Disney Inspired Ratatouille!!!

Happy Tuesday!

How often can you say a Disney movie inspired you to cook up something that is not only eye catching, but tasty too.  Better yet, a movie where a rat was dying to become a great French chef.  I must confess, I’ve seen this movie more than 10 times both with and without the intended viewers around. Although comical, the message behind the movie was clear, nothing should stand in the way of your greatness!

In 2007, Pixar released the movie Ratatouille. It was a story of an unlikely pair; a rat named Remy and a kitchen help Linguini that hilariously teamed up to prepare some of famed chef Auguste Gusteau greatest dishes. One notably, was Ratatouille. Ratatouille is a French stew made up primarily of tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini with a few other ingredient.

In the movie, Ratatouille is prepared in a slightly different way from the traditional using the same ingredients. It involves cutting and baking thinly slice zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and yellow squash, over a tomato and bell pepper sauce. The layers of brightly colored vegetables just jumped out at me. There was no reason to search for a recipe. After all, it was all visibly on the big screen.

I figured we could do with a meatless meal this week. Though I am not quite sure everyone would be in agreement. Nevertheless there is nothing wrong with a healthy serving of vegetables every now and then. Did I mention that this is a perfect dish for vegetarians? Well it is! No Meat! No Dairy! My non-eating meat friends will love this dish. To make it a more hearty meal, you can add sliced potatoes, sweet or regular. Your choice.

One suggestion I have is to use a veggie slicer if you have one. I did all the work by hand. Its therapy for me. But for a quicker and more uniformed slices, a slicer would do wonders.

” I cant help myself, I like good food okay.” ~ Remy

I decided to use my go to tomato sauce adding in marjoram which was recommended by my favorite vendor at the fresh market in city. He knows his stuff. I thought that oregano would have given the sauce that additional pop on its own but marjoram took the depth to another level. 20170422_163229

Some people prepare with an additional layer of béchamel sauce, but for the purpose of this recipe, I stayed close to my inspiration. Depending on how big your pan is, you may want to add more or less vegetables.

Here we go:-

Ingredients

For the Ratatouille

  • 1 orange, red or yellow pepper, seeded and sliced in halves
  • 2 or 3 roma tomatoes sliced
  • 1 eggplant sliced
  • 1 zucchini sliced
  • 1 yellow squash sliced
  • 1 medium red onion (optional)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil to brush vegetables
  • 3 sprigs thyme finely chopped

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
  • 1 ½ can diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 finely chopped fresh basil
  • 3 fresh sprigs thyme chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. Wash and slice vegetable. Set aside
  3. In a sauce pan heat oil on medium high heat, add onions and garlic. Allow to sweat on medium heat for 3 minutes then add vinegar. After 1 minute pour in tomatoes.
  4. Cook for 5 minutes, then add basil, thyme salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cook additional 5 minutes then pour into baking dish and spread evenly on the bottom. (if you are also using béchamel sauce, you would add it atop of the tomato sauce.
  6. Begin to assemble layers by alternating vegetables and over laying then in which ever design you desire.
  7. In a small bowl, add oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix together. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush top of vegetable.
  8. Bake on middle rack for 1 ½ hour until vegetables are tender covered. Remove cover, drop temperature to 375°F and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minute or until a little color appears (optional)

Bon Appitite!

Family Time at Our House!

There just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to have that proper family time we all deserve. With busy schedules of work, school, gymnastic, tournaments here and there, projects etc, being able to fit in some quality time can be a bit tricky but can be done.

We have found that for our family the best time is a weekend morning before the day becomes hectic. There are no electronic devices allowed at the breakfast table, everyone must be present the entire time and share whatever is on their minds.  I kind of like it because our daughter is always glued to her handy and this gives us a chance to catch up with her. Teens!!!!!

I decided to treat us to a more American breakfast than what we are use to at the table.  Most Germans eats pretty much the same things at breakfast everyday: cold cuts and bread.  I’m not talking sliced bread, but what is called ‘Brötchen’ meaning small bread.  It’s really more like a little loaf or large roll.  They add cheese and lettuce to the mix or have it with butter and marmalade.  Rarely there are eggs; and if there is it will be boiled.

So for breakfast I did the complete opposite. Instead of cold cuts I made warm turkey bacon. In place of regular boring bread, I made this awesome French toast with scrambled eggs. My husband requested I make those hash browns like I did last year. He thinks they are very American as he reminisced on when we ate at an IHOP in Georgia. He never really forgot those hash browns. 😊 They were awesome!

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We never really use syrup in our house.  My mother-in-law makes the best homemade marmalade.  So there is a never ending supply of the natural fresh goodness.  However, it would not be an authentic breakfast without syrup.  But I opted for Maple which we drizzled on the French toast.

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Threw in some fresh fruits, orange juice and good ole Earl Grey. During this time I was able to get the inside scoop of the latest gossip of the gymnastics team, who didn’t want to compete against who. I learned that my husband had a new colleague a work who smoked like a chimney. And, now all is well with the world. It was perfect!

Avocado Aioli

I have never been much of an Aioli fan to be honest. My first encounter was a few years ago at a party we attended in a city car garage surrounded by a rowdy crowd watching the Eroupa Manschaft (German for championship) and of course cheering on our German National team. Maybe this setting wasn’t the best for trying new dishes. After all, we were in a working car garage. But what could it hurt right?

StomachXAcheWell lets just say, I paid for it severely later that night and the day after that. My husband really likes the stuff and begged me to give it another chance. But this time with my own making.

To me, aioli seems to be so much like mayonnaise of which I barely touch. Its not my favorite condiment. But sometimes you have to take one for the team.

So I did some research and found that Aioli in its purist form does not use egg or yokes. The name itself means garlic and oil which in France and Spain is used to make this condiment. Sounded great to me. So I decided I wanted to go this route and create a recipe that we both can enjoy without me having any regrets. I am so glad I did!

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I settled on an Avocado Aioli because, why not? Avocado is quite popular in my house. Plus it has natural oils which allows for less to no oil in this recipe and will give us the creamy consistency I am looking for. And you already know how I love coconut milk. It just adds that depth I like.

 

What you need :-

  • 1 ripe, fresh avocado
  • 1 teaspoon avocado oil
  • ½ of lemon lime
  • 1½ teaspoon cilantro
  • 1 tsp of fresh diced garlic
  • ¼ cup coconut milk (more or less depending on your preferred consistency.)
  • ½ teaspoon mustard seed
  • salt and pepper to taste.

What to do :-

  1. Blend all ingredients together in food processor or blender and at medium speed, mix until desired consistency.
  2. Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 days (but it tastes best when used immediately).
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Delish

 

I enjoy this creamy goodness with my Zesty Cajun Sweet Potato Fries. Oven Roasted of course!

 

The Ultimate Carrot Cake Cupcakes w/Mascarpone Frosting

What is Easter without carrot cake? Better yet cupcakes?

When I was growing up my aunt Bea always made the best carrot cakes. I use to watch so intensely to find out what was the secret to her moist masterpiece. Maybe it was the mysterious blend of spices she sprinkled in, or the ratio of cream cheese to butter she added in the frosting. Perhaps it wasn’t the ingredients at all. Could have been her singing while she sifted, mixed and blended with love. Whatever it was, it made for the perfect carrot cake.

So after many years of trial and error, I have come up with my best combination for the most splendid carrot cake.  It is foolproof and simple to make. I guarantee you will be satisfied.

Nothing tops a carrot cake like a creamy frosting. Normally there is no question as to what I whip up. It’s always going to be a cream cheese frosting.  On the other hand, why not try something slightly different. I was feeling a bit frisky. So I found a delightful twist using  Italian mascarpone cheese on a recipe from one of my favorite chefs Ina Garten in her latest book Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust.

To decorate, I made a few carrots out of fondant. Not necessary step.  Just a little something extra that the kids will enjoy and big kids like me too. Picsart2017-13-4--20-46-53

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ½ cups grated carrots
  •  ½ cup raisins
  • 1 cup walnuts, optional

Frosting

  • 12 oz Italian mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees; Line the cupcake pan with the cupcake molds.
  2. In the electronic stand mixing bowl, with the paddle attachment, mix oil and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and mix together.
  3. In another bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. On low speed, add half the carrots to the wet mixture. Then add in the dry mixture. Now add the remaining carrots and walnuts. Blend well.
  4. Using a scooper, spoon batter into each cupcake molds. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for about 5 to 7 minutes. Then remove from pan, place on cooling rack until ready to frost (best to allow cupcakes to completely cool before frosting).

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Frosting

  1. Add all ingredients into a medium bowl or stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat until fluffy. Gently spread frosting on top of each cupcake. Plate and serve.

Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

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Adapted from: My Aunt Bea 🙂

Madeleines with Love

Happy Monday!

Kid you not, I have always wondered about these Madeleines. Are they bite size cakes, are they cookies? Which side is up? Needless to say, I love them, whatever they are.

Madeleines are similar to sponge cake, but a tad bit lighter. These airy-buttery lemon flavored treats are great for breakfast, brunch, as a snack or a sweet addition to nightcap. Lightly dusted with powder sugar, I always have mine with a steaming hot cup of espresso.

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These little beauts are rather easy to make. A few simple ingredients, most of which you can find in you pantry. No really, nothing needed that will send you scrambling to the closest grocers mart.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of flour
  • ¹⁄3 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoon Agave syrup (maple will work too)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons Lemon Zest
  • 7 tablespoons melted butter

Instruction

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly coat madeleine form with butter and flour. Shake off excess.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. With a stand mixer, whisk eggs, zest and sugar together 1 minute. Then add in syrup and water. Alternate between dry ingredients and melted butter, adding to mixture. Whisk for 5 minutes or until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Cover bowl with a cloth and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
  4. In the prepared form using a spoon, fill each madeleine slot with batter. Be careful not to over fill. On the center rack, bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Dust with powder sugar and serve!

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Crunchy Jalapeno Poppers

I was feeling a bit bored. So I looked in the pantry to see what I can whip up real quick. Came across these Jalapeno Peppers and figured why not make some Poppers.

This recipe is pretty basic and will satisfy the craving for something crunchy. There was no need for a special trip to the grocery store. I just used what I had. But feel free to substitute using your favorite items.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pkg whole jalapeno peppers
  • 5 oz. Goat cheese*
  • Bacon bites
  • 1 tsp finely chopped red bell pepper
  • Basil finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cornflakes
  • 3 tbsp cornmeal
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups  buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:

Mix Goat cheese, basil, bacon and bell pepper until smooth. In a separate bowl, blend dry coating ingredients and set aside. In another bowl pour buttermilk.

Wash and dry Jalapeno peppers. Cut each peppers open, and remove seeds. Open as wide as you can and spoon cheese filling into the peppers. Carefully roll in dry coating mixture, dip in buttermilk, and roll in the dry coating again. In a large sauce pan, heat enough cooking oil and cook until golden brown.  Garnish with parsley and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

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*  Typically I would have used cream cheese and white cheddar. But the goat cheese was surprising good in this dish also.

Pear Tart w/ Almond Frangipane

Spring makes me feel all happy inside. All I can think about are warm pies and brightly colored fruits. Looking out the window yesterday, I was inspired by the yellow tulips to make something cheerful.  And thought, hmm how about a tart!

Tarts are always fun to make. Although the process can seem a bit time consuming, the delicate precision needed is well worth it. Whether sweet or savory, tarts are one of those desserts perfect for any occasion.

I was first introduced to Frangipane on a trip to our favorite city in South France a few years ago. It didn’t take much convincing as the main ingredient was one of my beloved nuts, Almonds. Frangipane is a custard made and flavored with almonds and can be used in a variety of ways. Peered with a sweet poached fruit, the flavors combined makes a wonderful explosion in your mouth.

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This pear frangipane is a classic French tart. Don’t be deceived by the appearances. It is unbelievably simple, and a perfect way to showcase the main ingredients. The sweet poached pears are fanned out in an almond cream baked in a buttery pâte sablée shell. The results are intoxicating. You can smell the sweet fragrance of the Pear liquor, cinnamon and vanilla throughout the entire house.

Here is what we need:-

Ingredients

Pâte Sablée (Shell)

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons almond powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • pinch sea salt
  • 4 oz unsalted butter, cold cubes
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the frangipane

  • 3 oz toasted almonds (3/4 cup)
  • 1/3 cup  sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
  • 2 tablespoons Williams- Christ Pear Liquor
  • 1 large egg, room temp

Poached Pears

  • 3 medium, ripe Bosc pears, halved
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 4 fresh ginger slices
  • 2 teaspoon whole cloves
  • all spice or peppercorn
  • 1 split vanilla bean pod
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon Williams- Christ Pear Liquor
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 cups water

Preparation

  1. For the shell: You make the Pâte Sablée pretty much the way you would make any pastry dough. I normally make mine by hand, but you can use a food processor to make it a bit easier and faster. Combine flour, sugar, almond powder in a bowl and blend together. Add butter cold butter cubes and begin to cut the butter into the flour mixture until crumbly. Add milk and vanilla and blend by folding everything together until dough forms. place dough on a workplace and form a ball. Press slightly to form a circle. Cover with plastic and refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Roll out dough to fit a tart tin with a removable bottle (14″ x 4″ x 1″) Cover with foil and bake the shell for 15 minutes or until pale yellow.

I’m always tasting always sampling in this second part!

  1. For the Poached Pears: Peel the pears, trim both ends, then cut each pear in half lengthwise and core them. In a large pot, place the butter, Williams liquor, and sugar. Heat over medium until sugar dissolves. Add water, and all spices and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add pear halves ( Although the recipe calls for 2 pears, I always add an additional just in case). Reduce boil to a low simmer and cook pears for 15 to 20 minutes or until soft to touch. Then remove from heat and allow pears to cool in the liquid.

  1. For the Frangipane:  Using a food processor, finely ground the almond. Pour in a large bowl and add sugar, butter and the Williams-Christ liquor. Blend together with a hand mixer. Continue whipping until the mixture is creamy, about 1 minute. Add the egg and continue whipping at medium speed until thick, about 2 more minutes. Spread the almond frangipane in the prepared tart shell.
  2. Slice each half lengthwise into about 7 even slices, hold the pear as you slice them. Slightly fan the slices and arrange them on top of the frangipane. Whatever design you would like.
  3. Bake the tart for 30 to 35 minutes until the frangipane is golden. Remove from oven, brush the pears with a bit of the sauce the pears were boiled in and allow to cool at room temperature. Sprinkle the tart with powdered sugar.
  4. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. Alone is great too.

Although this is classically made with almonds, you can use just about any nut. And undoubtedly, any poached fruit can find it home in this creamy delight.

Hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

Adopted: From My Home to Yours