Chocolate Turtle Cheesecake Valentine’s Day Dessert

14 Feb

Cheesecake7Yet again, my food loving-boyfriend and I are making dinner together this Valentine’s Day. Last year we made butternut squash soup, mushroom risotto, and grilled salmon. Never ones to settle, this year’s menu consists of bacon wrapped dates, mushroom and scallop linguine, and a super secret surprise dessert.

This year we decided to make our dinner together, but he plans to surprise with a specialty cocktail and I plan to surprise him with an ultimate Valentine’s Day dessert. The problem is that I want to share my decadent dessert recipe with you without him discovering what I’m preparing.

That said, I already warned him not to read my blog, but I have a sneaking suspicion he’ll check it out anyway.

Boyfriend — If you are reading this, this is your last chance to turn away. Go watch soccer or something.

For everyone else, here’s my sexy Valentine’s Day dessert recipe

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Top 5 Super Bowl Party Recipes — Recap

30 Jan

beercheesefinalSuper Bowl XLVIII is almost upon us. If you’re not a Seahawks or Broncos fan, that means you’re spending your time focusing on one thing — Super Bowl food. I’m not a huge football fan, but I am a huge food fan (if you haven’t already guessed). That means this Sunday gives me yet another reason to create and consume mounds of delectable goodies.

I was attempting to finalize this weekend’s menu when I found myself scrolling through some of my own Cooking On Empty recipes. To my surprise, I have a lot a dishes that would be perfect for an easy, cheap, and delicious Super Bowl party. To make it easier, I’ve complied them all in one place.

Here are the top five Cooking On Empty dishes for the perfect Super Bowl party.

5. Super Bowl Sunday White Sangria

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Diced Potato, Leek, and Pepper Hash

27 Jan

Potato hashI recently took a knife skills class and like any good educational experience, it inspired me to dice. Dicing is the term for cutting food into small 1/4 inch squares.

Dicing is a rarity in my cooking repertoire. There are very few times I must summon my dicing skills with dinner go-tos like baked chicken and fish tacos. So, I had to pick the right recipe to practice my new craft. In an effort to continue my education, I pulled out a pound of potatoes and began dicing.

After completing my potato-cutting marathon, I decided to make the one dish where diced potatoes are the star — home fries.

Diced Potato, Leek, and Pepper Hash Recipe

Ingredients: (Serves 6-8)

  • 6 potatoes (diced)
  • 1 bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 leek (diced)
  • 6 strips of bacon (chopped)
  • Light beer
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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Butternut Squash and Tofu Panang Curry

19 Jan

Panang7I’m a panang curry fiend! Ever since I tried the dish four years ago, it’s been my go to order at every Thai restaurant. The problem is that not all panang curries are equally delicious. I’ve cried through devilishly spicy panang, pouted through watery panang, and choked down panang served over canned green beans. But every once in a while I order a panang that perfectly combines coconut milk with curry powder for a heavenly sweet, spicy, and creamy dish.

Since I’ve yet to find a good panang within a five hour drive, I’ve resorted to attempting the dish on my own. I recently stumbled across a lighter recipe that was too good not to share.

Here’s my one-dish, winter panang curry.

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Beat the Winter Blues with Summer Pasta Salad

5 Jan

PastaSalad5Winter storm Hercules just bombarded the northeast with the wrath of a Greek god, leaving millions already wishing for summer. While we’re still bracing for some cold months ahead, it doesn’t mean we can’t pretend it’s summer — at least with our food choices.

Nothing reminds me of summer more than a colorful pasta salad. Millions of iterations of this dish exist, but I prefer to keep my pasta salad simple. All you need are some veggies and left over pasta.

Here’s my summer pasta salad recipe that’ll cure the winter blues.

Summer Pasta Salad Recipe

Ingredients: (Serves 4-6)

  • Italian dressing
  • 1 box of cooked pasta (any shape)
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 green pepper
  • 10 wax beans
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1/8 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

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A Foodie Christmas Story

25 Dec

MarketIn my family, food defines holidays. Butcher-made hot dogs reign on the Fourth of July. Red beat eggs take over Easter. And Thanksgiving’s solidified by Nana and Pop Pop’s home-made mashed potatoes. But no holiday compares to the food fest known as Christmas.

Christmas isn’t marked by a single food or even a traditional dish. Instead, it’s comprised of all of the favorites, no matter how strangely they pair together.

Christmas Eve breakfast — 9:00 a.m.

It all starts with Christmas Eve breakfast. Every Christmas Eve my family wakes up and heads down to Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market. If you haven’t been there, it’s a mecca for food lovers, boasting everything from Amish shoofly pie to an oyster bar.

While the market houses to two diners and a hand-rolled doughnut shop, my family loves to start the morning right with a warm rotisserie chicken, washed down with fresh-squeezed orange juice. The combination has no right making sense, but it does.

Next, we divide and conquer, scouring the market for our yearly stands. I typically head up collecting gyros (pronounced YEE-rows for those non-Greeks) and an assortment of cheeses mostly consisting of Gouda.

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Christmas Baklava Recipe

22 Dec

Baklava6If you haven’t figured it out, I’m part Greek. My great grandfather moved to America when he was 17, settled down in central Pennsylvania, and ran a shoe repair shop until his death in 1966. I never met him, but I also can’t help but be proud of my Greek heritage.

Food remains the one Greek tradition that trickled down through my family. We lost my grandfather’s original recipes but continue to make Greek-inspired dishes all year round, with feta, pita, and Kalamata olives serving as household staples.

For Christmas specifically, we make baklava. Baklava is a traditional Greek dessert comprised of three main ingredients — phyllo dough, walnuts, and honey. It’s a sweet, sticky, light, and crispy treat, perfect with a cup of tea by the fire.

Baklava Recipe

Baklava Syrup Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups honey
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove cinnamon sticks and let cool. 

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(Some) Grandma’s Award-Winning Apple Pie

26 Nov

PieHappy (almost) Thanksgiving! The holiday of tryptophan and lumpy mashed potatoes is almost upon us and of course that means last minute scrambling to create your own contribution to the dining room table.

Now that I’m an adult (sort of), I’ve decided it’s my duty to add my own concoction to this year’s Thanksgiving feast.

After running down the highly scrutinized menu, I noticed that no party guest volunteered to offer the apple pie. Appalled at our family-wide lack of attention to detail, I decided it was my mission to complete our dinner setting and compose a perfect pie specimen, delicious enough to impress my Nana.

Obviously, when attempting to impress your grandmother, you’re required to scour the internet for recipes claiming to be fifth-generation, first-prize-winning apple pies. And that’s exactly what I did, with minor adjustments.

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Halloween Dinner: Spooky Mummy Dogs

30 Oct

Mummy DogsI redeemed myself! After posting my last horribly embarrassing miniature caramel apple fail, I managed to prepare an adorable fall themed dish without it looking like melting intestines.

This time I veered away from the lie machine known as Pinterest and settled for a corporate site. Pillsbury’s website to be exact. It’s full of cute and creepy crescent roll creations, plus each recipe has been meticulously measured in a test kitchen to ensure happy customers and future Pillsbury purchases, unlike Pinterest.

My latest Halloween inspired creations were mummy dogs! I made them while babysitting my elementary school-aged neighbors and they turned out to be a fun and easy dinner project. Plus, you only need five ingredients!

Pillsbury Mummy Dogs recipe

Ingredients: (Serves 6)

  • 1 package of hot dogs
  • 1 container of Pillsbury crescent rolls
  • 6 slices of American cheese
  • cooking spray
  • mustard (for eyes and dipping)

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Pinterest Fail: Miniature Caramel Apples

20 Oct

Apples11Pinterest is a trap. It lures in un-crafty people with pictures of miniature whoopie pies and then crushes their hopes when they come out looking like cat turds.

Sorry for the graphic imagery but Pinterest got me again. My company held a fall themed cook-off. Two of the judging categories were appearance and fall-ness so obviously I thought Pinterest’s plethora of sickeningly cutesy foods would deliver me a winning dish.

I settled for mini caramel apples. I trekked to my local ACME, purchased 6 apples, a bag of Popsicle sticks, caramel sauce, and sprinkles. Then proceed to spend the next two hours cursing Pinterest and eating lukewarm caramel sauce. Here’s my Pinterest failure.

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