Sunday, November 11, 2012

Halloween Dinner

Chocolate Wasted Cake

Halloween is, hands down, my favorite holiday.  I had a few larger parties for a couple of years, but Michael and I (mostly Michael) are too uptight about cleanliness and there was just too much glitter left everywhere.  So I switched to a small dinner party.  We like this much better - I can create a more focused menu and we can really catch up with our friends.

I like to try to create “dark” menus, but not too kitchy - just a little kitchy.  This year the menu was:
- blue cheese spread with rosemary crackers
- guacamole with black beans (and chips)
- grapes with cheddar cheese and garlic and olive oil crackers (all bought)
- french onion soup with rye bread and humbolt fog blue cheese
Main dishes:
- caramelized brussels sprouts with croutons and bacon
- balsamic roasted chicken
- chocolate wasted cake
- autumn sangria

I was pretty happy with most of it.  The appetizers especially - the rosemary and parm crackers were super yummy.  And I used my halloween cookie cutters to cut them into pumpkins and bats.  The blue cheese spread was good, but strong and would’ve been better for a larger party.

Rosemary and Parmesan Crackers in Halloween shapes
Blue Cheese Spread
The guacamole was incredibly good!  I think I may use this as my go to guacamole recipe.  It’s a bit soupy because it was supposed to be “swamp like”, but the extra lime and black beans added such a depth of flavor.  Plus, it never turned brown!

Guacamole with Black Beans
I liked the soup, but I didn’t find it all that special.  It was a basic french onion soup.  I did like it with the rye bread.  The cheese I got was a goat blue and I felt the flavors went really well together.

French Onion soup with rye bread and goat cheese
For the main dishes I made caramelized brussels sprouts (see my previous post regarding my love of fall veggies) and Balsamic Roasted Chicken.  The brussels sprouts dish had promise, but it just didn’t quite deliver what I wanted.  I think I should’ve roasted the sprouts longer as they just weren’t caramelized enough for me.  Or maybe added some maple syrup.  And I would definitely use less bread next time.  I was in love with the bread idea and added WAY more than the recipe called for.  Next time - just stick to the recipe.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
The chicken was pretty tasty.  I used drumsticks and wings so that people could choose white or dark meat.  It was just slightly too dry I think - I still don’t have the cooking chicken thing down yet.  I always overcook it.  But the sauce was yummy and served on the side, made for a great sauce - all dark, thick and oozy.  The best part was the next day I shredded all the chicken off the bones and we ate it on sandwiches with the sauce.  That was super yummy!

For a drink I made an autumn sangria and I have to say, this was one of my favorites of the night.  I wasn’t sure if I would like it cause I’ve never been a huge sangria fan, but this was tasty.  We used all the fruits listed in the recipe and Marc Cellars Pinot Noir and Central Market’s sparkling pear and apple juice.  It was sweet and refreshing and tasted very fall.

Autumn Sangria
And finally.. the cake.  This was the first recipe I decided on.  It was going to be my halloween party cake since I first pinned it in way back in like February.  And let me just say, it did not disappoint!  I wasn’t sure about the actual cake part since when I read the recipe there were no eggs - which I thought odd, but it was really, really good!  Almost like a brownie, but not overly sweet, which was good considering the rest of the stuff on the cake.  I forgot to drizzle it with liquor, which I can only imagine would have made it even better.  But like I said, it was fantastic and moist on it’s own.  And I added a layer of caramel to the middle since I knew I would be using Twix and I wanted to connect everything.  For the top I added Butterfingers, KitKat, Twix, Hershey’s miniatures, Reese’s Pieces, and Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate chips.  And thanks to Patti at PattiCakes for the most delicious chocolate frosting ever.  Her frosting is so good, I thought ‘why try to make it myself, just get some of Patti’s!’  The cake is hard to cut, but it doesn’t really matter.  Everything tastes better all piled together anyway.  But it is a sugar rush!  I had SO much energy after my piece I made everyone play Just Dance for a few minutes.  :)  The energy was helpful though when I needed to clean up after everyone left.  If you’re a candy fan, I would highly recommend trying this cake, just once.  It’s just so decadent and fun!

Chocolate Wasted Cake

Roasted fall vegetable stew

I think fall is my favorite time of year for veggies.  I love love love cauliflower and potatoes and cabbage and kale and brussels sprouts and beets and turnips, etc etc etc.  And every time I make groceries I want to buy everything.  So, of course, I decided to make a soup.  I’ve been seeing various recipes using roasted vegetables and I thought a roasted veggie soup would be delicious.  But everything I looked at (as with most vegetable soup recipes) just did not live up to my needs.  I wanted LOTS of hardy, fall vegetables - a soup with ALL of my favorites.  So, I kind of made this one up.  And man oh man I love this soup!!!  I will say now that I don’t think it’s for everyone - it’s very vinegary, which I love, but I don’t think everyone would like that.  And the beets turn everything pink, as you can see, which may also turn people off, but it doesn’t bother me.  It is one of the most perfect soups for me.  So many chunky veggies in one bowl - I get giddy when I think about sitting down to enjoy it. It really is just a vehicle for me to enjoy all the fall veggies I like in one bowl, enhanced by a few autumn herbs and spices and with a slightly pickled flavor.

Roasted Fall Vegetable Soup

Yield: 8
3 small Beets, diced into small cubes
2 medium Turnips, diced into small cubes
3 Carrots, diced into small cubes
1 Onion, halved, ½ sliced into sliver, ½ diced
1 large Russet Potato, diced into small cubes
1 large Sweet Potato, diced into small cubes
½ head Cauliflower, broken into small florets
1 medium Sweet Apple, diced into small cubes
5 cloves Garlic, smashed 
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Sage, chopped
2 Tbsp Rosemary, chopped
1 Tbsp Thyme, chopped
1 Tbsp Salt
Any Other Seasonings, such as flavored salts and pepper
1 Tbsp Bacon Fat
1 bunch Swiss Chard, chopped and washed well
1 bunch Beet Greens, optional
6 cups Chicken Stock
1 Tbsp Chicken Bouillon
3 Bay Leaf
2 Lemons, juice only


Roast veggies:
Pre-heat oven to 425.

Combine beets, turnips, carrots, sliced ½ of onion, potato, sweet potato, cauliflower, apple, garlic, olive oil, sage, rosemary, thyme, salts, and other seasonings and mix well in a bowl until veggies are coated.

Put veggies into roasting pan and roast for 45 mins to an hour.  Stirring every 15 mins, until veggies and tender.

While veggies are cooking, start soup:
It large stock pot, on med. heat, melt bacon fat and add diced ½ onion.  Cook for about 1 min and then add a little chicken stock.  Saute until onions are translucent, about 5 mins.  Add greens and a little more stock (just the cover greens) and cook for about 8 mins until greens have started to soften.  Add rest of stock, bouillon, and bay leaves.  Stir well to dissolve bouillon.  Turn down heat and simmer until veggies are done.

When veggies are done, remove garlic cloves and add veggies to stew.  Stir well mixing all of the ingredients together.  Put garlic through garlic press and add to stew.  Stir again.

Continue to simmer for about 20 mins (or longer) until all the flavors have melded together.

When you are ready to serve (or store), add juice of 2 lemons and stir well.

Butternut squash soup

I don’t always love butternut squash.  But this year, for some reason, I’m constantly craving it.  That and sweet potatoes.  Not sure why.  So I set out to find a butternut squash soup recipe that sounded good.  There are a lot.  But I didn’t want a lot of cream and I wanted to add either apples or pears, so that helped me narrow it a bit.  I finally settled on this recipe.  I ended up manipulating it a bit, so I’ve posted the recipe below.  I used a couple of cans of butternut squash (rather than the Williams Sonoma jar) and I used pears instead of apples.  I also left out all the spices by accident because I was so focused on the other parts of the soup.  Oops. :) I really loved it though - it’s very flavorful and creamy.  I love the addition of the pears but I think my pears needed to be a bit riper, I would’ve liked it to be slightly sweeter.  And I think I would play with spices next time.  In the photo below, I actually did a drizzle of maple syrup and that was fabulous!!  I would also like to try it using fresh, roasted squash rather than the can.

Butternut Squash and Pear Soup
Yield 6-8
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cans butternut squash puree
2 pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
2 tbsp chicken bouillon
3 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

In a Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and cook until soft but not browned, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the butternut squash puree, apple, broth, water, bouillon and salt and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Partially cover the pot and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the heavy cream. Using an immersion blender or food processor and puree the soup.

Based on 6 servings

Monday, October 22, 2012

Spinach, Sausage and Orzo Soup

This is hands down one of the best soups I’ve had.  I love it!  I started here but based on comments from that site, and the desire to make it slightly lower in calories, I changed a few things: I added some chicken bouillon to give more intense flavor; added some smoked sausage because I love it; and lessened the amount of orzo.  I honestly was surprised at how good it came out.  I think it was the bouillon and I will be using that from now on in more soups.  My recipe is below.

Spinach, Sausage and Orzo Soup
Yield: 8 servings
1 quart Chicken Broth
2 Bullion Cubes
1 cup Water
1 bag Fresh Spinach
1 pound Smoked Sausage
1 can Diced Tomatoes
¾ cup Orzo
1 small Onion, sliced
2 cloves Garlic
Garlic Powder, Minced Onions, Oregano, And Pepper

Fry sausage and remove.  Add oil if needed and sauté garlic and onions. Add tomatoes, spinach, chicken broth, bouillon and water and cook until spinach is wilted.  Add sausage back in and add any extra spices and stir to combine.  Add the orzo, cover and cook for about 20 min.

Caramel Apple Pull Apart bread

Oh. My. Goodness.  This was amazing!!  I have been waiting for fall to try a bunch of recipes like this and this one was on top of my list.  I was afraid it would be difficult, but it was super easy and worth every amount of effort put into it.  Right out of the oven is was warm and gooey and apple-y.  So comforting.  This would be so perfect for Christmas morning - when it’s cold outside - with some hot chocolate or coffee or egg nog.  I really liked the “pull apart” thing too... I have several other pull apart bread recipes that I now really want to try.  They’re just super fun to eat and you get so much flavor in every bite.
Before Baking

A little extra

Sunday Dinners: Pork Loin with mustard, roasted cauliflower, peach tart

This is the start of several posts.  I got a bit behind because, well, life is busy.  So this dinner was made quite a while ago, but I still wanted to capture my thoughts.

This was a quick, ‘let’s make something for dinner’ meal.  It actually started with the peaches because I had a bunch from the Harry and David box we got.  Then, we had just watched a ‘Giada at Home’ episode where she made this pork loin and put it on a sandwich, but I thought it would be good by itself.  And since cauliflower is in season, I thought the balsamic roasted cauliflower would be a good side.

This was the recipe we used for the pork.  I followed the recipe exactly, but instead of putting it on bread, we just carved it and spooned the mustard sauce on top.  It was fantastic!  The pork loin came out tender and juicy and the mustard sauce is a perfect flavor complement.

I’ve been holding onto the cauliflower recipe for a little while waiting for the fall.  I actually have several cauliflower recipes I want to try.  This one was really easy and tasty.  However I hate chopping up cauliflower!  It gets everywhere!  I find teeny, tiny, little, white pieces for days afterwards.  If anyone has tips on how to chop it without that happening, please share.  The only thing I changed was I used chopped oregano and thyme instead of marjoram.

Finally I made the peach galette.  The hardest part about this recipe was finding a pie crust recipe that i liked.  I’m not afraid of making pie crust, but I wanted something interesting.  I found this one from Four and Twenty Blackbirds in Brooklyn and it sounded delicious.  And it was!  I will definitely use this as my go to pie dough from now on.  It was perfectly flaky and doughy underneath.  And the cider adds this subtle layer of tartness that makes the crust just slightly more interesting that your normal pie crust.

Here is the total recipe..

Peach Galette
(Filling adapted from Seduction Meals)
1 ¼ cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
½ Tbsp Sugar
½ tsp Salt
1 stick Unsalted Butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 cup Cold Water
⅛ cup Cider Vinegar
3-4 Peaches, cut in ¼ inch wedges
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, cut into small cubes
1 Egg Yolk
1 Tbsp Raw Sugar

For Crust:
Combine 1 cup cold water, ⅛ cup cider vinegar and ice

Add dry ingredients to food processor and pulse 3 times.  Add chopped, cold butter and pulse 5 times until the dough resembles a coarse meal.
Slowly add the ice water and vinegar mixture (8-10 tbsp) until the dough just comes together - being careful not to overwork. Aim to create a marbleized effect, so that the butter is still visible.
Wrap in plastic and shape into round disc.  Chill 1 hour or more before use.

Remove dough from fridge and roll disc of crust out to fit about a 10-12 inch diameter, about ⅛ to ¼ inch thick.  Place back in fridge till ready to use.

Place sliced peaches in a bowl and add 2 tbsp of sugar and toss.

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Gently lift crust and place this onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment.

Starting about 1 ½ inches from the edge, place peach slices on the dough from the outside to the center.  Dot butter throughout.  Fold over the edge of the dough, overlapping the fruit.

Whisk the egg yolk and brush this mixture over the rim of the galette. Sprinkle the raw sugar over the galette and the rim.

Bake until browned, about 20 - 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. Loosen the edges and center with a spatula. Lift the parchment to a cooling rack and carefully slide off onto the cooling rack or platter.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Cheesy Veggie Soup

I know, another soup recipe.  What can I say, I like soup!  I’ve been trying out several recipes that remind me of fall.  I wanted a cheesy, broccoli soup and there are so many recipes out there for this.  But so many of them use a lot of cream and honestly, besides the calories and fat, I don’t actually like it to be too cheesy.  So I looked and looked and finally settled on adapting a recipe from this one at Lulu the Baker.  As you can see, it’s mostly the same, but I used almond milk and less cheese.  I think next time I would do as her recipe suggests and add a little chicken bouillon. (I’ve recently discovered how yummy that addition can be - more to come in a later blog).  But I felt the cheesiness was just right for my taste.  Also, it doesn’t freeze all that well - I find most cheesy soups don’t - but it’ll do.

6 Servings
2 Tbsp Butter
½ cup Chopped Onion
1 cup diced Carrot
2 stalks Celery, finely chopped
1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
4 cups Chicken Broth
2 large Baking Potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp Flour
½ cup Water
⅔ cup Almond Milk
2 cups Chopped Broccoli
1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Melt the butter in a large soup pot.  Add onions, carrots, and celery and saute over medium heat until tender.  Add garlic and cook 1 or 2 additional minutes.  Add chicken broth and potatoes, bring to a boil, and cook until potatoes are tender.  Mix flour with water, add, and simmer until soup is slightly thickened.  Add milk and broccoli and cook until broccoli is just tender and soup is heated through.  Stir in cheese, allow to melt, and serve.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Russian Cabbage Soup

Several weeks ago, Elena at Eat Cake and Lose Weight posted this yummy sounding recipe for Russian Meat and Cabbage Pie.  I love cabbage and I love turkey and I love anything in a pie shell, so I definitely want to try this recipe.  However, when she posted it, I was really looking for a soup recipe to try, so I decided to turn it into a soup.  I was really happy with how it turned out.  I took out the egg and pie shell (obviously) and added chicken stock.  It made a lot of soup, which I love because I can freeze it and I don’t have to think about soup for awhile.  I think when I make it again I will try adding some more herbs (oregano and bay and sage come to mind) and chicken bouillon to bump up the flavor a bit since the addition of the stock kind of waters the flavors down a bit.  Also, I may try smoked sausage.  I’m in love with smoked sausage right now and I think it would go well with the cabbage.  And the addition of yummy croutons on top would not be a bad thing either!  :)

Yield: 8 Cups

1 pound Lean Ground Turkey
1 head Cabbage, finely chopped
1 Sweet Onion, finely chopped
4 cups Chicken Stock
6 ounces No-Sodium Added Tomato Sauce

Thoroughly brown turkey meat.  Add the cabbage and onion in small bunches at a time in order to fit everything in the pot.  Cook until everything is soft - about 15-20 minutes

Add chicken stock and tomato sauce.  Bring to boil and then turn down to simmer for about 20 more min until all flavors have combined.

Add dollop of greek yogurt right before serving if desired.

Nutrition Facts for Cabbage Soup

Monday, September 3, 2012

Turkey Chili

Each fall we have a chili cook-off at work.  Last year I came up with what I termed an “Italian Chili” - bacon, ground pork, italian sausage, chili beans, tomatoes, italian spices, and some other yummy ingredients.  Our team didn’t win, but I was pretty happy with my recipe and have since made it a couple of times.  However, I know it’s not low-cal, so I recently decided to adjust it to make it a little more healthy.  I started out by sauteing the onions and garlic in water because I didn’t need the extra oil.  I took out the bacon and changed the meat to ground turkey thigh.  I also decreased the amount of meat a bit.  I used Azuki Beans because that’s what I had on hand and I ended up loving the flavor they added to the dish - they are meaty and taste a bit like a pinto bean which I think worked well with the Italian flavors.  I ended up with something that is about 220 cals per serving and I really love the flavor!  It’s perfect for fall - warm and cozy and rich.  I like to turn mine into a frito pie, but I think it would be good by itself, as a sandwich, or to use with lettuce wraps.

Italian Turkey Chili
Servings: 4-8 (I had 8 servings)

¼ cup Water
1 Onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves Garlic, chopped (1 ½ tablespoons)
2 Tbsp Paprika
2 Bay Leaf
1 ½ tsp Dried Oregano
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 ¼ tsp Salt
½ tsp Pepper
1 pound Ground Turkey Thigh
1 cup Water
1 can Beans, undrained
1 can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes (Low Sodium), undrained
4 Tbsp Fine Cornmeal, or masa harina
2 Tbsp Cider Vinegar, or other vinegar

Add ¼ cup of water to dutch oven and heat on high.  Once hot, add onion and cook for 3-4 mins.  Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add paprika, bay leaf, oregano, cayenne, salt, pepper, and ground turkey. Cook, stirring occasionally, and breaking up the meat with the side of the spoon, until the turkey is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

Stir in water, beans, tomatoes, cornmeal, and vinegar, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid thickens and flavors blend, about 45 minutes. It may be necessary to add a little water to thin the chili. Serve hot, garnished with desired toppings.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Petit Fours

Being from New Orleans, I love petit fours.  Yummy, moist, little cakes with sweet frosting.  But apparently, the French refer to more than just a yummy, small, square piece of cake as a petit four.  I recently bought The Art of French Baking and I want to make everything in it.  I decided to just go through the book one recipe at a time since there aren’t photos of everything and I know I will be too picky if I try to read every one.  Plus I want to just try different things - sometimes I feel like when I read recipes, I get too critical and then end up not branching out and learning new things.  

The book starts with small cakes.  The first set of recipes are for babas, for which I have no pan (I will go back to them later), so I skipped to petit fours.  It’s a very basic recipe of flour, eggs, vanilla, salt, superfine sugar, baking powder, butter and raisins.  They came together very easily and they are very much like little scones.  Sweet, but not overly so.  Moist, but with a crumbly texture.  And the raisins provide perfect, little bursts of sweetness.  I really like them, but they are certainly not the petit fours I grew up with.  They have many variations in the book and I’m looking forward to making them all!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cheers London, Ola Rio!

I love the Olympics.  For 17 days, every 2 years, I watch everything the Olympics has to offer.  This weekend I was watching wrestling.  I would never watch wrestling, but the American was in the bronze medal match and it was super exciting.

Before the Opening Ceremonies, life was a bit busy, so I didn’t get it together enough to do a dinner.  But I had one on Sunday for the Closing Ceremonies and I think that may be better because we got to celebrate both cultures.  I made a mix of British food and Brazilian food (since they are hosting 2016).

This was the menu:
-          Bangers and Smashed Sticks
-          Salt and Vinegar crisps
-          Cheese tray with 2 British cheeses, 1 Spanish cheese (since I couldn’t find anything from Brazil or Portugal), and a British Jam

Main dishes:
-          Cheese Rolls
-          Brazilian Style Chicken And Rice Pot
-          Collard Greens

-          Jaffa Cakes
-          Brazilian Sweet Corn Pudding

I think I was most excited about the bangers and smashed sticks.  I wanted an appetizer that drew from British cuisine and I came up with this one because of this recipe.  I thought I would make those potatoes and skewer a piece of sausage to it and then drizzle the whole thing with onion gravy.

- I went with small Yukon golds, but I think I would maybe try a slightly smaller potato next time – maybe even the colorful fingerlings.  And fry them off a little longer.
- The onion gravy recipe needed more salt and cornstarch
- German smoked sausage was a good choice

Bangers and Smashed Sticks
8 Baby Yukon Gold Potatoes, each 1 to 2 inches each in diameter
Sea Salt, to taste
1 Fresh Rosemary Sprig
2 Tbs. Unsalted Butter
Freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
1/2 tsp Fresh Thyme, chopped
2 tsp Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley, chopped
1 package German Sweet Smoked Sausage, chopped into 1 inch pieces on a diagonal
Onion Gravy
1 medium Onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 Tbsp Butter
1/2 tsp Sugar
1/2 tsp Balsamic Vinegar
350 ml Beef Broth
2 tsp Cornstarch
2 tsp Cold Water
Salt And Pepper

Put the potatoes in a large pot and add water to cover by 3 inches. Season the water with salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to medium/low and simmer until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes. Drain well in a colander. Transfer the potatoes to a towel-lined baking
sheet and let cool. Using hand, carefully smash each potato to about 1/2-inch thickness.

Meanwhile, for the gravy, melt the oil and butter in a large saucepan over a gentle heat. Add the onion and cover with a lid. Cook slowly for approx 10 mins or until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar to the onions and stir well. Cover with the lid and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the stock and boil gently uncovered for 5 minutes. In a heatproof jug or bowl mix the cornstarch/flour with the cold water to a thin paste. Pour a little of the hot gravy into the starch mixture and mix thoroughly. Pour the starch mixture back into the gravy, raise the heat to high and boil for 10 minutes or until the gravy is slightly thickened. Keep warm until ready to serve.

In a square stainless-steel griddle pan over medium-high heat, fry off the sausage pieces - about 3-5 mins per side depending on how crispy you want them. Removed the sausages and place on paper towel to drain. Add the rosemary sprig to the pan and fry in sausage fat until crispy, about 1
minute. Working in batches and adding more olive oil to the griddle pan as needed, sear the smashed potatoes, turning once, until well browned and crispy, about 3 minutes per side; Transfer the potatoes to the rack-lined baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, place potatoes on plate, place piece of sausage on top, skewer with toothpick or broken bamboo skewer (recommended). Drizzle gravy over each appetizer and sprinkle with thyme and parsley. Serve immediately. Serves 8.

The main dishes were all Brazilian inspired.  After some research, it was clear the cheese rolls were a must.  I found this recipe, which was ridiculously easy!  They end up very much like a little cheesy popover which is evil because it’s so easy to inhale several of them without even realizing it.  Our gathering was only 4 people and I made 24 mini-rolls and 5 “cupcake” size rolls and at the end of the night, I had 4 minis left.

Elena over at Eat Cake and Lose Weight has a Brazilian relative and he recommended Chicken with Lemon.  After some searching, I found this recipe.  It’s not chicken with lemon, but it sounded so delicious.  It was very easy to make and the flavors are pretty fantastic.  However, my chicken was dry again.  Not sure if it was because I browned it too long before adding the liquid, or maybe I’m just not buying the best chicken.  I have had the best experiences with meat from Whole Foods, so I think I’m going to try buying my meat from them only.
Also, the recipe calls for a Sozan Goya spice packet, but I didn’t want to buy a pre-mixed packet so I made my own based on some research.

Spice mix
1 Tbsp Salt
1 Tbsp Pepper
1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1 Tbsp Ground Coriander
1 Tbsp Oregano
1 Tbsp Paprika

I also wanted a side dish and I noticed that sauteed collard greens (Couve a Mineira) is a popular Brazilian dish.  I’m a little in love with collard greens right now, so I wanted to try that.  This is the recipe I used and again, super easy.  It didn’t say what type of beer to use though.  We looked for a Brazilian beer, but couldn’t find anything so we went with a British beer that, in the end, wasn’t malty enough.  The collard greens are so bitter, we needed something to counteract that and bring some sweetness.  Also, I think I would cook it a bit less - but that may be just me - I like some crunch to my greens.

For dessert I bought some Jaffa Cakes because they are delish!!  And I made a sweet corn pudding.  I LOVE sweet corn.  In all forms - cob, creamed, blanched, sauteed with butter, all of it - it’s just so good.  So when I saw that sweet corn pudding was a popular dessert I was so excited!  I went with this recipe.  I did run into some issues though.  Everything seemed fine until I started cooking it.  I cooked it and cooked it and it wasn’t getting and thicker.  But none of the recipes I found called for cornstarch, because, well it’s corn - it’s already starchy.  So I didn’t want to add it for fear I would mess it up.  I decided just to put it in the fridge and hoped it would set.  In the morning though, it was still soupy.  I was still rejecting the cornstarch idea though and I decided to whip some cream and mix that in to try to make a mousse.  No go.  Let me say - it was super tasty, but just soupy.  Finally I put everything back on the stove and added 4 Tbsp cornstarch.  Worked perfectly!  It thickened almost immediately.  I put it in the fridge and once it was set I added it to parfait glasses and alternated with the whipped cream I had made.  Then topped with cinnamon.  It was so yummy!!  You do have to really like corn, because it is very corny, but mmm mmm good.
Some notes - trust my instincts; I should’ve just added cornstarch immediately.  And next time, really get more of the cob and pulp because I think that’s where more starch resides.