Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas

Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas

Don’t you just love delish treats that are quick and easy? And when they can be served at a holiday or themed party, it’s even better!

Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas

With Independence Day quickly approaching, I whipped up a few batches of these beloved Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas to cool down the hot summer days with. I went with some festive sprinkles for a patriotic touch but hey–anything goes!

Have a Happy and Safe 4th of July!

ps. I plan on throwing down some baby back ribs that day. What are y’all planning on putting on the grill? :)

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Chocolate Dipped Frozen Bananas
Serves 6

Ingredients:

3 Bananas, cut in half
8 Ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
1 Teaspoon Vegetable Oil
6 Popsicle Sticks
Toppings (sprinkles, nuts, chopped candies, etc.)

Slide a popsicle stick in each of the banana halves. Place the bananas in the freezer and allow to chill for 2-3 hours. Combine the chocolate with the teaspoon of oil and microwave in 20 second intervals until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove the bananas from the freezer. Dip each of the bananas into the chocolate and gently roll/shake the excess chocolate off. Sprinkle each banana with your choice of topping and rest on a wax paper lined tray. Repeat with the remaining bananas. Once complete, place the tray of bananas in the freezer for approximately one hour until hardened. ENJOY!


Holiday Recap and Best Hits of 2010

Overview of 2010 Holiday Eats


December was a crazy month. Over 31 days, there was tons of cooking, baking, candy making, and cocktail shaking.

We ate….we drank…we laughed…and then we ate some more. Such little fatties we were. :) But isn’t that what the holidays and celebrations are all about?

And I’ll tell ya friends….as I was compiling the mosaic above, I became “re-exhausted” just thinking about it! From left to right, some of my December kitchen adventures included:

  1. Vietnamese inspired Banana Blossom Salad
  2. Cutie-Pom Cocktails
  3. Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle
  4. Lychee Panna Cotta with Guava Coulis
  5. Lemongrass Mojito
  6. Cook’s Illustrated Paella
  7. Peppermint Crisps
  8. 40 Garlic Cloves Chicken
  9. Candy Cane “Kissed” Nutella Cookies
  10. Asian Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
  11. Doughnut Muffins
  12. Pomegranate Margaritas
  13. Raspberry Almond Linzer Cookies
  14. Rosemary Garlic Hasselback Potatoes
  15. Cosmopolitan Martinis
  16. Peppermint Kissed Brownies
  17. Green Appletinis
  18. Shrimp Scampi
  19. Gingerbread Cupcakes with Spiced Molasses Frosting
  20. White Chocolate Peppermint Bark
  21. Chocolate Raspberry Tart
  22. Vietnamese inspired Shrimp Po’ Boys
  23. Chocolate Lollipops
  24. Porcini Mushroom Turkey

Yummy, yummy, yummy. And yes, because of it all, my relationship with “GYM” is scheduled to grow. I’m hoping to see “GYM” on a daily basis for the new few weeks. :)

And while we’re walking down memory lane, allow me to share our Top 10 Most Popular Posts of 2010…….

Best Hits of 2010

Drumroll please….

10. Coconut Cupcakes with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
9. Chocolate Toffee Cookies
8. Fresh Apple Cake
7. Peppermint Crisps = Confidence Boost
6. French Macarons…..The Holy Grail of Pastries
5. “Chocolate Malt” Cupcakes
4. Bún Thịt Nướng (Vietnamese Grilled Pork over Vermicelli Noodles)
3.  Alton Brown’s “Overnight Cinnamon Rolls”
2. Vanilla Bean Cupcakes filled with Dulce de Leche
1. Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

Though I think my personal favorite posts were:

I know…kind of random. But I had a TON of fun in the kitchen when making those dishes :)

We’ve had a great year of Foodventures. It’s been humbling (and funny) reviewing some of our kitchen disasters and very exciting to revisit our successes. My goals for 2011 include:

  • Publishing more posts on Vietnamese cuisine,
  • Improving on my photography,
  • and Tweeking our page to be more user friendly.

Simple goals really but I hope you’ll stick with me in 2011 to see them actualized. And with that Dear Friends….Here’s to 2011!

New Year’s Toast with a Cutie-Pom Cocktail

Cutie Pom Cocktail


2010 is quickly coming to a close…….and 2011 is quickly approaching.

Endings and New Beginnings.

And whether you’re giving immense thanks for 2010 or cannot wait for 2011 to start, I have a great cocktail for you to toast in the New Year with.

In California, you can’t really pass a market these days that aren’t stocked with “Cuties”. Cuties are a hybrid citrus–mixed between two types of mandarins. And with tons of little munchkins around in our family, Cuties are the perfect way to get their vitamins in during the chillier months. So when I began rummaging around the kitchen to concoct a New Year’s Cocktail, I found an abundance of Cuties and some leftover Pomegranate seeds.

Add some sugar, lime juice, and a few other kitchen staples—and BADA BING, BADA BOOM! Cocktail Time! Want to make a version for the kiddies or those who want to pass on the alcohol? Simply omit the vodka. These Cutie-Pom Cocktails are just as delish and refreshing without the “added kick”.

And with that Dear Friends…..Here’s to You and the Wonderful Foodventures that await in 2011!

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Cutie-Pom Cocktail

Ingredients:

2 Ounces Fresh Cuties Juice (or other Mandarins/Clementines)
1 Ounce Premium Vodka
1 Tablespoon Fresh Pomegranate Seeds
1/2 Ounce Fresh Lime Juice
1/2 Tablespoon Sugar (or Simple Syrup)
2-3 Ounces Lemon Lime Soda
Crushed Ice

In a glass, muddle the pomegranate seeds with sugar. Add Cuties Juice, Lime Juice, Vodka and stir until all the liquids are incorporated. Fill the glass with crushed ice and top off with lemon lime soda. Garnish and enjoy!

Asian Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Asian Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

 

My siblings and I live all over the country so when we come home for Christmas, we try and squeeze in as much time with each other as possible. And of course when we’re together, there is always some type of cooking, eating, laughing….and sometimes even a little bickering. Hey—just because we’re older, we’re still siblings after all :)

Before joining our extending family for dinner and presents on Christmas Eve, the siblings (sibs-in-laws, kids, and 4-legged furry kids) gathered for lunch. The menu included Peach Bellini Cocktails, Cosmopolitan Martinis, Lemon Bars, Red Velvet Cupcakes, Rosemary Bread, Pear and Gorgonzola Salad, and a decadent Seafood Cioppino in honor of our Mom.

I thought this Asian Pear and Gorgonzola Salad would be a nice compliment to our lunch spread—-plus the green and red colors added a lovely festive touch. When I initially thought of making it, I had intended to use Bosc or Bartlett Pears. But when we had some juicy Asian Pears on hand, my sister suggested that they would be a nice alternative. You’ll also find that most pear salads will have walnuts in them. But since walnuts are my least favorite nuts, I swapped them out for one of my favorites—pistachios. Yum.

I think the end results was a bright dish that had great texture balance from the crunch of the pomegranates and pistachios to the creamy and slightly piquant flavor from the gorgonzola to the verdant essence from the greens.  As for the Pomegranate Vinaigrette, it brought together all of the components without overpowering them.

Would our Mom have enjoyed the meal? I have no doubt she would have loved it.

And I think she would be extra proud of us for eating our veggies. :)

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Asian Pear and Gorgonzola Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

8 Cups Mixed Greens (ie. Arugula, Baby Spinach, Mâche, etc.)
2 Small Asian Pears, sliced paper thin
1/3 Cup Fresh Pomegranate Seeds
½ Cup Gorgonzola, crumbled
1/3 Cup Pistachio Nuts, roughly chopped

Pomegranate Vinaigrette:
2 Tablespoons Fresh Pomegranate Seeds
3 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
½ Teaspoon Sugar
2 Shallots, thinly sliced
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper to taste

Prepare Vinaigrette. In a small sauce pan or skillet, heat olive oil on low. Add shallots and cook until softened—about 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Place pomegranate seeds in a small bowl. Using a fork, crush the seeds to allow the juices to come out. Add shallots, sugar, and red wine vinegar. Slowly whisk in the olive oil from the shallots until fully incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Arrange the greens onto a large platter. Place the pears over the greens and sprinkle the pomegranate seeds, pistachios, and gorgonzola on top. Drizzle the vinaigrette over the salad and serve immediately.

Chocolate Lollipops–A Trifecta of Holiday Goodness!

Chocolate Lollipops

Hello Dear Friends!

First and foremost, I would like to wish you all a very Happy Holiday Season! Thus far, mine has been chopped full of quality family time, good eats—and plenty of vino! And let’s be honest…what more could a gal ask for? :)

Well, perhaps the gift of “saving time”. And wouldn’t you know it? These “Chocolate Lollipops” are just the trick!

Inspired by the most recent special of the Barefoot Contessa in London, I whipped up (with the wonderful help of my fab nieces) these quick and easy Chocolate Lollipops. The whole process took us less than 15 minutes. True Story.

And the end result?

A Trifecta of Holiday Goodness!

Planning a little soiree? These Chocolate Lollipops will serve as:

  1. A lovely decor/centerpiece when packaged with ribbons and bundled in a vase,
  2. A deluxe party favor for your guests when they leave,
  3. and Of course, a DELISH Treat!

Another NGUYEN-WIN SITUATION! :)

Happy Holidays Friends!

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Chocolate Lollipops
Makes Approximately 2 Dozen Pops

Ingredients:

6 Ounces Quality Chocolate (either white, milk, dark, or mixed–your preference)
1/2 Cup Dried Fruits or Chopped Nuts (completely your preference)
2 Dozen Lollipop Sticks

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Using a double boiler method, melt the chocolate stirring slowly until smooth. Remove from heat. Spoon one tablespoon of the melted chocolate onto the parchment paper. Try to do this evenly to form a round circle. Lay the lollipop stick 1/3-1/2 inch into the chocolate circle. Sprinkle with your choice of chopped nuts and/or dried fruit. Repeat process until all your chocolate is used. Set aside the cookie sheets in a cool area and allow 2-3 hours to harden. Once firm, carefully peel the lollipops from the parchment paper. The pops can be packaged with cellophane and tied with a decorative bow.

**The photo shown above features both white chocolate and 60% chocolate with dried cranberries and crushed pistachio nuts.

Enjoy!

Candy Cane “Kissed” Nutella Cookies

Candy Cane "Kissed" Nutella Cookies

Ever since I stumbled across a bag of Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses, I’ve been fixated on making holiday cookies with them.

Lucky for me, I had a Cookie Connoisseur at my disposal. That’s right friends, my 5 year old niece Maya. I asked Maya what kind of cookie she liked. Sugar cookie? Peanut Butter? Chocolate? Nutella? “NUTELLA!”, she exclaimed! I think it may be a result of her morning Nutella Sandwiches for breakfast.

As fate would have it, Giada De Laurentiis had a recipe that I could work with. With her “Chocolate-Hazelnut Smooches”…..Bada-Bing, Bada-Boom! I had my Candy Cane “Kissed” Nutella Cookies. True Story.

These cookies were simple to make and had that wonderful crispy exterior, chewy interior, and minty finish to it. WINNER! And you know what “up’ed” the ante on this cookie? I actually made the dough a few days in advance, rolled it, and froze it. When it was time for me to use it, I added 3 minutes to the baking time and it was F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S!

So MOVE OVER prepackaged-store bought cookie dough….these gems are SO much better  and are just as quick!! But of course, they would be just as amazing if you made the cookies right away.

Oh that Maya…. she knew what she was talking about :)

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Candy Cane “Kissed” Nutella Cookies
Adapted From Giada De Laurentiis

1¾ Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Soda
½ Teaspoon Salt
½ Cup Nutella
½ Cup Butter, softened
½ Cup Sugar
½ Cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla extract
½ Cup Sugar (to roll cookies in)
24 Hershey’s Candy Cane Kisses (approximately)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, place the nutella, butter, and both sugars. Using a hand mixer, cream the ingredients together, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and blend until incorporated. Stir in the dry ingredients, just until incorporated.

Shape the cookie dough into walnut-sized balls. Rolls the balls in the sugar pressing to adhere. Place the cookies on a heavy cookie sheet about 4 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven. Quickly place a chocolate kiss in the middle of each cookie. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for another 3 minutes. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.

**If you would like to freeze the dough to bake at a later time, place the sugar coated cookie dough balls in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Move the cookie sheet to the freezer and allow the dough to harden for at least 30-45 minutes. The dough balls can then be transferred to a gallon sized freezer bag and kept up to 2 weeks in the freezer. When it’s time to bake, place dough balls directly from freezer to cookie sheet. Add an additional 3-4 minutes baking time.

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

 

Need an easy and delicious treat for the holidays? This is it—seriously.

Every Holiday season I make batches of this White Chocolate Peppermint Bark–not only because how quick it comes together but it’s darn delicious! Creamy, minty and lightly crunchy from the peppermint bits. Package them in festive holiday tins with colorful ribbons and BADA-BING, BADA-BOOM….Fabulously Yummy Gifts.

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White Chocolate Peppermint Bark

Ingredients:

12 Ounces Quality White Chocolate, chopped
½ Cup Peppermint Candy, crushed
½ Teaspoon Peppermint Extract

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or use a silicon mat. Place peppermint candy in a plastic bag. With a kitchen mallet, break up the candy into small pieces.

Using a double boiler method, melt the white chocolate stirring slowly until smooth. Remove from heat and quickly mix in the candy and extract. Pour melted chocolate onto the cookie sheet. Using a rubber spatula, spread out the chocolate evenly across the parchment paper until it is approximately ¼ inch thick. Holding each side of the cookie sheet, lightly rap on the counter to remove any possible air bubbles. Set aside the cookie sheet in a cool area and allow 2-3 hours to harden. Once firm, break the bark into large pieces and serve. Bark should be stored in airtight containers to maintain freshness.