Monday, January 30, 2012

Orange Chocolate Chip Cannoli Cups

This week's challenge was frosting or filling. I am not a huge fan of frosting because it's way too sweet for me, so I started thinking about fillings. Cannoli's kept coming to mind, but I have never made them, nor do I own cannoli forms. I really didn't want to have to go searching all over Maryland for the forms, so I finally decided to try something different. I had some puff pastry in the freezer, so I figured I would go with that.

1 sheet of puff pastry
cooking spray
1 15 oz container of whole milk ricotta
mini chocolate chips
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange liquor
2 tbsp orange zest

The first thing I did was dump the whole container of ricotta into a cheese cloth lined strainer. All the recipes I read said to let it sit this way for about an hour. I kept moving mine around every 15 minutes or so, since that seemed to help with removing some moisture.
Next I started working on the cups. I knew puff pastry wasn't really perfect for this, but I was being way too lazy to make proper cannoli shells. I started by putting some flour on a large wooden board, then laying the pastry flat. I figured that I really wanted to make it a little thinner, so I ran my rolling pin over it until it was almost as large as the board.

Next, I used a pizza cutter to cut the sheet into 12 pieces.
I sprayed two cup cake tins really well with cooking spray, then sprinkled them with powder and shook them up until they were well coated, to prevent sticking. Then I carefully lined each one with a piece of the pastry.

I baked these at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes.
They still came out puffier than I wanted them, so I carefully crushed the centers a bit to allow room for the filling, then I moved them to a plate.

While they were baking, I started working on the filling. First, I zested an orange.
I added the orange zest, powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup of the mini chips, the vanilla extract, and liquor to a bowl and mixed well. When the cheese had been sitting for over an hour, I mixed that into the bowl.
I moved the filling mix to a plastic baggie, and put it in the fridge to chill for an hour.
Now that the filling is well chilled, it's time to fill the cups. Tilt the bag on it's side and snip a small piece off the corner to create a piping bag.

Use that corner of the bag to fill your cups. You can be generous, as I had a little too much filling.

Now, top them all with more mini chips, and you're ready to eat!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pan Fried, Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia

Week 4 of 52 Weeks of Cooking is pan frying. I had this idea in mind for pan fried, cornmeal crusted tilapia, but Hubby is kind of picky about fish. Needless to say, I was thrilled when he suggested it!

tiliapia fillets
2 eggs
vegetable oil
salt and pepper
seasoning of your choice

I bought a package of frozen, individually wrapped tilapia fillets at Safeway for this challenge. When I opened the package, I realized they were pretty thin, so I decided to make two for each of us.

I started by setting up an assembly line. Starting with the fillets...

A plate of flour...
A bowl with the eggs, scrambled, and a plate with cornmeal, mixed with your seasoning of choice. I decided to use Dizzy Pig's Shakin' the Tree. It is their version of lemon pepper.

Now that you have this set up, start heating the oil in a large frying pan.
Flour the fish on both sides.

Then dip the fish in the egg.
Let the excess drip off, then coat each side in the cornmeal mixture.

Place each fillet on a cookie sheet until you are ready to fry them.
When the oil is hot, place the fillets in the oil. Depending on the size of the pan and the fillets, you may have to do this in batches.
Turn them after about 2-3 minutes.
Cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until cooked throughout. Move to a plate lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil.
I served this with roasted red potatoes, roasted asparagus and lemon wedges.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chocolate Pretzel Toffee Bark

This week's challenge in the 52 Weeks of Baking is white chocolate. Since that isn't really a favorite of mine, I decided to use both white and dark chocolate (which I love!).

1 bag of white chocolate chips
1 bag of dark chocolate chips
some pretzels
about 1/2 bag of Heath toffee pieces

At the beginning of the week I was thinking about buying a double boiler for this challenge, but then I decided on two metal bowls instead. I could get the same result, but have some new kitchen items that would be a bit more versatile. I started by grabbing two pots that would hold the metal bowls and filled them with water until the water level was just about where the metal bowls would hit. I put the bowls on top of the pots, then turned the heat to about medium.

I added the white chips to one, and the dark chips to another.

While that was heating up, I lined a cookie sheet with wax paper. I filled the wax paper with some broken and some whole pretzel pieces, then sprinkled some toffee bits across the whole thing.

As the chocolate started to heat, I began to whisk it so it didn't burn. The dark chocolate melted nicely, but the white was a little different. It just wasn't melting the same.

I poured the dark chocolate over the lined cookie sheet and continued to try to work with the white. About this point I started to panic. The white chocolate was just a mess and it didn't want to melt right. The first thing I could think of was adding a little water to thin it out. In hindsight, maybe some butter or cream would have been better, but the water did the trick. The white chocolate was finally melting down, so when it was smooth, I poured it on the cookie sheet.

It didn't completely cover the whole sheet, so I grabbed a spatula and smoothed it out, mixing the dark and white together.

Once it was all covered and smoothed out, I added some more toffee chips, pressed them in, and put the whole thing in the freezer. A few hours later I broke the whole thing up, removing the wax paper a little at a time. Now Hubby and I can't stop eating this wonderful bark!