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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!