Life & Dim Sum Has Moved!

7 Nov

Just in case you haven’t heard, Life & Dim Sum has a new home and a new look!

I’ve switched over from being hosted on WordPress and gave the site a facelift!

vidaIf you enjoy following my blog, I ask that you add me to your roll on Bloglovin , where you can stay up to date with my latest recipes, styling tips and DIY projects!

AND you can follow along on Facebook, Life & Dim Sum!

Visit the new site here.

@LifeandDimSum

DIY: Super Simple Brandy Apple Butter

22 Oct

Once upon a time, I attempted to make apple jam and it turned into apple butter.

I decided to make brandy apple jam this weekend, thanks to a simple recipe I spotted from Food & Wine magazine for caramel apple jam. I gathered my apples, sugar, cinnamon, brandy, water and set out on my grand adventure.

About half way through, I realized that there was no way the fragrant apples stewing on my stove were going to turn out like jam; something was missing. After digging a little deeper, that something was pectin– a natural thickening agent, made from the cell walls of plants. It’s what gives jam that “jam” look; you all know what I mean!

So there I was, staring down at my pot of apples, wondering what next? That’s when I decided to turn my jam into apple butter!apple4

What You Need:

3.5 lbs apples, diced 1/2 an inch thick

1 cup sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tspn nutmeg

1 vanilla bean

3 tbsp water

1/4 cup brandy

For the thickener:

1 pack unflavored gelatin

1 cup boiling water

1/4 cup brandy

**Makes enough to fill 2 16 oz. mason jars**

How To:

Add the diced apples, sugar, scraped vanilla beans, cinnamon and nutmeg to a heavy bottomed pot(I used my enamel cast iron one). Once the sugar begins to brown add 3 tablespoons of water and a 1/4 cup of brandy. apple0

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Let the apples cook down over medium heat, should take 30-40 minutes to get them exactly where you want them to be. The apples will be translucent and much of the liquid would have cooked out and turned into more of a syrup.

Remove from the heat and using an immersion blender or  a regular blender, pulse the apple mix until all of the larger pieces are broken up.

DO NOT OVER BLEND!

Seriously, you want apple butter not apple sauce :-)

At this point, prepare the thickener. Take the unflavored gelatin and place it in a bowl, add the brandy and let it gel up. While this is happening boil the cup of water and then add to the gelatin and brandy. Stir until the gelatin is dissolved and then incorporate into the apples.

Allow the butter to cool and then store! I store mine in a regular 16 oz. glass jar(no canning took place because quite frankly I don’t plan for it to last long).

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By the time I finished making my butter, it was brunch time so I decided to make some simple drop buttermilk biscuits to serve with my apple butter!
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This  yummy fall goodness with that hint of brandy, will go just as well with toast, an English muffin or spread on a stack of pancakes! Or eaten straight out of the jar with a spoon… :-)apple-b

@LifeandDimSum

Perfect Game Day Snacks: Hot Wing Meatballs w/ Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce

20 Oct

Who doesn’t love hot wings?? I surely do, but how about taking a standard recipe and making things a little interesting??

My beaux is a huge football fan, HUGE. So Sundays, Mondays & some Thursdays in the fall are all dedicated to America’s past time. Unfortunately football isn’t my thing, so I’ve decided that my role on game day is going to be chief snack maker.

I figured a hot wing turned meatball, served with a blue cheese dipping sauce has no choice but to be a winner.meatball1

What You Need:

1 lb ground chicken

2 tspn celery salt

2 tspn garlic powder

1/4 cup hot sauce(I used Cholula)

1/4 cup chopped scallions

3/4 cup grated carrots

1 egg

1/2 cup plain bread crumbs

Hot Sauce Wash:

1/4 cup hot sauce

2 tbpn butter

Blue Cheese Dipping Sauce:

4 oz. crumbled blue cheese

1/3 cup 0% greek yogurt

1/3 cup cream

1/8 cup whole milk

1 tspn Worcestershire sauce

1 tspn hot sauce

How To:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Add the grated scallions and carrots to a skillet and saute until tender; about 3-5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Put the ground chicken in a bowl with the celery salt, garlic powder, hot sauce, carrot and scallion mixture, egg and breadcrumbs. Mix together with your hands. Feel free to add breadcrumbs if the appears to wet; you want to be able to form a ball and have it stick together. meatball meatball0

Once the right consistency is achieved, Form the meatballs by rolling them between your palms. Set aside on a baking sheet while you heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet. Brown the meatballs a batch at a time until all are done and place them back on a foil covered baking sheet. Cover the meatballs with another piece of foil and pop in the oven. Set the timer for 20 minutes.

While the meatballs cook, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and mix with 1/4 cup of hot sauce. After 10 minutes, remove the foil from the meatballs and brush them with the hot sauce butter mixture. Let the meatballs cook for the remaining 10 minutes.

While those finish up, combine the blue cheese, scallions, cream, yogurt, milk, Worcestershire and hot sauce in a blender or food processor. Pulse until smooth.

The moment I tasted these meatballs, my eyes shot wide open and I exclaimed to no one in particular, “these taste JUST like hot wings!!”. They’re moist, flavorful and absolutely perfect. The process of browning, covering and then uncovering while they cook, is essential to getting meatballs that are cooked through yet still moist but with a slight crunch.

And the blue cheese sauce? Heavenly. You get that pungent bite of the blue cheese and yogurt, paired with the creaminess of the milk and this sauce quickly becomes not only a perfect match for these meatballs but a great dipping sauce for pretty much anything that can be dipped. I’d suggest using it as a veggie dip as well!

meatball2 meatball3The boys(and really everyone) are sure to be impressed when you bring these to the next game party!meatball4

@LifeandDimSum

Herbs 101: Flavoring Beyond Salt & Pepper

16 Oct

The only time salt & pepper should be the only seasoning you add to a meal is when you’re making a steak or a beef burger. Other than that, you need to make sure your dish has plenty of love(aka flavor).

The best way to build complex & distinct flavor in a dish is by adding herbs.

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I prefer fresh herbs but in a pinch, dried will do as well. Just note that you will always need to add more fresh herbs than dried herbs(2-3 times as much) to a recipe to achieve the same level of flavor.

What are my favorite herbs? Well, I’m glad you asked.herbs0

1. Thyme thyme

This one is my absolute fav! I use it on chicken, beef & pork. In sauces, Dominican style rice & pigeon peas and literally in everything. Dried or fresh, anytime I’m cooking and feel like something is missing, I throw in a little thyme and all is made right in the world :-) It’s definitely a must have for your pantry.

2. Rosemary rosemary

Perfect for lamb and beef. Whenever I do a slow cooker recipe with red meat, rosemary always finds a way to get involved. It’s also great with lamb chops when added to a marinade of red wine, brown sugar, mustard, garlic & olive oil. And don’t forget about adding rosemary to breads, rosemary focaccia anyone??

3. Dill dill

Great for more than just pickling cucumbers! This herb is a perfect match for seafood! For the non-meat eaters, the refreshing, almost mint like quality of dill goes well with potatoes, whether roasted or in a potato salad as well as in tossed vegetable salads.

4. Cilantro a.k.a. coriandercilantro

A key ingredient in Latin-American cuisine but is also important in it’s coriander state in Asian curries. It’s probably the herb on this list that you all will be the most familiar with. The flavor is so distinct and robust that you either love it, or you hate it. Even though it always comes in huge bunches from the grocer, I try and use it sparingly since it carries so much flavor. I love adding cilantro to my guacamole and salsas.

5. Sage sage

Bold addition to sauces and gravies. I also love using sage with pork. There’s a simple bacon & sage wrapped pork tenderloin recipe that I do, where the sage is laid on a layer of bacon and wrapped around the pork. Woo wee! That dish is a winner every time.

6. Basil basil

You simply cannot make Italian food without basil. Whether it’s being utilized as the star of the show, as in a pesto sauce or merely chopped and sprinkled on top as a finisher; it’s a must! I’ve also started using it in my scrambled eggs with salt and pepper; adds a special somethin’ somethin’.

Other notables: mint, oregano & chives.

Herbs I don’t like: parsley & tarragon. When I think of parsley, I think one thing: boring. No matter how many times I’ve used it, I’ve failed to find it essential.

And tarragon. Ohhhh tarragon, I hate you. Yes, that’s a strong word, but I do! How is it that more than 1 element in nature was allowed to taste like licorice?? However, if you love licorice/anise flavors then you’ll enjoy this herb.

What are some of you all’s favorite herbs?

 

 

herbs

 

@LifeandDimSum

Slow-cookin’ Sundays: The Best Pork Chili Verde

13 Oct

I’ll admit, it’s becoming more and more difficult for me to come up with unique recipes to share on here for slow-cooking Sundays. But I enjoy a challenge! And I LOVE my slow cooker, so I’m going to continue to press on :-)

I’m glad though that the weather is finally cooling down so I don’t sound nutty suggesting you all experiment with chilis and stews while it’s 70+ degrees outside.

Mexican food is a favorite for many, but I think it’s time we all think beyond tacos & quesadillas. Today’s dish does just that. It also helps to explore chilis beyond the standard red with tomatoes and kidney beans.

The base of the chili verde is a green tomatillo & pepper sauce, hence the name. It’s hearty yet light and packed with plenty of flavor, perfect for a chilly day in! verde12

What You Need:

3-4 lbs pernil(slow cooked pork shoulder or butt – use the recipe here)

10-12 tomatillos

2 poblano peppers

2 jalapeno peppers

1 cup cilantro

1 large yellow onion, diced

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp oregano

1 tbsp salt

Masa roux:

1/4 masa(or corn) flour

1 tbsp canola oil

How To:

Cook your pernil according to the above recipe, shred the pork and set aside. verde2 verde3Take the tomatillos and roast in the oven on 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until soft. Roast the poblano and jalapeno peppers over the gas flame or in the broiler. Toss the peppers in a paper bag for 5 minutes, allowing them to steam. Remove and peel off the skin and give a rough chop.

verde1verdeIn a food processor, add the tomatillos, chopped peppers and cilantro and pulse until smooth. verde4Add the diced onion, shredded pork, tomatillo/pepper sauce and chicken stock in the slow cooker. Toss in the cumin, oregano, salt and bay leaves. Cover and set on high for an hour and a half.

Once the slow-cooker reaches the hour and a half mark, create the masa roux which will be used to thicken the chili. Add the oil and masa flour to a small skillet. Heat until a paste is formed.verde5 verde6Add the masa roux to the slow cooker. Stir and cover. Set on low for 3 hours.

I’d suggest serving this chili with some shredded cheddar cheese and a yummy piece of cornbread. I made festive corn shaped jalapeno cheddar cornbread to serve with mine.verde9

My family loved this dish! The spice is subtle(I removed all the seeds) but packed with the bold flavor from the peppers and tomatillos. The pork is super tender and the cornbread when it gets a chance to soak up the chili sauce? Just perfect!

verde8 verde10@LifeandDimSum

Sweet Potato Gnocchi in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce

11 Oct

Pasta is one of those things I’ve always been afraid to make from scratch.

Giada makes it looks SO simple on The Food Network but I knew I’d just end up with a gummy, nowhere near pasta catastrophe.

Gnocchi are little pasta dumplings, traditionally made with a combination of flour, potato and a binder(cheese, egg).

I’ve only had gnocchi once but for some reason I figured this recipe should be my intro to the world of fresh pasta making. I also looooove sage, it’s one of my fav herbs, so a brown buttered sage sauce was right up my palate ally.
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What You Need:

2 medium sized sweet potatoes(1 1/2 cups of mashed sweet potato)

6 oz. ricotta cheese

3/4 freshly grated parmesan cheese

2 tspn salt

1 tspn nutmeg

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 1/2 cups flour + more for dusting

Sauce:

1 stick butter

2 tbsp chopped fresh sage

salt

pepper
gnocchi

How To:

Wrap the sweet potatoes in a damp paper towel and pop them in the microwave set on high for 3 minutes on each side(6 minutes total). Cut the sweet potatoes length wise and allow them to cool.gnocchi1 Scoop out the middle and mash in a bowl. Transfer 1 1/2 cups to another bowl. Add inn ricotta cheese and mix together thoroughly.gnocchi2Toss in the grated parmesan, salt, nutmeg and brown sugar. Stir until well incorporated. Add in your flour 1/2 a cup at a ttime, paying close attention to the consistency as you go.

If you’ve added the 1 1/2 cups and the dough is still sticky, add more flour. You should be able to handle and manipulate the gnocchi dough just like you would with bread.

Shape in a oval and place the dough on a floured service. Cut into 6 pieces.gnocchi3Take each of the six pieces one by one and using the palm of your hand, roll into a rope, about a 1/2 an inch thick. Cut the “ropes” into inch long pieces.

Fill a pot part way with water, add salt and bring to a boil.

While the water comes to a boil, use the prongs of a fork to create those signature indents that adorn most gnocchi.gnocchi7Batch by batch, add the gnocchi into the boiling water and cook for 6 or so minutes. You’ll know when they’re done, they’ll be floating on the top of the water. Use a slotted spoon and transfer to a wax paper covered baking sheet while you prepare the sauce.

To make the use, add a stick of butter to a skillet and melt. Allow the butter to bubble and brown around the edges. Add the diced sage, as well as salt and pepper to taste.gnocchi5

Turn the heat down so that the sage doesn’t burn and add in the gnocchi. You just want to make sure they are heated through.

You can serve the gnocchi as is or pair with a nice cut of meat or fish.

The sweet potato and nutmeg add a great flavor to this hearty pasta. The subtle spice screams fall. I served my gnocchi with these slow cooked lamb shanks that were featured at the beginning of the week.shank1@LifeandDimSum

Lemon Ricotta Waffles

7 Oct

I’d always heard of lemon ricotta pancakes and wanted to try them. But honestly, I’m more of a waffle gal.

So after coming across this quick and easy recipe from the lovely, Joy The Baker. I went ahead and gathered up all the necessary ingredients.ricotta0-b

What You Need:

1 1/2 cups flour

2 tspn baking powder

1/2 tspn baking soda

dash salt

3 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp lemon zest

1/3 cup butter, melted

2 eggs

3/4 cup whole milk

3 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

1 tspn vanilla extract

***Makes 8 4″x4″ waffles.

How To:

Combine all of your dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the melted butter, eggs, milk, lemon juice, ricotta cheese and vanilla extract.

Pour the liquids into the dry ingredients, whisking together as you pour. The batter shouldn’t be perfectly smooth but make sure all of the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Use a 1/2 cup to pour your batter into the waffle maker. Cook according to the maker’s directions.ricotta1

The taste is amazing yet difficult to describe all at the same time. These waffles aren’t overly sweet but the juice and zest from the lemon gives them a flavor that will remind you of dessert. You honestly don’t even need syrup here, a simple dusting of powdered sugar would more than suffice.

These are certainly waffles all grown up! There’s no doubt that I’ll be making these in the future… like every weekend. I just hope my waistline can take it :-)

@LifeandDimSum

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