Almond Fig Tart & Aspen Oat Bars

So, I came into some figs recently, thank you Jason!, and I found that figs are primarily eaten two ways. Either by themselves with honey and possibly some cheeses or as a tart. I love bread of any kind soooo I went with the tart.

This recipe comes from Giada De Laurentiis off of the Food Network website. I really liked this recipe and it wasn’t hard at all. Just a little messy….. I got flour all over me.

Almond Fig Tart

*makes about 8 to 11 servings I guess, but who really follows that anyway?*

Dough Ingredients:

– 1 & 1/2 cups of flour
– 2 TB sugar
– lemon zest (optional)
– 1/4 tsp salt
– 3 TBs cold water
– 10 TBs ( 1 & 1/4 sticks) of butter, chilled and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces

Combine all dry dough ingredients in a food processor. Then add the cubed butter and pulse until it resembles a course meal. Then add the water while the machine is running. When combined, form the dough into a disc, wrap with plastic wrap and chill for an hour or so.

Cheese / Almond Filling Ingredients:

– 1 TB sugar
– 3.5 ounces Almond paste, at room temp and cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
– 1/3 cup Mascarpone cheese at room temp
– 1 TSP vanilla extract
– 2 TBs honey

Combine all filling ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Set aside.

Topping Ingredients:

– 6 large or 12 small fresh figs, sliced, stems removed
– 1/4 cup apricot jam

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and position a rack in the center of the oven.

Roll out the dough to an 11 inch circle. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet. Spread the Almond filling over the dough, leaving a 2 inch border from the edge. Place the figs on top of the filling. Spoon the jam over the figs and then fold the edges over.

Bake for 40 minutes. Allow to cool and enjoy hot or cold. I prefer it chilled.

Enjoy!

Now onto the second recipe I made. Aspen Oat Bars!

Aspen Oat Bars

This recipe comes from the LA Times food section and makes about 12 – 16 servings.

Ingredients:

– 1 & 1/2 cups plus 2 TBs old-fashioned rolled oats
– 1/4 and 2 TBs light brown sugar
– heaping 1/2 cup coconut flakes
– 1/2 TSP salt
– 3/4 cup nuts or sunflower seeds – I used almonds and walnuts
– 3/4 cup powdered milk
– 1/2 cup raisins
– 1/2 cup dried cranberries – I used fresh figs, cubed.
– 3 TBs butter
– 1/4 cup honey
– 1/2 cup & 1 TB peanut butter
– 1 & 1/8 TSP vanilla extract
– 2 TBs plus 1 TSP raspberry jam

Heat oven to 400 degrees F and grease a 13-by-9 inch baking pan.

Mix oats, sugar, coconut, salt, nuts, powdered milk, raisins and cranberries.

In a saucepan, melt and combine the butter, honey, peanut butter, vanilla extract and jam.

Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients and combine. Press the mixture into the pan and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!

Italian Chocolate Cookies

I found this recipe from the food blog, Spoonful of Sugar and the photos looked so good that I had to try them for myself. Now, I’ve never really been a big chocolate fan, but lately I’ve been really craving it so I gave it a try.

These cookies are cakey with a great cocoa flavor and the frosting makes it just sweet enough. The sprinkles were my touch since I’m pretty much obsessed with them and prefer them over my ice cream, on top of my cookies and within my cake (funfetti!).

*I halved this recipe and it made enough for one person… and for sharing.. If you want to.

The Chocolate Cookies:

2 sticks butter, melted and cooled
1 & 1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup milk
4 & 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa
4 & 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 & 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 & 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix cooled butter and sugar together to a gel-like consistency. Add the milks and eggs and mix until combined. Then add half of the flour and the rest of the dry ingredients and mix into the batter. Then mix in the rest of the flour.

Refrigerate for an hour or more. I just stuck it in the freezer for 20 or so minutes.

Roll into balls and bake for 10 – 12 minutes.

The Icing

3 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Stir the 3 ingredients together. It should be thick, but still fluid enough to coat the cookies and dry as a stiff shell.

Enjoy! I definitely did.

Spanglish Sandwich

This has to be my favorite sandwich of a ALL TIME. Yep, I used caps, I’m serious.

If any of you have seen the film, Spanglish (2004) and you’re completely obsessed with food, you noticed the amazing looking sandwich Adam Sandler’s character made. You are definitely a foodie if you know what I’m talking about.

Now the true to heart Spanglish Sandwich recipe goes like this:

*Photo & Recipe taken from here*

Now, I typically make my shortcut version because I don’t always have that particular cheese, lettuce or bacon in the house. So mine goes like this:

My Spanglish Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 slices of sourdough bread

1 egg

fresh spinach leaves

slices of turkey lunch meat

sliced tomatoes

slices of avocado

Mayo, Dijon mustard, salt & pepper

Toast the bread in a toaster or in a skillet with butter . Set aside. Then cook the egg until firm, but the yoke is still gooey (that’s just my personal preference). Spread mayo and mustard on the bread slices and place  spinach on one slice and pile the turkey on top of that. Then, place the cooked egg on top of that and add the slices of tomato. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the tomatoes. Finish off with slices of avocado, which is a necessity in all of my sandwiches.

My version is similar to the original spanglish sandwich, but not quite the real thing. Believe me, the real thing is worth the crazy calorie content… I believe the article above says 1,145 calories!! Ehh maybe like a once in a year kind of thing. So I guess mine’s a low-cal / convenient version of the real thing.

Regardless of labels, it’s just plain yummy to me. Enjoy the noms!

Homemade Twinkies

Enough said, right?

I made these yesterday and they are very yummy. Unfortunately, I kinda under-baked them so mine aren’t that pretty, but who cares they still taste amazing. ^_^

some picture I found on google image search

This recipe is super easy and you don’t need any special pan to do it either (but it helps!). I got the idea and recipe at The Cooking Photographer blog, and she linked to this youtube video (seen below) of Todd Wilbur making homemade twinkies without that special pan. So, I just followed the video instead, which can be seen below.

Homemade Twinkies

*makes about 16 to 12 twinkies*

Ingredients for cakes:

(1) 16 oz box of Pound Cake mix – I used Betty crocker

4 egg whites

2/3 cup water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Whip the egg whites until stiff. In a separate bowl, mix the cake mix and water. Then fold the egg whites into the cake mixture, then beat with hand mixer until combined. Fill the molds halfway and bake 22 – 23 mins. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Mine took longer in the tin foil molds.

Ingredients for cream filling:

2 tsp hot water

1/4 tsp salt

2 cups marshamallow cream / fluff ( the whole 7oz jar)

1/2 cup shortening

1/3 cup powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling, mix the salt into the hot water to dissolve. Let it cool. Combine marshamallow, shortening, powdered sugar and vanilla in bowl and mix until fluffy. Mix in the salt water.

When the cakes have cooled, poke holes into the bottom of the cakes with a chopstick and wiggle it around to create a cavern inside the cake. Fill with cakes with cream filling using a pastry bag.

These can be stored in a wax paper-lined container for a few hours before serving. It helps if you let them sit for a few hours before eating since the cream really melds with the twinkies.

My 21st Birthday

I’M 21 YEARS OLD SO NOW I CAN DO EVERYTHING I’VE ALREADY BEEN DOING, LEGALLY! wooo.

Like my friend so cleverly put it, I don’t even have to keep track of my age after this birthday aaand she’s kinda got a point. I can legally do everything a ‘responsible adult’ can. I can rent a car, I can go on a cruise, I can book a hotel room in Vegas [future post] and most importantly I can legally drink alcohol. I feel kind of goofy about that part though because I’m not like super excited that I can get wasted if I want, I don’t even drink often at all. I’m just excited I can buy wine to use in tomato sauce and beer I can drink casually. I also love bar environments because they’re so friendly and casual, so I’m excited for that most of all.

Anyways, I got this awesome cake from Jime. I’m so easy to please. Seriously, just give me food and anything with animals [and in particular cats] on it and I’ll love it. Jime combined both of these things therefore making this the best cake I have ever received. Oh and it’s Funfetti! my favorite.

The only thing is that Jason got me a cheesecake, and my mom made me a white cake with raspberries so I now have waaay too much cake. Like an inordinate amount of cake… I guess I’ll take it as a challenge!?

Some guy on dailybooth said that I should hide in a closet and finish it all. I thought that was hilarious, but too pathetic so instead I’m giving it away to anyone who will take it. Please someone help me eat all this.

I’ve also become obsessed with DailyBooth over spring break. This is my account >  BallenaLeigh

Alfajores

alfajor fin

It’s almost 4th of July (2009 edition)! So what do I think of to celebrate? by making and eating Alfajores, yes. I decided to make a traditional Spanish / Latin American confection for the day that represents years of struggle for American independence. My mind works in mysterious ways.

My friend Jime turned me on to these. And they are mouth watering.

These cookies are basically two shortbread cookies sandwiched with Dulce de leche in between. Dulce de Leche is super easy to make. I did a previous post on it where I discussed the 3 methods used to make Dulce de leche. However, for the sake of easiness I used the no hole pot method this time…

Dulce de Leche

Remove the wrapper off of one ( or more ) can(s) of sweetened condensed milk and place in a large pot. Fill the pot with water until it is about 1 to 1 1/2 inches over the top of the can. Place the pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling lower the heat and allow the can to simmer for 3 to 4 hours. The trick here, is to check the water every half hour or so to make sure that the water level stays above the can. If the top of the can is close to the water surface there is a chance the can could explode, or at least I’ve read online. So, just to be safe, add hot water to the pot every half hour to make sure the water level stays above the top of the can.

dulce de leche boil candulce de leche done

Alfajores

taken from Nooschi

– 3 & 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
– 1 & 1/2 cups of butter at room temperature
– 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
– 1/4 tsp. salt
– 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
– 1/4 cup milk (optional)

1.  Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.

2.  In a separate bowl, sift the flour and salt.

3. Slowly add the sifted flour and salt into the butter mixture, and mix on low speed.

4. If your mixture is too crumbly, add in the milk, and mix on low speed until a dough is formed.

5. Roll the dough into the shape of a flat disk, and cover it with plastic wrap. Refrigrate for 30-60 minutes.

6. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

7. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to 1/8 – 1/4 inch thick, and cut the dough with a round 2 inch diameter cookie cutter.

alfajor cookie cut

8. Place the cookies on a baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes. This will ensure your cookies keep their shape while baking.

9. Bake 15 – 20 minutes, or until the edges start to brown. Cool the cookies on a rack.

alfajor tray

Assemble the Alfajor:
1. With a butter knife, spread the dulce de leche on a shortbread cookie.

2. Sandwich the dulce de leche by placing another shortbread cookie on top.

3. To garnish, sift confectioners sugar on top of the cookie until it is fully covered.

* To keep these cookies in place it’s a good idea to refrigerate them as they tend to slide as the Dulce de leche comes to room temperature. They are messier at room temperature, but that’s what makes them taste so good!

alfajor tray