Friday, January 31, 2014

How to Keep Cilantro Fresh

This is just a little tip that I've been wanting to share. I am a huge fan of cilantro. It's one of my favorite herbs. It's useful to have in your kitchen at all times! It has a wonderful flavor, adds great color as a garnish, and truly "completes" many dishes just by sprinkling a few chopped leaves on top. I don't think I ever eat a taco without it!

But cilantro doesn't often last very long (as most cut herbs don't). I've tried growing it in an herb garden, but it's not an herb that keeps growing new leaves like basil, for example. So I find it best to just buy it in a bunch at the market - always smelling it to make sure it smells fresh before adding it to my shopping bag (a little trick I learned from my husband).

To keep my cilantro fresh all week long, I treat it like fresh-cut flowers! Remove the tie that holds the bunch together, snip off the stems about 1/4 inch and place the fresh cut stems in a glass with fresh cool water. Replace the water each day to keep the bunch fresh and remove any wilted or dried stems.

Hope you find that this little tip works for you too!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Baked Sweet Potato Chips


I love sweet potato chips, so I decided it was time to try to make them myself. Oh my!!! They are soooooo easy to make and truly delicious! The technique is very similar to the technique for making kale chips (another favorite home-made healthy snack of mine). If you haven't tried the kale chips yet - you've got to!!! Well… but about these sweet potato chips…. eat them just alone, with some caramelized onion dip, sprinkled with blue cheese and bacon, or as a healthy side to your favorite sandwich. No matter what, I know you'll love them.

Baked Sweet Potato Chips
1 to 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil*
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Peel sweet potatoes and slice thinly on a mandolin slicer (if you don't have one, slice as thin as possible very carefully with a sharp knife). I used the 1/8-inch setting on my mandolin.

Toss the sliced potatoes in a bowl with the olive oil. Be sure each slice is only very thinly coated on both sides. If you soak the slices in oil, they will stay soggy and won't crisp up.


Spread slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. (*Hint: if you've got truffle oil and truffle salt… try it in place of the olive oil and regular salt… luscious!). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, flipping once in the middle of baking time. If you notice that the chips are still rather soft, turn the oven off and allow the chips to dry out a bit more in the warm oven.

Remove the chips from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet. The chips will crisp more as they cool.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Bacon-Wrapped Dates

Need a quick and easy appetizer for your Super Bowl party? Try these bacon-wrapped dates. They are salty, sweet, and truly delicious. You can stuff them with an almond or a piece of cheese. Experiment and let me know what you like best!

Bacon-Wrapped Dates
1 package pitted dates
1/4 cup whole almonds
1 pound uncooked bacon
a block of quality cheese, cut into 1/4 inch by 1/2 in sticks

Dates are typically available in the produce section of your market or may be near the raisins. 
You can use any type of cheese you like. Try blue cheese, goat cheese, a nice aged cheddar… possibilities are endless!

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.


Stuff each date with an almond or cheese as desired. Wrap each date with a slice of bacon and secure with a toothpick.

Place the dates on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 6 to 8 minutes. Use tongs to turn the dates over and continue cooking 6 to 8 more minutes or until bacon is crisp.

Transfer to a plate and serve. Enjoy!!!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Chocolate Bowls How-To

Valentine's Day is just around the corner. This is a fancy way to serve ice cream or mousse or just about anything you'd typically serve in a bowl. This is even a fun project you could do with your kids! It's really not too difficult. Go on… give it a try!

Chocolate Bowls How-To
What you'll need…
16 ounces chocolate, chopped or chocolate chips (2-3 cups)
5 or 6 small balloons (depending on how many bowls you want to make)
baking sheet
parchment paper

Blow up a few small balloons. Small balloons work best for dessert. 
Also line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Melt chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl on 50% power at intervals of 30 seconds, stirring after each interval, until chocolate is melted and smooth. Be sure that your balloons are smaller than the bowl because you'll be dipping them into the bowl.


When your chocolate is melted, quickly dip each balloon into the melted chocolate. Lift the balloon and allow excess to drip off. Immediately place the coated balloon on the parchment paper and press down lightly. This will form a flat bottom for your bowl. Hold the balloon for a few seconds until the chocolate starts to set a bit. The balloon should stay upright. Repeat the process with remaining balloons and chocolate.


Allow the chocolate to harden. The timing will depend on the temperature of your kitchen. You can place the baking sheet in the refrigerator to speed up the process if desired.

When the chocolate has hardened, carefully use a pair of scissors to snip each balloon. Allow the air to escape each balloon. The balloons will pull away from the edges of the chocolate bowl.


Remove each balloon carefully from the chocolate bowls. Voila!! You did it!!! Now fill them with whatever your heart desires. I used vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. Oh - I also topped the dessert with these fun (and extremely easy) chocolate decorations.

Simply add melted chocolate to a ziplock bag. Use scissors to snip off a very small piece of the bag on a corner. Squeeze chocolate in overlapping circles (squiggles?) onto a piece of parchment paper. Allow the chocolate to harden. Carefully peel away the parchment paper and place on top of your ice cream.


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Peanut Butter Pie

I know it's been a looooong time since my last post. We had a full house during the holidays, making for a fantastic time with family and friends. I had such fun spending time with all of them that I didn't spend much time sharing creations on Luscious Confections. Don't worry… I've still be creating things and now I have a great backlog of recipes to share with you!

First up… Peanut Butter Pie! This would be perfect for your Super Bowl party or even Valentine's Day!

Peanut Butter Pie
1 package peanut butter sandwich cookies (I used Nutter Butters)
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 dark chocolate bar


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. 

Crush the cookies until finely ground. You can do this in a food processor or you can place the cookies in a large ziplock bag and use a rolling pin to crush them (and relieve some stress). Scrape the cookies into a 9-inch pie plate. Stir in the melted butter until the butter is evenly distributed. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the side of the pie plate. Freeze the crust for 15 minutes.
Remove the crust from the freezer and bake the for about 10 minutes, until lightly golden. Let cool on a wire rack.

In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter with the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and mix until thoroughly blended. You can use an electric mixer for this if you like. In a separate large bowl, whip 3/4 cup of the heavy cream with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Stir the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture until smooth. Spread the peanut butter filling in the crust in an even layer. Refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

Whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream and 2 tablespoons of sugar with the vanilla until stiff. You can reuse the same large bowl you used a few minutes ago to whip the cream for the filling. Spread the whipped cream over the pie. 

Use a vegetable peeler to shave some of the chocolate from your chocolate bar onto the top of the whipped cream. (If you prefer, you could also sprinkle the pie with some chopped peanuts).

Slice and enjoy!!

recipe slightly adapted from Food and Wine magazine, October 2013 issue