Blog Archive

Friday, October 31, 2014

Everything is Better With a Little Cream and Cheese

My husband and I have a problem: We like to eat... and we like to eat expensive things like fruits and cheeses and use them in the foods we cook. But being on a law school budget, we have to get a little creative. About 6 months ago, in an attempt to be frugal, Aaron and I decided to start making our own cheeses. We haven't become super adventurous, wandering into the realm of hard cheeses like Cheddar or Parmesan (although we have aspirations to try). But we have attempted some cheeses that are still considered pretty pricey from our perspective: Ricotta was the first, Mascarpone the second, and Mozzarella the last (We're still trying to perfect the mozzarella... I'm not quite satisfied yet). 

All three of these types of cheeses are pretty easy to make, but Mascarpone is by far the most simple. You only need two ingredients: Heavy cream and lemon juice. That's it! Of course you're gonna need some supplies like cheese cloth and a candy thermometer, too. But those are re-usable, and by the end of the process you're going to have the Italian version of cream cheese: Smooth, creamy, velvety and shiny. You can mix it into soups, dip, or mix in some flavor and spread it on your bagels. Go crazy! The possibilities are endless. Share what you've done with Mascarpone in the comments.

Homemade Mascarpone Cheese

1 pint Heavy Cream

1 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon juice (or from a bottle is fine, too)

Bring Cream to a simmer over medium heat until it reaches 190 degrees F.

Simmer five minutes more, keeping the cream at 190 degrees and stirring constantly. You may need to adjust the burner/take off heat every now and then, to keep it from going over 190 degrees.

After five minutes of this "juggling game", take off heat and let cool for abuot 3 - 5 minutes. 

Fold a cheesecloth in half and line your colander. Put this lined colander over a medium mixing bowl.

Pour the cream into the colander and let sit overnight in the fridge. By the next day, you'll creamy, silky Mascarpone. Spoon it out and into an airtight container to store for up to a week.

*You can wash out your cheesecloth in a clean a sink filled with lukewarm water and a couple tablespoons of white vinegar. Rinse clean and dry thoroughly. 

...Oh, by the way, Happy Halloween!!!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Home, Sweet Home

This week has been absolutely crazy. After one year, three months, and 22 days, Aaron and I finally got the keys to our own little nest. Long story made short: We got married, we moved to California for Law School, we could not afford California rent right away so we rented a room from an old lady. It's been a blast - certainly not a typical way to spend your first year married, right? But after I landed an incredible job, we finally felt it was a good time to move in to our own place. So we did. It's not the fanciest of apartments in Woodland Hills, but it's ours, and the property management has done an incredible of maintaining and updating the apartment complex.

As we've been moving this week (hopefully the last of moving is done tomorrow), I haven't been able - or even really wanted - to take the time to make food and take pictures. But you can certainly expect a mini tour in the coming weeks of our adventures in creating our own home, followed by more attempts to be more creative in our new kitchen.

Shout out to my wonderful hubby who, throughout this week has not only made many trips moving boxes from our old place to our new one, but also found the time to treat me (with a beautiful dress, below), and manage to still get all his law books read (even it it meant he got to bed at 1:00 a.m.). My love, you are the man of my dreams and the light in my life. If I may coin a phrase from the Barefoot Contessa, 
"My home is wherever Aaron is."

Friday, October 3, 2014

Avocado Crostini with Chicken Salad

So this one comes to us with a little inspiration from Pinterest.
What is actually pretty awesome about this one is that you can make each component in advance and assemble it all when ready... although I do recommend making the guac as close to assembly as possible as brown avocado is not very appealing.*

Avocado Crostini with Chicken Salad

All you need for this one is the following:
1/2 loaf of Ciabatta Bread
Olive Oil
Fave Guacamole Recipe
Fave Chicken Salad Recipe

First, I preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Next, I slice the ciabatta loaf into thin slices, then I slice those slices in half. I lay them out on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Pop the bread in the oven for about 5 minutes, then broil, watching carefully so you don't burn it, for an additional 1-2 minutes (until crusts are golden).

To make the guacamole, I mash together 1-2 avocados, lime juice from about 1/2 a lime, about 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper. Then, I fold in the diced tomato and chopped cilantro. Taste for flavor and adjust as needed by adding more of whatever you want to taste more of
(Obviously, stir to incorporate any new additions).

Make your chicken salad. I like Ina Garten's Chicken Salad Contessa, although I don't add as much salt as her recipe requires.

Assemble your crostini by spreading a thin layer of guacamole on the bread. Top with a decent helping of the chicken salad, and garnish.


* If for some reason you have to make your guacamole ahead of time, store in a small bowl and lightly press plastic wrap directly over the top of the guac until ready to use.