Even though I am not currently dating someone special… I still like to cook something nice, even if it’s just for myself.
After all, Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate LOVE and there are many ways to express and celebrate love – love towards your parents, love towards your kids, love towards your siblings, love towards your pets, love towards your partner, love towards your neighbors, your family in general, your co-workers, your friends and most of all, LOVE TOWARDS YOURSELF. Because, if you don’t love yourself, how do you expect others to love you too???
Here are a few ideas I have cooked in the past to impress a few loved ones… hope you choose to make one to impress YOURSELF!!!
Cheese, Spinach and Mushroom Manicotti
Roasted Stuffed Tomatoes over Pasta
Eggplant and Goat Cheese Bake
Korean Seasoned Tofu
Chame’s Spinach Salad with Figs and Blue Cheese
Poached Pears with Blue Cheese and Almond Praline
Last week we had our 2nd KarmaFree Cooking class and our theme was Loving ourselves first thru our Food. Sometimes, we only cook nice things when we’re cooking for others. But why not cook something nice even if it’s just us in the house??
The recipes we shared are old and new KarmaFree Cooking recipes that work well made just for one person, for two or for a crowd. These are simple, quick and delicious recipes that work well to make just for you on a solo movie night at home and just the same are not much more effort making for a large dinner party.
Here was our class menu:
Pasta with Marinated Tomatoes over Brown Rice Pasta
Quinoa Pasta with Fresh Baby Spinach and Lemon Vinaigrette
Spinach Salad with Macerated Strawberries
Baked Sweet Plantains with Cinnamon and Vanilla
Poached Pears with Blue Cheese and Almond Praline
Even though these were all recipes we had shared in the blog before, it’s never the same reading and making them on your own as seeing how I make them, after I have made them over and over and over again. Your words… not mine.
The class is not only about sharing recipes and techniques. We also talked about alternative pastas… we talked about my favorite olive oils and vinegars. We also talked about microplanes and rasps to grate lemon zest and how I do not like to rinse pasta after I drain it. We also shared how the same ingredients for the Marinated Tomates can be used in a bruschetta as an appetizer or skewered to make for a fancier passed hors d’oeuvre.
I am so grateful for all of those who attended… we had a larger class this time around. Some repeats and some new students. I want to give a great shout out to Adriana from Great Food 360 who attended once again and contributed with the wonderful pictures. She rocks!!!
Again to my lovely assistants Angie and Mom… who help me with the little things that keep the class rolling smoothly.
Hope you can join us for the next installment… Late April. Mark your calendars – Recipes to celebrate Mom. I am already planning the menu.
A dessert with the holidays written all over it… white chocolate, cream cheese and cranberries. These last ones, look like jewels on top of it all.
Easy to make and fancy to the eyes. I brought it to a day-after-Thanksgiving get-together and my friends ate it all before I had a chance to take a good picture of it.
Is that enough proof on how good this is???
WHITE CHOCOLATE CHEESECAKE WITH CRANBERRIES
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
½ stick butter, melted
8oz cream cheese
¼ cup brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla powder
1 ½ tsp egg replacer + 2 tbs water
¼ cup half and half
½ cup white chocolate chips
¼ cup dried cranberries
- Use the wrapper of the butter stick to grease the bottom and sides of a 5” x 7” baking dish.
- I break a few graham crackers in the bowl of my food processor. Process it until I get fine crumbs. I measure to make sure I have 1 cup of crumbs and return the measured crumbs to the food processor. Add the melted butter and pulse a few times to combine. It should be the texture and consistency of damp sand. Add the mixture to the buttered baking dish and pat the crumbs to the bottom of the dish and a bit to the sides.
- Bake in a 400F oven for about 10 minutes to create a nice crust base for our cheesecake. When the crust is golden brown, take out of the oven and chill for a few minutes to cool down as much as possible.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350F.
- In the meantime, let’s create the filling…
- In a bowl mix together using a hand mixer the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, egg replacer mixed with water, and half and half. Blend well until it becomes a smooth mixture. Add most of the white chocolate chips and cranberries and mix in using a spatula.
- When the crust has cooled, pour the cheesy white chocolate mixture on top of the crust. Decorate the top with the remaining white chocolate and cranberries. Bake in oven for about 25 mins. When the time has elapsed, turn the oven off, but leave the cheesecake in the oven for 10-15 additional minutes.
Take out of the oven and let it cool in a wire rack, so air can circulate from all sides. Refrigerate for about 2 hours for the cheesecake to set completely.
I have been meaning to make an ice cream using my Coquito recipe for years… but recently I asked my mom for her ice cream maker and I have become a frozen dessert maniac.
I educated myself on making ice creams… proportions, flavors, textures. And the best ice creams always included some sort of egg component. And as you know, eggs are no-no’s in KarmaFree Cooking. I was willing to give this project a few tries, but making Coquito takes a few steps and I didn’t want to be wasteful.
I struck gold when I took my ice cream making inquiries to a Facebook group we have – the Serious Eats Water Cooler. There a few friends introduced me to Max Falkowitz, an ice cream guru who’s also part of the editorial team at Serious Eats. Between his recommendations and my friend Jerzee Tomato’s input, I came up with a brilliant combination of texture and smoothness.
Create a custard… without using eggs and mix in the Coquito. Genius!!! The Coquito has fat from the coconut milk, evaporated and condensed milks so all you need to do is add some more to the custard.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we do! My mom was in awe when she tried it… as has been each and every person who has tasted it after that. This was a home run!
COQUITO ICE CREAM
2 cups of my Coquito Recipe
1 ¼ cups half and half
2 tsp cornstarch
½ cup brown sugar
First we need to create the components… you can make a batch of Coquito first and then make the cornstarch custard.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add 1 cup of half and half and sugar. Add the cornstarch to the remaining ¼ cup half and half. Whisk well to create a slurry and while whisking, add to the saucepan with the rest of the ingredients.
- Whisk or stir constantly using a wooden spoon to avoid any lumps while the mixture thickens. It’ll take about 5-6 minutes. The custard is done when it coats the back of a wooden spoon and when you run a finger thru it, the sides of custard will not get back together.
- It may look a tad loose, but it’ll thicken in the fridge while it cools.
- Transfer the custard to a heatproof bowl or even a glass measuring cup and chill in the fridge at least 2-3 hours. I place a plastic film over the custard to avoid it creating a film on top. You can do this even a few days in advance if you want. Just like making the Coquito in advance.
- When you’re ready to assemble the ice cream, in a pitcher bring together 2 cups of Coquito and the cornstarch custard, which should measure just a tad more than 1 cup. Mix well to combine and add to your ice cream maker. Churn 25-30 minutes according to your ice cream machine’s instructions.
- Transfer to a container to freeze in the freezer for about 2 hours before serving. It’s delicious right off the ice cream maker… but it’s at its best after a few hours in the freezer.
- When you’re about to serve it… leave it a few minutes at room temperature before scooping.
The end result is a smooth, spicy and creamy ice cream that feels as rich as any premium ice cream around.
Merry Xmas, Happy Holidays and may 2014 be filled with lots of blessings.
I have several recipes for tembleque here in KarmaFree Cooking… All of them I have made, all of them I have enjoyed… but none of them I have developed myself.
My friend Aniette told me she makes a recipe she got from YouTube and that her Houston friends, who have never had tembleque, loved. Aniette has never tasted the actual recipe, because she’s allergic to coconut. And no offense to her Houston friends, but the texture of the recipe is not what tembleque should be like… IMHO. It was more like a coconut mousse, not tembleque.
What I really enjoyed about the youtube recipe was that it only had 4 ingredients. Tembleque is a simple recipe that shouldn’t be complex or difficult to make. To me, tembleque is the perfect recipe to teach at a Xmas-themed cooking class.
So I made about 4-5 batches of tembleque before I felt comfortable to teach who to make it at the most recent KarmaFree Cooking cooking class. The results are tasty, jiggly and smooth like a tembleque should always be.
TEMBLEQUE, My Way
2 cans coconut milk (one large 25oz can)
1 cup water
2/3 cups brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 or 2 sticks of cinnamon
Ground Cinnamon to taste
- In a large saucepan or small pot at medium high heat, add the coconut milk. Feel free to use a larger pot than you think you might need so you’ll have enough space to stir the mix.
- Add the sugar, salt and stir well with a wooden spoon.
- Add 1 cup of water to the cans to “wash them” from any leftover coconut milk. Add the cornstarch to this water to create a slurry. Mix well with a small whisk and add to the pot on the stove.
- Stir the mixture kinda constantly to avoid the cornstarch to fall to the bottom of the pot and create lumps. When the mixture feels it’s starting to thicken, lower the heat so the bottom doesn’t scorch. Continue stirring making a figure 8 until the mixture coats the back of the spoon and when you run your finger thru the coating the side do not come together again.
- Transfer to a heat resistant mold or transfer to individual plastic cups for individual servings. I like 3oz cups. They’re a nice little serving and if you want some more, just have 2.
- Allow to slightly cool for about 20 minutes on top of the kitchen counter. After that, transfer to the fridge to cool and set for about 2 hours. The final product will set but still be “jiggly” when you shake the mold or cup.