Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Chicken with Mango Salsa


Finished Product!


Ingredients Ready to Go!
One of my absolute favorite ingredients is mango. Unfortunately, the mango isn't as widely used in American cooking as I'd like. My newlywed husband and I just returned from our honeymoon in Hawaii before Candee and I started this blog, and I was happier than a pig in the mud  because of the widely used mango fruit in the cuisine over there. I sampled mango bread, which was similar to a zucchini bread in its spices, but obviously with mango, mango ice cream, and don't forget the mango daiquiris! ;) It saddens me that the mango is not more prominent within the USA, but I am not surprised...

I'm not going to lie. The mango is one of the most difficult and frustrating ingredients to work with. Maybe butternut squash is more difficult for me because of its tough outer skin, but it's really a close call! I've made this recipe twice now, and the last time I made it was last summer because it requires time to break down those mangoes.


I started by marinating the chicken. I bought boneless, skinless, chicken breasts from Perdue which are pretty well cleaned on their own, but as a science teacher that delves into the human body, I know a thing or two about connective tissue...and let me tell you, it's not my thing. My rule of thumb when cleaning chicken is: If I wouldn't want to eat it, I clean it. I make sure that my knives are sharp and get to it.  


Trimming the Fat
I combined all my marinade ingredients, 4 garlic cloves chopped, juice of 4 limes, salt, 4 tablespoons of Caribbean Love Spice, 1 tablespoon of salt, and a 1/2 cup of olive oil and let my 3 chicken breasts marinate for about 2 hours. For my marinating tip, check out the video below.




After two hours, I preheated the oven to 375 degrees and baked the chicken for 45 minutes as instructed. The time was perfect. They came out moist and juicy.


Ready for the Sauna!


While I was waiting for my chicken, I started to make the mango salsa, which is where the headaches start! For those of you not familiar, the mango has a large starchy pit in the middle. Very different than the pit of an avocado. The avocado pit is a sphere where the mango pit is long and wide. To get the pulp from a mango, first you need to peel off the thick, waxy skin.


Mangoes are eaten in many forms of ripeness. Some chefs use green mangoes when the pulp is hard and the flavor is more bland for texture in a salad, while other chefs look for mangoes that are red and yellow in color when the pulp is super soft and incredibly sweet.


Mango Madness!


Because I bought the mangoes the same day I planned on preparing them, I looked for ones that were red and yellow in color, but you never know what you're gonna get! One of my mangoes was very ripe, another medium, and one was still pretty hard and tart, but it made a good combination for my salsa. In the picture above you can see the difference in color between the mango pit on the left and right. The one on the right has a deeper yellow color and also a softer texture. I'm no professional, so I just used my paring knife to try and get as much pulp off the pit as possible. 


The Fruits of My Labor
   Posted by PicasaAfter about half an hour, I had three mangoes diced. To my mangoes I added a diced and seeded jalapeno, a diced red onion, the juice of two and a half limes, a handful of chopped cilantro, a tablespoon of salt and a 1/4 cup of sugar. You need to let the salsa sit for about half an hour to let all of the flavors blend. The salt forces some of the water out of the mangoes and after you let it sit, it makes its own juice. 


Colorful Mango Salsa!


Overall, I love the combination of the sweet mangoes, spicy jalapenos, and sharp onions. They complement the chicken that has been marinating in the Caribbean spices. My husband and I love eating this meal, but I'd call this meal a once-a-year-wonder. See you next July, Mango Salsa!


Click here for the full recipe by Ike Green courtesy of Food Network.com



Sweet and Savory Originals: Strawberry Lemonade Pops


Good morning sweethearts! Today I'm introducing our new series Sweet and Savory Originals! Unlike Recipe to Reality, in this series we will be sharing delectable treats as well as meals that have came straight out of our heads and onto your plate! Today's sweet and tangy creations are strawberry lemonade pops! Inspired by McCafe's citrusy Frozen Strawberry Lemonade, these shivery delights are sure become a staple at family BBQ's. Plus, they take only TWO ingredients to make and some simple materials you can find just about anywhere for pennies!
You will need:
Strawberries (the amount depends on the size of the ice pop mold you have on hand)
Lemonade (as much as will fill the mold)
Ice pop mold
Knife
Cutting Board


Ready to go!

I purchased my mold at Christmas Tree Shops






















1: After the strawberries have been washed, start cutting into circles. The amount that you will cut depends on the size of your molds, but for my rectangular one it took about a strawberry per pop, or about four medium slices.
2: Place half of desired amount of strawberries into the molds.
3: Pour lemonade into the molds. This tangy citrus drink can be freshly squeezed or from a 'just add water' packet, depending on your personal preference.
4: Place the remaining strawberries into the ice pops. Note: when you poured in the lemonade you may have notices your first strawberries floated
to the top. Now is the time to place all strawberries how you would like them as they probably will not float all over the place- this is because of the volume of strawberries in the mold.


 5: Place molds in freezer overnight or for about 12 hours.For an explanation on taking them out of their molds to be enjoyed please watch the video below.



Stay sweet, Candee



Monday, July 30, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Buttermilk Blueberry-Raspberry Breakfast Cake


   After coming home from the gym today, I picked up Candee and brought her to my apartment to make some Buttermilk Blueberry Breakfast Cake from a recipe that I found at Alexandra's Kitchen . As a fruit and veggie lover, I decided that we should add raspberries as well as blueberries because in my head, the more berries the better! 

All our ingredients, ready to go!

As a savory cook, I don't bake very often, but I do love eating baked goods! So it's going to take me a little while to get used to improvising in the baking kitchen. In cooking, I can pretty much add whatever I want to a dish. Extra veggies, different spices, a little more water, no problem! Today I learned that it's a little harder in baking. I'm going to have to be more precise and follow the recipes to a T and learn how to add in different elements that I want. This makes Cupcake Wars seem a lot harder! No wonder so many of their batters come out wrong when using new ingredients. I guess we can't just add in an extra cup of raspberries just because I think that it will taste better ;)



Our Coated Berry Mix

The recipe was very simple to follow. We used my zester today (instead of Candee's cheese grater) and found that the lemon flavor of the cake is subtle and brings a brightness to the cake. The recipe also instructed to coat our berries in flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the pan while baking.

Mess-free Shield!

I was pretty excited to use my Kitchen Aid mixer for the 2nd time since I received it as a gift from my bridal shower. (Thanks Aunt P, Aunt E, and Grandma!) Candee was just as excited if not more-but for the funnel-shield thingy that prevents some of your dry ingredients from spilling out the sides of your mixing bowl.



Pink?!
It didn't occur to me that the raspberries would break apart and dye our batter pink...but I didn't mind at all! The batter looks like frosting, doesn't it?


35 Minutes
Before baking, we sprinkled another tablespoon of sugar on top of the batter and it made somewhat of a crunchy sugar crust. While the recipe suggested 35 minutes for baking, we left ours in for about 42 minutes because when we checked the cake after 35 it was still runny. I think the addition of the raspberries made the batter more liquidy and that's why it needed a longer cooking time.

Looking Good!

Overall, we were happy with the way it came out. The cake is a very moist and full of berry flavor! The raspberries add a tart element, and my husband suggested more sugar next time to compensate. The cake is a bit...for lack of a better term... squishy! But! I prefer soft cakes and cookies to dry crunchy ones, so I'm really okay with it. Half of the cake went home with Candee and half stayed here, and I don't think either will be sitting on the counter for long ;)

Blueberry Swirls
We love the way the blueberries popped to make these beautiful blueberry swirls! Also, notice that the pink raspberry color of the batter baked out while in the oven.

Cooking is better with a cousin :)

Stay Sweet,
Jasmine & Candee

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Recipe to Reality: Black & White Cupcakes!

   Hello Savory Sweet-Hearts! We're kicking off our new series Recipe to Reality, where we will be recreating recipes we have found, and blogging our experiences. Inspired by the decadent black and white cookies that are a staple in delis, bakeries and more around the nation, this recipe was provided by "Bon App├ętit"  on epicurious.com. For the full recipe go here.


Ready to Bake!


   To complete the recipe in a time conscious manner, we decided on making the cupcakes first and whipped up the icing while they were baking in the oven. 
No zester? No problem!
   We definitely suggest using a zester for the lemon peel if you own one, but if not you can use a cheese grater.


Nice & Smooth
  We were making these unique desserts for a party the next day, so we doubled the recipe from 12 to 24 cupcakes so no one would miss out on such a tasty opportunity! In theory, it seemed like the right idea, but we ending up having enough batter for 36 cupcakes total! We also added in a teaspoon or so of fresh lemon juice to the batter to amp up the citrus flavor and complement the zest in the batter. For those of you afraid of having too much of a citrus flavor, the lemon was definitely not overbearing in the recipe. If you aren't a big fan of lemon, try orange zest and a splash of orange juice!


Taste Test!
   Once the batter was finished, we spooned the cupcakes using an ice cream scoop for precision and ease. Many know this trick and it worked well for us. We did run into some problems with our cupcake holders though. They must have been made to fit Wilton baking tins, so it was sometimes difficult to not tip them over with the sudden weight of the batter. However, once the desserts were in the oven, they baked for exactly 25 minutes and when tested with a toothpick came out perfectly clean. If you would prefer a more moist consistency, we recommend to bake for about 20-22 minutes, or to your liking. 


   With the cupcakes in the oven, it was time to make the icing! The overall process was definitely easy. The only process new to Candee was simmering the whipping cream and cornstarch for the chocolate icing. The cornstarch is meant to thicken the icing, and left it with a gorgeous shine! Once the semi-sweet chocolate was melted in the mixture, we had our "black" half! The white icing was easy as well, although we ending up not having enough powdered sugar, so it became more of a glaze.But, after sitting overnight it had hardened so it was similar to the actual cookie. It also had a prominent lemony flavor, so for those who are not a big fan we would recommend cutting down on the lemon juice if that is how you feel.


Cupcakes Cooled and Icings Ready!
     All in all, the cupcakes were very simple to make and definitely aesthetically appealing as well as delicious. We received great feedback from guests at the party. The only mixed feedback we received was about the lemon flavor of the "white" icing. Our aunt was really surprised by the lemon, explaining that most black and white cookies do not have such a strong lemon flavor, but our other family members thought it was a nice twist on an old classic. 


Are Those Cookies or Cupcakes? ;)
     Anyone from amateur home cook to professional baker could be capable of creating these black and white delights. However, many bowls, spoons, and other accessories had to be used multiple times throughout this process because we had to mix the dry ingredients, then cream the butter and sugar in another bowl, and then beat the lemon and the eggs and the vanilla in another. Thus, cleanup was not such an enjoyable task for two girls with no dishwasher...but I guess that's what hands are for! ;)

   We are so excited to share our first (of many) Recipe to Reality posts with you, foodies! 

   Cooking is better with a cousin :)

   Stay Sweet,
      Candee & Jasmine

Friday, July 27, 2012

Product: Wilton Professional Cake Decorating Kit

Hi Sweethearts! Today I will be publishing my opinion on a kit I received over the holidays this year and have been loving ever since.

A little backstory- I had always just picked up a large plastic bag, filled it with icing and cut the tip off to frost my different baked treats- it worked -but was definitely not something that I was planning on partaking in forever. Just picking up an opaque white piping bag equipped with a gleaming silver tip gave me a feeling of excitement and professionalism that I was unable to experience prior.

Onto the product-
The kit is nicely organized, with a detachable top level divided into three sections. The bottom seems to me more of an endless pit than anything else after you have started using it-I find it easier to throw everything back in there after I am finished for a quicker cleanup- but I am sure if you are more meticulous than I am there would not be a problem.

Inside the kit:

  • Two disposable decorating bags
  • One 10 in. decorating bag
  • One 16 in. decorating bag
  • 6 Wilton Gel Food Colors in:  
             -Violet
             -Rose Petal
             -Royal Blue
             -Lemon Yellow
             -Golden Yellow
             -Kelly Green
  • 11 Wilton Professional Tips in #'s:
        -Cake Icer #789
        -#104
        -#18
        -#22


        -#5 (2)
        -#12
        -#352
        -#48
        -#225
        -#1M
  • One rose pin in #9
  • 6 rubber bands
  • 2 couplers
  • One 16 oz. white decorator icing
  • Wilton icing knife
  • Tip Brush
  • Cake Decorating Guide

My Feelings: I think that that product is definitely well equipped for amateurs or working professionals, and the included guide makes it easy to learn how to utilize each product to its fullest potential. From my experience, the tips are easy to use to decorate and ice cakes as well as cupcakes(I have yet to venture into the realm of cookies and other baked treats). The tips and bags are easy to clean up as well.  My  one complaint is the food coloring-it does make beautiful, vibrant icing colors, but I want it on my cakes, not my hands!

Stay sweet, Candee

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Amusement Park Food


Hello Savory and Sweet-Hearts! Candee here to write a little Post about my day. An amusement park is an iconic part of the American Spirit (hey, people come from all over to visit Mickey and Minnie)so it is no surprise that with such a place there is an extended menu of cuisines to go along with it-the ever-famous fried, well, anything, collasol soft pretzel, and a big cup of coke to top it all off. While it is hard not to ask the question, "is this why our nation is in an obesity crisis?" could you imagine not having access to these foods at every turn? Although unhealthy, boy, are they good. Sweet and smooth powdered sugar, melting on your tongue, the smell reeling you in after and exhilarating ride on a coaster - is your mouth watering yet? Stay sweet, Candee

Disclaimer: Picture of fried oreos was taken by _fromaway_ on Flickr. Fried Bats photo is my own.
Note: The oreos pictured above (not my photo) actually came from the fried bats stand in my very own photo. The oreos were gone before I remembered to take a shot!

Product: Frontera All Natural Guacamole Mix



While I consider myself to be fairly adventurous when it comes to trying new cuisines, there is a category of food that I try to avoid at all costs: dips. The psychology behind this bizarre "fear" is truly another story for another day, but within the last three years, I developed a love for the buttery, creamy, tangy taste of guacamole.



  I make it a point to always order the "Tableside Guacamole & Chips" when dining at my favorite Mexican restaurants, and after watching it made by some of my favorite Food Network Chefs like Ina Garten and Bobby Flay, I decided it can't be that hard to make!

  The first few times I made it my ratio of avocado:tomato:onion was terribly off. Instead of avocado being the main star, there were about equal amounts of all three veggies. So, I tried buying the powder mixes that the supermarkets keep conveniently located next to the avocados. While very easy to make, (just add avocado) these mixes seem to use powdered sour cream in their ingredient list (which is not one of my favorites) and I found the taste to be very acidic and too similar to sour cream and onion potato chips.

  After these failed experiences, I had written off making my own guacamole at home and decided to leave it to the professionals.

  However! Yesterday while food shopping for taco night necessities, I couldn’t help but pick up the Frontera All Natural Guacamole Mix. When I checked out the ingredients list, I found yummy things like fresh tomatillos, fresh tomatoes, green chiles, fresh onions, fresh cilantro and fresh garlic. I was also intrigued by the fact that it came in a jar and needs to be refrigerated after opening.



  The bottle suggests using the entire bottle with 3-4 avocados. Although my husband and I could probably eat a bowl of guac with 3-4 avocados in it, we shouldn’t, so I just used one and about ¼ of the jar. After tasting, I found it to be a bit spicy so I added the juice of half a lime, and about a ¼ cup of fresh cilantro to balance out the flavors.

  While I could have eaten this guac on its own, it was a great partner for our soft beef tacos! Knowing that this product exists makes me a happy girl because now I know that I can make yummy guac at home! J

Fun fact! This product is made by Top Chef Master Rick Bayless who owns the Frontera Grill in Chicago that my husband and I have eaten at. Thanks Rick!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Introduction

The purpose of this blog is to showcase recreated recipes in both realms of savory and sweet dishes. Along the way, we may also discuss food-related products that we found to be successful as well as dishes from restaurants that we couldn't keep to ourselves!


We are motivated by our passion for sugar, spice, and everything nice (we are sweethearts!)





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