Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Sharing My Recipes, My Life, And The Food Tale Of Two Cities

Double Fudge Peanut Butter Brownies

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It can get a little stressful in my house when, Steve’s team, the Miami Dolphins are playing. If they’re scheduled to play the New England Patriots, well, that’s a whole different kind of worry. As a loyal fan, he takes game day very seriously. Don’t get me wrong, I love football too. I thought, how can I make this night extra special.

I thought, how about one of his favorites, brownies! Because I’ve been busy myself, I decided to take a little help from the store and make these semi-homemade.  I rushed up to the grocery store and picked up a really good box mix, and then added a few extra surprises to go into the brownies.

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The brownie mix was double fudge and included a fudge pouch inside, but I’d add more goodies. Peanut butter, more chocolate chips, and some new Nestle pumpkin white chocolate chips. This should do it. All I did was to follow the instructions on the box. To the dry mix, I added in a 1/4 cup mixture of the semi-sweet chocolate and pumpkin morsels. I stirred in the morsels so they would be coated with the dry mix.

Next, I also added 1/4 cup of cold brewed coffee to the wet ingredients before combining them with the dry. Coffee really enhances the flavor of the chocolate.

Next, I slowly added the dry to the wet ingredients until they were just combined.  I poured the batter into a buttered greased 8 X 8 pan. Next, I took 1 cup of smooth peanut butter and placed spoonfuls randomly, all over the top. I took a large skewer and swirled the peanut butter through the batter. This way every bite would have some of that creamy peanut butter. Finally, I sprinkled the top with a few more of the different flavored chocolate chips. I baked this according to the package and that was it.

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This worked out great!  It didn’t take that much longer to add these extra ingredients. The fact that I started out with a really good box mix and just added a few extra special ingredients gave Steve the impression that they were made from scratch. I made store bought brownies seem as though they were homemade and without spending a lot of time that I didn’t have.

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Puff Pastry Savory And Sweet

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Puff pastry is a staple in my house. I use it for both sweet and savory recipes. I’ve been making these two for many years.  Ina Garten, from the Food Network also had an episode where she made these recipes. What was crazy about it was, my recipe for Elephant Ears was close to Ina’s. The Cheese Straws, well they were a bit different. I used Grana Pandano cheese with mine, where as she used two cheeses, Parmesan and Gruyere. When I made this recipe to post on my blog, I added the Gruyere to mine and they were delicious. Two cheeses are better than one!

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Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
I’m starting with the Elephant Ears. The first thing I do is to move the puff pastry to the frig the day before, so it will defrost in the frig over night. You want to work with it as cold as possible. I set up 2 bowls, one with granulated sugar and a pinch of Kosher salt mixed together, and one with sugar and cinnamon combined. I spread the bowl with the sugar and salt mixture all over a flat surface like my cutting board. A marble surface is fine too. I unfold the pastry and lay in right on top of the sugar mixture. On the top of the pastry, I pour the cinnamon sugar mixture evenly all over covering the top. So now there’s sugar on the bottom surface of the pastry, and cinnamon sugar on the top surface. You need to move quickly so the dough remains as cold as possible. I take my rolling pin and roll the pastry out into a rectangle about 12 inches square. Doing this it allows for the sugar to be pushed into the pastry on both sides. Next, fold the sides of the square towards the center so they meet in the middle. Repeat this process again with those halves to the folds meet in the middle, as shown in the pictures above. Then fold both halves on top of each other making 6 layers. Then I slice the dough into slightly under 1 inch slices. Place the slices, cut side up onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake the pastry for 5 minutes, or until the bottoms are caramelized and brown, then flip then over with a spatula, and bake for another 4-5 minutes. This will allow for the other side to caramelize. Carefully move each one to a rack to cool.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 8 ears per sheet
Equipment: baking sheet pans, parchment paper, and rolling pin

Ingredients: (for one sheet of puff pastry)
1 cup of granulated sugar divided into 2 bowls
1/8 teaspoon of Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 sheet of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry

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Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

First, grate the cheese in a food processor with the metal blade. Once all the cheese has been grated, then  roll out each sheet of puff pastry on a light floured board. You want it to be a rectangle, about roughly 10 by 12 inches. Beat and egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush the surface of the pastry. With the grated cheese, divided into 2 bowls, for each sheet (1/4 cup of Grana Padano cheese and 1/2 cup of Gruyere, 1/2 teaspoon of fresh chopped basil, 1/2 teaspoon of Kosher salt, and a pinch of black pepper), spread the cheese over the top of the brushed pastry. Using a rolling pin, press the flavoring into the pastry. Next, use a pizza cutter to slice crosswise the pastry into 10 strips. Twist each strip and lay them on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned and puffed. Turn each one over and bake for another 2 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on them you do not want to over bake them causing the cheese to burn. Cool and serve at room temperature.

Prep Time:15 minutes
Yields: 12 straws per sheet
Equipment: baking sheets, parchment paper, pizza cutter

2 sheets of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry defrosted overnight in the frig
1 large egg ( beaten with 1 tablespoon of water
1/2 cup of freshly grated Grana Padano cheese ( divided into two bowls)
1 cup of freshly grated Gruyere cheese ( divided into two bowls)
1 teaspoon of freshly minced basil leaves
1 teaspoon of Kosher salt
a pinch of black pepper

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Sauteed Spinach With Garlic

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If you love spinach as much as I do, this is a quick, easy and delicious way to have spinach anytime.

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I love the pairing of fresh sauteed spinach with garlic, so I use 3 garlic cloves sliced. I also love a little heat. Crushed red pepper flakes does the trick for this recipe. In a large cold saute pan I add in some olive oil, fresh sliced garlic, and red pepper flakes. As the oil comes up to temperature, the garlic and red pepper flakes infuse the oil. You just want to do this for a minute or so. Long enough to when you smell the  garlic it’s ready. No one likes the taste of burnt garlic. I have 2 packages of fresh spinach. It looks like a lot but it really cooks down to almost nothing, Once I smell the garlic I add in the spinach. I do it it batches slowly because at first it all won’t fit in the pan. As the first batch of leaves start to wilt, I toss the garlic and red pepper flakes through. Then I add in the rest of the spinach and repeat the process. As soon as all the leaves just wilt, I sprinkle in the Kosher salt. Toss everything around really well so all the leaves are coated. Then I turn off the heat. That’s all there is to this recipe.

Yields: 2 servings
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 5 minutes
2 packages of fresh spinach leaves
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 sliced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon Kosher salt

First slice the 3 garlic cloves. Next, add the oil to the cold saute pan. Add in the sliced garlic and red pepper flakes. On med heat, bring the oil up to temperature and saute the garlic just for a minute or until you smell the aroma. Add the spinach leaves to the pan in batches. As soon as all the leaves have wilted enough, that’s when I season with the Kosher salt. Toss through one more time until all the leaves are coated with the seasoning and garlic, then turn the heat off. This sauteed spinach is so flavorful, you just may change you mind about spinach.


Gluten Free-Mini Cauliflower Muffins

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These little treats are so flavorful. They may not be what you think of as real muffins. I think of them as little mini souffles. Not having the slightest bit of flour or baking powder, these little gems ROCK! Every bite has you wanting more. Roasting the cauliflower gives an extra depth of flavor. Finished with a chive cream cheese topping, sets these cauliflower muffins over the top. First, the start ingredient, the cauliflower.

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The oven is set at 400 degrees F. I cut up a cauliflower and removed all the florets. Spread them out on a sheet pan along with one Fresno chili. I seasoned the cauliflower with Kosher salt, black pepper, cumin and chili powder. I add olive oil and tossed all the florets with the seasonings to make sure it was all good and coated. I roasted all this for 20-25 minutes until the cauliflower was caramelized and tender. If the Fresno chili is done before the cauliflower, then just remove it and set it aside until the rest is finished roasting.

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Once the cauliflower was done roasting, I placed the florets ( you may have to do this in batches) into a food processor along with a seeded Fresno chili and minced garlic. I pulsed this a few times until it all was processed with no big pieces. The color is awesome from the chili, and the seasonings. These muffins are going to have so much flavor.

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The next step is to take a large mixing bowl, add in room temperature eggs, full fat ( you could substitute non-fat) Greek yogurt, fresh store bought basil pesto ( refrigerated section of the grocery store),  Kosher salt, and black pepper. Once combined, then I add in the freshly shredded Colby Jack cheese ( you could substitute cheddar). I then mix the mashed cauliflower mixture through until combined.

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In a separate bowl that nice and dry, add in two room temperature egg whites, I whisk them until frothy, then add in 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar. Continue whisking until the egg whites have reached the stiff peak stage, like you see above.

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Next, add the beaten egg whites to the cauliflower mixture slowly by folding the whites in with a spatula. Coast mini muffin tin pans really well with non-stick cooking spray. Fill the cups to the top with the cauliflower mixture. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the pan and let cool on a cooling rack. Best served warm or at room temperature.

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Once they’ve cooled on the rack, I transfer them to plates for their topping. I just took 8 ounces of room temperature cream cheese and mixed that with 3 tablespoons of freshly minced chives. Placed the filling in a plastic bag, snipped off the end and pipped the cream cheese mixture on the top of each cauliflower muffin.

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Yields: 24 mini muffins
Equipment: food processor, 2 mini muffin tin pans
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 50 minutes ( includes roasting time of cauliflower)
1 cauliflower head cleaned, leaves removed, cut into florets, and roasted
1 roasted and seeded Fresno chili
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves of minced garlic
1/3 cup of full fat Greek Yogurt ( substitute low fat)
1/4 cup of fresh basil pesto
1/2 cup of shredded Colby Jack cheese
2 large eggs- room temperature
2 egg whites-room temperature
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Cream cheese topping optional
1- 8 ounce bar of room temperature cream cheese
3 tablespoons of freshly minced chives

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prep the cauliflower, season , and roast it off. Next, in a bowl mix the room temperature eggs, pesto, Greek yogurt, Kosher salt, and black pepper. Next, mix in the shredded cheese. In a separate bowl have the room temperature egg whites ready. Pull the cauliflower and Fresno chili out of the oven. Next, place the roasted cauliflower, minced garlic, and seeded chili into the food processor. This may happen in batches. Once all the cauliflower mixture has been processed, add it to the bowl with the other ingredients. Mix to combine. Now beat the egg whites adding in the cream of tartar at the frothy stage. Beat until stiff peaks. Fold in the egg whites slowly with the other bowl of ingredients. Place in well-greased muffin tins filling them to top. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the muffins from the pan and set on cooling racks. Best served warm or at room temperature. Once the muffins are at room temperature, that’s the best time to add the topping.

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