Monthly Archives: February 2014

Slow Cooker BBQ Meatballs

What’s for dinner tonight AND tomorrow? How about Slow Cooker BBQ meatballs? Minimal effort for maximal flavor!

Slow Cooker BBQ Meatballs

We have some weeks that are really crazy. My husband and I can get really busy with working nearly opposite schedules leaving us with minimal time to cook thanks to a clingy toddler who wants to be held all the time and/or climbs up the oven door to check out what’s happening on the stovetop. (He is very familiar with the word “hot” but still loves to explore!) To avoid takeout or quick prepared freezer food every night, we try to do some cooking in advance to have food ready to go. Just pop in the microwave after work and 2 minutes later, dinner is served…

These tasty meatballs fit the bill. They’re great right from the slow cooker, reheat really nicely, and don’t take too much time to prep up front. I’ll give you our meatball recipe if you want to make them “from scratch” but you can totally sub in the already prepared meatballs from the freezer section of the supermarket and just make the quick and flavorful sauce if you really want to do things quick and easy. Aside from a simple dinner, they also make a nice appetizer at a party…though they’re a bit sticky so caution with white shirts and clean tablecloths!

To make the meatballs, combine ground beef (or turkey if you prefer) with panko bread crumbs, garlic, onion powder, black pepper, dried oregano, and some eggs to bind things together. Mix everything really well by hand. When my husband and I first starting dating he made me meatballs but didn’t do such a great job mixing things and hence, “variety pack” meatballs were born, since you never knew which variety you’d get in a bite…so to avoid “variety pack,” mix thoroughly. Form into meatballs. We got 75 small (about 1 inch in diameter) meatballs. Then pop in the oven for about 15 minutes until no longer pink inside.

For the sticky sweet sauce, in the crockpot combine the meatballs, honey, apricot jelly, your favorite barbecue sauce, and 3 tablespoons of your favorite grill spice. We use McCormick Smokehouse Maple because it is both sweet and smoky and imparts great flavor to the sauce. Then turn the slow cooker to high until the meatballs are hot. Our meatballs were cold at the beginning (since we made them the day before and refrigerated them overnight) so it took about 2 hours, but if you make the meatballs then put them in the sauce immediately, it’ll be even shorter. Once the meatballs are hot, turn the slow cooker to warm until ready to serve.

We’ve come back to this recipe again and again to have an easy and tasty meal prepped in advance allowing for quick dinners on crazy weeks!

bbq meatballs


Slow Cooker BBQ Meatballs

Yield: 75 small meatballs

For the meatballs:

2.5 pounds ground beef

3/4 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tablespoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

2 large eggs


1. Preheat the oven to 400F.

2. Combine the above ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly by hand. Form into meatballs approximately 1 inch in diameter (a heaping tablespoonful). Place into pyrex baking dishes.

3. Bake until no longer pink inside, approximately 15 minutes.


For the sauce:

1/8 cup honey

1/8 cup apricot jelly or preserves

3 cups barbecue sauce

3 tablespoons grill seasoning (recommend McCormick Smokehouse Maple)


Combine the meatballs and the above ingredients in the bowl of a slow cooker. Cook on high heat until the meatballs are hot, about 2 hours. Turn to warm until ready to serve.


This recipe was featured at the Sunday Sharing Pinterest Party at Adventures with Jude!

Want more meatballs? Try Fajita Meatballs or Gingersnap Meatballs!

Soy Glazed Tofu

This quick and easy Soy Glazed Tofu is one of our favorites! We usually have most of the ingredients on hand so we can have one of our most requested dinners ready to go in minutes. We just introduced our son to this delicious meal too and he approved so it’s sure to stay in our rotation.

Soy Glazed Tofu

I know that a lot of people are intimidated by tofu. I agree that it seems a bit of a challenge as it just comes in a big white block of nothingness in a tub of water. What to do with it? It took me some practice before I was able to cook tofu in a way that I found edible. I’m really not sure why because now I do just fine without difficulty. Maybe it was just a matter of finding the right recipes…this is definitely one of them! Tofu Pad Thai and Crispy Tofu and Vegetables are other popular choices in our home.

I started off with firm (or extra firm) tofu as it stands up to stir frying better. I cut it into 1-inch cubes and laid the cubes on a paper towel-lined plate, covered with another paper towel, then another plate, for at least 15 minutes, pushing down occasionally. This helps to free excess fluid from the tofu, making it crispier when cooked.

In the meantime, I prepared the soy glaze. In a small saucepan, I combined seasoned rice vinegar (you can get this in the vinegar section in most supermarkets, or check the Asian section), freshly squeezed orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, and some orange zest and brought it to a boil, then reduced the heat and simmered until thick, stirring intermittently while cooking the tofu.

Getting back to the tofu, I heated dark toasted sesame oil in a large wok over medium-high heat, then cooked the tofu until lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid sticking/burning. Using a nonstick wok or skillet will help prevent the tofu from falling apart (one of my early problems with cooking tofu). Once the tofu was cooked, I removed it from the heat, poured in the soy glaze, and garnished with chopped green onions and sesame seeds.

Soy Glazed Tofu

The sweetness from the orange juice and brown sugar contrasts nicely with savory soy sauce and vinegar, and the flavor of the toasted sesame oil resulting in a fantastic dish. We usually serve it with white rice. It would pair nicely with freshly steamed broccoli as well. This is a meatless meal that you can have ready for your family within 30 minutes. So challenge yourself…try cooking with tofu!

Soy Glazed Tofu


Soy Glazed Tofu (adapted from Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2010)

Yield: serves 4

1 12-ounce package firm tofu

3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

1/4 teaspoon orange zest

1 teaspoon dark toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions (for garnish)

1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds (for garnish)


1. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes. Place the cubes on a plate lined with a paper towel, cover with another paper towel, then another plate. Let sit for at least 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the rice vinegar, orange juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, and orange zest. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer until thick, stirring intermittently.

3. In a large nonstick wok or skillet, heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the tofu cubes to the pan, and cook for about 10 minutes, until light golden brown, stirring frequently. Remove from heat, add the sauce, garnish with green onions and sesame seeds, and serve right away.

Per serving: 130 calories, 5 grams fat (calculated from; all nutrition information is approximate)


Check out these other tofu recipes from The Dinner Pages:

Soba Noodle Salad with Vegetables and Tofu

Crispy Tofu and Vegetables

Tofu Pad Thai

Check out other recipes submitted to the Cook Your Books link up… cookyourbooks

Banana Bread Butter Pecan Ice Cream Sandwiches

Bakewell Junction

Banana bread is one of my favorite uses for overripe bananas and I combined my classic recipe with homemade butter pecan ice cream to bring you a decadent treat. The banana bread and ice cream are both delicious on their own but together, well, it’s a heavenly match!

Banana Bread Butter Pecan Ice Cream Sandwiches

It’s time once again for the Improv Cooking Challenge. This month’s two “secret” ingredients were bread and butter. In contrast to the cheese and crackers challenge last month, which I found a bit tough since I’m not a huge cheese eater, this one was a challenge because I LOVE bread and I had a difficult time deciding whether to make a traditional bread with a fancy butter or do something a little more out there. I ended up with “out there” with banana BREAD and BUTTER pecan ice cream which was definitely worth it.

I started off making my favorite banana bread recipe. This is my mom’s recipe and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made it but it always comes out perfect. I often use chocolate chips instead of nuts but this time I went with chopped pecans to play into the flavors of the ice cream. Definitely use overripe bananas, the browner the better. They tend to be sweeter and help to create a moist flavorful loaf of bread.

Banana Bread

Then I moved onto the butter pecan ice cream. I made a nutty brown butter by melting unsalted butter until golden and fragrant. I added in dark brown sugar and cooked over low heat until it liquified, then I poured in half-and-half. I cannot overemphasize the importance of constantly stirring during this entire process because it is very easy for this mixture to burn and when the cold half-and-half is poured in, the melted sugar can solidify quickly, resulting in hard caramel pieces which is not what you’re looking for in this recipe.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

Once it was all combined, I poured the mixture slowly into two beaten eggs in a mixing bowl, still stirring constantly to avoid scrambled eggs. I returned the mixture to the saucepan, then stirred until it began to thicken. I strained the mixture (it’s hard to totally avoid scrambled eggs and this process takes them out from your final product) then stirred in light cream, vanilla extract, and almond extract. I poured the mixture into my ice cream maker and froze it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, adding in pecan halves toward the end of the freezing process. This butter pecan ice cream has deep caramel undertones and a creamy texture with a delightful crunch from the pecan pieces.

Butter Pecan Ice Cream

I then put together the ice cream sandwiches, carefully slicing the cooled banana bread and sandwiching slightly softened butter pecan ice cream between each piece. The sweetness of the bananas combined with the deep caramel flavor of the ice cream and the texture of the pecans was perfect. The dessert is reminiscent of bananas foster, just colder! Both the banana bread and the butter pecan ice cream are each perfect all on their own and I’ve certainly made them separately in the past, but for the ‘bread and butter” challenge, they were the ideal combination and such a tasty treat!

Banana Bread Butter Pecan Ice Cream Sandwiches


Banana Bread Butter Pecan Ice Cream Sandwiches (ice cream recipe adapted from The Ultimate Ice Cream Book: Over 500 Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, Drinks, and More)

Yield: 1 loaf of banana bread and approximately 1 quart of ice cream

For banana bread:

nonstick cooking spray

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup mashed ripe bananas (2-3 average sized bananas)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1/2 cup chocolate chips or finely chopped nuts (I used pecans)


1. Preheat the oven to 325F. Grease a 9×5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, salt, and baking soda. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the bananas and sugar. Add in the egg and butter and stir to blend. Combine the liquid and dry ingredients and mix until just moistened. Add in the chopped nuts or chocolate chips.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 55-65 minutes until the bread starts to pull away from the sides of the pan and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.


For the butter pecan ice cream:

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/2 cup half-and-half

2 cups light cream

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/2 cups pecan halves


1. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl and set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat until it becomes golden brown and smells mildly nutty. Add in the brown sugar and continue stirring constantly over low heat until it melts, taking care not to let it burn. Then add in the half-and-half and bring to a simmer.

3. Slowly beat the half-and-half mixture into the beaten eggs, stirring constantly to avoid scrambling. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over heat, still stirring constantly, until it thickens into a custard. Be careful to avoid boiling.

4. Remove from heat and strain into a large bowl. Let custard cool slightly, then stir in the cream, vanilla, and almond extract.

5. Depending on your ice cream maker, you may need to refrigerate the mixture until cold/overnight at this point. Then pour into the bowl of your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Add in the nuts toward the end of the freezing process.


For the ice cream sandwiches:

Let the banana bread fully cool. Spread slightly softened butter pecan ice cream between two slices. Revel in deliciousness!


Check out more bread and butter recipes here:

Sunflower Seed Pull-Apart Focaccia


Bring some Mediterranean sunshine to your day with Sunflower Seed Pull-Apart Focaccia!

Sunflower Seed Pull-Apart Focaccia

It’s already time for another coffee cake recipe from The Home Bakers! Yes, I know I just shared the Milk Chocolate-Walnut Coffee Cake last week, but I joined in that bake late and now I’m right on time. This month’s bake is Sunflower Seed Pull-Apart Focaccia. Strictly speaking, this is not a coffee cake at all. The author of the book we are baking from categorizes it as a “savory picnic cake” which is somewhat accurate but to me, this is really bread and not cake. I’m totally fine with that because we have downed more desserts than appropriate lately with all my blogging and Valentine’s Day baking.

This focaccia reminds me of my vacations to the Mediterranean. The sunflower seeds and sunflower shape remind me of Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflower paintings and my visit to the south of France. The olive oil and the olives recommended in the original recipe bring back memories of my visit to Greece. I could totally picture enjoying this focaccia with a meal at a taverna in Mykonos or Santorini.


As with many breads, there is a little bit of delayed gratification, while waiting for the dough to rise and such, but most of that time is hands off, allowing me to catch up on washing dishes and get started on cooking or baking other foods. It starts off like most bread recipes, with allowing the yeast to bloom in warm water. I then used the paddle attachment of my stand mixer to add in honey, olive oil, and dried rosemary, then switched to the dough hook to knead in all-purpose flour little by little. I added in the 3 1/4 cups of flour recommended in the original recipe, however found that my dough was very loose and sticky, so I ended up kneading in an extra cup of flour to turn my dough into a smooth elastic ball.

I let it rise for an hour and a half and was pleased that it more than doubled in size, since my kitchen was a bit cold. After punching it down, I rolled it out on my counter and stretched it to fit onto my pizza pan, which is about 13 inches in diameter. I cut out a circle in the center and then cut the rest into 16 “petals.”

Sunflower Seed Pull-Apart Focaccia

I was a bit confused by the instruction to “twist each cut strip over and lay it flat” but ultimately just flipped each petal over. I think it allows more separation so that when the dough rises again it is still distinct enough that the pieces can be easily pulled apart after baking.

Sunflower Seed Pull-Apart Focaccia

I decorated my petals with grapes since I’m not a huge olive fan and let the dough rise. Honestly it rose for a few hours instead of the recommended 45 minutes because I had to go out on some errands mid-bake but it wasn’t a problem at all. I baked the bread for 20 minutes at 425F until it became golden brown. It was delicious. The grapes added just the right amount of sweetness to an otherwise savory bread. If I make this focaccia again, I’d probably add a touch of sea salt on top since I really enjoy that flavor and texture on focaccia but was great without that too. We enjoyed it again for breakfast.

Sunflower Seed Pull-Apart Focaccia

This is a beautiful and tasty focaccia to serve at a wine tasting party or with a Mediterranean style dinner. Or just because. I really don’t need a reason to eat bread!


Sunflower Seed Pull-Apart Focaccia (adapted from Coffee Cakes)

Yield: 1 large loaf (16 slices)

1 package active dry used (2 1/4 teaspoons if you are using a jar of yeast)

1/4 cup warm tap water

drop of honey

1 1/4 cups room temperature water

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for brushing

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (may need more if the dough is too sticky as well as to coat the work surface)

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon aniseed or minced fresh rosemary (I used 1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary)

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

2 dozen oil-cured black olives, pitted or seedless red grapes (I used grapes)


Please see Kitchen Flavours for the full directions for this recipe.

My additional notes:

  • If the dough is very sticky after adding in all the flour, add more little by little. The dough should be smooth and elastic before the first rise.


Check out The Home Bakers and see other interpretations of Sunflower Seed Pull-Apart Focaccia!

Healthy Chicken Nuggets

Chicken Nuggets are one of those foods that you hear about and often quickly dismiss as unhealthy “kid food.” I know McDonald’s is one of the first places that comes to mind when I think about them and I can’t even tell you the last time I graced the Golden Arches! However, parents, you all know that it can be tough to get your toddler to eat a healthy meal sometimes, especially a well balanced one with protein and veggies, that you will be satisfied to eat as well. My son LOVES fruit and will down a whole orange like nobody’s business then ask for “mo” (more, one of his most used words!) but we are still working on veggies! Generally I’d rather not be sneaky about feeding him veggies but sometimes you do what you have to do, right?

Healthy Chicken Nuggets

So I present to you Healthy Chicken Nuggets, mom and toddler approved. I am part of a wonderful Facebook group of women from around the world who “met” online because our babies were all due at the same time. I’ve been friends with them for nearly two years now and as a group, we are constantly talking and sharing what’s going on in our lives, with our littles, and learning how to be the best moms we can be. Of course feeding our kiddos comes up fairly regularly and one of the ladies shared this recipe as a favorite of her children. As soon as I read it I knew it would be something we’d have to try.

Healthy Chicken Nuggets

I love how it contains several vegetables and quinoa, plus chicken. And I know we are getting real chicken in this, because I ground it myself! The nuggets are baked but still crispy thanks to an outer coat of panko breadcrumbs and the flavors are delicious for grown-ups and children alike. The other great thing with this recipe is that it makes a ton of nuggets. I made very generously sized chicken nuggets and still ended up with 5 dozen! It’s so convenient to have my fridge stocked with leftovers for those busy nights after work or a quick lunch on weekends. I’ve been told they freeze well too, just freeze, uncooked, on a baking sheet. Once frozen, put them into plastic freezer bag or storage container and when you’re ready to eat them, take out just what you need and bake them as described below. How convenient is that?

Healthy Chicken Nuggets

My son gives these Healthy Chicken Nuggets his seal of approval! That’s all I need to know! We will definitely be making them again!

Healthy Chicken Nuggets


Healthy Chicken Nuggets

Yield: 5 dozen large nuggets

1 cup quinoa, cooked and cooled

2 small zucchinis

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 of a yellow onion

2 carrots, peeled

3 cloves garlic

1/2 of a green bell pepper

1 egg

1 tablespoon dried basil

8 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

3-4 cups panko bread crumbs

nonstick cooking spray


1. Prepare the quinoa according to the package directions. [Generally will need to combine 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 15 minutes until the water is absorbed.] Let cool.

2. In the bowl of your food processor with the grater attachment, grate the zucchinis. Heat the olive oil in a skillet, and cook the grated zucchini for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.

3. Continuing with the grater attachment, grate the onion and carrots. Then switch to the chopping blade and add the garlic, bell pepper, egg, basil, chicken thighs, Worcestershire sauce, and cooled quinoa. The bowl of the food processor will likely start to get full so remove some of the mixture to a bowl once it’s combined, then process the rest until it is all the same consistency and generally the same composition. If it is too loose add another egg.

4. Preheat the oven to 425F. Place the breadcrumbs in a bowl. Form the chicken mixture into nuggets of desired size. Coat each nugget with breadcrumbs, then place on a baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray.

5. The baking time depends on the nugget size, approximately 10-18 minutes. When done, the nuggets will be slightly browned and cooked all the way through.

Per nugget: 61 calories, 2 grams fat (calculated from; all nutrition information is approximate)


Milk Chocolate-Walnut Coffee Cake


Let yourself be transported to a bakery in the comfort of your own kitchen with this divine Milk Chocolate-Walnut Coffee Cake!

Milk Chocolate-Walnut Coffee Cake

I discovered The Home Bakers group a few months back before I even started blogging but when I was in the “research” (also known as spending lots of time reading blogs) phase. This group is baking its way through an entire cookbook, currently Coffee Cakes by Lou Seibert Pappas. That’s right up my alley of course, as I really learned my way around a kitchen (baking-wise) by baking my way through Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook a few years back (I never finished, for what it’s worth)! Anyway, even though The Home Bakers have already baked halfway through this book, there are still another 30 recipes to go and if I can make my way through even some of them I figure it will be worth it to really delve into a cookbook again (unlike a good fraction of the 150 cookbooks I already own…oops…but that’s the point of this blog, right?). So I finally bit the bullet and added the book to my Amazon cart one sleep deprived night when I somehow decided I had enough time for yet another project and 2 days later, I was happy to find it in my mailbox.

Milk Chocolate-Walnut Coffee Cake

I am joining in mid-bake for this first one, but I had a bit of downtime while making dinner for my family so decided to prep this cake for a dessert treat. Good move on my part. The cake was very easy to make. The crumb is moist, thanks to yogurt or buttermilk in the batter. I used nonfat vanilla yogurt though the original recipe recommended lowfat plain yogurt or buttermilk. I think the vanilla was fine, I really didn’t notice it while eating the cake. To break up the moist cake, there is a layer of tasty chopped walnuts, chocolate (I used chocolate chips), and cinnamon-sugar. Similarly, the cake is topped with more of the same which adds a lovely crusty layer on top. The cake will seem really flat when you pour the batter into a springform pan to bake it. Don’t worry. It’s not a hugely tall cake but it will definitely rise when you bake it and there will be more than enough cake for everyone to enjoy. This cake is wonderful anytime, but it is really perfect for a brunch or baby shower. It just feels like the right kind of cake for those settings. My husband said it smelled like a bakery while it was baking. I initially couldn’t place the aroma but ultimately, I think it smelled like rugelach, those fruit and nut filled Jewish pastries, while it was baking. I’ve made rugelach a few times (from that Martha Stewart book, in fact) and the scent is very comparable. And delicious!

Milk Chocolate-Walnut Coffee Cake

Anyway, get ready to hear about more coffee cakes from me over the next few months. I may not have the time to participate in every bake but I’m going to try because this book has some amazing sounding recipes that I’m excited to test out and share with you!

Milk Chocolate-Walnut Coffee Cake


Milk Chocolate-Walnut Coffee Cake (adapted from Coffee Cakes)

Yield: one 9-inch round cake (serves 12)

nonstick cooking spray with flour

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup buttermilk or lowfat plain yogurt (I used nonfat vanilla yogurt)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

6 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped (I used milk chocolate chips…no chopping needed)

1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (I used walnuts)


Please see Hundred Eighty Degrees for the full directions for this recipe.

My additional notes:

  • The recipe recommends baking for 25-30 minutes; it took about 40 minutes for my cake to turn golden brown and have a knife come out clean when tested but it was really cold in my kitchen when I baked so maybe that’s why. My oven is usually pretty accurate.
  • I used nonstick cooking spray with flour to grease the springform pan; you could also use butter and use a small amount of all-purpose flour to get the same effect.


Check out The Home Bakers and see other interpretations of Milk Chocolate-Walnut Coffee Cake!

Strawberry Pomegranate Rice Pudding

This post is part of a Valentine’s Day themed Blog Swap and comes from Chef Mireille at East West Realm. Her blog features an amazing array of recipes from around the world. I just drool looking at the pictures and will be trying out some of her recipes very soon! The recipe she shared for the blog swap is perfect for Valentine’s Day, with gorgeous red colors and delectable flavors. I’ll let her tell you the rest…

I am Mireille of Chef Mireille’s East West Realm. I am honored to have the opportunity to do this guest post for Jessie’s Dinner Pages. If you have a chance to hop on over to my site, you’ll notice that I experiment with cuisines from throughout the world, including both authentic recipes and fusion recipe. You’ll find everything from Ghanian Tatale to Mexican Goat Stew. For today’s Valentine’s Day themed recipe, I took inspiration from Thailand.

Rice Pudding -edit

Most people automatically think of chocolate when it comes to Valentine’s Day desserts. Not every woman on earth is a chocolate fanatic and I am one of those exceptions. Give me fruity or creamy desserts and I’ll always choose them over chocolate. Even as a child, I always preferred vanilla ice cream.

I love desserts that are creamy and luscious – my faves include flan, pannacotta and rice pudding. I am a rice pudding fanatic. One of my favorite places to visit here in New York is Rice to Riches, a restaurant that makes nothing but rice pudding in more flavors than you can possibly contemplate.

Just about every culture in the world has a version of rice pudding. There is Indian Kheer, the milky liquidy version and there is Champorada, the Filipino chocolate version and then there is the thick, creamy spiced version of the Caribbean.

I took the Caribbean methodology for making this rice pudding, but infused it with flavors of Southeast Asia. If you love Thai food, you’ll love this luscious version of rice pudding as the flavor of the lime leaves comes through strong.

Strawberry Rice Pudding -edit


Strawberry Pomegranate Rice Pudding

Serves 4-6

Rice Pudding Ingredients:

• 2 cups water

• 2 Kaffir lime leaves

• 3 cloves

• 5 green cardamom pods

• 13.5 oz. can coconut milk

• 1 cup evaporated milk

• 1 cup long grain rice

• 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk

Strawberry Pomegranate Compote Ingredients:

• 1 lb. strawberries, quartered

• ½ cup pomegranate seeds

• 1 tablespoon butter

• 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

• 1 tablespoon rum

• 1 tablespoon cornstarch

• ¼ cup water


• 4 tablespoon sweetened coconut flakes


Bring 1 cup of water to a boil with the lime leaves, cloves and cardamom. Add remaining water, coconut milk, evaporated milk, and rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Remove lime leaves, cloves and cardamom. Add sweetened condensed milk. Bring to a boil again. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes.

Strawberry Rice Pudding - sbs photo

To make compote, combine all ingredients except cornstarch in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water and stir. Add to strawberries and cook for 2 more minutes.

Strawberry Rice Pudding - sbs

To serve, spoon some of the rice pudding in a dish. Add a little of the fruit compote. Top with coconut.

Notes: I prefer my rice pudding warm, however many eat it cold. The pudding will thicken as it chills so you may want to add a little extra milk/water if you plan on eating it chilled. 


If you want to see more from Chef Mireille, check out:

Below the collage are links to all of the posts that participated in our

Blog Swap Meet: Valentine’s Day Recipes

Hosted by

Edward from If You Can Read, You Can Cook and Kristin from Dizzy Busy and Hungry

Stop by and visit them all!

vday blog swap meet collage

If You Can Read, You Can Cook posted on Anyonita Nibbles

Anyonita Nibbles posted on If You Can Read, You Can Cook

The Dinner Pages posted on Chef Mireille’s East West Realm

Chef Mireille’s East West Realm posted on The Dinner Pages

Dizzy Busy and Hungry posted on The Quest for Noms

The Quest for Noms posted on Kneaded Creations

Kneaded Creations posted on Dizzy Busy and Hungry

Red Velvet Molten Lava Cake with Cream Cheese Ice Cream

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I’ve been working on several treats to fit the theme of the day. You’ve already read about Spiced Chocolate Ice Cream and “Go Red” for Heart Health Snack Mix and there are more coming up this week. But this one here is the piece de resistance. Since I’m currently living south of the Mason-Dixon, what could be a more iconic red dessert than red velvet cake?

Red Velvet Molten Lava Cake with Cream Cheese Ice Cream

I’ve made red velvet before, with okay results. The color is usually gorgeous but sometimes it’s just too dry for my liking. Making a molten lava cake definitely bypasses that issue! The ooey gooey cake batter just flowed, once releasing the individual cakes from their ramekins.

For me, though, the frosting makes the cake, not just for red velvet cakes, but for all cakes. It’s not infrequent that I’ll lick the frosting off a cupcake, just to chuck the rest of cake because it’s too dry or bland. So I knew I had to highlight the classic cream cheese frosting flavors that red velvet is also known for. As you know, I love making my own ice cream and trying out new flavors. And the cool creamy consistency of ice cream is the perfect match for molten lava cake batter!

Cream Cheese Ice Cream

So here’s a recipe for rich amazingly delicious Red Velvet Molten Lava Cakes to be paired with Cream Cheese Ice Cream. Both are easy and not too time consuming to prepare, though I recommend making the ice cream in advance since it can be tough for ice cream freezers to work well in a warm kitchen, which might happen when heating up your oven to bake the cakes. If you make them concurrently, plan out your timing well, because you want to serve the cakes as soon as they’re ready and not be waiting around for ice cream to freeze while the molten lava solidifies!

Melt together white chocolate and butter, then add sugar and cocoa powder. Slow add in to beaten eggs.

Melt together white chocolate and butter, then add sugar and cocoa powder. Slow add in to beaten eggs.

Add in red food coloring and flour

Add in red food coloring and flour

Divide into 4 ramekins

Divide into 4 ramekins

Bake at 400F for 15 minutes

Bake at 400F for 15 minutes

Run a knife around the edges then carefully invert the ramekin onto a dish. Let sit for 2 minutes then remove

Run a knife around the edges then carefully invert the ramekin onto a dish. Let sit for 2 minutes then remove

This is a gorgeous treat to cap off your Valentine’s Day dinner. Enjoy!

Red Velvet Molten Lava Cake with Cream Cheese Ice Cream


Red Velvet Molten Lava Cakes with Cream Cheese Ice Cream (adapted from and

Yield: 4 individual serving cakes and 1 quart ice cream

For the cakes:

6 ounces white baking chocolate

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the ramekins

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons red food coloring

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

pinch of salt


1. Preheat the oven to 400F. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the white chocolate and butter until smooth. This will take approximately 2 minutes; stop the microwave to stir every 20-30 seconds to avoid burning. While the chocolate and butter are melting, use the remaining butter to thoroughly grease the ramekins.

2. Add in the cocoa powder and sugar and stir until combined.

3. In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Add in a small amount of the chocolate mixture and stir together to allow the eggs to warm slowly (temper) to avoid scrambling. Repeat 2-3 more times then add in the remaining chocolate batter and stir until fully combined.

4. Stir in the red food coloring, flour, and pinch of salt. Divide the batter among 4 well greased 3/4-1 cup ramekins.

5. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and run a knife around the edges right away. Invert each ramekin onto an individual serving plate and let sit for 2 minutes, then carefully lift up the ramekin. Top with cream cheese ice cream (or whipped cream) to serve.

For the ice cream:

Cream Cheese Ice Cream

Yield: 1 quart

8 ounces neufchatel cheese (lowfat cream cheese), softened

1 cup skim milk

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

3/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup heavy cream


1. In the bowl of an electric mixture with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, milk, lemon juice, sugar, and salt until smooth. Then pour in the heavy cream and beat on low speed until just combined. You can also do this step with a blender or food processor.

2. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freezer according to manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to a freezer-safe container to store. Let come slightly to room temperature before topping the Red Velvet Molten Lava Cakes.


“Go Red” for Heart Health Snack Mix

February is Heart Health month and today, February 7, is “Go Red for Women” Day, an event to raise awareness of heart disease in females. So to help support this cause, I’m sharing a recipe for a delicious snack mix that not only has beautiful red cranberries to help us “go red,” but also has some heart health benefits. Plus with Valentine’s Day only a week away, this is a great snack to share with your Valentine, young or old. And that’s excellent for your heart too!

"Go Red" for Heart Health Snack Mix

I’ve never thought too hard about “recipes” for trail mix or the like since you pretty much toss together a bunch of yummy snacks in a bowl or bag and go. But I came across this delectable combination of dried coconut, dried cranberries, and chocolate chips in a packaged snack mix and loved the flavors and figured I could do it myself for a fraction of the cost.

Coconuts are pretty trendy in the food world now and there is lots of research going on in the nutrition and medical fields regarding potential benefits of coconut water, coconut milk, coconut oil, and just plain old coconut. Some studies have shown advantageous effects on cholesterol from ingesting coconut oil. Point 1 for heart health!

Then we come to cranberries. Polyphenols, which are found in cranberries as well as other foods, are thought to be great for cardiovascular health also by improving cholesterol as well as through some anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Yay cranberries!

And finally chocolate. No one needs to give me any scientific argument to eat (and enjoy) chocolate. But just in case you need a heart healthy reason to indulge, here you go…just like cranberries, flavonoids are found in cocoa and chocolate. They have anti-oxidant properties which also have anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory benefits. They also might help lower blood pressure which improves circulation to the heart. Yes please! Benefits are the best with dark chocolate (which includes the semi-sweet chocolate used here).

image from American Heart Association website

image from American Heart Association website

I recommend not using the shredded dried coconut from the baking aisle and rather finding actual dried coconut pieces from the dried fruit section. The flavor and nutrition benefits are so much better and since it’s one of only three ingredients in this snack, it is really highlighted, so the better quality coconut is totally worth it. I found mine at Costco but I imagine it’s available at some supermarkets as well as natural food stores.

"Cocoa"-Nuts for You Snack Mix


“Go Red” for Heart Health Snack Mix

Yield: approximately 3 cups

2 cups dried coconut chunks (we found them at Costco), chopped into small pieces

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup dried cranberries


Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Share with someone you love! Store leftovers in an airtight container.


Slow Cooker Fig-Balsamic Glazed Chicken Drumsticks

Dizzy Busy and Hungry

Remember the technique I described in my Asian Glazed Wings post, where chicken was cooked in a slow cooker until nearly falling off the bone, then crisped up under the broiler and basted with a thick, sweet sauce? It makes a comeback here today. The main differences are the cut of chicken (drumsticks, as opposed to wings this time around) and the flavors of the glaze. Last time I used hoisin sauce as the base, whereas this time around I used a fig jam, resulting in a sticky sweet glaze with a little bit of texture thanks to the seeds in the jelly. The sweetness of the jam was tempered slightly by balsamic vinegar and enhanced by dried rosemary and orange zest. Unique flavors, but delicious, and an easy cooking method.

Slow Cooker Fig-Balsamic Glazed Chicken Drumsticks

I started off by coating chicken drumsticks in crushed dried rosemary, salt, and pepper. I placed them in the slow cooker and cooked for 3 hours on low. I then transferred the drumsticks to a wire rack on a baking sheet…

Fig-Balsamic Glazed Chicken Drumsticks

…then broiled for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through.

While they were broiling, I prepared a sauce of fig jelly, balsamic vinegar, orange zest salt, and pepper. After the first 10 minutes of broiling, I brushed the drumsticks with sauce and continue broiling for 5 more minutes at which time I flipped them and brushed with more sauce…

Fig-Balsamic Glazed Chicken Drumsticks

…then broiled for another 5 minutes. I brushed the drumsticks with the remaining sauce prior to serving. Delicious!

Fig-Balsamic Glazed Chicken Drumsticks


Slow Cooker Fig-Balsamic Glazed Chicken Drumsticks (adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution volume 2)

4 pounds chicken drumsticks

2 teaspoons dried rosemary

salt, divided

ground black pepper pepper, divided

nonstick cooking spray

3/4 cup fig preserves (I used an 8.5 ounce jar)

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest


1. Coat the chicken drumsticks in the dried rosemary crushed into fine pieces, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Place drumsticks in the pot of a slow cooker. Cook on low for 3-4 hours, until chicken is tender.

2. Heat the broiler. Place a wire rack instead an aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and coat with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer the drumsticks to the wire rack. Broil for 5 minutes, then flip over, and broil for another 5 minutes.

3. While the drumsticks are broiling, prepare the sauce by combining the fig preserves, vinegar, orange zest, 1 teaspoon pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a mixing bowl. Remove the drumsticks from the oven and brush with the sauce. Broil for 5 minutes, flip over, and brush with more sauce. Broil for a final 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with the remaining sauce.


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