Cuban Guava Pastries – Pastelitos de Guayaba

Of the many reasons that I love living in Florida, the authentic quality and diversity of world cuisines is close to the top of my cultural list. You could eat food from every continent and most countries and only travel up to 20-30 minutes from home. Most places give a cultural feel with the music and décor as well. Some of my favorite places to go are Cuban restaurants. The music makes me want to dance, the people are so friendly, and the food is delicioso. A while back I brought in some assorted Cuban Guava Pastries – Pastelitos de Guayaba to share with my coworkers and I was the hero of the day. These are they pastries that I shared.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

Pastelitos are puff pastries that are usually filled with guava or cheese or both. They flaky, lightly sweet, and perfect with a cup of good coffee in the morning or afternoon. When I saw this pin from My Big Fat Cuban Family, one of the blogs that I follow, I knew I had to try making these. Who doesn’t want to make something delicious and be the work hero twice?

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

The Pintesting:

There are only four ingredients. Some restaurants and pastelerias sprinkle course sugar after the egg wash or brush with a sweeter glaze, but I don’t like my pastries too sweet so this was perfect for me. The guava paste is found in most grocery stores in the ethnic aisle.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or a Silpat). Unfold one of the puff pastries onto the parchment.

Slice the guava paste thinly and put two for each pastry. One box of (2) puff pastries will make 9 pastelitos.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

Spread some of the softened cream cheese on the guava paste. Some places sweeten the cream cheese with a little sugar before putting it in the pastry. I find the guava paste very sweet and the plain cream cheese balances the overall flavor.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

When all of the guava paste has cream cheese, unfold the other puff pastry and put it on top. Try to line it up with the bottom pastry.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

Cut all the way through to make 9 little pastries, then make little cuts on each top pastry.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

Egg wash the top of the pastries and then bake them until they’re golden brown and beautiful.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

While the pastelitos are baking, do yourself a favor and make some Cuban coffee or café Cubano which is a lot like sweetened espresso. I prefer my coffee with milk (like a café latte), so I get café con leche. (Look how much authentic culture I’m putting into this post.)

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

That’s it! You can serve these warm or at room temperature. I was pleasantly surprised at how 4 ingredients could make such a tasty treat. And yes, I was the work hero again for bringing these in. These are so easy to whip up that you can be a hero and bring delicious culture to your friends and family, too.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

 

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 5 Pins

Pintesting Seal 5 Pins

Accuracy: These not only turned out just like the recipe (and video tutorial) said they would, but they also tasted like the ones that I bought at the Cuban restaurant. Everyone at work raved over them. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: With only four ingredients and no mixing, chopping, or serious prep work, this recipe is very kid friendly with adult supervision. I just recommend that an adult does the cutting to separate the pastelitos. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time: The preparation took about 7 minutes and my baking time was 25 minutes. The total time was about half an hour so I’m giving this 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost: The puff pastry was about $3.00 and the guava paste was just over $1.00. The total cost for 9 pastries was less than three pastries from the restaurant. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  This is one of those recipes that you can keep the ingredients on hand and whip up at a moment’s notice. They’re quick, easy, and oh so delicious. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

There are some things that I’ve never or have almost never cooked; one of them is a roast. I know, it’s shocking! I’ve made soufflés, Beef Wellington, risottos, and many other dishes that are supposed to be complicated or “expert level” long before I made my first roast. Why? Because all my life my mother, the in-laws, or my HH have made it. Recently the grocery store had chuck roasts on sale, and I decided it was finally time to make my first roast. A search of my Pinterest pins for roasts brought up lots of recipes, but most of them were slow cooker recipes and I wanted a traditional oven-roasted version. Thankfully I had pinned this pin for Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon by Kristy of The Wicked Noodle. It was just what I was looking for; oven-roasted with carrots, potatoes, and a self-made gravy.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

The Pintesting:

I don’t know why, but I thought that roasts required magical ingredients to make them turn out delicious. I was so wrong. These basic ingredients are all that’s needed. The peas are my own addition, but I’ll get to that later.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

First season the roast with salt and pepper.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Next, heat the pan and oil to sear the roast on one side.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Then sear the other side.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Remove the roast and add onions.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Cook the onions until they are soft.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Next, add the balsamic vinegar and cook until it’s reduced and syrupy, then add the Dijon mustard.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Put the meat back in, add the broth and thyme, then roast in the oven.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

The meat should be tender and fall apart.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Add the potatoes and carrots and cook longer.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

When the potatoes are thoroughly cooked, you’re all done.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Plate your dinner and show off your masterpiece.

Pintesting Chuck Roast with Balsamic and Dijon

Now for the peas. This is one thing that my HH prefers to NOT be cooked with the roast. I’ve always liked them with the roasted veggies. Since one of the keys to a great marriage is knowing when and how to compromise, I cooked the peas separately and served them smothered in the gravy. We both agreed that this was a delicious recipe and as the resident roast maker, he declared my first roast a complete success. High praise, indeed.

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.4 Pins

Pintesting Seal 4 Pins

Accuracy:  This recipe turned out exactly like Kristy’s pictures. The roast was very tender and juicy. The balsamic and dijon gave a nice twist to the traditional chuck roast. The potatoes and carrots were perfectly tender without being mushy. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  There are no difficult techniques to this dish. However, I am giving this 4 Pins because you transfer a hot dutch oven from the stovetop to the oven.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  Preparing the roast took very little time; about 15 minutes. Since this takes several hours to cook, however, I’m giving this 3 Pins.

Rated 3 Pins

Cost:  I happened to get my chuck roast on sale, but even so it was more than $16 just for the meat. The dish made 6 servings and the total cost was about $25 which is $4 per serving. That’s not bad for a full dinner. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality: This is a great dinner and worth the time it takes to make. The next time I try this I’ll make it in the slow cooker since they cook themselves all day on low. The flavor and texture were perfect – just like Sunday Supper. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Happy 4th Birthday, Pintesting, with a Giveaway!

It’s Pintesting’s Birthday! It’s so hard to believe that it’s been four years since I took the brave step into the blogosphere. This has been one of the most amazing adventures and I’m so glad that I can share it with you.

Happy 4th Birthday Pintesting

The Pintestings:

From my very first post, I’ve loved testing, reviewing, rating, and sharing Pinterest pins. Some had amazing results and others were. . . well, Pinterest fails. But this is exactly why I started Pintesting – so that Pinners would have a place to see if a certain idea, recipe, craft, or whatever really worked. And so the adventure began and has no end in sight.

Over the past years, I’ve tested nail art, crafts, and some DIY products.

Some of the beverage pins that were tested included coffee drinks, butter beer, wine spritzers, sangrias, and infused water.

International cuisine from Ireland to Italy, Mongolian Beef to Beef and Broccoli, Mexican and Tex-Mex, French to Greek, and more have caused piles of dishes that you never see. Do you think that ease of clean-up should be a Pintesting category? Hmm, that might be something to consider.

Some of my favorite and most memorable include:

And this year I’m going to be doing more home improvement, crafting, and maybe even gardening Pintestings; which I’m extremely excited about.

Without you, NONE of this would have made a difference so THANK YOU for seeing what Pinterest Pin I’m testing. Your likes, comments, and shares mean so much more than you can imagine.

The Giveaway!

So now it’s time for the present, because what’s a birthday without presents? I’m giving away five autographed copies of the cookbook with my first published recipe; Caprese Crostini! All you have to do to win is enter the Rafflecopter drawing below. Five winners will be chosen at random on February 14th because I love you all that much.

My Recipe in the Zumba Lovers Cookbook

*The giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada.

Congratulations Winners!

CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR FIVE WINNERS!

  • Brenda
  • Molly
  • Kristen
  • Kandi
  • Elaine

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Baked Ratatouille

I have a confession to make – I love Disney movies. I remember going to the Disney summer film festivals each summer as a child. Every week there was a couple of shorts and then a feature-length movie. It was one of my favorite summer memories.My kids loved Disney when they were old enough to watch their first movie, Beauty and the Beast. It’s our all-time favorite, but there have been others that are near the top of the list; like Ratatouille. I think I fell in love with this one because of my love of cooking and my dream to visit France. So when I saw this pin for the BuzzFeed Goodful recipe of Baked Ratatouille, inspired by Marie at Feeling Foodish, it made me think of the way that the rat-chef, Remy, took the traditional vegetable stew and transformed it into haute cuisine.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but this little clip will let you see the dish that I’m referring to – and go watch the movie!

So in an attempt to recreate the dish that piqued my curiosity since it became a movie icon, here is the Pintesting of Baked Ratatouille.

The Pintesting:

There are three main steps to making this dish; the sauce, the veggies, and the herb seasoning.

1. The Sauce:

The sauce starts with fresh aromatics. I found it cheaper to get a potted basil plant at the grocery store than to buy a small packet of basil leaves in the herb section. Not only does the basil stay fresh longer, but it lasts longer and looks so pretty on my kitchen counter.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Sautee the onions and peppers in extra virgin olive oil.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

When they start to soften add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Minced garlic burns rather quickly, so I wait a bit before adding it.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Add the crushed tomatoes. By the way, this would be great over pasta.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Add the basil and take it off the heat.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

2. The Vegetables:

Now for the veggies. Try to find similarly sized vegetables. This is one of the first times I’ve ever cooked eggplant, and I should have chosen more wisely. You’ll find out why in a moment.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Slice the vegetables thinly. I used a mandoline (seen above) for the yellow squash and zucchini, but the eggplant was too wide and the tomatoes didn’t slice well so I used a knife on them.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille - Veggies

As you can see, the eggplant was MUCH larger than the rest of the veggies. Not one to give up, I knew there had to be a way to make this work.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

I used double everything other than the eggplant, and it seemed to fit well. Voilà!

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Layer the veggies in a pattern.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Continue this all the way around the pan making concentric rings. I ended up cutting the eggplant in order to make it fit in the center ring.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

3. The Herb Seasoning:

This calls for fresh herbs; thyme, basil, and parsley. The store didn’t have fresh parsley so I used dried.

NOTE:  When substituting dried herbs for fresh, remember that they are more potent when they’re dried. You usually need about 3 times the amount of fresh herbs as you would dried herbs. In this case, 2 Tablespoons of fresh parsley would be about 2 teaspoons of dried parsley.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Mix the herb seasoning. It smells incredible!

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Brush it on the arranged vegetables.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

See how pretty that looks!

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Bake it covered for 40 minutes in a 375-degree pre-heated oven. Remove the cover and bake another 20 minutes.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Give it just a minute to cool and then dig in. We had eaten lunch not too long beforehand, so this was a separate vegetable course. It smelled and tasted so good that I had two small “just-to-taste” servings while my HH had three.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

We ate the leftovers the next day with some oven-baked fish – so delicious! The flavors have longer to get to know each other and play more nicely together; similarly to how lasagna or chili tastes better the next day.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Fin (The End):

The number of vegetables called for in the recipe was nearly double of what would fit into the pan. We didn’t complain since most of the prep work was done and I just made another batch. If eating veggies the same way too many days in a row sounds boring, I found some ways to do a ratatouille makeover. Check here and here for inspiration.

A French foodie friend told me that the ratatouille on the movie is not really ratatouille, which is a simple vegetable stew. So I searched for the Ratatouille version of ratatouille and found that it’s actually called Confit Byaldi. In the image below, the Disney Pixar version of the dish is shown at the top with a real version shown beneath (one being mine).

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

I want to leave you with some inspiration; a quote from the illustrious Chef Gusteau, “Anyone can cook but only the fearless can be great.” Be fearless. Be Great. Try this recipe.

Anyone Can Cook

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.0 Pins

Pintesting Seal 4 Pins

Accuracy:  The dish turned out looking like the recipe picture and tasted delicious, but the number of vegetables was nearly double of what the pan could hold and that’s a lot of extra veggies. Also, the recipe didn’t specify the kind of eggplant to use in order to get similar-sized slices for uniformity. For these reasons, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Difficulty:  This recipe requires a lot of prep work for all three parts. If you don’t have a mandoline and need to slice all of the vegetables with a knife, it will take a bit of time, too. You will use the chop, slice, and chiffonade knife techniques; not hard, but not easy enough for kids. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  There are about 15 minutes of prep work to get all the veggies done, plus about 15 minutes to cook the sauce and an hour of baking time. That’s an hour and a half. Don’t get me wrong – it’s absolutely worth the time and you can make extra to freeze or you can get it layered early in the day and cook it for supper, but it’s not going to be a 30-minute meal.  3 Pins

Rated 3 Pins

Cost:  If you have a garden and need to use up a bumper crop of vegetables, then this is a cheap dish to make. However, if you need to hit the grocery store for everything it could get costly depending on what’s in season and on sale. Since produce prices fluctuate substantially by regions and seasons, I’m not going to give a specific price, but I will give this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality:  If you have or know kids (little or big ones) who don’t care for vegetables, this might be one way to get them to eat them. First, it’s delicious. Second, it’s from a movie. Let the Disney magic work in your favor here. That the flavor is even better if you have leftovers is a big plus. I also love that leftovers can be transformed into everything from quiche, omelets, sauces, quesadillas, soups, and so much more. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Honey Balsamic Chicken

It’s the new year and I have resolved to eat healthy – again – for about the 100th year in a row. Anyone else with me on this? Granted, I don’t eat terribly but I’m not as consistent as I’d like to be. But some meals make eating a healthy diet much easier. For example, I saw a video for Honey Balsamic Chicken on Facebook and a couple of days later this pin for the recipe by TipHero (inspired by Chungah of Damn Delicious) popped up on my Pinterest feed, too. They do seem to copy her recipes quite a bit, so if you’re not following Damn Delicious yet you just might want to.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

I really like the idea of a whole meal made on one sheet pan in the oven. (Hooray for fewer dishes!) I also like that the recipes used a variety of vegetables.

It’s worth noting that there were a few slight differences in the two recipes.

  1. The TipHero recipe uses green beans while the Damn Delicious recipe uses asparagus. We love asparagus in our home, so that’s what we went with.
  2. The honey balsamic marinade recipes had a few differences. TipHero’s used thyme, rosemary, and chili flakes while the Damn Delicious recipe used Dijon mustard, oregano, and basil.
  3. Chungah’s recipe also took less time to make – a big plus in my book.
  4. The TipHero recipe pours the marinade over the chicken and veggies prior to roasting; Damn Delicious didn’t. I went with TipHero on this step. More flavor is more better. (I beg forgiveness from the grammar police for that.)

The Pintesting:

I didn’t get a photo of all of the ingredients this time. What can I say? I was hungry. Fortunately, there aren’t a lot of ingredients.

The first thing that I did was to make the marinade. I used a short-cut here and just dumped all of the marinade ingredients into the bag that the chicken came in and squished it until it was mixed, tossing the chicken in the marinade at the same time. Since my chicken breasts were still somewhat frozen I thought I’d let it defrost and soak up the flavor all at once. Also, since it’s just my HH and me I only used one whole chicken breast (two halves). This worked for us since the chicken breasts are very large and we like lots of veggies.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

While the chicken defrosted, I lined the pan with parchment and prepped the vegetables.

Quarter the potatoes then add the tomatoes. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and season with salt and pepper.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

Put the chicken on the pan and drizzle the remaining marinade on the veggies.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

Roast for about 20 minutes then add the asparagus (I drizzled the asparagus with a little more extra virgin olive oil), then roast it for another 10 minutes. This was my timing compromise between the two recipes.

You don’t want to eat undercooked chicken! When in doubt check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. For chicken, this should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

Done! Your dinner is done and the only dirty dishes are one pan, one cutting board, and one knife. Join me in the happy dance?

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

The chicken was juicy and flavorful. The tangy-sweet acidity of the tomatoes, starchy creaminess of the potatoes, and the bright crispy asparagus complimented each other, and the marinade brought it all home. YUM!

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

And now I have to say this. WINNER! WINNER! CHICKEN DINNER!

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.85 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  This recipe was as simple as the TipHero video showed it to be even though I followed Chungah’s recipe. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  This recipe was very simple – perfect for novice cooks. The prep work was minimal and the marinade made everything taste wonderful. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time:  The active time to prep and cook the recipe was 40 minutes. The chicken requires time to marinade (30 minutes to overnight). I did this ahead of time and let it marinade all afternoon. While it isn’t active cooking time, it’s still necessary to make the recipe turn out so I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost:  The cute little potatoes and grape tomatoes were both buy-one-get-one-free at the store when I got them. (I love shopping sales!) The total cost of all the main ingredients (not deducting for the sales) was $12.00. Even though we used only 2 chicken breast halves, we had 4 meals making this $3.00/serving. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  This is the kind of home cooking I could eat every week. It was simple, delicious, and planning ahead with the marinade made quick work of the cooking. Perfect for busy weeknights! You could experiment with using different kinds of vegetables such as green beans, carrots, Brussels sprouts, or whatever your family likes. You can also switch up the marinades – try the TipHero version for a more traditional herbed chicken flavor. This will be a regular in our menu rotation. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

I’ve always felt like those who have birthdays at the end of December get gypped because they’re overshadowed by some of the biggest holidays of the year. A work friend, for example, had a December 27th birthday. I wanted to make a treat to bring in that looked celebratory yet un-holiday-ish. So when I saw this pin for Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes by Michelle of Mangia Michelle, I knew this was exactly the kind of birthday treat that I was looking for.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

The Pintesting:

Michelle gave a recipe for her cupcakes and also gave the option of using a cake mix. I went with her recipe to give a truer Pintesting. Since this recipe has several components I’ll break them out. This recipe is one that I had to plan for since I don’t keep Ricotta and Mascarpone in my kitchen as staple ingredients. Missing from the ingredients photo is milk.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

IMPORTANT NOTE: It’s extremely important to read a recipe thoroughly before starting – not just the ingredients list. I might have noticed that the ricotta needed to be drained prior to making the cannoli filling. Unfortunately, Michelle didn’t give any details on how to do this. A quick Google gave both the normal (read long) and quick instructions for draining ricotta. That’s why you see the ricotta in a strainer over a bowl.

How to Drain Ricotta Cheese
Lesson learned – READ the recipe first.

The Cupcakes:

Start by creaming the butter and sugar.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Sift together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the vanilla to the milk.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Once the butter and sugar are creamed, add the dry and wet ingredients alternating until the batter is smooth and perfect.

Fill the cupcake liners and bake them, then let them cool.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

The Cannoli Filling/Topping:

The cannoli cream was simple; mix together the cheeses, vanilla, and powdered sugar then stir in the mini chocolate chips.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Once combined, place in a piping bag or freezer storage bag with a large tip. This tip must be LARGE enough for the mini chips to pass through. I have some very large piping tips but none of them worked. I ended up just using the coupler and calling it good.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Insert the tip (or coupler) into each cupcake and fill with the cannoli filling, then top the cupcakes with the remaining cannoli cream.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Freeze the cupcakes for the next step. Michelle gives photos of the mess that happens if you ignore her and don’t freeze. Just do it.

The Chocolate Shell:

This is the one place where I deviated from Michelle’s recipe. She said to use chocolate melts, but I saw a recipe for 2-ingredient Homemade Magic Shell on Pinterest by Ali of Gimme Some Oven and thought this would be a perfect chance to sneak in a bonus Pintesting.

Pintesting Homemade Magic Shell

It seemed like a good idea but it didn’t quite go according to plan.  Melt the coconut oil and chocolate in the microwave. Easy, right?  No.

I put Organic coconut oil and chocolate in a nonreactive ceramic bowl that I’ve used in the microwave countless times. Almost immediately the microwave was sparking and crackling! What was happening? I checked several sites and found that this is not uncommon. According to Living Strong, coconut oil has trace amounts of iron. Apparently, my organic coconut oil had enough to cause sparking in the microwave.  Who knew a yummy dessert would bring about a science lesson?

Obviously microwaving would not be the way to go so I put the bowl over a pot of simmering water and melted them using a double boiler method. It only took a few minutes and minimal stirring to melt the coconut oil and chocolate. Set it aside to cool to room temperature.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

When the chocolate is room temperature and the cupcakes are frozen, dip each cupcake into the chocolate shell sauce to coat the cannoli cream.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Hold the cupcake over the bowl to allow any excess chocolate to drip off.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

The chocolate shell will harden fairly quickly. Continue dipping until all of the cupcakes are coated.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

I had a bit of sauce left over and am saving it for ice cream.Note: keep this in the cupboard at room temperature. If you refrigerate it will get cold and hard.

Pintesting Homemade Magic Shell

The Birthday Girl LOVED them!

We had a lot of treats coming through our office from the end of November through the end of the year, but none like these.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

She did note, and I agree, that by using the chocolate shell recipe they had a slight yet discernible coconut flavor – almost like an Almond Joy candy bar. Since she likes coconut this wasn’t a problem. However, the next time I make these I’ll use the chocolate candy melts.

Pintesting Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

The Pintesting Results:

Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes

Overall Results:  4.25 Pins

4 Pins Overall

Accuracy:  The Chocolate Covered Cannoli Cupcakes turned out exactly as Michelle’s blog said they would. The cupcake itself was delicious with a soft light crumb. The cannoli cream filling/topping reminded me of the cannoli I used to get when I was a kid in New York. And even though I deviated from the recipe, the chocolate coating was as pretty as in Michelle’s pictures. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  This recipe is not truly difficult; Michelle’s recipe is well written and notes anything to be aware of (such as freezing the filled cupcakes), but it does have a lot of components going on which requires a lot of steps. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  If you need to whip up a quick dessert, this might not be a good first choice. Using the quick method to drain the ricotta took 10 minutes to get it as dry as possible. (The long method takes overnight.) The cupcakes don’t take long to make and bake, but they do need to be completely cooled before filling them with the cannoli cream. Then there’s the freezing time (which I did overnight and then completed the cupcakes in the morning), and once the chocolate is melted it also needs to cool to room temperature. Even compensating for the overnight freezing, plan on 1 1/2 – 2 hours for these. 3 Pins

Rated 3 Pins

Cost:  Most of the ingredients are staples in my kitchen; with the exception of the ricotta and mascarpone cheeses. These cost me about $8.00. Add the rest of the ingredients and these run about $0.50/cupcake for 2 dozen. That’s not bad for some fancy cupcakes that would cost you $3.00 each at a bakery. 4 PinsPintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality: These are not your everyday cupcakes, they’re a wonderful special occasion dessert treat! I will be happy to make them again when the appropriate occasion arises. They are absolutely worth the effort, but since it does take extra effort, I’m giving these 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Bonus Pintesting Results:

2-Ingredient Magic Shell

Overall Results: 4.6 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  The two ingredients did make a chocolate sauce that hardened on contact with cold similarly to Magic Shell. But because my microwave nearly blew up (or at least acted like it was going to), and I had to go with an alternate melting method, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Difficulty:  This was very simple; melt 2 ingredients together and stir. Whether you microwave (at your own risk) or use a double boiler, it’s easy either way. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time:  The total time was about 5 minutes – including switching gears, getting a pot of water, and melting the ingredients. There is the cooling time to be considered and you can’t rush it with a cold water bath, but stirring frequently helped to bring the temperature down in short order It was a lot faster than if I had to run to the store. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost:  I keep coconut oil, both conventional and organic, in my pantry right next to the extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, canola oil (what’s a canola?), and the rest of my oils and vinegars. So this was only a few cents more than the cost of the bag of chocolate chips. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  This is great over ice cream, but obviously works well for topping cupcakes and other treats. I would recommend using conventional coconut oil since it has a milder flavor. The best part is that you can use this with any kind of baking chip to switch up the flavors. I’m thinking white chocolate, butterscotch, peanut butter, or even chocolate mint chips would be great. You can even try stirring in sprinkles, toffee chips, crushed nuts, or coconut flakes. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Lion House Rolls

I’m a bread girl. Since I was little I would fill up my plate with all kinds of bread and rolls when I was at a buffet. From an early age, I learned to love the flavors and textures of dark pumpernickel, rich brioche, rustic baguettes, airy ciabatta, sweet pan dulce, or any kind of bread. This Thanksgiving I went out on a limb and made most of our meal from Pinterest recipes (see the Sweet Potato Casserole post). I saw this pin for Lion House Rolls by Christy of The Girl Who Ate Everything. They looked over the top – which is exactly what I wanted.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

If you’re a carbivore like me (I think that should be a real thing), that picture will have you drooling. After reviewing the recipe a few times I was pretty sure I could handle it. Time to get to the Pintesting.

The Pintesting:

The first step is to bloom the yeast, which is basically a test to wake up and activate the live yeast which will cause the bread to rise. It will also let you know if your yeast is old and needs replacing. Simply stir the yeast into warm milk or water mixed with dry powdered milk and watch for it to bubble or bloom.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

After a few minutes, you’ll see the bubbles if the yeast is good; then add the rest of the starter ingredients.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

Mix the starter…

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

and add more flour…

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

until it turns into a dough.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

The recipe says to oil the bread to prevent crusting, cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap, and let it rise until doubled. How do you know if it’s doubled?

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

I use this simple but brilliant trick that I learned from King Arthur Flour. Put the oiled dough in an oiled pitcher with measurement lines on it. See? Simple but brilliant!

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

I KNOW this is doubled. Great trick!

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

Now dump the dough on a floured surface. I flipped it a couple of times to lightly flour it.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

Roll out the dough into a rectangle shape to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

Spread it with butter and cut into individual rolls. (The original recipe links to a video on the best way to do this and the next step.)

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

Then roll (or flip and spin) into the shape and place on a baking sheet. I lined mine with parchment and really recommend it here. Cover with plastic wrap and let them rise again until doubled in size.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

Once doubled again, bake the rolls until they’re perfectly browned and smell like a bit of heaven.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

Brush them with melted butter and try to not eat them all.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

YUM! These are the best dinner rolls that I’ve ever made had. It was all I could do to not just fill up on these while getting the rest of Thanksgiving dinner ready. HH agreed that this recipe is a keeper. Their texture is both rich and light, and the baked in butter means you don’t have to add more – but we did.

Variation:

I love to experiment with recipes and the first thing that came to mind on these (due to the way their rolled up) is cinnamon rolls. But after tasting the roll itself I was thinking raisin bread. So I combined the ideas and made the recipe again adding 1/3 cup of raisins to the dough and sprinkling cinnamon sugar onto the buttered dough before rolling the rolls. The next time I make these I’ll increase the raisins to at least 1/2 to 2/3 cup. I might even use mini loaf pans to make little raisin bread loaves as well as rolls.

Pintesting Lion House Rolls

My rolls weren’t cut as evenly as the first batch, but nobody cared when eating them. I brought them to a Christmas party and they were a huge hit. No icing required.

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.55 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  Christy said these rolls are legendary and she’s absolutely right. They turned out exactly as the recipe said they would every step of the way. The dough was soft and not sticky; very easy to work with. Between the intoxicating yeasty smell, the buttery richness, and how pretty they turned out, I enthusiastically give this 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: I’m not an experienced from-scratch bread baker (other than using the bread machine) and had some trepidation on this whole process, but I was pleasantly surprised at how simple this was. There are a few steps and waiting times in between for rising, but none of the steps were difficult. Christy’s instructions and the video that she links to were very thorough making the hardest part being patient during each rise. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time: The time spent actually mixing and working the dough and baking was not very long at all – roughly 40 minutes. Waiting for the dough to rise twice is what makes bread baking take so long. This times out well if you’re making Thanksgiving dinner, but it’s not something you can whip up quickly.  3 Pins

Rated 3 Pins

Cost: Most of the ingredients are kitchen staples: milk, sugar, flour, egg, and butter. You can make the recipe with all-purpose or bread flour, which also helps keep costs down if you don’t have bread flour on hand. The yeast was about $1.40 for a 3-envelope pack and I only needed 2 envelopes. The total cost was minimal for 2 – 2 1/2 dozen rolls that freeze well, so I’m giving this 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality: These are some of if not the best rolls I’ve ever had. Period! I love that the recipe gives freezing instructions so that you can make one batch and enjoy them for weeks (if they last that long). I also love their versatility. I’ve made the raisin bread cinnamon rolls and am looking forward to making a savory or garlicky version in the near future. You can make them smaller sized rolls – perfect for little ones. I’m also going to play around with making loaves of bread with this dough. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Sweet Potato Casserole

Thanksgiving is over, the dishes are done, and even the leftovers are gone. This year I did something a little adventurous (or maybe crazy or even brave) and, with the exception of the turkey and my mother-in-law’s dressing, I made our entire Thanksgiving meal from Pinterest recipes. This is the first of the Thanksgiving Pintesting recipe reviews – the Sweet Potato Casserole.

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

I’ll be honest; I didn’t see this initially on Pinterest. First I saw this TipHero video through my Facebook feed. I really like that TipHero gives credit to the original sources for their videos – just like they did for my Pineapple Upside Down Bundt Cake when they made it into a video. If you scroll down to the end of the recipe you’ll see the credit. When I went to their site for the recipe, I noticed that it gave credit for the recipe to Nikki’s blog Chef In Training so I went straight there and pinned her Sweet Potato Casserole recipe.

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

Don’t hate, but I find the mini marshmallows on so many sweet potato casserole recipes just too cloyingly sweet. If that’s your thing, then by all means, keep making your sweet potato casserole the way you prefer. But I should warn you – this recipe is now my go-to recipe. More on that later – for now here’s the Pintesting.

 The Pintesting:

The ingredients are pretty simple. Nikki used boiled sweet potatoes while TipHero used baked. I had a LOT of recipes to make so I went with baked since the oven was already on for the turkey.

Note: Multitasking is wise when you are making all of Thanksgiving dinner.

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

Mix until blended and smooth. I like that the baked sweet potatoes were cooked soft enough that I didn’t even have to get the mixer out.

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

Put into a greased 9×13 casserole dish and top with the streusel topping and bake it in a 350-degree oven.

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

This is how it looked when it came out of the oven. It smelled incredible!

Pintesting Sweet Potato Casserole

My HH proclaimed that this sweet potato casserole was better than pumpkin pie. He said it one of the best desserts that I’ve made. I let him know that it is a casserole and not a dessert. He disagrees and calls it dessert. We do agree that it’s delicious both warm and cold. It’s like a crustless sweet potato streusel pie. So if you can’t be bothered with making a pie crust or if you’re on a “diet” and can’t have dessert or if you just want an easy side dish with a lot of wow factor, this is the casserole for you!

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.55 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  This recipe performed exactly as Nikki (and TipHero) said it would.  5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: The directions from both the Chef In Training and TipHero recipes were quite simple and straight forward. I really liked that I didn’t have to get the mixer out for this – one less complication when juggling 4 recipes at once. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time: Since I baked the sweet potatoes while working on other recipes I had a tough time judging this. On one hand, it took about an hour to bake them which is a lot of time to add to a recipe. If I had boiled them it would probably have only added about 10-15 minutes. On the other hand, just the post baking time would shorten the prep time to only 5 and 25 minutes of baking time. Averaging out the 1 1/2 hours and 45 minutes that’s still over an hour so I’m giving this 3 Pins.

Rated 3 Pins

Cost: Most of the ingredients are kitchen staples. The pecans and sweet potatoes were all that I had to buy for this recipe and I only needed 2. The recipe makes a 9×13 inch casserole dish which is a LOT of casserole/dessert but due to the pecans and sweet potatoes, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality:  This has been a pleasantly surprising Pintesting. I was expecting a good sweet potato casserole. I wasn’t prepared for one that was not only easy but also delicious enough to be one of the high points of our Thanksgiving meal. I was planning on making a pumpkin flan for a dessert, but HH said to not bother and went for another serving of this sweet potato casserole. Bonus points for making my life easier. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Dry Marble Nail Art with a Tutorial Video

I recently saw a great nail design on Pinterest by Sam of FingerFood that made me think of mocha or hot chocolate which she called Mocha Coffee Chocolate Frappuccino. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a coffeeholic. I loved the look of the design and the rich colors work perfectly for cool weather drinks. It has a marbled look but it isn’t water marbled; it uses a technique called dry marbling. Sam referenced a YouTube video for No Water Needed – Marble nail art Tutorial by Robin Moses. It’s this tutorial video that I will be Pintesting.

This is the Mocha Coffee Chocolate Frappuccino nail art that caught my eye. Can you see the swirls of coffee, chocolate, and whipped cream? Yum! Starbucks anyone?Mocha Coffee Chocolate Frappuccino

If you’ve been following my blog, then you might remember the Four Leaf Clover Water Marble Nail Art post. It didn’t end well and, to this day, is still the Pintesting with the lowest score. I haven’t tried the technique since then, so I approached the dry marble technique with a bit of trepidation – even with a video tutorial. After all, the water marble was a video tutorial, too. However, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So let’s start this Pintesting.

The Pintesting:

This is the tutorial video. It used similar colors as the Mocha Coffee Chocolate Frappuccino with a couple of substitutions; Robin used a French manicure base color rather than the milk chocolate taupe and instead of black I used a chocolate brown.

I also made a video so that you could see the whole process rather than step-by-step photos.

So there you have it. One of the things that I really like about this is that because the swirls are random it isn’t hard to do “the other hand” whether you’re right or left-handed. There’s plenty of forgiveness as long as you don’t overdo it.

Now for the results.

Mocha Coffee Chocolate Frappuccino

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.3 Pins

4 Pins Overall

Accuracy:  This manicure technique performed rather well. Perhaps a bit of practice would bring this from 4 to 5 Pins, but as it’s my first attempt, this will get 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Difficulty: The technique of dry marbling is not difficult but there is definitely a fine line between pretty swirls and a muddy mess, as Robin warns in her video. I tried this a second time with not so great results. (Maybe it’s not a great idea to do manicures late at night when you’re tired.). Due to the need for caution, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time: As manicures go, this one takes a bit longer than a straight up single color polish but not horribly so. The trick to “pull” the polish from the edges was brilliant and helped reduce the drying time since it reduces the excess polish. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost: According to a Glamour Magazine survey, the average woman owns 25 nail polishes at a given time. This means that the “average” woman has the supplies to do this technique in any number of color schemes. If, however, you have to purchase each of the 4 polish colors, you’d probably spend about $20 which is the cost of a good manicure so I’m giving this 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality: I thought this was a cute manicure technique with lots of different color options. It can be as elegant, seasonal, or whimsical as you choose to make it based on the colors. The mani lasted nearly a week without chipping and, due to the swirls, when I did get a small chip on the tip of my nail it wasn’t very noticeable.  5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Pintesting the Best of Italy with Pizza

October is NATIONAL PIZZA MONTH! Did you know this? I didn’t until the month was nearly over. Pintesting Monini Mutti Pizza I’ve wanted to do a pizza recipe post for quite some time but with so many unique kinds of pizza, I wasn’t sure which would be the best one to start with. There’s the Neapolitan style Margherita, the large thin crust New York style, the deep-dish Chicago style, the thick crusted square shaped Sicilian style, grilled pizza, French bread pizza, regional tomato pies, and so many variations of crusts, sauces, and topping… it’s a bit overwhelming. But then I thought about what Italian pizza from Naples would be like. While at the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Show, I was introduced to Italy’s favorite tomato company, Mutti, and their sister olive oil company, Monini. After tasting them I know why they’re the best of Italy. And now they’re coming to America so that you can cook with the best Italian ingredients, too!

2016 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show Mutti Exhibit

Below are a few of the appetizers and even a dessert that was made using the Monini and Mutti products.

2016 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show Mutti Collage

I was given some wonderful products to try at home including a ready-made pizza sauce and a squeeze bottle of olive oil that’s not supposed to drip. Let’s see what Italy’s favorites taste like on a pizza.

The Pintesting:

In our house, we normally make our own pizza dough, but on this busy weeknight I picked up a pack of pre-made crusts and our toppings will be cheese, sausage, and pepperoni.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

I brushed the dough with the Monini olive oil in their new squeeze bottle. This is SO MUCH BETTER than having the olive oil drip onto the counter or down the side of the bottle. No Leaks! No Drips!

To really boost the flavor, I cut a garlic clove in half and then rubbed it on the oiled dough. If you love garlic but have trouble with heartburn, this is a great way to get that great taste and be gentle on your stomach.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

To get real authentic Italian pizza flavor you need a real authentic Italian pizza sauce.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

Cheese Please!

Then we added the toppings. The HH worked at a pizza place many years ago, so he does this part. The sausage is raw when put on the top of the pizza, but it will cook through while the pizza is cooking.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

Then we baked it per the crust instructions.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

This is how it looked when it came out of the oven. The sausage is perfectly cooked. The cheese is all melted. The hardest part is waiting for it to cool enough to taste it, so I’ll get one more picture while I wait.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

The Results:

So THIS is what pizza in Italy tastes like… Monini & Mutti made this pizza incredible. The no-drip squeeze bottle really worked; there was no olive oil anywhere it wasn’t supposed to be. The pizza sauce was very fresh and tasted like real tomatoes – not overprocessed or artificial. I can see why they are the favorites in Italy. The good news is that both of these products will soon be available at grocery stores across the U.S. so watch for them!

The Recipe:

Pizza

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 Pizzas (using the 2 mini crusts)

Pizza

Ingredients

  • Pizza crust of choice (I used Boboli Mini Original Pizza Crusts, but you can use home-made)
  • Monini Olive Oil
  • 1 Garlic clove, cut in half
  • Mutti Pizza Sauce
  • 8-oz Mozzarella, shredded
  • Toppings of choice

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven per your crust instructions (450 degrees for the Boboli crust).
  2. Place crust(s) on a baking sheet.
  3. Brush 1-2 teaspoons of Monini Olive Oil on the crust to coat evenly.
  4. Rub the garlic clove all over the crust for great flavor.
  5. Spread the Mutti Pizza Sauce in an even layer on the crust.
  6. Top with shredded mozzarella and toppings.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Notes

Pizza is personal, so you can use whatever kind of crust and toppings you like to make it completely your own.

http://pintesting.com/pintesting-the-best-of-italy-with-pizza/