October 16, 2014

chocolate “chips” & peanut butter dip

Get your mixing bowls out -- it’s #ImprovCookingChallenge day! October’s challenge ingredients are peanut butter & chocolate. Of course I decided mine would be gluten-free…ejpbchocTITLEThe peanut butter dip recipe was developed from thoughts in this post last year; but my “chips” were somewhat inspired by Mary’s recipe here.ejpbchocINGREDI was very pleased with the performance of Pamela’s® Artisan Flour Blend in this recipe. My chips baked up nice & crisp!ejpbchocCRISPIt was my intention to use cream cheese in the dip. However, at Costco the price of that was more than twice the price of ricotta!ejpbchocDIP Delicious dip, nonetheless…ejpbchocCHOICETried it with a Honeycrisp apple ~ !

ejpbchocRECIPEEnjoy!

To see some more delicious peanut butter & chocolate recipes, follow these links:

October 9, 2014

Tamales for a crowd...

(please don't read if you're easily offended by loose interpretations of "Mexican" food...)  ;)

So my sister has returned to the states after working 20+ years in Russia & other locations which were formerly Soviet Union. Beth loves to entertain; and from her poorly furnished kitchens throughout the years she fed many guests cleverly improvised dishes from ingredients available locally. For her homecoming celebration, we decided to go with a Mexican theme, as homage to her creative concoctions...
My aunt, cousin, brother & I were responsible for the dishes on the main course table: chipotlé lime rice, elote, green chile chicken burritos, tamales, & black beans. My brother-in-law threw together his incredible salsa for the variety of chips we had. My mom made mini pies, Mexican wedding cookies, and brownie bites for the dessert table. The beverage table held iced tea, lemonade, fruit-infused water & a huge pot of freshly-percolated coffee.

When serving elote (a Mexican street favorite of grilled corn topped with lime juice, crema, chili powder & cotija) there's a problem with disposing of the husks & cobs from 60-75 guests. So my cousin made it esquites style, which is served with the kernels and toppings in a dish. YUM!

A similar dilemma was anticipated with feeding the crowd tamales: greasy, emptied corn husks make for big messes! I had another excuse to rationalize my simplification of the tamale process ~ my sons were busy with school and Homecoming band practices, so my tamale-assembly line lacked its workers...

When we made tamales last Christmas, we bought the prepared masa from a local market. Delicious choice! I purchased two hefty bags of it to use for our party dish.

The pork was initially roasted in the slow cooker with chipotlé seasoning. After shredding, I cooked it down a little more and added a prepared mole sauce I'd seen in some recipes. (meh...) That mixture went into the frig for assembly the next morning.

Into the foil pans went a layer of masa, then pork, olives (requested by all 4 of my fellas -- apologies to consumers who disliked them...) then a masa layer to top.  My ingredients made 8 batches!


I filled a large roaster with boiling water to help steam up the oven while baking the "crusty tamales".

We used three full pans during the party.

The leftovers were used for breakfast(s) the following week:

And THAT, my friends is how I make tamales for a crowd...