour syrup over pears and bake for 40 minutes. Turn pears every 10 minutes to insure even cooking in the syrup.
  5. Allow to cool a bit before serving with chocolate ganache and whipped cream. (If the pears are too hot everything will melt right off of them.)

Chocolate Ganache -

  1. Heat cream on low until it comes to a simmer.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the chocolate until fully melted and combined.

Whipped Cream -

  1. Beat the cream using the whisk attachment in your stand mixer until soft peaks form. (You can also do this by hand or use a hand mixer.)
  2. Fold in powdered sugar.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use.

 

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Recipe Challenge – July: Pan Fried Bananas with Vanilla Honey

I absolutely adore fried bananas. I think they're one of my favorite desserts. I've had them in Nepal, at a couple of Thai restaurants, and even had a version when I visited Puerto Rico. However, my absolute favorite way to eat them is pan fried in butter with a vanilla honey drizzle. They're super sweet, and hit the spot without packing in too many calories.
Ingredients:

  • 1 to 2 - Firm but ripe bananas
  • 2 TBSP - Salted Butter
  • 2 TBSP - Clover Honey
  • 1/2 Tsp - Vanilla Extract

Process:

  1. Slice Bananas into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces.
  2. Heat butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. Place bananas in pan and allow to cook until the underside becomes dark-golden in color. (Approximately 1-2 minutes)
  4. Flip banana slices over and repeat.
  5. Heat over low the honey and vanilla.
  6. Drizzle over fried banana slices and serve hot.
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Recipe Challenge: July – Eggs in Purgatory

Last night was a breakfast for dinner night. I wanted to do something easy that would undoubtedly taste good. I know my husband likes eggs with runny yolks, tomatoes, and bread. The Eggs in Purgatory recipe I found on Leite's Culinaria sounded like the PERFECT recipe to try out for dinner. Not to mention, it only takes 5 minutes to cook on the stove. OK, maybe 6. Hubby said it was GREAT and even my 2 year old loved it. Definitely a recipe to make again!
Ingredients:

  • 4 - Large Eggs
  • 14.5oz - Diced Tomatoes (1 Can)
  • 1/4 Tsp - Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 - Garlic Clove (Minced)
  • 1 TBSP - Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 - Loaf of Crusty Bread
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese

Process:

  1. Crack eggs into a small bowl. Make sure all shell pieces are removed. Set aside.
  2. Head a medium-large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, red pepper flakes and minced garlic.
  3. Allow to cook for 1 minute until flavors become fragrant.
  4. Gently add in entire can of diced tomatoes.
  5. Carefully slip in eggs making sure to separate them a little. Don't cover the yolk with the tomato or juices unless you want a more solid yolk.
  6. Grate some Parmesan cheese over the whites and tomato.
  7. Partially cover and allow to cook for 5 minutes. (The tomato should be consistently bubbling.)
  8. When whites have mostly set, remove from heat, and grate some more Parmesan cheese.
  9. Serve warm with toasted crusty bread.
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July: Fruit Challenge – Caprese Salad Amuse Bouche

One of my favorite things is when I find out that a term such as "amuse bouche" is something really quite simple. An amuse bouche is simply a single, bite-sized hors d’œuvre. That's it! If you're having a dinner party, this Caprese Salad amuse bouche is not only easy to make, but sounds uber fancy and looks stunning. I picked up these Japanese style bone china soup spoons on Amazon for $10 for a 12 piece set. Score!
Ingredients:

  • Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
  • Roma/Plum Tomatoes
  • Fresh Basil Leaves
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Glaze (I used Blaze Glaze)
  • Salt (Optional)

Process:

  1. Slice tomatoes into 1/8" to 1/4" thick slices and then quarter them.
  2. Slice fresh Mozzarella and then quarter each slice depending on the size.
  3. Thinly Julienne basil leaves.
  4. Assemble amuse bouche by layering tomato and mozzarella pieces.
  5. Top with basil.
  6. Lightly drizzle with EOO & a balsamic glaze. (You can easily make your own glaze by reducing balsamic vinegar down by half and allowing to thicken and cool.)
  7. Finish with a small pinch of salt if desired.
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June: Fruit Challenge – Ricotta Pancake with Brown Sugar Cherry Sauce

I love trying out new pancake recipes. Just plain ol' pancakes are too bland and boring for me. This time I had about 2 cups of cherries I needed to use up before they all went bad, along with a cup of ricotta cheese just chillin' out in my fridge. This Ricotta Pancake with Brown Sugar Cherry Sauce recipe ended up working out perfectly!
Ingredients:

Cherry Sauce -

  • 2 Cups - Sweet Cherries (Pitted and Halved)
  • 3 TBSP - Brown Sugar (Packed)
  • 1 TBSP - Butter
  • 1/2 Cup - Water (Divided)
  • 2 Tsp - Corn Starch
  • Lemon Juice to Taste

Ricotta Pancakes -

  • 3/4 Cup - All Purpose Flour
  • 1 TBSP - Baking Powder
  • 1/4 Tsp - Salt
  • 2 TBSP - Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Cup - Ricotta Cheese
  • 2 - Large Eggs
  • 2/3 Cup - Milk
  • Confectioners Sugar for Garnish

Process:

Cherry Sauce -

  1. In a small bowl whisk together corn starch and 1/4 cup of water.
  2. In a medium sauce pan over medium melt butter. Add in cherries, brown sugar, the additional 1/4 cup of water, and lemon juice if using.
  3. Stir until brown sugar has fully dissolves.
  4. Add in corn starch mixture.
  5. Increase heat to medium high, and continue to cook until sauce begins to thicken. This should take about 1-3 minutes depending on how thick you want the sauce. If sauce is too thick add small amounts of water until desired consistency is achieved.
  6. Set aside and allow to cool and thicken further.

Ricotta Pancakes -

  1. Preheat a non-stick griddle or non-stick skillet on medium-low. (I had mine set at 3 to 4 on my gas range.)
  2. Grease skillet/griddle with a small pat of butter. (This is really optional.)
  3. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a separate bowl.
  4. Whisk together (I used my stand mixer with the whisk attachment) ricotta, milk, and eggs.
  5. Whisk in dry ingredients until just combined.
  6. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, pour pancake batter on heated skillet.
  7. Flip pancake over once large bubbles have formed all over the top of the pancake. (Takes 2-3 minutes.)
  8. Continue to cook until bottom of the pancake has turned golden. (Another 1-2 minutes.)

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June: Fruit Challenge – Baked Egg & Avocado with Bacon

Avocado, soft eggs, and bacon. What is NOT to love about this Baked Egg & Avocado Recipe? This was an absolutely scrumptious addition to our normal breakfast routine and even my hubby loved it and he doesn't even like avocado that much. He suggested next time I use some cheddar cheese on it (I was thinking some feta next time around). We loved the creaminess of the cooked avocado with the yolk of the egg paired with the saltiness and crunch of the bacon. I'll definitely be making this again, and the best part... it's SO easy!
Ingredients:

  • 1 - Ripe Avocado (Halved and pitted)
  • 2 - Eggs
  • 2 - Slices of Bacon (Crumbled)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • *Optional: Cheese

Process:

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF
  2. Fry up a couple slices of bacon until crispy. Remove from pan onto paper towel lined plate and allow to cool before crumbling.
  3. Slice in half your avocado, and remove the pit. Using a ripe avocado that isn't mush is the best way to go with this. You may need to remove a little extra avocado flesh in order to fit more egg.
  4. Place avocados into individual ramekins or a baking dish that will help them stay upright.
  5. Crack two eggs into a separate bowl. Add the yolk to each avocado first, and then spoon in the whites until the hole is filled.
  6. Salt and pepper the egg to taste.
  7. Bake approximately 15 minutes until the whites are cooked, and the center of your egg is as runny as you'd like. I started checking the eggs after 10 minutes and let it cook 17 minutes total.
  8. Remove from oven. Top with crumbled bacon (and/or cheese), and serve hot.
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Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks – NEW Poster

I saw this pop up on Facebook yesterday and absolutely fell in love with the poster art. How cool is this?! Sleek, simple, elegant, and just beautiful. Cannot wait to see this is December!

Like SAVING MR. BANKS on Facebook

 Follow Disney on Twitter

 SAVING MR. BANKS opens in theaters limited on December 13, 2013 and opens wide on December 20, 2013!

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July: Fruit Challenge – Shrimp & Avocado Ceviche

Until making this recipe, I had never tried endive. I had seen it used in a ceviche recipe and figured since I like just about every veggie, I would like endive. Turns out, I don't. But that's not fair to the rest of the ingredients which are yummy, and this can easily be served with a fork in a small bowl. NBD. To be honest I used frozen shrimp because that's what I had on hand. Don't. Don't do it. Fresh is ALWAYS better!
Ingredients:

  • 1lb - Medium to Large Raw Fresh Shrimp (Peeled, De-veined & cut into 1/2 inch pieces)
  • 1 - Ripe Avocado (Chopped)
  • 1 to 2 - Endive Heads (Leaves Separated)
  • 1 Cup - Lime Juice (More if Needed)
  • 2 - Roma Tomatoes (Chopped)
  • 1 - Jalapeno (Seeded, Ribs Removed & Minced)
  • To Taste: Salt, Pepper, Cilantro (I used parsley for a milder flavor), and additional lime juice
  • Optional: Scallions (Use up to 4 White and Light green parts only)

Process:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine shrimp and lime juice. Make sure the shrimp is covered. I only needed 1 cup because my shrimp were smaller, however you may need to add up to an additional 1/4 cup.
  2. Cover shrimp and allow to cook/marinate in the fridge for 4 hours.
  3. 15 minutes before the shrimp is finished, cut up and gently combine avocado, tomatoes, jalapeno, (scallions and cilantro if using).
  4. Drain shrimp in a colander and add to avocado mixture.
  5. Add salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice to taste.
  6. Spoon approximately 2 TBSP of the ceviche into each endive leaf and serve fresh.

Filed under: Recipes

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2013 Kia Soul – Get Up And Go with a Little Alien Car Review

A New Way to Roll

A couple weekends ago my husband and I decided to take our little ones to Pennsylvania for the weekend. We went on assignment to check out Hershey's Chocolate World, and Dutch Wonderland. Because we decided we'd like to do an overnight trip, we needed a vehicle that could pack a little extra stuff. We needed to bring a cooler (because we had zero intention of buying lunches at the attractions we visited), plus we knew we'd probably be coming home with lots of chocolate and that weekend it was 100ºF. Who wants melted chocolate??

I've always wanted to try out a Kia Soul. The look of the car is just really... unique. It has that weird boxy look to it, and that is one sort of car I never bother test driving when I was looking around at vehicles to buy, so when the 2013 Kia Soul was offered for a review, I said, "Heck Yeah!" (OK - I probably just said that in my head, but you get the picture.) When the 2013 Kia Soul was dropped off, I quickly skimmed the paperwork and noticed that the color of car we received was called "alien". I kind of giggled to myself. Between the color of the car, and the overall design, I thought it was quite fitting.

The 2013 Kia Soul is a middle of the road car for me. There were several things I liked about it, but there were also a few low points that will probably keep me from considering this model as an actual car buying option. Perhaps these things will change in the next few years. I always like to see improvements and am happy to change my mind when something meets my standards. And of course my preferences are not everyone's preferences.

One HUGE selling point for me is the price of this vehicle and the gas mileage. The 2013 Kia Soul starts at $14,400 for the base model. The model we were given to test out started at $19,900 for a 2.0L automatic transmission. This particular model also had a premium package tacked on which included a navigation with Sirius system, Push Button Start with Smart Key, Leather Trim Seats, Heated Front Seats, Automatic Climate Control, Rear Bumper Applique, Cargo Net, and EC Mirror with Compass. That's a really decent price for a vehicle these days, even with an additional package added on. The 2013 Kia Soul is also rated for 26 MPG for the City and 34 MPG for the highway. We gauged that was about what we got as well, and were super satisfied that filling the tank doesn't actually cost all that much.
The next best thing about the 2013 Kia Soul is the SPACE. This is one of those "don't judge a book by it's cover" cars. Heck, don't even judge the size of the interior until you actually start packing things into it, and hop in for a drive. We opened the trunk when it arrived and were initially a little worried. It didn't look like there was really that much space, but we figured if we could master Tetris, then we could master packing our crap into the back of this car for our weekend away. And, master it we did with very little effort. The back seats DO fold all the way down, but since we have 2 kids in car seats, and since they HAD to come with us folding them down for the extra space wasn't an option. However, everything fit, with even a little extra room to spare. It wouldn't have been big enough to use for camping if we had to bring the kids, but for a family of 4 just going away for a night... it was no problem. My husband is also a rather tall man, and he had plenty of space in both the driver seat and the passenger seat which is rare for a normal size vehicle.
There were less important aspects about the 2013 Kia Soul that we really liked as well. There are virtually no blind spots, and it has a pretty good turning radius. Driving in the city and finding parking tend to be one of those "oh crap, I need that spot", and you turn last minute. Bigger vehicles or vehicles with a wider turning radius tend to make those last minute decisions more difficult, and require backing up and trying again. I really liked the dashboard control panel. It was easy to figure out, and wasn't overwhelmingly button-heavy. The small sun roof was also nice. It was a little too small for my taste, but I was glad it was there none-the-less. Who am I go to complain about how much of the sky I get to see through the roof of my car when every vehicle I've owned has been void of sunroofs? The vehicle overall was comfortable and supportive, but the seats were a little hard. The speakers have mood lighting around them in the front which was a nifty aesthetic feature. I didn't notice until hubby said something though. (We hadn't driven the car in the dark yet.)

Now, onto the two things I didn't really care for. The suspension is a little tight, which means you can feel every. single. bump. in the road. It's not as bad as some other cars I've tried out. The Scion TC was the worst, and I've heard Lotuses are pretty bad in that regards as well. However, those are meant to be sporty vehicles. I don't really see the 2013 Kia Soul as a "sporty" car. To me it's more of a family car and comfort is more important than sportiness. But, if you like that sort of drive, then it isn't a problem. It just took some time for my butt to get used to it, that's all. The second thing I found disappointing was the engine. The 2013 Kia Soul comes in 1.4L and 2.0L. I could have SWORN the one I had the opportunity to test out was the 1.4L. There was a lot of engine lag, and the "pick up" was rather dismal. We didn't even bother with the Eco option while driving it. I've owned small, older cars with smaller or equal sized engines and they out-performed the Soul. If you have the time to build up speed, that's one thing, but sometimes while driving on the highway, you need to put the petal to the metal and get out of the way, or quickly change lanes.

Overall it's a cute, little, affordable car, with plenty of space, and some pretty snazzy features. There were definitely some bonuses about it that I look for when searching for a new car, but there were also a few downfalls based on my personal preferences. I think it's definitely worth a test drive if you're in the market for a new car. I have a friend who saw that I was testing out the 2013 and commented that she has a 2010 Kia Soul and loves it. So, you know, to each their own, right? Test it out, and tell me what you think! Or, if you have one of your own, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

You can check out Kia online, and Kia on Facebook & Twitter too!

 

*I received the 2013 Kia Soul free of charge for 1 week in order to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine. See Disclosure Policy.

Filed under: Misc., Reviews

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Disney’s PLANES – New Film Clips

The film isn't even in theaters yet (sorry - you're going to have to wait until August 9th), but my daughter is already thinking every plane she sees is from Disney's Planes! I love seeing her excited about what looks like a promisingly great movie. Gather the kiddos and check out three new film clips from Disney's Planes.

Follow Disney's Planes along on Facebook, Twitter, Online, and find more video content on the new Planes RSN Channel on Youtube.

Filed under: Disney Studios

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