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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese & Fire Roasted Tomato Soup

Day 2 of being iced in . . . It's been interesting trying to come up with recipes using only what we have.  I've generally been missing an ingredient or two, so it's been a good test in improvising.

Soup and Grilled Cheese is a classic combo, but we turned up the volume on a cold, cold night.

*Please excuse the amateur pictures; we're a bit stir crazy and trapped indoors with a very active 1 year old, so it's i-phone pictures for now!

Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese
makes 2 sandwiches

4 slices of sourdough or other crusty bread - all we had was regular 'ol sandwich bread and it still tasted delicious!
4 jalapeño peppers - instructions for roasting below
2 tablespoons of cream cheese - you'll want to leave this out for a bit so it softens up
2-4 slices of sliced pepperjack cheese - use your favorite flavor here.  I liked the extra kick from the pepperjack
2 tablespoons of butter

Step 1: Roast the Jalapeño Peppers.  I put these in the oven on the rack closest to the top and set it to Broil (500 degrees) for 5 minutes.  One side was already blackened at that point, so I turned them over and broiled for another 5-7 minutes. Place the charred peppers into a ziplock bag and seal.  Let it sit and steam up for at least 5 minutes.  At this point, they should be cool enough to handle and the blistered skin should just peel off.  Remove the outer skin and, split the peppers down the middle and remove the stem and seeds. 

Step 2: Butter the Outside of the bread and spread 1 tablespoon of cream cheese on 2 slices of bread.  Place a slice of cheese on the other side of bread. Place your sliced jalapeño pieces on the cream cheese and close up your sandwich.  Grill for 2-3 minutes on each side on medium heat.  Let it rest for a minute or two. . .if you can wait that long!! Then slice and ENJOY! 

*note: I used this super thin, 40 calorie sliced cheese so I put down the layer of sliced cheese on both pieces of bread and then topped with cream cheese.  I think it helped in not having the cream cheese run off everywhere.  It's meant to be indulgent, so go ahead and add that extra piece of cheese!  

Fire Roasted Tomato Soup
serves 6-8

In a large pot, heat up 2 tablespoons of olive oil
Add 1 diced onion and 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced and sautee them until translucent
Add in 2 (28 oz) cans of Fire Roasted Tomatoes
Stir together and add 3/4 cup of vegetable broth.  I didn't have this on hand and just added water.

Add in:
1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes - adjust this up or down to your taste 
1 tablespoon of sea salt
1/2 tablespoon of black pepper
1/2 tablespoon of ground cumin
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Let this come to a boil and then either transfer in batches to a blender, or use an immersion blender to puree.

I added 3 handfuls of baby spinach leaves before blending just to add a little body to the soup.

The recipe that I adapted called for 1/2 cup of cream to be added after blending.  I didn't have any cream, so I added a splash of milk and a few spoons of sour cream.  I think the soup would have been fine without it, but in an ice storm, you improvise where you can!

I promise to take better pictures next time I make this and hopefully we will  have some sunlight!

Serve up a piping hot bowl of this soup topped with some basil and enjoy dipping that ooey, gooey grilled cheese into it.

Happy Cooking and Happy Styling!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Mexican Hot Chocolate topped with Grand Marnier Whipped Cream

It's Ice-pocalypse 2013 in Dallas which translates to Food-pocalypse in our house.  The fridge, freezer and pantry are stocked and with nowhere to go, it's all about comfort foods for the next few days.

This afternoon's treat was a hot cup (or two) of Mexican Hot Chocolate topped with a dreamy Grand Marnier Whipped Cream.  It's okay to be a little naughty when you're iced in, right?  The addition of cornstarch makes this Hot Chocolate thick, almost like a drinking chocolate.  I have a feeling if I didn't add it and this was a thinner consistency, it would already be gone!  Take time to savour this drink. . .this recipe makes plenty of servings. 

Most hot chocolate recipes call for heavy cream, but it's something we don't typically have at home.  So, I improvised.  You can't really mess up hot chocolate. . . but you can make it amazing with a few key ingredients.


3 cups whole milk - i'm sure it would be perfectly fine with 2%
8 oz. evaporated milk 
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch - omit if you prefer a thinner consistency
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso granules
1/4 cup chocolate chips - semi sweet, milk or bittersweet - totally optional, but I have a chocolate monster at home, so extra sweet is always a welcome touch

Few notes:
The ground cinnamon and cayenne pepper give it a mild little kick.
You won't taste the coffee or espresso; it simply enhances the flavor of the chocolate.  


Combine the milks in a saucepan and warm over medium - low heat.  You do not want the milk to boil at this point.

Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and give it a good stir.  Whisk into the warmed milk and bring to a boil.  You really want need to whisk constantly so that it doesn't burn.  Add your chocolate chips at the end and stir until all melted.  

It's an ice storm, so why not a little boozy whipped topping?  The amount I added is negligible. . .it would be delicious plain or with vanilla, almond or even peppermint extract added.  Your choice.

I took the easy route since i've been cooking all day, and grabbed a container of good 'ol Cool Whip.  I added 1/2 a cup of whipped topping and 1 tablespoon of Grand Marnier to a bowl and gave it a good whisk.  This was enough for both of our cups.  Dollop it on or add it to a pastry bag and swirl it on.  I used the low fat kind, so it didn't really hold it's shape but the taste was out of this world.  There are plenty of how to tips for making your own whipped cream online, if you want to go that route.

I dusted a little bit of cocoa powder on the top just for fun...this blog is called Deliciously Stylish after all! 

I love how the cool whipped topping slowly melts into the hot chocolate.  Ice storm, snow storm, rainy day or sunny day, this is my new go-to hot chocolate recipe.  Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

Happy Cooking and Happy Styling!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Pear & Gorgonzola Pizza

I'm really into combining sweet and savory ingredients, even when it comes to pizza.  These combinations are popping up everywhere and I absolutely love a fun, gourmet pizza.  So, ditch the tomato sauce for a night and give this sweet, salty, taste bud tingling delight a chance! 

Step 1: Start with Pizza Dough.  My go to recipe is Ina's (of course).  Perfectly fluffy and pillowy dough, rolls out nice and thin and keeps in the fridge for a few days.  Can't go wrong with that.  If you're short on time, pick up some dough from your fav pizza place.

Full recipe found here:

For the dough:
1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110 degrees) water
2 packages dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons olive oil (I add more like 4)
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
Kosher salt

*This recipe makes 4 thin pizzas.  Make the whole batch and freeze the rest. 


Mix the dough: Combine the water, yeast, honey and 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. When the yeast is dissolved, add 3 cups of flour, then 2 teaspoons salt, and mix on medium-low speed. While mixing, add up to 1 more cup of flour, or just enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with the flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl.

Knead by hand: When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead it by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic.

Let it rise: Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Step 2: While the dough is rising, get all of your other ingredients together: 

- Fig Preserve or Jam - I find this by the speciality cheeses at most grocery stores and always have a few on hand.  It's amazing on this pizza and great for a cheese plate or even on toast.
- Pear - you'll need 1 for this pizza
- Brie Cheese
- Gorgonzola or Blue Cheese - I like Gorgonzola on this since it's less pungent
- Honey
- Basil
- Caramalized Onions or Shallots *
- Fleur de Sel Salt

How I caramelize Onions:

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small pan.  Thinly slice 1/2 of a larger white onion or 1 medium sized onion.  Reduce the heat to low and slowly toss the onions, coating them in the butter.  Add a pinch of kosher salt and 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Stir occasionally.  This should take around 15-20 minutes.  Towards the end, as they are turning golden brown, watch closely because it will burn in a matter of seconds.  Let cool and set aside.

I make this pizza in our convection toaster oven on the pizza plate that it comes with.  If you don't have a convection oven, make sure your regular oven is super clean and pre-heat to 500 degrees.  If you are unsure of how clean it is, it will bake just fine at 450 -  it just won't be as crispy.

Step 3: Assesmbling:

Roll out 1/4 of your dough into a 12-14" circular shape to fit onto your pan.  You want this to be pretty thin.  This flavor combination tastes best on a thin crust.  Your pizza will taste delicious no matter what shape, so if it's a rectangle or square or jagged oval, don't worry about it!

- Spread a thin layer of fig preserve all the way to the edge (I use 1-2 tablespoons)
- Thinly slice your brie cheese.  Place a few slices all over the pizza.  A little bit goes a long way here.  Most brie comes in 8 oz packages and I used about 1/6th of the package for the whole pizza
- Thinly slice your pear and arrange in concentric circles on top of the Brie
- Spread the caramelized onions all over the pears
- Sprinkle gorgonzola cheese all over the top.  Be as generous as you'd like

Step 4: Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes or 500 for 8-9 minutes

As soon as it come out of the oven, drizzle a thin stream of honey all over (pick something that isn't overly floral in taste).  Sprinkle some chopped or hand torn basil and then finish it off with a little pinch of fluer de del salt.  The briny finishing salt helps balance out the sweetness of this pizza.

Step 5: Slice, Serve and ENJOY!!!!

This pizza pairs really well with a spinach, arugula or dark green salad tossed in a balsamic dressing or other acidic dressing.

You'll love serving this deliciously stylish food for family, friends for any occasion!

Happy Cooking and Happy Styling!