In the Test Kitchen

Delish Dish Editor

Spicy Brazilian Turkey Soup

Hello again, it’s Sheena, digital food editor for bhg.com, joining in today. This week my checking account was dangerously low and I had several perishable ingredients in my fridge to use up so I turned to this healthy Spicy Brazilian Turkey Soup recipe from Eat Well, Lose Weight magazine. This homey recipe allowed me to use up a partially-used can of leftover coconut milk, cilantro, and that one random bottle of beer in the back of my fridge, while utilizing other ingredients I have stockpiled (peanuts, garlic, onions, etc).

As usual, I improvised a bit to make this soup recipe fit my needs. I didn’t have turkey on hand and didn’t want to spend the money protein usually costs, so I opted for pulling from the many, many chicken breasts in my freezer. The greatest moment making this recipe came when I had the ingredients in the pot simmering. I had to run upstairs to transfer laundry and as I made my way back downstairs I caught the wafting aroma of beer, tomatoes, and ginger mingling on the stovetop. Irresistible!

In keeping with my theme of using up ingredients, I opted to garnish each bowlful with some chopped avocado that needed to be used up. The avocado seemed to marry nicely with the other Mexican ingredients. All the wonderful flavors from bold ingredients and fresh herbs made this a wholly satisfying, low-cal meal! Check out more great healthy recipes when you download your digital copy of Eat Well, Lose Weight magazine by clicking here. Get the recipe here: Spicy Brazilian Turkey Soup

 


Delish Dish Editor

Party Time: Our Favorite Cheese Balls

Cheese balls. Even the words evoke a party. Katie here, prompting you to consider this season of get-togethers as an opportunity to try out a few of our best cheese ball recipes. We’ve gathered them all here, and recently I gave a few a test-run for a work party. I’ll tell you our favorite (and our favorite dippers) at the end!

I made these three:

The recipes are available here:

Bacon-Cheddar Cheese Balls

Chutney Cheese Balls

Dilled Onion Cheese Balls

Since I’m likely to forget an ingredient unless I plan, I printed each recipe and laid out the supplies. (Not a necessary step, I know, but it made me feel better as I chopped, measured, mixed, and poured.):

 

Each of these recipes makes a party-size portion (think 30 or so servings), so I cut the recipes into thirds since our party was smaller and I was making three cheese balls.

 

Mixing was fun; each cheese ball took on a life of its own with its savory, sweet, or spicy add-ins:

 

Ensure you have lots of chill time before the party; each cheese ball needs to bank a few hours in the fridge before you roll them (don’t worry, each recipe explains more).

 

My hands were too gooey to take pics, but you get the idea from the finished products:

 

Next, I wanted party-goers to know what they’re eating so I doodled on scrapbook paper and taped a toothpick to the back to make these handy guides:

And what’s a cheese ball without yummy dippers? I recommend crunchy veggies and, the party’s favorite, Melba crackers:

What fun! Each party-goer weighed in on their favorite. The results? Bacon Cheddar emerged victorious. C’mon, why would you ever bet against bacon?


Delish Dish Editor

Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Meringue Frosting

Hi all, Jessica Christensen, senior editor with Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications here. I recently had a craving for cake and through a series of misadventures in my kitchen I created what later became Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Meringue, a published recipe we put through the BHG Test Kitchen.

I started out the day with a couple of challenges—first, my 10-month-old son who thinks he should be involved in every project I undertake and second, my need for something sweet without overdoing it on the calories. So I started with an old favorite—Busy Day Cake. This is a one layer cake, so the calories wouldn’t be through the roof, and with only seven ingredients, it was sure to be quick so I could (maybe) get it done during my son’s naptime. Because I can’t leave any recipe alone, I decided to spruce it up with the classic Meringue Frosting (a fat-free recipe), and hey, why not add some pumpkin and nutmeg to the cake batter? So to make a long story short(er), I did exactly what bakers should never do—started baking before checking that I had all the ingredients. It wasn’t long before I discovered I had no granulated sugar AND I was missing a beater to my mixer.

 

No problem. I had brown sugar. So I continued on my mission replacing the granulated sugar with brown sugar in both the cake and the frosting. I added some freshly grated nutmeg (I always use freshly grated whole nutmeg instead of pre-ground because there’s just no comparison) and replaced a little bit of the fat with some pumpkin. I beat both the cake batter and the frosting with the one beater on my mixer and guess what—it worked fine! I used my handy Microplane to grate a big of nutmeg over the cake top for a super simple garnish.

 

 

I loved my  version of Busy Day Cake so much, I made some changes and put it through the test kitchen. The one we published—Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Meringue Frosting—didn’t have pumpkin (I didn’t want the recipe to be too seasonal since I would be unrolling it after the holidays), replaced some of the brown sugar with granulated, and added a touch of baking soda to help the cake’s texture. During photography (see top photo on this page), it somehow morphed into a two-layer cake and the food stylist hit the meringue with a food torch for some pretty browning on the top. If you’re looking to cut calories wherever possible for your after-holidays diet, you can simply cut the Spice Cake with Brown Sugar Meringue Frosting recipe in half so it’s just one layer (but you can still make a full batch of the Brown Sugar Meringue Frosting).

The moral of my story is that baking doesn’t always end up like you planned (especially when you fail to plan ahead), but with a little ingenuity and courage, the results can still be fabulous.

What baking or cooking issues have you overcome on the fly?


Delish Dish Editor

South of the Border Sandwich

Hi there, this is Carlos, one of the food editors for Better Homes and Garden’s special editions. Now, it’s no secret among my colleagues and friends that I’m loco for Mexican cuisine, especially those wonderful South of the border sandwiches called tortas!

I also love experimenting with my trusty slow cooker, so it was a happy day recently when I was able to marry these passions together in one awesome recipe: Cola-Chipotle Pork Tortas.

These delicious Spanish grinders consist of sandwich rolls stuffed with Mexican quick pickled onions called cebollas encurtidas, sliced avocado, and lots of tasty pulled pork that’s been braised in a heady mixture of cola, spices, garlic, and chipotle chile peppers. That’s where the slow cooker comes in.

The pork, a 5-pound roast, is simmered in the slow cooker along with the cola marinade until it’s melt-in-your-mouth tender, about 8 hours on low. Trust me, the aroma is divine! I especially appreciate being able to start the pork in the morning and have it ready to eat when I get home from work. Ah, the magic of slow cooking! Then, all that’s left to do is shred the pork and assemble the tortas!

This makes enough for eight sandwiches although I like to use the pork in tacos and enchiladas as well. I recommend taking the time to make the quick pickled onions but you could also substitute with purchased pickled jalapeños or deli sliced peperoncinis.

For more great recipes, check out this sensational slideshow for weeknight-easy Mexican dishes. You can also find  our latest Mexican magazine here or at newsstands everywhere.


Delish Dish Editor

Healthy Butternut Bisque with Pear Salsa

The weight loss season is upon us again. I’m happy to say, thanks to some stellar new magazines, my arsenal of healthy recipes has never been so robust. It’s Sheena, food editor for bhg.com, joining in again. Given the frigid temps outside, I’ve been consuming bowl upon bowl of cozy soups. While visiting my parents we hosted a soup potluck for my extended family. Having tasted this 211-calorie Butternut Bisque with Spicy Pear Salsa in the Test Kitchen, I knew my family would love it.

We were serving quite a crowd so we doubled the recipe and took some shortcuts. To kill two birds with one stone, we pre-chopped a bunch of bacon and tossed it on a baking sheet all at once to cook in the oven to be used for this soup and other recipes. Rather than spending the time to chop 3 pounds of squash for our doubled amount, we opted for purchased, ready-to-use butternut squash. Other than that, the recipe was so simple we didn’t need anymore shortcuts.

My family is made up of a mix of adventurous eaters and those who think a salsa served on top of soup is absurd. Thinking I couldn’t sway them all, we served the crab-filled bisque in the slow cooker with the bacon and pear salsa in separate bowls.

A couple of my uncles required a bit of convincing to add the pear salsa, but eventually I got everyone to try it. And, no surprise, this soup was the hit of the party! I, of course, didn’t hesitate to add all the toppers. The pear salsa adds unbeatable bright freshness and, as we all know, everything is better with bacon!

For more delicious recipe inspiration for this resolution season be sure to check newsstands for Eat Well, Lose Weight magazine. Or click here to download a digital copy.


Delish Dish Editor

Cookie Exchange: Melty Snowmen Cookies

Raise your hand if you like to be the star of your cookie-exchange party! Katie here, piping in on a topic near-and-dear to my heart: Christmas parties. This time every year I go to an all-girls super-bakers show-off-your-stuff evening (Translation: A cookie-exchange party). We always ooh and aah over the variety: Creamy ganache-dipped cookies, lip-smacking salty nut bars, minty peppermint-topped goodies…and we always secretly want the pat on the back fora job well done.

This year, I came prepared. I’ve been eyeing this Chocolaty Melting Snowman recipe since I first grabbed it from our Christmas Cookies 2012 magazine; and it’s proven to be one of the top recipes of all time on our site.

Chocolaty Melting Snowmen

It’s also ridiculously easy! You can follow the recipe or start with your favorite cookie, as I did (I’m a sucker for peanut butter cookies and wanted to make a favorite). I went with this Peanut Butter Cookie recipe. Bake and let cool completely:

For the snow, I microwaved almond bark with a little vegetable oil per the package directions. Drizzling is so much fun! I tucked a towel under my cooling rack and spooned on the good stuff:

Almond Bark Melting

While still melty, I added the top hat:

Adding Top Hat

And an orange-sprinkle nose:

Add Nose

Then I let the “snow” set before adding black dots with a small tube of frosting:

Snowman Face

And voila! You’ve mastered the cookie-exchange with your oh-so-cute Frosty. This recipe is a keeper—I’d love to make it with my kids someday!

Melty Snowmen Cookies

Another View of Melty Snowman Cookies