Gypsy Spiced Apple Crisp

20120220-065956.jpgThe spice Grains of Paradise are tiny, unique pyramid-shaped seeds whose flavor profile can be described as sharp and peppery with a fruity backdrop.

They look ashy when you crush them with a spice grinder or mortar & pestle.

Substitute Grains of Paradise for black peppercorns. Try seasoning your steak with crushed grains of paradise, salt and hungarian paprika. The flavor combination really works.

Look for them at your local spice shop.

My family has been requesting an apple dessert. Below is an apple dessert recipe that features Grains of Paradise.

Enjoy!

Denise

Gypsy Spiced Apple Crisp

Gypsy Spiced Apple Crisp

2 cans (20 oz) Apple Pie Filling
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 cup Evaporated Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 teaspoon Grains of Paradise
15.25 oz box of Butter Pecan Cake Mix
1 cup Butter, melted

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Lightly grease a 13 x 9 baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
  • Crush the grains of paradise with a mortar and pestle; set aside.

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  • In a large bowl, mix together the apple pie filling, brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, evaporated milk, vanilla and ground grains of paradise.

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  • Pour mixture into the prepared baking pan.

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  • Sprinkle the dry cake mix evenly over the apple mixture. Drizzle the melted butter evenly over the dry cake mix layer.
  • Bake for one hour or until golden brown.

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  • Serve warm or cold.

Note: I turned the baking dish after 30 minutes. If you want, top with vanilla ice cream and drizzle with caramel.

Printer Friendly Recipe

Nutella Frosted Saffron Cupcakes

I decided to make Saffron Cupcakes for my Saffron dessert post.

Hmmm. What kind of frosting?

Well, of course I had to pair these yummy cupcakes with Nutella frosting!

The result was better than expected and the flavor combination was perfect….

I took some cupcakes in for my coworkers to sample. They loved them!

You will find both recipes below….

Enjoy! Denise

P.S. if you want, swap out the frosting with Saffron Buttercream instead….

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Saffron Cupcakes

1 box Pound Cake Mix (I used Betty Crocker)
2/3 cup Milk
2 Eggs
1/2 cup Butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Saffron
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
6 Ferrero Rocher Chocolates, chopped
Powder Sugar

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mini-bundt cake pan with cooking spray or line your cupcake tins. Set aside.
  • Place saffron in the mortar and pestil. Press to crumble the threads.

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  • Warm milk for 45-60 seconds. Add saffron and allow to steep for ten minutes.

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  • Add cake mix, steeped milk, eggs, butter, cinnamon and vanilla to a large mixing bowl.

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  • Mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase mixer speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes.

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  • Fill each mini-bundt halfway. Smooth tops with a spoon.
  • Bake for 20 minutes (or until cake tester comes out clean).

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  • Remove from baking pan and cool on a wire rack.
  • Fill the center of the mini-bundt cakes with Nutella Frosting (see recipe listed below).
  • Top with chopped with chocolates.
  • Dust with powdered sugar.

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Nutella Frosting

1-1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
3-4 tablespoons Hazlenut-flavored Creamer
1/4 cup Nutella

  • Add all ingredients to a medium bowl.
  • Mix at a medium speed until you get to a creamy frosting consistency.

Note: If you prefer a traditional cupcake, fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full. Frost as you like with the Nutella Frosting and place half of a Ferrero Rocher chocolate on top.

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Saffron Tea for Two

Recently, I went to my local Mediterranean store to buy saffron.

The store owner told me that I had to try it in my tea. She explained the process to me.

Below is my take on the recipe…

It is so worth the splurge!

Next time you buy saffron, be sure to treat yourself to this beverage.

Enjoy!

Denise

Saffron Tea

Saffron Tea for Two

2 Cups of Boiling Water
2 Green Tea Bags
Pinch Saffron

  • Place tea bags and saffron in your tea filter.

Saffron Tea

Saffron Tea

    • Pour boiling water over tea bags/saffron.Cover and steep 3-5 minutes.

Saffron Tea

  • Serve (adding your favorite sweetener).

Yum!

Creamy Saffron Pastina with Mini Turkey Meatballs

This month I am cooking with one of my favorite spices…Saffron!

I love the floral aroma and gorgeous color it adds to food.

My first recipe combines two of my favorite comfort foods…creamy pastina and mini meatball soup.

The addition of saffron along with the layering of flavors and textures is absolute perfection.

Everyone at my dinner table agreed that this dish is a new regular….  Hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we did.

Best part? The leftovers were even better the next day!

Enjoy! Denise

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Creamy Saffron Pastina with Turkey Mini Meatballs

2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Shallot, finely chopped
1-1/2 teaspoons Saffron threads, divided
64 ounces of Chicken Stock
20.8 ounces of Ground Turkey Breast
2 carrots, chopped
2 cups of Frozen Petite Peas
1/2 teaspoon ground Nutmeg, divided
1 Bay Leaf
1 Egg
1 teaspoon of Italian Seasoning
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup Panko Breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon of Hot Paprika
One box (13.25 ounces) of Mini Pasta Shells
10 oz. Lite Alfredo Sauce
Salt & Pepper

1. Prepare Mini Turkey Meatballs

  •  In a large bowl, mix the ground turkey, egg, parmesan, breadcrumbs, hot paprika, Italian seasoning, 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
  •  Roll into mini meatballs ( about 1 rounded teaspoon each) and set aside.

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2. Prepare Saffron Stock and Cook Mini Turkey Meatballs

  • In a large stock pot, warm the extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat.
  • Add the shallots. Cook until shallots are translucent.
  • Add chicken stock, carrots , bay leaf, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, salt and pepper (to taste).
  • Bring to a boil. Add 3/4-1 teaspoon of saffron and frozen peas.
  • Simmer until carrots are tender (about 15 minutes).
  • Drop mini meatballs into the saffron stock.
  • Simmer for 15-20 minutes until turkey is thoroughly cooked.
  • Keep warm.

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3. Prepare Pasta

  • Bring water to a boil.
  • Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon saffron to pasta water.
  • Add pasta to the boiling water. (Check pasta box for cooking times.)
  • When pasta is cooked to al dente, drain pasta (reserving 1 cup of the pasta water).

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4. Prepare Saffron Pasta Sauce

  • In a large saucepan, warm the Alfredo sauce. Whisk in 1 cup of the reserved pasta water and 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper.
  • Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  • Toss pasta with Saffron Pasta Sauce to coat.

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5. Serve

  • First, add a serving of the creamy pastina to a bowl.
  • Next, layer the mini meatballs, carrots, peas and saffron stock.
  • Garnish with grated cheese, red pepper flakes.
  • Serve with garlic bread.

Enjoy!

Cardamom Waffles {Christmas Breakfast}

Why not spice up your Christmas breakfast with cardamom?

Every year my family looks forward to Christmas waffles. I have tried several recipes over the years (some more complicated than others). On holiday mornings, simple recipes packed with flavor are my ticket to getting breakfast on the table with no stress.

So, for this recipe, I decided to adapt a classic waffle recipe using Bisquick.

We did a “test run” this past weekend…

Cardamom is known as being the “queen of spices”. These Cardamom Waffles are now going to rule our Christmas breakfast every year…

We found that if you put 1/2 cup of the waffle batter onto the center of a belgium waffle maker, the waffles look like snowflakes.

Have a great holiday! Enjoy!

Denise

Cardamom Waffles

Cardamom Waffles

Makes 5 Belgium Waffles

2 cups Bisquick Baking Mix

1-1/3 cups Milk

2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil

1 Egg

1 tablespoon Cardamom

  • Heat your waffle iron according to your manufacturer instructions.
  • Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.

Cardamom Waffles Batter

  • Spray your waffle iron with cooking spray.
  • Place 1/2 cup of waffle batter onto the center of the waffle iron.

Cardamom Waffles

  • Close waffle iron and steam according to your manufacturer instructions.

Cardamom Waffles

  •  Repeat with remaining batter.

Tres Leches Vanilla Steamer

Tres Leches Vanilla Steamer

“Baby, it’s cold outside…”

The holiday season can get very hectic.   Don’t forget to take time to soak in the holidays memories….

Make yourself a nice warm drink and take time for you. You deserve it!

Here is my take on my son’s favorite vanilla steamer.

Of course, I just had to add some Latina flair by using Tres Leches (3 milks).   In fact it was so good that somehow some of the foam ended up in my espresso.

Stay warm.  Enjoy!

Denise

Tres Leches Vanilla Steamer

Yields 4-6 servings

12 oz can Evaporated Milk

1-1/2 cups Milk (I used 2%)

4 tablespoons Sweetened Condensed Milk

1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

  • Pour all ingredients into a large glass measuring cup. Stir to combine.
  • Steam the milk according to your espresso makers directions. (If you don’t have an espresso maker, you can easily froth milk with just a microwave and a jar.
  • Pour into serving cups and sprinkle some freshly grated nutmeg on top.
  • Serve immediately.
Grilled Cardamom Cumin Tuna

Tuna Medallions Marinated with Orange Juice, Cardamom & Cumin

Cardamom is one of my favorite spices.   I love to pair it with cinnamon when I bake.  Some call it the “Queen of Spices”. 

It is a bit pricier than most spices.  But, definitely worth it!   It doesn’t have a long shelf life.  So, be sure to buy in small quantities.

I wanted to try to do a savory dish with this spice.  This week, when I placed my online grocery order, I saw that tuna medallions were on sale. Below is a recipe that pairs the tuna medallions with cardamom with cumin and coriander and orange juice. 

The result was right on!  The aroma was just amazing.  You have to try this one…

Enjoy!

Denise

P.S. Yes, you read that right…online grocery shopping.   I am a huge fan of online grocery shopping.  I place my order, schedule my pickup, pull up and they bring it out.  Great timesaver!

Grilled Cardamom Cumin Tuna

Tuna Medallions Marinated

     with Orange Juice, Cardamom & Cumin

1/2 cup Orange Juice (freshly squeezed preferred)

1/4 cup Olive Oil

2 teaspoons ground Cardamom

1 teaspoon ground Cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground Coriander

1 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Pepper

  • In a small bowl (or measuring cup), whisk together the orange juice, olive oil, cardamom, cumin, coriander, salt and pepper.
  • Place the tuna medallions in a casserole dish.  Cover with the marinade.  Toss to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes.  Be sure to flip the tuna every 10 minutes.

  • Heat your grill pan.  When hot, add your tuna medallions.  Grill to your preference for “done-ness”.  (We like it medium-well.)

Pumpkin Turkey Chili (Calabaza Chili)

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it is good to have an easy and delicious chili recipe on hand that is hearty and “heart healthy”.. 

Did you know that pumpkin is a  “power food” with a ton of health benefits?

Why not double the recipe and freeze half?

Enjoy!

Denise

Tip:  Be sure to stock pile Pumpkin Puree this time of year (when it is readily available and on sale).

Pumpkin Turkey Chili (Calabaza Chili)

2 tablespoons Olive Oil

1 medium Onion, chopped

2 cloves of Garlic, minced

20 oz. Ground Turkey

7 oz. Smoked Turkey Sausage

2 (15 oz.) cans Black Beans, drained and rinsed

2 (11 oz.) cans Mexicorn

15 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes

15 oz. can Pumpkin Puree

32 oz. Chicken Stock

2 cups Water  (I fill the emptied can of crushed tomatoes)

1.25 oz packet of Reduced Sodium Chili Seasoning

1 tablespoon Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

1 tablespoon ground Cumin

1 tablespoon dried Oregano

1/4 teaspoon ground Cloves

1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

2 bay leaves

1/4 cup fresh Cilantro, chopped

Salt & Pepper

  • Quarter the smoked turkey sausage lengthwise and thinly slice.  Set aside.
  • Warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a stock pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Sautee until vegetables are tender (about 3-4 minutes).
  • Add ground turkey and sliced smoked turkey sausage to onion/garlic mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Sautee until ground turkey is cooked through.
  • Add the black beans, mexicorn, crushed tomatoes, pumpkin puree, chicken stock and water to the stock pot.   Stir to combine the ingredients.
  • Add the chili seasoning, unsweetened cocoa powder, cumin, oregano, cloves, cayenne pepper and bay leaves.
  • Stir to combine the ingredients.  Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.
  • Bring to a boil.  Then simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Stir in the fresh cilantro.  Discard the bay leaves and keep warm until ready to serve.
  • Serve with your choice of “fixings”.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Espresso Spiced Frosting {Semi-Homemade}

It happened again… I had a last-minute “make & take” opportunity….

What to make? Hmmm.

Recently on Pinterest, people have been sharing recipes for  2 ingredient cupcakes using store-bought cake-mix and canned pumpkin puree.   It reminded me of a posts that I did last year for Chocolate Coated Pumpkin Gingerbread Bon Bons  where I made cake balls with Gingerbread cake-mix and pumpkin puree.   

So, I decided to make Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Espresso Spiced Frosting.  For this recipe, I opted for a semi-homemade approach and spiced up store-bought frosting.  (If you want a homemade recipe for a sweet spiced buttercream frosting, check out my post for Spicy Mocha Cupcakes).

This recipe is not only easy….most likely you already have the ingredients in your pantry.

Enjoy!

Denise

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes Espresso Spiced Frosting

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Espresso Spiced Frosting

Yield:  16 Cupcakes

1 Box Butter Fudge Cake Mix    ( I used Duncan Hines “Moist Deluxe”)

1 15 oz. can Pumpkin Puree

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

1 teaspoon Cardamom (optional but recommended)

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Line cupcake pan with baking cups and set aside.
  • Add the cake mix, pumpkin puree, vanilla extract, pumpkin pie spice and the cardamom to a large bowl.
  • Mix on low for 30 seconds.  Adjust the setting to medium and beat for an additional 4 minutes.
  • Pour batter into the baking cups (2/3 full).
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean when inserted into center of cupcake.
  • Cool for 15 minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Frost with Espresso Spiced Frosting (recipe below).
Espresso Spiced Frosting

12 oz container of Whipped Fluffy White Frosting

1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie Spice

1/4 teaspoon Espresso Powder

1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

  • Add all ingredients to a medium bowl.  Mix well.

Chocolate Pumpkin Cupcakes with Espresso Spiced Frosting

Cinnamon Spiced Cappuccino Cannoli Dip

This “not diet friendly” dessert recipe was actually inspired by one of my favorite low calorie desserts/snacks….

It is all about balance.  So, go ahead and have a treat once in a while.  Be sure to counter the calorie intake with exercise and be mindful of portions.  

Definitely worth the extra workout… 

Enjoy!

Denise

Cappuccino Cannoli Dip with Cookies

Cinnamon Cappuccino Cannoli Dip

8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup Ricotta Cheese (I used part-skim)
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon Espresso Powder
3/4 teaspoon Cinnamon
2 tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 cup Confectioners Sugar
3/4 cup Mini Chocolate Chips

  • In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, ricotta cheese, vanilla, cinnamon, and espresso powder until creamy.

Cappuccino Cannoli Dip Preparation I

  • Gradually add the sugars and mix until well blended.

Cappuccino Cannoli Dip

  • Stir in mini chocolate chips.

Cappuccino Cannoli Dip

Cappuccino Cannoli Dip

  • Transfer to an airtight container.  Refrigerate overnight (or at least 4-6 hours).
  • When ready to serve, transfer to a decorative bowl.
  • Serve with chocolate graham crackers, vanilla wafer or strawberries.

Note:

  • This was a big hit! 
  • We think that Polish Chrusciki would  have been really good because they have a flavor/texture reminiscent of cannoli  shells.  Next time….
  • My “diet” version is 1/2 cup fat free ricotta, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, pinch of cinnamon, 1 packet of Splenda.  Mix well with a spoon.  Sprinkle with 6 mini chocolate chips.  Yum! 🙂
Mediterranean Brushchetta

Mediterranean Bruschetta {for Rachel}

In one month, my niece Rachel is getting married!

For her shower present, I put together an appetizer themed gift. Below is the recipe that goes with it…

This very simple recipe actually came together by accident. On Saturday nights, we serve Tapas. One platter that has become a favorite has hearts of palm, olives and roasted red peppers. I season them with herbs and then drizzle with olive oil and red wine vinegar (that I’ve infused with rosemary).

Last time, I decided to package up the leftovers in the same container to save time. The next day at lunch we pulled it out. The flavors had married up overnight and the flavor/texture combination was perfect.

We all decided to make this “the recipe for Rachel”.

This recipe is dedicated Rachel and her groom-to-be Rusty. Here’s to many years of joy, love and good fortune….

This quote seems apropos…

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction. ” -Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Enjoy!
(“Aunt”) Denise

Mediterranean Bruschetta

Mediterranean Bruschetta

Ingredient List

15 oz can Hearts of Palm, cuts and tips
15 oz can Green Olives, pitted and sliced
15 oz can Black Olives, pitted and sliced
4 oz jar Sliced Pimientos, packed in water
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried Marjoram
1/2 teaspoon dried Thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried Savory
1/4 cup fresh Basil Leaves
Salt & Pepper

Instructions

  • Add drained olives, pimientos, hearts of palm, marjoram, thyme and savory to a large bowl.

Mediterranean Bruschetta Preparation

  • Chiffonade the basil and add to the large bowl.
  • Add the oil and red wine vinegar to a small bowl. Whisk to combine. Pour over the olive mixture. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Stir gently to combine.

Mediterranean Bruschetta Prepartion

  • Transfer to an airtight container. Refrigerate overnight (or to 3 days). Give a gentle shake every so often…
  • Serve with your bread of choice.

Mediterranean Brushchetta

Note:

This recipe is a good one for your “back pocket”. You can have all the ingredients in your pantry. It is great for a last-minute appetizer to put together to “make and take”.

You can also add to soup or salads… I served mine with Coco Pop Cakes that I bought at the local Italian Market. Each Coco Pop Cake is about the size of a small tortilla and only has 16 calories. This is a great low-calorie snack!

Mediterranean Bruschetta IngredientsCoco Pop Cakes

P.S. If you love weddings, check out the wedding post, Ali Love Cakes, that I posted last year when Rachel’s sister Alison got married.

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake Preparation

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake (aka Torta Imposible)

Chocolate Flan Cake (Torta Imposible or “impossible cake”) is a decadent, layered dessert with Chocolate Cake on the bottom and Flan on the top.

You are probably wondering why they describe it as “impossible”….

Well, when the cake pan goes into the oven, the flan ingredients are on the top and the cake batter is on the bottom.

Then two hours later, when the dessert comes out of the oven, the cake is on the top and the flan is on the bottom.

My favorite step is to invert the cake pan onto a platter.  It is definitely a “TADA” moment.  The caramel runs all over both the Chocolate Cake and Flan layers.   It is very hard not to slice it right there and then.  But do let it refrigerate and the flavors will marry even more because as Chocolate Flan Cake refrigerates, the chocolate cake absorbs the caramel like a sponge.

I like to think that nothing is impossible  and had to master this recipe after reading about it several years ago.   It has since become a family favorite. 

Below is the recipe…  

Enjoy!

Denise

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake

12 Servings

Chocolate Cake Ingredients

  • 1 (18 oz.) box Butter Fudge Cake Mix
  •  3/4 cup Water
  •  3 eggs
  •  1 stick Butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  •  1/2 teaspoon Cardamom

Flan Ingredients

  •  8-12 oz Caramel Sauce (depending on how gooey you like it)
  •  1(14 oz.) can Sweetened Condensed Milk
  •  1(12 oz.) can Evaporated Milk
  •  1/2 cup fresh Milk
  •  8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  •  3 eggs
  •  1 Vanilla Bean
  •  1/2 teaspoon Cardamom

Instructions

  • Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a large bundt pan with nonstick spray.  Pour caramel sauce into prepare pan.  Set aside.

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake Preparation

  • Prepare cake mix according to package directions (adding cinnamon and cardamom).

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake PreparationGypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake Preparation

  • Pour cake batter into cake pan (over the caramel).  Tip:  I typically only fill my cake pan a little more than 1/2 way.  Then make cupcakes with the rest of the batter (or leave more batter for the kids to have fun with. 🙂 )

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake Preparation...

  • Pour condensed, evaporated and fresh milks into a blender.  Split and scrape the vanilla bean.  Add the tiny vanilla beans to the blender along with the cream cheese and the cardamom.  Mix well.

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake Preparation...Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake PreparationGypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake Preparation

Pour flan mixture very slowly (with a ladle) over the cake batter.

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake Preparation

  • Spray aluminum foil with non-stick spray.  Cover bundt pan very tightly with the aluminum foil.  Set the bundt pan into a large pan and set on the oven rack.  Carefully pour hot water into the larger pan to a depth of 2 inches.
  • Bake for 2 hours.  Note: Do Not Take the Aluminum Cover Off During Baking Process.
  • Cool for 15 minutes.  Remove aluminum foil.  Invert cake onto a large platter.  Refrigerate for several hours before serving. 

Gypsy Spiced Chocolate Flan Cake Preparation

Source:  Recipezaar