Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hand Made Chocolate Truffles

click above for Vlog demonstration and CAHD drinking game ;)

yield:  about 36 truffles
prep time: 2 hours +
cook time: 30 minutes (plus 20 minutes for cooling)


  • 1 package of chocolate sandwich cookies
  • 1 8 oz package of softened cream cheese
  • 1 T vanilla extract (not imitation, you need a good quality pure extract)
  • 1 12 oz package of white chocolate chips (not a bargain brand, go for a higher quality chocolate)
  • 1/2 C colored candy melts (found at a craft store or in the arts and crafts section of your supermarket)
  • wax paper
  • toothpicks

  1. Grind one package of chocolate sandwich cookies (regular, not double stuffed) in a food processor, or by crushing with a rolling pin in a giant zipper bag.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cookie crumbs, cream cheese and vanilla extract.  Mix until well combined (***use your hands for best results)
  3. Roll into 1" balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
  4. Place in the freezer for at least 2 hours.
  5. In a medium saucepan over very low heat (about a three on an electric stove) add chocolate chips, 1/4 of a bag at a time and melt until the temperature reaches 110-115 degrees (if you don't have a thermometer, it is ready when there is a nice gloss to it). 
  6. Remove chocolate from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. 
  7. Return to heat and stir frequently and bring the temperature to 80 degrees (if you have no thermometer, when it is smooth and silky).
  8. Place a tooth pick in the center of each truffle ball, and coat using the method shown in the vlog.
  9. Work with 6 truffles at a time, keeping the rest in the freezer to ensure they are properly frozen when you coat them with the chocolate. Tip: I remove the chocolate from the heat every third truffle and then return it to the heat after doing the next three to prevent the chocolate from seizing
  10. Remove toothpicks and "paint" the tops with the remaining chocolate, painting over any imperfections.
  11. Return truffles to the freezer for at least 20 minutes.
  12. In a small microwave safe bowl, heat the candy melts in the microwave on defrost for 3 minutes.  Stir. Continue heating until melted, checking and stirring the chocolate at one minute intervals (typically 5-6 minutes total).
  13. Drizzle melted chocolate over truffles using the method shown in the vlog.
  14. Return to the freezer for an additional 20 minutes.
  15. Place the finished truffles in mini cupcake tins and store in an air tight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
  16. Serve at room temperature.

TIP:  If you are serving the truffles the same day you make them, you do not have to temper the chocolate.  You can substitute peanut butter chips (this was very popular) or use peanut butter cookies with a milk chocolate coating.

Friday, February 15, 2013


Pierogi Dough:

  • 2 1/4 C all purpose flour
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature plus 2 whisked eggs for egg wash
  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • 10 T cubed butter, softened
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add flour and salt 
  2. Beat eggs and add to flour with sour cream and butter.
  3. Combine all ingredients and knead the dough for 8 minutes (for best results, use your hands, though a food processor and dough hook can be utilized). 
  4. Once the dough becomes unsticky, wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for at least 45 minutes.
  5. Allow the pierogi dough to return to room temperature. 
  6. Generously flour your rolling surface, rolling pin and dough. 
  7. Roll out to between 1/8” and 1/4” thickness. 
  8. Using a child’s cup or a small storage bowl dipped in flour, cut dough into small circles; re-knead the leftover edges and repeat. 
  9. Roll out each circle to flatten, and brush with egg wash. 
  10. Put a dollop (about 1 T) of filling (see recipes below) in the center of the rolled out circle and bring the edges together to make a semi circle. 
  11. Using a fork, crimp the edges of the pierogi to create a seal.
  12. Bring 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil and add a touch of salt. 
  13. Place pierogi, six at a time, and boil for 30 seconds to a minute after they begin to float. 

Potato Cheese Filling:

  • 3 medium size potatoes cut to 1" cubes
  • 1 C ricotta cheese
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 T milk
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place cubed potatoes in a medium sauce pot and add water to just cover them.
  2. Liberally salt the water and bring to a boil.
  3. Cook until fork tender (about 10-12 minutes) and drain. 
  4. Add potatoes to a food processor with 1 C ricotta cheese, 1T butter, 2 T milk, salt and pepper to taste and a pinch of nutmeg. Mix until well combined. TIP:  A hand mixer or old fashioned potato masher can be utilized if you do not have a food processor.

    You may substitute farmer’s cheese, though I find that the ricotta cheese pairs perfectly with the slight tang the sour cream brings to the pierogi dough. The nutmeg brings a very subtle layer of flavor that is warm and festive.

Kapusta Filling:

  • 1 T canola oil
  • I package of bacon cut into thin strips (TIP:  freeze the bacon first for easy cutting)
  • 1 small chopped vidalia onion
  • 1 C fresh sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
  • a liberal amount of fresh ground black pepper
  • salt to taste
  1. In a large sauté pan on a medium high heat, drizzle 1 T canola oil and add cubed bacon.
  2. When the bacon becomes translucent, add 1 small chopped Vidalia onion, a pinch of salt and a generous amount of black pepper. 
  3. When the bacon becomes crisp and the onions have softened, add 1 C fresh sauerkraut that has been drained and rinsed. 
  4. Stir frequently for 2 minutes to combine all ingredients. 
  5. Cover and reduce to low and simmer for at least 10 minutes.

You may serve the pierogi as boiled dumplings with drizzled butter, or fry them in a large fry pan with butter (with traditional pierogi, they are fried with butter and onions). Frying them makes for a wonderful crisp crust, and uses less butter than drizzling them.

Serve with kielbasa and some extra kapusta and a sour cream garnish. You may want to pop an antacid one hour prior to eating (yummy sometimes comes at a price for the non- prepared). ENJOY!

Seared NY Strip and Arugula Salad With Mozzarella and Sundried Tomatoes

Prep time: 2 hours
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: Dinner for two, with leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Mozzarella and Sundried Tomatoes:
  • 12 small fresh mozzarella balls
  • 8 sun dried tomatoes, jarred
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 T chopped fresh basil
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • salt and pepper
  1. In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for mozzarella and tomatoes and toss well.  Cover and set in refrigerator for at least two hours.  The flavors develop the longer it sets, so overnight is recommended.


  • 2 1" thick New York Strip steaks (about 2 lbs), trimmed
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1 pinch red pepper flake
  • 2 T olive oil or canola oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Trim 2 NY strip steaks and liberally salt and pepper, being sure to massage into the meat.
  2. Heat 2 T oil on medium high heat in a cast iron skillet. 
  3. Add I crushed garlic clove and cook until golden brown.
  4. Add pinch of red pepper flake once garlic browns.
  5. Remove garlic clove and place NY strip in pan.
  6. Cook for 4 minutes and then flip the meat.
  7. Cook for an additional 3 minutes for a perfect medium rare or until desired done-ness.
  8. Remove from heat and set aside.
TIP:  make sure the steak has been brought to room temperature before cooking, and let sit for at least ten minutes after cooking to allow the juices to return to the meat.
Arugula Salad:
  • 2 C arugula
  • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
  • the juice of 1 small lemon
  • 1 heaping T Dijon mustard
  • 1 t sea salt
  • 1 t fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  1. In a small bowl, add olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Whisk until well combined.  Add arugula and toss in the dressing.
  2. Place arugula salad in center of plate in a rectangular shape.  Slice the NY strip and place atop the salad.  Arrange mozzarella and tomatoes along the side.  ENJOY!

CAHD Wine Recommendation:  This meal paired perfectly with a Columbia Crest Two Vines Merlot-Cabernet.  Bottled in Washington, this under $10/bottle wine features blackberry and raspberry notes brought home by a core of vanilla and a rich, silky finish.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Best Chopped Salad In The History Of Ever



  • 1 Head Romaine Lettuce, fine chopped
  • 10-12 Asparagus spears (steamed for 4 minutes and then shocked in ice water), cut into 1/2 " pieces
  • 1/2 C grape or cherry tomatoes, halved (sun dried tomatoes are also delicious here)
  • 1/2 cucumber, deseeded and cut into 1/8 and then fine chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into 1/4 and then fine chopped
  • 1/2 can quartered artichoke hearts, rinsed and rough chopped
  • 1/2 small ball fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes
  • 1/3-1/2 (depending on preference) reduced fat bleu cheese crumbles
  • 2 slices of bacon, crumbled (or 2 slices prosciutto thin sliced)
  • 1/2 C toasted walnuts, rough chopped (or toasted pine nuts)
  • The zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 large basil leaves, cut into a chiffonade
  • 1/3 C black olive slices (**not pictured as my wife was not in the mood for olives)
  1. Place walnuts in a small saute pan over low heat.  Toast until you can smell them (about 2 minutes) and set aside. This will bring out the nutty flavor.
  2. Thoroughly wash and dry all vegetables (use a salad spinner! If you don't have a salad spinner, you can get them cheap at your local kitchen and bath store--I killed a small forest drying produce with paper towels before I discovered the salad spinner).
  3. Chop all ingredients as specified.
  4. In an extra large bowl, combine ingredients and top with dressing.  Mix well.
  5. Transfer to a serving dish. 
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.              
You can serve with a protein (such as lemon pepper chicken, sliced Filet Mignon, or grilled shrimp).  I find this is a wonderful "meatless" option, though,  and I serve it once a week without an additional protein.

  • 2 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled (Smash garlic with hand or knife)
  • 1/3 C extra virgin olive oil (must be first cold pressed, otherwise the flavor is altered)
  • The juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 t dried basil
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch red pepper flake
  • 1 large fresh basil leaf, torn in half
  1.  Add all dressing ingredients to a dressing carafe.  Shake well and set aside.
TIP:  My girls are young, so this salad is hit or miss depending on their moods when I serve it.  Get the kids involved by having them wash the vegetables or combine/shake/add the dressing.  I have found the more they are involved, the more likely they are to eat it (unless it is "disgusting" that day, in which case I prepare a back-up of fish sticks or turkey dogs.  I eat neither, so it works out).  Enjoy!