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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Caramelized Onion Dip

I think few recipes are more useful than a dip that goes with just about anything. A good, versatile dip will go with chips, veggies, crackers or any other socially acceptable method of spooning it into your mouth.

It would probably not be wise to only use your fingers to eat this dip…well in public anyway. At midnight, alone and in front of your fridge while the dog goes outside to pee? Sure, why not! Not that I have ANY experience with that scenario. Ever. 

Caramelized Onion Dip

* Makes 2 ½ cups

What you need:
-          16oz Sour Cream or Plain Greek Yogurt
-          1 large red onion
-          1 large yellow onion
-          3 tablespoons butter*
-          1 teaspoon garlic powder
-          1.5 teaspoons onion powder
-          1 teaspoon soy sauce
-          1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
-          Black pepper
-          Salt
-          Scallions, optional as a garnish
-          Chips or veggies for serving
*more if needed

What you’ll do:
  1. In a large sauté pan melt the butter over medium-low heat. Slice the onions evenly and add to the pan. Cover and simmer 25-40 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If the pan gets too dry, add more butter as needed.
  2. Once the onions are completely caramelized, remove from heat. Drain off any excess butter and allow to cool completely.  
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine sour cream, garlic powder, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in onions and let sit in the refrigerator for approx 4 hours.
  4. When ready to serve, stir dip and taste for flavor. Add salt and pepper if needed. 

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Raspberry Cheesecake

Is it just me or did we skip from winter right into summer? The high this week is going to be 87 degrees. April is usually one of the best weather months in Tampa with highs in the upper 70’s to low 80’s, but upper 80’s? Ugh.

This cheesecake is perfect for spring and summer. It gets a lovely raspberry flavor from not only fresh raspberries but raspberry liquor as well. (Booze makes everything better!) The overall flavor isn’t too sweet and doesn’t wallop you over the head. It has just the right balance of sweet, tart and cream.

Raspberry Cheesecake
*Serves 8-10

Crust -
-          2 ½ cups crushed graham crackers
-          6 tablespoons butter, melted
-          2 teaspoons sugar

Filling –
-          3 8oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
-          1 teaspoon vanilla
-          ½ cup sugar
-          ½ cup sour cream
-          ½ cup raspberry liquor (such as Chambord or razzmatazz)
-          4 large eggs
-          ½ cup whipping cream
-          6oz raspberries


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  1. In a medium bowl combine crushed graham crackers, sugar and melted butter. Mix together until cracker crumbs absorb the butter and are moist. Press into the bottom of a 9” or 10” springform pan and up the sides about ¾ the way up. Bake for 10 minutes and then set aside.
  1. Puree raspberries in a blender or food processor then run through a strainer to remove seeds. Set aside.
  1. In a large bowl mix together cream cheese and vanilla. Beat with a mixer until smooth and creamy. Next add sugar, sour cream, liquor and mix well. Then add eggs one at a time and mix slowly until just fully incorporated. Finally stir in cream and raspberry puree.
  1. Pour filling into crust and bake for 40-55 minutes or until center still slightly jiggles. Remove from oven and let come to room temperature, then refrigerate until fully chilled. About 4-5 hours.
  1. Once cheesecake is fully chilled run a knife around the edge to loosen, then remove springform pan and serve.
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Huevos Rancheros - A Breakfast Splurge

A couple of days ago I showed you a healthy start to the day with my favorite breakfast smoothie. Today I’m going to share with you a breakfast for when you need to indulge a bit. A breakfast for a rainy Saturday morning or that Sunday morning when you’re paying for all the fun you had on Saturday night.

It would go beautifully with a Tequila Sunrise or Bloody Mary. Just saying!

As much as I love Mexican and Tex-Mex, I do not claim to be an authority on it we’ll call this my New England Girl’s version of Huevos Rancheros. It’s simple to make because let’s face it - weekend breakfasts should be easy to make!

I’ve listed several options for toppings so please pick and choose which you prefer. I also think it would be so much fun to do a Huevos Rancheros Toppings Bar for a fun at-home brunch with friends. Cinco de Mayo is less than a month away AND on a Sunday this year.

In fact, I’m making a mental note of that idea right now.

One small FYI: I used flour tortillas today because that’s what I had on hand but corn tortillas are more common. I like them both – the choice is yours!

Huevos Rancheros
*Makes 4

-          4 eggs
-          4 tortillas, flour or corn
-          1 cup shredded pepper jack, Monterey jack or cheddar cheese
-          1 1/3 cups refried beans
-          2 teaspoons oil, divided
-          Butter

Suggested Toppings:
-          Enchilada sauce
-          Salsa, red or green
-          Avocado
-          Guacamole
-          Diced tomato
-          Diced onion
-          Pico de Gallo
-          Sour cream
-          Hot sauce
-          Cilantro
-          Scallions
-          Jarred jalapeños


  1. Start by warming the refried beans in a small pan or in the microwave. Next heat ½ teaspoon canola oil in a pan over medium high heat. Once oil is hot, add one four tortilla and brown it on both sides. About 1-2 minutes per side. Repeat until done adding additional oil as needed.
  1. Place tortillas on a baking sheet and spread each tortilla with 1/3 cup of refried beans each. Then sprinkle ¼ cup of cheese on each. Place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  1. While cheese is melting start preparing your eggs. Fried or sunny side up are the most common but you can serve them with scrambled eggs as well. For fried or sunny side up egg, use a small sauté pan and bring to medium high heat. Melt a small amount of butter – just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Crack the egg and place it in the center of the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes for a runny egg. Flip once if you want it over easy. Repeat for all 4 eggs.
  1. Place one egg on each tortilla. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with salsa or enchilada sauce as well as any additional toppings you prefer. Serve immediately.

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Berry Green Breakfast Smoothie - Start your day with one!

About 5 years ago I became pretty obsessed with yogurt. I started eating it every day for breakfast and haven’t stopped since. I do change it up to keep from getting bored though. Some weeks I eat flavored yogurt and other weeks I’ll use plain yogurt and mix in fresh fruit and granola. And then there are other weeks when I make smoothies.

I think the smoothies are my favorite.

Smoothies have gotten a bit of a bad rap over the last couple of years. I view them like I do any other meal or dish – if you make it at home it will be better for you. Most chains use loads of sugar in their smoothies, and I’m not sure why because fruit is pretty sweet by itself to me.

I personally believe that there is nothing “bad” for me in this smoothie. The ingredients are healthy and have loads of nutritional benefits. This recipe is my go-to smoothie in the morning, and you probably can’t tell by the color but it has spinach in it. I also promise you that you can’t taste the spinach either. Don’t let the oats or flaxseed scare you either! The oats grind up and all that’s left are little bits here and there no bigger than the seeds from the berries. And they really make the smoothie much thicker and filling if you ask me.

One little tip about the berries. I have a firm belief that if you’re adding fruit to a smoothie then you should never need ice cubes, so go ahead and buy fresh whole frozen berries. They are just as good for you as fresh and cheaper usually. Just be sure that the only ingredient is the fruit and no added sugar. If you do buy fresh, prep them by washing and cutting the larger berries in half. Then freeze them on a cookie sheet in a single layer before tossing them in a freezer bag. This will keep them from sticking together once frozen. 

Berry Green Breakfast Smoothie
*Serves 1

-          heaping ½ cup mixed frozen berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries
-          ¼ cup uncooked old fashioned whole grain oats
-          ¾ cup low fat milk (1% in cow’s milk)
-          5-6oz Greek 0% fat yogurt, vanilla or  plain*
-          1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
-          ½ cup packed fresh baby spinach

*Most single servings of yogurt are between 5 and 6oz, mine for example is 5.3oz.  Choose plain or vanilla based on your desire for sweetness. You could also use plain yogurt and add a squeeze of honey too.


  1. In a blender layer the ingredients in this order: spinach, yogurt, flaxseed, oats, milk, and berries. If using a machine where the cup is inverted (such as a magic bullet) reverse the order. When you start to blend you want the heavier items (the berries) on top and the lightest (the spinach) on the bottom at the blades.
  1. Blend together for 1-2 minutes or until mixture is smooth and berries are fully blended. Enjoy immediately.

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Thursday, April 4, 2013

Crispy Stuffed Pork Chops with Spinach and Sun-dried Tomatoes

When I first started cooking I struggled with new ideas for pork recipes. That doesn't seem to be the case anymore.

I made this a few weeks back when it was still cold-ish (for Florida) and I wanted something warm and cozy for dinner. Now that Spring is officially here, I probably won’t be making it for a few months. Especially since I just spent the last two days hemming and hawing over several new bikinis online…

Is it overkill to buy 4 new ones every year? In my defense I tossed about 5 of my old ones a few months ago. I’d really just be replacing those.

So this recipe is delicious and I suggest you make it now before it REALLY is bikini time and you won’t want something that is fried a little and filled with a tasty cheesy center.

Spinach and Sun-dried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops
*Makes 4

-          4 6oz boneless pork chops
-          2 cups frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed (about 1 cup)
-          ½ cup ricotta cheese
-          3 tablespoons boursin herb and garlic cheese
-          ¼ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
-          2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
-          3 -4 tablespoons minced sun-dried tomatoes
-          1 egg
-          ¼ cup flour
-          1 ¼ cup bread crumbs
-          3 tablespoons canola oil
-          Salt and pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  1. In a small bowl combine spinach, ricotta, boursin, mozzarella, parmesan and sun-dried tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
  1. Take each pork chop and pound out to ¼ inch thickness. Spread an equal amount of mixture all over chops leaving a small border around the edges. Roll each chop up and secure with toothpicks at the bottom.
  1. Prepare the coating by beating the egg in a shallow dish. Using a separate plate for both the flour and bread crumbs season each with salt and pepper. Dredge each pork chop on all sides through each. Start with the flour, then egg and finally the bread crumbs.
  1. Use a large sauté pan and heat oil over medium high heat. Sear all sides of each pork chop until golden brown. Start with the bottom first and brown the sides as well. About 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer to a sheet pan and bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes. Once pork is cooked through, remove from oven and let sit for a few minutes before removing toothpicks and serving.
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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Lunch this Week: Double Cheddar and Vegetable Frittata

I’m picky when it comes to eggs. I didn’t even eat eggs until I was an adult, and I learned that eggs (specifically omelets) are a great hangover remedy… and are pretty tasty when mixed with cheese, veggies and bacon.

One of my favorite ways to eat eggs is as a frittata. Frittatas are so versatile. They are ready to eat in less than 30 minutes most of the time and are great for cleaning out your produce drawer.

Every week I try to make one thing to eat for lunch for the whole week. I do this because then I don’t have to try and think about what to make every day and it helps keep me on track “diet” wise. I’m not on a diet per say but I’m always trying to eat as healthy as possible. And it is easiest for me to do that when I plan ahead. A lot of people have problems with eating the same thing every day for a week. And I can understand that because it can get boring.  I’ve found the key to being able to do it successfully is to make something you WANT to eat and look forward to eating.

This week I made a frittata! It has two kinds of cheese and all of my favorite veggies. And it was pretty hard to only eat once slice this morning because it is very tasty.

Double Cheddar and Vegetable Frittata
*Serves 6

-          8 eggs
-          1/3 cup milk
-          ¼ cup sharp cheddar, small dice
-          ¼ cup mild cheddar, small dice
-          1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms
-          ½ cup diced red onion
-          1/3 cup sliced roasted red peppers
-          1-2 tablespoons canola oil
-          1 ½  tablespoons butter
-          2 handfuls spinach


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  1. Heat a large sauté pan (10-12 inches and oven safe) to medium heat and add 1 tablespoon canola oil and mushrooms. Sauté for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Remove mushrooms from pan and set aside.
  1. Reduce pan’s heat to medium low and add onions. Add additional canola oil if needed. Sauté for 8 minutes or until onions have softened. Add roasted red peppers and toss together for a few moments then remove from pan and add to separate bowl with mushrooms.
  1. Remove pan from heat and very carefully wipe clean with a paper towel. Return pan to burner and add butter. Heat pan to medium heat.
  1. In a large bowl whisk eggs and milk until fully combined. Add to pan once butter is fully melted and slightly bubbly. Add mushrooms, pepper, onions, and spinach to eggs. Stir gently to distribute veggies evenly. Cook for 2 minutes and then sprinkle diced cheese over top. Transfer to oven and cook for 10-12 minutes.
  1. Serve warm or at room temperature. 

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Banana Nut Muffins

A few months back I posted a Banana Bread recipe that was fantastic – if I do say so myself. I liked it so much that I honestly never see myself making any changes to it. However, I did want to make a version that was a bit healthier.

Now I’m not going to tell you that this is a super healthy banana bread/muffin recipe that you can eat as much as you want of guilt-free, but it is healthier that my other recipe. The best part it is that it’s really just as good. The only difference is this recipe is slightly less sweet and the texture is a tad different.

I like to think of my original version as the kind you make for a special occasion or holiday and this version for anytime. 

Banana Nut Muffins
*Makes 1 dozen muffins

-          4 very ripe bananas
-          3 tablespoons softened butter
-          ¼ cup light brown sugar
-          ¼ cup white sugar
-          ¼ cup honey
-          1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-          1 large egg
-          ¼ teaspoon salt
-          ¼ teaspoon baking powder
-          ½ teaspoon baking soda
-          ½ teaspoon cinnamon
-          1 ½ cups wheat flour
-          Heaping ½ cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine bananas, butter, light brown sugar, white sugar, honey, vanilla extract and egg. Smash all ingredients together until well combined. Some banana chunks are ok.
  1. In a separate bowl combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Mix to incorporate and then slowly add to wet mixture, Next beat on low with hand mixer to fully combine for about 1 -2 minutes. Stir in walnuts.
  1. Pour batter into a greased or lined muffin tins (3/4 the way up) and bake in oven for 16-20 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (Bake 50-65 for a loaf.)
  1. Allow muffins to cool for several minutes before removing from pan. Allow muffins to cool completely before storing them in an airtight container. 

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Mustard and Mushroom Pork Tenderloin

I’m ready for the warm weather to get here. Usually I try to cling to every last chilly day we get – probably because we only get about 10 here in Tampa and I am SUCH a New England girl who loves her scarves and boots – but this year I am ready for cute spring/summer dresses and pretty wedges. I’m ready to wiggle my toes into the sand, and relax on the beach with a good book pretending to weigh about 15 pounds less than I do.

All of this has zero to do with this recipe, which I really love. I first made it a couple of years ago when my dad was coming to visit and I wanted to use the slow cooker so I could spend my time visiting with him rather than cooking. It’s warm and comforting and perfect for one of the last few chilly nights before spring really blooms.

Mustard and Mushroom Pork Tenderloin
*Serves 4

-          2 lbs pork tenderloin or roast
-          8oz mushrooms, quartered
-          1 ½ cups chicken broth
-          3 garlic cloves, smashed or minced
-          ½ medium onion, sliced
-          ½ cup white wine
-          2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
-          1 bay leaf
-          1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
-          ½ teaspoon celery salt
-          ½ teaspoon ground thyme
-          2 tablespoons butter
-          3 tablespoons flour


  1. In a 4 or 6 quart slow cooker combine broth, wine, mustard, thyme, celery salt, bay leaf and worcestershire sauce. Add garlic, mushrooms, onions and pork. Cook on low for 7-9 hours.
  1. Remove tenderloin and set aside. Allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing. Remove mushrooms and set aside. Reserve 2 ½ - 3 cups of liquid to make sauce.
  1. In a large sauté pan melt butter over medium low heat. Once melted add flour and whisk together for about one minute. Then slowly add reserved cooking liquid whisking as you combine. Bring heat up to medium-high to let thicken – about 5 minutes.
  1. Once sauce has thickened, taste for seasoning and add any salt and pepper if needed. Stir in mushrooms.
  1. Slice pork and serve over mashed potatoes or rice and top with gravy.
So what are you most looking forward to this spring?

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Blackened Fish Tacos

I’m a sucker for a good fish taco. It combines two things I am absolutely crazy about – seafood and tex-mex.

And they can actually be fairly healthy for you depending on how you make them. These are lightly pan fried so they have a bit of texture but not deep fried so they aren’t a huge calorie bomb. These are blackened as well so they have a nice spicy kick to them.

A win-win as far as I’m concerned given that it is SPRING and swimsuit season is right around the corner.

Blackened Fish Tacos
*Serves 4

-          1 lb mild white fish such as tilapia, cod or grouper
-          ¼ cup flour
-          1.5 – 2.5 teaspoons blacken seasoning, based on your spice preference
-          1 tablespoon canola oil, more if needed
-          1/3 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt
-          Zest of lime
-          1 tablespoon lime juice
-          8-10 flour tortillas

-          Lettuce, shredded or chopped
-          Pico de Gallo
-          Avocado, sliced


  1. In a small bowl combine sour cream, lime zest, and lime juice. Set aside for later.
  1. Prep the fish by patting dry and slicing into 1” thick slices about 2”-3” inches long.
  1. In a shallow bowl or plate combine blacken seasoning and flour. Dredge fish in flour and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  1. Heat a large sauté pan to medium high heat with canola oil. Pan fry fish for 3-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through and lightly golden brown. Repeat until done. (You can keep cooked fish in a 200 degree oven on a wire rack to keep warm while you finish.)
  1. Heat tortillas according to package directions and serve tacos with toppings of choice. I used shredded lettuce, the lime zest sour cream, pico de gallo and sliced avocado. 

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Pico de Gallo

I’m pretty sure I’ve established here that I love Tex-Mex and Mexican food. I love spicy, cheesy, guacamole covered yumminess. I can’t help it.

Pico de Gallo is a common Mexican fresh condiment much like salsa. Many people have their own version and this one is mine. Chili peppers are common in Pico but I omit them when I make Pico. I feel chili peppers (such as jalapeños) have their place already in salsa and I prefer Pico to just be fresh and bright with no heat.

And because I love Mexican food and I use pico de gallo so much, it gets its own post so I can refer back to it. Later I will share a recipe where I use it. It’s a pretty great one too!

Pico de Gallo
* Makes about 1 ½ cups

-          1 cup diced tomato, about 2 medium tomatoes seeded
-          1/3 cup diced red onion (you can use white or yellow)
-          2-3 tablespoons fresh minced cilantro, depends on your taste
-          Juice of ½ lime
-          Salt and Pepper

  1. Prep all ingredients and combine in a small bowl. Season lightly with salt and pepper and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes before serving. 
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Friday, March 15, 2013

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day: Irish Cream Dark Chocolate Truffles

For Valentine’s Day Brent surprised me with some Bailey’s Irish Cream Chocolates. They were pretty fantastic and since then I’ve wanted to play around with a boozy truffle.

I used dark chocolate for these since it’s better for you than milk chocolate, but if you don’t dig dark chocolate, use semi-sweet. The older I get the more I prefer dark chocolate and I loved how these truffles came out. The dark chocolate takes center stage while the liquor plays in the background.

There is a fair amount of straight liquor in these so you may not want to serve them to children. Just a warning to all the parents out there! These are probably best served at an adult only party.

Irish Cream Dark Chocolate Truffles
*Makes approx 35 truffles

-          14oz dark chocolate, chopped or chips
-          ¾ cup heavy cream
-          4 tablespoons butter
-          ¾ cup Irish cream liquor such as Baileys (can dial back to ½ cup)
-          ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
-          Optional: sprinkles

  1. Place chocolate in a large metal or glass bowl. Make sure chocolate is room temperature.
  1. In a small sauté pan over medium heat bring heavy cream and butter to a slow boil. Stay nearby b/c it can boil over pretty quickly.
  1. Once cream/butter comes to a boil pour over chocolate. Gentle shake bowl to ensure all chocolate is submerged and let sit 2-3 minutes. Then whisk mixture until chocolate is smooth.
  1. Add liquor and whisk again until incorporated. Place in fridge and chill for 2 hours.
  1. Remove from fridge and beat with hand mixer on low for 2 minutes. Chill again for 1 ½ - 2 hours.
  1. Remove from fridge and roll chocolate into small balls. About 1 tablespoon worth of mixture. Place on a wax paper lined sheet pan and refrigerate again for 30 minutes.
  1. After 30 minutes re-roll any balls that need to be re-shaped. Dredge lightly in cocoa powder or dust lightly on top. 

I dredged them but next time I think I’ll just light dust them since cocoa powder can be a bit overwhelming for some. I also sprinkled some green sugar on some. Crushed walnuts might also be a great addition for topping.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Mushroom Ravioli in a Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce

Restaurant Recreation: Olive Garden’s Ravioli di Portobello

Ahhh….the Olive Garden. The go-to date night dinner destination of my teenage youth. This dish was the only one I would ever order there. It was consistent and good, the sauce especially since you could dip the breadsticks in it.

This is such a cheater’s version of it, which makes it perfect for a weeknight meal. And if you’re good at multi-tasking in the kitchen you can get it on the table in about 20 minutes.

This dish is very savory and gets a lovely pop of brightness from the fresh tomato and scallions. And it’s that combination I think that won me over so many years ago.

Mushroom Ravioli in a Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce
*Serves 4


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How to Basics: Homemade Whipped Cream

I’m not a huge lover of whipped cream. I like it but I just don’t NEED it most of the time. Especially on milkshakes or blended coffee drinks – I always order them without it.

Still, whipped cream has a place in the world…. maybe just not as big of piece in my life.

Making whipped cream at home is very simple and can really make an impression when serving a dessert at a dinner party. I know a lot of people think its intimidating – which I completely understand – but it is actually easy to do. And if you keep powdered sugar, heavy cream, and vanilla on hand most of the time – like me – it is actually cheaper than buying it.

Three things you need to know about homemade whipped cream:
- chill your bowl and whisk first – metal or glass is best
- you need HEAVY whipping cream
- powdered sugar works better than regular sugar, in my opinion

What you’ll need:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon – ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

FYI – I only made half the amount because I didn't need two full cups of whipped cream.


Step one: Keep your heaving cream in the fridge until you are ready to whip it. Place your whisk attachment and bowl in the freezer for about 15 minutes before making whipped cream.

Step two: Place heavy cream in your bowl and start beating on low. If you’re using a hand mixer, slowly move the whisk around the bowl. Beat until cream nearly doubles in volume and soft peaks form.

Step three: Once soft peaks form, sift powdered sugar over whipped cream and add desired amount of vanilla extract. Beat on low again for just a few moments to incorporate sugar and vanilla.

Use immediately or store in the fridge covered in plastic wrap until needed. It will keep for a few hours. One cup of heavy cream will yield about two cups of whipped cream.

Here is the process in pictures:

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