Cookie Dough Truffles

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Cookie dough ice cream, cookie dough milk shakes and now cookie dough truffles!  I, like most people, always wanted to lick the spoon after making cookies with my mom.  However, before sneaking a bite or two my mom would berate me for eating raw eggs.  The solution?  Eggless cookie dough!  Not only does the recipe curve my sweet tooth, but I took it one step further by making the cookie dough into truffles.

cookiedoughtrufflesThe “American truffle” is a half-egg shaped chocolate-coated truffle, a mixture of dark or milk chocolates with butterfat and, in some cases, hardened coconut oil.  The “European truffle” is made with syrup and a base made up of cocoa powder, milk powder, fats, and other such ingredients to create an oil-in-water type emulsion.  The “French truffle” is made with fresh cream and chocolate and then rolled into cocoa or nut powder.  The “Belgian truffle” or praline is made with dark or milk chocolate filled with ganache, buttercream or nut pastes.  The “Swiss truffle” is made by combining melted chocolate into a boiling mixture of dairy cream and butter, which is poured into molds to set before sprinkling with cocoa powder.  As you can see there are many ways to make a truffle, but this recipe simplifies and hits the nail on the head: a win-win.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I halved the cookie dough recipe.
  2. I think the recipe was too sweet, so I suggest adding more flour as a thickener and less brown sugar.
  3. Make sure your butter is softened allowing it to incorporate evenly.
  4. Add any type of filling–chocolate chips, M&Ms or any other candy.
  5. Make the truffles using a melon baller or similar instrument.
  6. Place your truffles on wax paper in the freezer until they harden.  You can put them in the fridge, but they take longer to harden.
  7. I used semi-sweet chocolate as the coating.  I suggest dark chocolate to cut the sweetness.  You can use any type of your choosing.
  8. Place the truffles back in the fridge or freezer to harden after coated in chocolate.

Cookies are extremely versatile.  These truffles are no different.  You can mix and match add-ins; you can mix and match the chocolate coating.  These sweet treats are pop-able and delicious.  Without getting sick, you can enjoy your favorite dough without hesitation.  For up to three months, the cookie dough can be stored and enjoyed–unless you, like me, cannot keep your paws off it.

Leave a comment with your favorite cookie add-ins.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

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Garam Masala Hummus

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Hummus is a great side dip for parties and gatherings; however, store bought hummus can be expensive for the amount you receive. Eating out at Indian restaurants can be expensive as well. Solution? Homemade Hummus–it’s inexpensive and extremely versatile. From garlic to roasted bell pepper, hummus can be appreciated by all taste buds. The garam masala hummus today brings a big bite of the Mediterranean home.

Garam Masala is a popular Indian spice consisting mostly of black and white peppercorn; cloves; black and white cumin seeds; cinnamon and black, brown and green cardamom pods. Some masala may be toasted before use to extract flavor and aroma. Garam refers to the intensity of spices, which one can sense from just a whiff. Surprisingly, there is no single garam masala. Recipes and ingredients differ according to region as well as a chef’s individual preferences. From turmeric to fennel seeds, variations can arise to accompany the dish’s flavor; consequently, most pre-made spice mixes in grocery stores contain the basic ingredients.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used homemade tahini, but you can use store bought. Most kinds of tahini are found in the healthy, ethnic or refrigerated sections of your supermarket.
  2. I used bottled lemon juice. If you use fresh, be sure to squeeze the lemon over a mesh colander to keep the seeds and strings from falling into your hummus.
  3. You may want to use more olive oil depending on the consistency of the hummus.
  4. Feel free to add more than a pinch of paprika to balance out the garam masala. I
    love paprika.
  5. Use about ¾ tsp of garam masala and add more to your tasting. It can be a potent spice if you are unfamiliar with the flavors.

garammasalahummus2Again, hummus makes the perfect party platter or side at lunch.  Pair hummus with chips and crackers or add to a wrap for an extra umph.  There are several variations of hummus to keep your stomach happy. Experiment to find your favorite recipes after trying the garam
masala hummus.

Leave a comment with your favorite hummus dip recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from the Cooking Bug.

Honey-Chipolte Meatballs

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Sweet and spicy with a tangy punch, these honey-chipolte meatballs are a flavor blaster to any dish.  They will ramp up pasta or sandwich.  Within ten minutes, you’ll have a delicious dish that shine.  Turkey is a great substitute to ground beef with less calories and saturated fats; turkey is even juicier than chicken, so the meatballs won’t dry out.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used turkey sausage instead of ground turkey.  Remove the turkey from the casing and it acts just like paged ground turkey.
  2. I added purple peppers to the mix along with onion for an extra crunch.
  3. Instead of cider vinegar, I used red wine vinegar.  You just need the acidity to balance the sweetness of the honey and spiciness of the chilies.
  4. Be sure to brown the meatballs in a pan before placing them in the oven to prevent them from drying out.
  5. Placing them in the oven allows the turkey to cook through without burning the outside.
  6. Be sure not to burn the sauce by constantly stirring the mix of meatballs in the sauce.  Tip the pan to allow the sauce to gather in one spot.  Then, spoon it evenly onto all
    the meatballs.
  7. I used about 2 sausages and made 8 meatballs, about 4 meatballs per sausage.

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These sweet and spicy meatballs will make your mouth sizzle.  They pair well with pasta or as a hoagie with peppers and onion.  It’s a new way to enjoy turkey with flavor that will blow your taste buds away.  Try it the next time you want to spice up your bland pasta.

Leave a comment with how you enjoy ground turkey.  Follow other recipes and dishes on my Pinterest.  Be sure to check back next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Sirloin Burger w/Cilantro Cumin Sauce

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You might be negotiating with the fact that most doctors recommend staying away from red meats.  While that may be the case, you need to constantly be changing your dietary foods.  Don’t go crazy now that you know the secret, but keep it in mind that a little red meat won’t hurt.  And what can be made best with red meat?  A grilled and juicy burger!

Now, this sirloin burger comes with a punch in the sauce department.  If you’re like me, a little spice can go a long, long way; however, I’ve been learning with Jillian Michael’s Master Your Metabolism recipes that spice is the new black.  It seems that she wants to kick your butt into gear and spice up not only workouts but recipes as well.  This sirloin burger w/cumin jalapeño sauce does her justice.

For these 430 calorie burgers serving four you’ll need, 3 jalapeños, cilantro, garlic, 1 tbsp lime juice, 1 tsp cumin, 2 tbsp water, salt, pepper, olive oil for brushing, 4 slices pepper jack cheese, and 1½ lbs sirloin.  Along with those ingredients you’ll need lettuce, tomato, and 1 slice of bread for serving compliments.  Knead the sirloin, ½ cilantro, and ½ tsp cumin for your burgers.  After cooking add your sliced cheese.  All the rest of the ingredients are blended for the sauce.

Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used a piece of pepper jack on top of the burger.  Incorporating it into the burger will help as a binding factor, but since we’re using sirloin the meat compacts and holds
    well already.
  2. Make sure to wash your hands after handling the jalapenos.  **AT NO TIME SHOULD YOU WIPE YOUR FACE OR EYES**
  3. I used a food processor in place of a blender because it’s what I had on hand and I believe they work a little better.
  4. Blend the sauce a few times before taking it out making sure to scrape the sides each time.  This process will prevent large chunks from developing.
  5. I cooked my burgers in the oven instead of the grill only because Arizona can be too hot in the summer standing next to a grill.sirloinburgerw:cuminjalapenosauce

Beware that the sauce is spicy, but it adds a punch of flavor to the burger.  Don’t be hesitant to spread some all over the top.  Even for me, a wimp in the spiciness department went all out.  It evens the flavors and give the burger an
extra UMPH!

Leave a comment on how you handle your spice.  Be sure to follow my Pinterest.  Check back next Wednesday for more tips from The Cooking Bug.

Pumpkin Sage Polenta

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The pumpkin saga continues with a pumpkin sage polenta.  I’m sure my pumpkin recipes outnumber a majority of my other recipes: obsessed much.  I love the soft, moist tenderness that pumpkin tends to add to these dishes.  Pumpkin fits nicely into polenta because it obtains a velvety texture when cooked.  The softness is complimented well with the powerful sage for a complete balance of flavors, texture and delicacy.

As it is known today, polenta derives from earlier forms of grain–puls or pulmentum, more commonly known as gruel or porridge–eaten since Roman times.  Polenta has a creamy texture due to the gelatinization of starch in the grain. However, it may not be completely homogeneous if a coarse grind or hard grain such as flint corn is used.  Historically, polenta is served as a peasant food in North America and Europe, but is considered upscale today.  Polenta is cooked by simmering in a water-based liquid combined with other ingredients.  It is often cooked in a huge copper pot known in Italian as a paiolo.  Polenta is known to be a native dish of and to have originated from Friuli.  Boiled and leftover polenta may be left to set, then baked or fried.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Use legit polenta not the pre-made, pre-packaged gross polenta.  It has sodium and preservatives through the roof.
  2. I used homemade pumpkin puree; however, you can use canned pumpkin puree if
    need be.
  3. In place of water, you can use milk for a creamier polenta.  If using milk, nix the cheese
    in half.
  4. Limit the sage.  Sage is a powerful flavor profile, and you do not want to overpower
    the dish.
  5. The parmesan cheese softens the dish as a whole creating a deeper depth of flavor.
  6. You can use salted butter, but nix the salt otherwise.
  7. Be sure to continuously whisk the polenta after boiling to keep the polenta from burning and mix the ingredients.
  8. The polenta will begin to thicken once you begin stirring.
  9. Keep stirring!!!!  Polenta is a corn meal base that requires constant stirring in order to cook correctly.

This dish is the perfect holiday and special occasion meal.  Creamy and dreamy, the silky consistency and decadent aromas will melt in your mouth.  Whipping up the pumpkin sage polenta will add a dash of autumn to your plate.  It’s a sophisticated dish made easy.

Leave a comment with other pumpkin favorites.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Black Bean Soup

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I specifically go to Paradise Bakery, owned by Panera, on Tuesdays because they have black bean soup.  So, I was excited to find a black bean soup favorite soup with a hidden twist.  The smokiness of the black beans and cumin pair well with the sweetness of the pumpkin puree.  Neither flavor is suppressed creating a sweet and savory dish perfect for those cold fall and winter nights.

I recommend making the soup with fresh pumpkin.  Canned pumpkin has added preservatives that change the flavor profiles.  The squash and pumpkin allow for a creamy texture in the soup.  Adding nutmeg creates a sweeter soup; adding jalapenos or adobe chilies creates a spicy soup; adding sour cream on top of the finished product creates a cooling element to the soup.
Photo from Julia

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. I used homemade pumpkin puree since I pretend to live in fall year round, but the recipe works with butternut squash as well.blackbeanpumpkinsoup2
  2. Be sure to have a food processor.  I had a hand one that worked well, but it left a few chunks.
  3. Use vegetable broth for vegetarians.
  4. Use fire-roasted tomatoes for an extra, southwest flavor blast.
  5. I nixed the shallots because it was difficult to find them at the grocery store.  In place of shallots, substitute extra garlic and onion.
  6. Replace the butter with pam to sweat the onions and bringing out the sweetness.  I suggest using red onions because they are sweeter.
  7. The cumin provides a smoky and spicy flavor reminiscent of many Southwest dishes.
  8. I suggest simmering the soup for only 15 minutes or until it becomes thick.  You do not want to overcook the soup and pumpkin.
  9. Homemade pumpkin will create that soft orange color lightly darkened by the beans
    and tomatoes.
  10. I suggest adding the rest of the black beans from the can into the soup because I enjoy chunky soups.

blackbeanpumpkinsoup3The black bean and pumpkin soup combines my two favorite flavors.  I am obsessed with pumpkin, making everyday fall.  I love that this soup can be made and frozen for a day I need a warm pick-up.  A spicy kick and a sweet ending blend the flavors of fall and the southwest.  Be a cowboy in the kitchen!

Leave a comment with your favorite pumpkin recipes.  Follow my Pinterest for more recipes.  Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.

Roasted Red Pepper and Basil Pesto Penne

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The few times I enjoy pasta I love to use pesto. From ordinary pesto to out of the box recipes, there are variations for all foodies. Roasted red pepper and basil pesto can compliment a volume of dishes. Pasta can be so bland, but elevate it with pesto; chicken can be boring, but change normal with pesto. I enjoy the added note of half and half to create a creamy texture. It softens the dish and creates a tasty dinner for friends and family.

Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Toasting your pine nuts accentuates their nutty flavor.roastedredpepperpestopenne2
  2. I used a fresh bell pepper. Char the pepper stovetop or broil it to produce a roasted, fresh flavor.
  3. Using fresh basil is the only way to make a pesto.
  4. Olive oil creates that creaminess ideal in pesto and facilitates cohesion among the ingredients.
  5. I used half and half, but you can use heavy cream or evaporated milk in exchange. The point is to add a creamy thickness to your sauce.
  6. I oven roasted a few chicken breasts in place of the rotisserie chicken. It is healthier because there is less butter, and you are using only white meat.
  7. Adding fresh basil on top of the finished dish enhances the brightness of the pesto.
  8. I topped the dish with sun-dried tomatoes; however, roasted or halved cherry tomatoes compliment the dish as well.
  9. I used a hand food processor leaving my pesto chunkier than normal.

I’m a huge fan of red bell peppers; I’m a huge fan of pesto; I’m a huge fan of splurging on pasta. This recipe delivers on all notes of flavor. With a few easy steps and ingredients, you can stretch your wallet without stretching your waistband. Enjoy a splurging pasta dish with the notes above and learn to love eating healthy.

Leave a comment with your favorite pesto recipes. Follow my Pinterest for more recipes. Check back again next Wednesday for more tips and tricks from The Cooking Bug.