Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies with Chambord-Mascarpone Filling – also known as my favorite cookies of all time

Chocolate thumbprint cookies with mascarpone chambord filling

chambord mascarpone cookies

From the archives: This was originally published on 2/14/10, however I’ve noticed renewed interest with the holidays coming up. People have been using this recipe for Christmas cookie swaps or holiday baking exchanges. And why not? It’s elegant and tasty! So read on for the recipe!

My mom found the recipe for these cookies in our local newspaper’s holiday cookie contest. When she makes them, they look like they came out of a professional bakery. When I make them, they look like they were a 5-year-old’s first baking project. But it doesn’t really matter because, lucky for us, they’re delicious either way.

I’m not going to lie to you; they’re a lot of work. You have to make the dough, chill the dough, roll the dough and coat in sugar, make the filling, fill the cookies, and then melt and pipe chocolate over the top. But, again, these are my favorite cookies ever and I will gladly put in the work because the end product is just so fantastic.

The cookies are flavorful and crunchy on the outside. The filling is creamy, sweet, and full of berry flavor. The chocolate topping is deep and rich and perfectly complements the cookies. They are ideal to serve to company because they have the right combination of fancy-schmancy and homemade rustic-ness about them.

The combination of Chambord and mascarpone is a winner. The Chambord gives the filling a rich berry flavor. You can substitute any berry liqueur or brandy. I bet cherry brandy or creme de cassis would be great here. Or you can leave out the alcohol altogether and add a teaspoon of raspberry extract. Mascarpone is awesome – creamy and fresh and yummy. If you can’t find any at your local grocery store, you can actually make your own. You could probably also substitute cream cheese, but I haven’t tried that so I don’t know how it would taste.

But you have to make them! I’ve never had anything like these cookies before. The flavor combination is unbelievable.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Roasted Tilapia in Sweet Asian Chile Sauce

Hello everyone, I have to apologize for the sporadic posting. I haven’t been doing much cooking lately, sadly.

To make it up to you, I am going to share a delicious and super healthy dish: Roasted Tilapia in Sweet Asian Chile Sauce. I think it would also work great with another mild white fish, like cod or swordfish. The cool thing about this recipe is that the fish are baked in packets. The original recipe suggests using banana leaves, but I am a busy woman! I refuse to drive around specialty stores looking for banana leaves when I know for a fact that foil packets work just as well.

This technique steams the fish in its own juices and the juices of the sauce you add, meaning it doesn’t come out dry or tasteless. Just the opposite: it is flaky and moist and tender and filled with amazing flavors. And there’s another perk: easy cleanup!

I served it with a side of jasmine rice and some steamed green beans drizzled with a sesame sauce. For that sauce, I simply whisked together: toasted sesame oil, vegetable oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar, then topped with a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Chicken Fried Steak from a Yankee

I’ll admit it — I know nothing about Southern cooking except for what I’ve seen on the Food Network. But I’ve been experimenting with some Southern recipes and liking the results. I am far from an authority on Chicken Fried Steak (I am a Jersey girl after all), but I had some cube steak laying around and figured, why not? For those of you who don’t know, cube steak is the meat of choice for chicken fried steak. It is a cut of beef that has been tenderized, usually by a machine if mass-produced, but sometimes by a meat hammer. It’s a nice, cheap cut of steak that cooks up rather quickly and comes from the top round or top sirloin. The cubing (a.k.a. tenderizing) machine may even fuse two pieces of meat together to form one cutlet.

I was pretty happy with the dish, but it was too rich for me. I am more into light food, like roasted fish or sauteed veggies. Between the red meat, the frying, and the double-coating, this amounted to a hearty meal. It was tasty, and I highly recommend it, but I am such a light eater that I probably won’t be making it again unless I haven’t eaten all day.

This version is a fusion of a Bobby Flay recipe & an Alton Brown recipe. Those two guys know what they’re doing so I don’t mess around too much with what they’ve come up with. It’s also quite straightforward: dredge the steaks in seasoned flour, egg, then flour again. Fry. Make sauce. Serve. Enjoy!

Oh, and you should probably serve these steaks with mashed potatoes and collard greens!

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Baked Salmon with Lemon Caper Butter

I freely admit that this recipe is completely ripped off from Matt at Wrightfood. This man is amazing at cooking seafood and even more amazing (if that’s possible) at photographing it! He wrote about an ingenious slow roasting technique for oily fish — let it come to room temp in olive oil and then bake at a low temperature for less than half an hour. Easy peasy.

And the sauce! Wow! The sauce is so. good. It’s the simplest thing in the world. He recommends adding herbs, but I don’t even think you need them. Which brings it to a grand total of three ingredients: lemon, capers, and butter. That’s it. That’s all you need. It’s a great sauce for any seafood. The lemon really stands out, but not enough to make you pucker. The capers bring their distinctive salty/briny flavor. And who doesn’t love butter? Did I mention it takes less than a minute to make from start to finish? Combined, they make a perfect sauce that can be served over any fish.

Serve this with a simple side, like roasted potatoes or some steamed brown rice. Everybody will think you spent hours slaving over the stove.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

BBQ Pulled Pork Sliders from a Yankee

So what if I’m a Yankee attempting some down-home Southern cooking? These babies are delicious. And they’re also a labor of love. Each step isn’t particularly hard, but it does take time. I made the BBQ sauce myself – about an hour of cooking time. I made a spice rub for the pork and let it penetrate the meat in the fridge overnight. I roasted that pork butt in the oven for hours. And honestly, I didn’t anticipate how long it took to pull apart a hunk of meat with two forks. I had to take a break and let my man do the rest of the work. But it all worked out — that meat was so tender I barely needed to chew.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the luxury of dilly-dallying by a grill for hours on end so I had to bake this in the oven. Next time, I’ll see if I can get some friends to come out on a lazy Sunday afternoon and drink beers by the grill while a pork butt smokes in there to be ready in time for dinner.

And can we take a step to the side and speculate why it’s called pork butt? Because it comes from the shoulder part of the pig. The actual butt (as in, hindquarters) of a pig is a ham. Why do they call the shoulder a butt? It’s also sometimes known as Boston butt. It’s not like pigs come from Massachusetts. I just don’t get it.

And we’re back from the tangent. Let me tell you a couple of things that I learned while creating these succulent sliders.

1. You need a spice rub for your pork and it should contain some brown sugar. You should rub the meat with a thin coat of oil and then cover with the spice rub and let it hang out in the fridge overnight. This is because some spices are oil soluble so their flavor really shines when they’re sprinkled onto a layer of oil and it also helps them stick. The combo with brown sugar forms a gorgeous and flavorful crust all over the pork during cooking.

2. The pork needs to cook “low n slow” – at a low temperature for a really long time. This helps dissolve the fat and connective tissues to help the meat become fork tender. You should let it come to room temp before cooking and let it rest for at least 15 minutes after (covered in foil to keep it warm). These steps help the meat to keep its juices and stay moist and wonderful.

Read the recipes and the rest of the post here…

Lime Fish Sauce Chicken

This chicken dish is extremely easy. And, unlike a lot of recipes on this site, comes from bottled food. I usually rally against that kind of thing, but I’m not ready to make my own peanut butter, chili sauce, or fish sauce. It’s a healthy and quick way to make a tasty sauce. I’m crazy so I check the ingredients labels to make sure my pre-packaged foods don’t contain preservatives, artificial flavors, or tons of salt and trans fat. Or maybe just contain as few of these things as possible.

I don’t know if you’ve ever smelled fish sauce, but it is pungent. I mean, that smell will tickle your sinuses, and not in a good way. But you need to power through. Once the sauce warms up, it lends a salty, well-rounded flavor and that stench disappears. The addition of peanut butter makes the sauce creamy while some lime juice adds a fresh burst of acidity.

Serve with white rice and chopped peanuts. I also like to add a steamed green, like spinach or broccoli. Drizzle the leftover sauce on top and you have yourself a simple meal!

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Southwest Turkey Burgers with Chipotle Mayo

So it was turkey burgers again the other other night. I love turkey burgers — they can be so moist and flavorful if you make them right. I found a recipe for a chipotle mayo online and decided the patties needed some spicing up as well. So instead of just salting and peppering the ground turkey, I mixed in a bunch of spices for flavor, an egg and onion for moisture, and crushed tortilla chips to keep with the southwestern theme.

The star of this recipe is the chipotle mayonnaise. It’s creamy and tangy but has a lovely crunch from small pieces of onion. It has a background of fiery heat, which you can increase by adding adobo sauce if you like more heat.  It didn’t take too long to put together and only needs a bun, some greens, and maybe a tomato slice to make you happy.

The chipotle mayonnaise also makes a yummy dipping sauce for french fries and keeps up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Margaritas

Updated for Cinco de Mayo with new photos!

Who doesn’t love drinks with dinner? Usually we stick to wine, but I just had to make margaritas for my Southwestern food night (chipotle-lime chicken recipe here and black bean & corn salsa recipe here). You will find a ton of variations for margarita recipes on the web, but I love this particular combination of tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice. I prefer fresh lime juice over sour mix because it has a brighter flavor and really perks up the drink for me. I also love salt around the rim because it’s a great compliment to the strong flavors in the margarita. If you want, you can throw this mix into a blender to make frozen margaritas, but I like mine on the rocks.

Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…

Homemade Mayonnaise

Adding to the list of condiments that are a million times tastier when made fresh at home than bought from the store, I bring you hand whisked mayonnaise. I’d be lying if I said my arm wasn’t tired after whisking constantly for about 10 minutes, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. I don’t even like store-bought mayo, but this fresh stuff is a whole ‘nother story. It’s smooth and tangy.

It doesn’t taste processed or greasy the way the stuff in a jar does. And the best part: it doesn’t have all those nasty preservatives and add-ins. It’s a pure, simple recipe that you can customize however you want. The flavors are so unique and bold that I suggest a simple serving like above, with steamed artichokes. Dip those leaves in the mayo one by one and scrape off the good stuff with your teeth. I can’t think of a better way to enjoy it.

If you own an immersion blender, you don’t even have to worry about a tired arm from the whisking. It literally comes together in 30 seconds. Just dump all ingredients in a narrow container with oil on top. Turn on the blender at the bottom and then slowly lift it up, blending the whole time. That’s it! But that’s not how I did it. I made it the old school way — the way chefs were making it for hundreds of years before food processors came along.

Mayonnaise is an emulsion — the binding together of egg yolk with oil. If you make it the classic way — the Julia Child way — you have to add the oil a teeny tiny bit at a time, otherwise the delicate mix won’t come together or, if it’s already blended, it might break. But learning to make mayo by hand, you get an appreciation for the condiment and for the method. I recommend everybody make this at least once in their lives. Who knows? You might never go back to Hellman’s again!

See step-by-step photo tutorial and read the recipe here…

Chili Pork in Sweet Maple Sauce


In a desire to keep this blog (and my diet) from becoming all chicken all the time, I am making an effort to buy different cuts of meat at the store.  It’s actually been a challenge, since I am primarily a poultry and seafood eater. But in an effort to branch out, I’ve been buying pork. It helps when it’s on sale. I bought a thin-sliced pork loin, which is really lean and cooks up in a matter of minutes. I also did a pork chop loin, which is thicker and takes a while longer to cook. In both cases, I used the same sauce.

And in both cases, it was definitely a success. The sauce was sweet and complemented the pork really well. The whole recipe comes together very quickly and I recommend it for a weeknight meal. You can have dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes!

I served this with a spinach side. I just sauteed some spinach in the leftover pan juices and added a some raisins and pine nuts. What a quick and easy side!
Read the recipe and the rest of the post here…