Thursday, December 1, 2011

Vanilla Slice




Vanilla Slice

Ingredients:
  •     2 sheets of puff pastry
  •     1,5 l / 6 1/3 cups milk
  •     150 g / 5 ¼ oz corn starch
  •     3 packets (9g each) vanilla sugar
  •     8 egg yolks
  •     200 g / 7 oz sugar
  •     8 oz whipping cream + 1 stabilizer



Instructions:

Let the puff pastry sheets thaw, the roll them out on a lightly floured surface, and bake according to directions on a jelly roll pan. Let them cool, and then cut out the shape according to the size of the square pan you will use. I used 9 inch x 13 inch. Once you cut them to the shape of the pan, cut one sheet into squares (I made 12); that will be the top of the cake.

Cream: Mix egg yolks with sugar, until frothy. Add a cup of milk (out of the 6 1/3 cups), and corn starch, and mix well. Set the reminder of milk with vanilla sugar added, to boil, and when it comes to a boil, slowly mix in the yolk mixture, and stir constantly for a minute. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, and let cool completely. When cooled, add the whipped whipping cream, whipped with a stabilizer.

Now put the whole sheet on the bottom of the pan, and spread the filling over it. Arrange the cut out sheet on top. Refrigerate for few hours before serving. Dust with powdered sugar.
Instead of the top sheet of puff pastry, you can put whipped cream, and so on. Suit yourself, and enjoy : )

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Caramel Apple Cake with Apple Cider Frosting



The leaves are turning into autumn colors and slowly falling in the wind, it's apple season, finally!!
This is the time of the year that I try out new recipes on my family that will make the cut for the Thanksgiving menu. Desserts are the best at holidays, everything is homemade and I usually go the extra calorie to make it special! Our annual fall fun night is this weekend and I think I will make this dessert for the adults and leave
the cupcakes for the kids!

Caramel Apple Cake with Apple Cider Frosting


INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1½ tsp. baking soda
  • 1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1½ cups light brown sugar
  • ¾ cup canola oil
  • ¾ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ¾ cup caramel sauce (homemade or jarred)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ cups buttermilk

Apple Cider Frosting:
  • 7 1/2-8 cups confectioners’ sugar (to desired consistency)
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup apple cider or apple juice
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
pinch of salt

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour two (8 or 9 inch) round cake pans and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together whole wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside. In a second large bowl, beat sugar and oil together with an electric mixer until well combined, about 30 seconds. Add applesauce, caramel and vanilla, beat for 30 seconds, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk, and continuing to beat until well combined.

3. Pour batter into prepared cake pans and bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of each cake comes out clean, about 35-40 minutes. Set aside to let cool for 10 minutes, then gently loosen cakes and turn out onto a cooking rack; set aside to let cool completely.

4. For the frosting, put sugar, butter, cider, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Arrange one cake on a large plate and spread about 1 cup of the frosting evenly over the top. Arrange second cake on top then frost top and sides of entire cake with remaining frosting. Set aside at room temperature or in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour to allow frosting to set before serving.

Makes a tall 2-layer, 8-9 inch round cake.


White whole wheat flour can be substituted for the pastry but don't use whole wheat, it will make the cake too heavy, and we don't want to spoil this recipe at all!  Just want to thank you all for getting signed up in my followers giveaway, glad to have you among my 500!! And thank you so much for the kind words and prayers for Miss Ellie, she is doing so well, she has everyone amazed for being 6 weeks early! She's living up to her middle name, Faith, and this grandma has complete faith in knowing she is going to be just fine!!! Life is good, treat yourself to this cake soon!!


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Lemon Yogurt Bundt Cake with Limoncello Glaze





I adapted the cake and glaze recipes from Baking at Home with The Culinary Institute of America, a volume that's on own my short list of highly admirable cookbooks. What did I alter? Well, instead of using buttermilk in the cake (the book's recipe is called "Lemon Buttermilk Cake") I substituted Greek style plain yogurt, along with a few tablespoons of milk to smooth it out.

And, there's no limoncello in the CIA formula, but I suspected that it would tag along perfectly with the existing flavors, so I added a smidgen into the cake batter in place of some of the lemon juice, and also used it with lemon juice in the glaze. (A popular Italian liqueur, it's such tasty stuff. If you've never tried it, you might want to get some, but if you prefer not to use it you can always omit it from the recipe entirely and go with all lemon juice. The cakes will still be luscious.) I also reworded, and slightly revised, the instructions.

Lemon Yogurt Bundt Cake with Limoncello Glaze

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Liberally coat with baking spray, or thoroughly grease and flour,  pans for 12 mini-bundts, or 24 cupcakes.

Ingredients:


  •     2 and 2/3 cups All-Purpose flour (I used unbleached)
  •     1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
  •     1/2 tsp. baking soda
  •     1/4 tsp. salt
  •     5 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  •     1 and 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  •     1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest
  •     4 eggs, large
  •     3 Tbsp. milk (I used 2 percent)
  •     1 cup and 1 Tbsp. plain Greek style yogurt
  •     3/4 to 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  •     4 Tbsp. limoncello (lemon flavored liqueur)



Directions:

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In another small bowl, stir together the yogurt and the milk just until smooth.

In a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and lemon zest for about 5 minutes, until smooth and light. Stop to scrape the bowl periodically.

Add in the eggs one a time, still at medium speed, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Mix well after each egg.

On low speed, add in the flour mixture alternately with the yogurt in three additions. Mix just until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes more, until the entire mixture is smooth and light.

Add in 3 Tbsp. of the lemon juice and 1 Tbsp. of the limoncello. Blend just until evenly mixed, no more than 30 seconds.

Portion the batter evenly into your pan(s); smooth the top of the batter.

Bake until the center of each cake springs back when pressed lightly with a finger, and a toothpick inserted in the center emerges clean. This will be about 15 minutes for mini-bundts or cupcakes (if making minis or cupcakes, don't wait for the exposed part of the cake to look golden brown; golden around the edges is enough).

If you've made the cake in mini-bundt pans, let them cool for about 10 minutes before inverting the pans onto a cooling racks to remove the cakes. If you've baked cupcakes, give them no more than about five minutes in their pans before carefully removing to a cooling rack.

To make the glaze: mix the confectioners' sugar, 2 Tbsp. of lemon juice and 3 Tbsp. of limoncello in a small bowl and stir until any lumps are completely gone. If you'd like the glaze thicker, just stir in a bit more confectioners' sugar until it's the texture you prefer.

If you like, serve each cake topped with a little unsweetened whipped cream and some lemon zest curls. Yummy.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler



I was searching for a peach cobbler recipe that reminded me of the yummy dessert I ate as a young boy in Southeast Missouri. No shortcuts here. Fresh peaches and homemade crust...but worth every minute! Absolutely delicious served warm with vanilla ice cream! Never any leftovers with this dessert!

Old Fashioned Peach Cobbler

Ingredients:

  •         2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  •         3 tablespoons white sugar
  •         1 teaspoon salt
  •         1 cup shortening
  •         1 egg
  •         1/4 cup cold water
  •         3 pounds fresh peaches - peeled, pitted and sliced
  •         1/4 cup lemon juice
  •         3/4 cup orange juice
  •         1/2 cup butter
  •         2 cups white sugar
  •         1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  •         1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  •         1 tablespoon cornstarch
  •         1 tablespoon white sugar
  •         1 tablespoon butter, melted




Instructions:

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, and salt. Work in the shortening with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and cold water. Sprinkle over flour mixture, and work with hands to form dough into a ball. Chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Roll out half of dough to 1/8 inch thickness. Place in a 9x13 inch baking dish, covering bottom and halfway up sides. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

In a large saucepan, mix the peaches, lemon juice, and orange juice. Add 1/2 cup butter, and cook over medium-low heat until butter is melted. In a mixing bowl, stir together 2 cups sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cornstarch; mix into peach mixture. Remove from heat, and pour into baked crust.

Roll remaining dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Cut into half-inch-wide strips. Weave strips into a lattice over peaches. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon melted butter.
Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until top crust is golden brown.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

the BEST cheesecake EVER in the history of cheesecake

i have this friend Pam.
she took me to africa with her....we text everyday...she makes so much good food it's unreal.
she made this cheesecake for a party at my house.
i can't even describe it.

words can't describe how i feel about this cheesecake.

she created it.
she worked with ingredients from scratch...for years...and CREATED it.
i mean seriously...who does that?

PAM does. 
and she agreed to let me blog it.
with pictures.
you are such lucky readers!

here goes...





Saturday, May 7, 2011

Vanilla Crepes



When I was a little girl, my mother would always make us crepes on Sundays. I also loved the smell of vanilla when my mother would make her cookies. So, I would always ask her to make her cookies, and when she refused, I would take out the vanilla and sit it next to me with the cap open, so that I could breathe the aroma. My mother get a kick out of this, and said, well, if it's that important, we'll add a little vanilla kick, just for you. After the first time she put the vanilla in, there was never a last...it became a tradition :)

Vanilla Crepes

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter


Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, mix together the milk, egg yolks and vanilla. Stir in the flour, sugar, salt and melted butter until well blended.
  2. Heat a crepe pan over medium heat until hot. Coat with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and tip to spread the batter to the edges. When bubbles form on the top and the edges are dry, flip over and cook until lightly browned on the other side and edges are golden. Repeat with remaining batter.
  3. Fill crepes with your favorite fruit, cream, caramel or even ice cream or cheese to serve.

Makes 12 crepes


Friday, May 6, 2011

Christmas Breakfast Sausage Casserole



My mom has always made this for us on Christmas morning, and since we only have it once a year it makes it even more good. It is so delicious, and everyone enjoys it! When I double the recipe I use 1 pound regular sausage and 1 pound sage sausage..

Christmas Breakfast Sausage Casserole

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound ground pork sausage
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 slices white bread, toasted and cut into cubes
  • 8 ounces mild Cheddar cheese, shredded


Directions:
  1. Crumble sausage into a medium skillet. Cook over medium heat until evenly brown; drain.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix together mustard powder, salt, eggs and milk. Add the sausage, bread cubes, and cheese, and stir to coat evenly. Pour into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 8 hours, or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  4. Cover, and bake 45 to 60 minutes. Uncover, and reduce temperature to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until set.



makes 8 servings 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Lemon Cake





Ruffles! I saw this frosting technique on sweetapolita and had to try it. I think the end of my piping tip was a bit too even – I could have gotten sharper ruffles with a tip that had a more angled opening. Regardless, I couldn’t contain my glee at the sight of such a pretty cake! I ran out of frosting though, so my two little cakes ended up being ruffled and sprinkled which I thought was quite fun.

The cake is a traditional white cake that I added a little lemon zest to, then filled with lemon curd and topped with Swiss meringue buttercream icing. Which is now my new favorite – so rich and creamy and just mildly sweet. I thought it went perfectly with the intensely lemony filling.







The lemon curd and cake are both Martha recipes, and I followed the buttercream recipe found on the blog that inspired my cake making festivities. I was very pleased with the mini pans that I had just bought – I think the cakes came out so cute and were small enough that none went to waste!



I added some extra zest to the lemon curd, and I’m glad I did. It was just the right balance of sweet and tart (I am guilty of consuming more than my fair share directly from the bowl). I think this would make a wonderful cake for a shower, Easter, or any spring event. Or if you’re like me and need something to get you through the dismal gloom of March rain/snow mix, this cake is just perfect.



Lightly Lemon Cake

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 large egg whites
  • Zest of one lemon


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 9-by-2-inch round cake pans.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Beat butter and 2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with milk and beginning and ending with flour; beat until just combined. Transfer mixture to a large bowl; set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat egg whites on low speed until foamy. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar; beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 4 minutes. Do not overbeat. Gently fold a third of the egg-white mixture into the butter-flour mixture until combined. Fold in remaining whites and lemon zest.

Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, bake 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool.

Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cake layers to make level.


Lemon Curd
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • Zest of 3 lemons
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
  • 12 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces


Directions:

Whisk together yolks, zest, juice, and sugar in a small saucepan. Set over medium heat, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Cook until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove pan from heat. Add butter, 1 piece at a time, stirring until incorporated. Pass through a fine mesh sieve into medium bowl. Stirring frequently, let stand until cool.

Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on surface of curd to prevent skin from forming; wrap tightly. Refrigerate until firm and chilled, at least 1 hour. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.


Swiss Meringue Buttercream

adapted slightly from sweetapolita (I added less vanilla for fear of overpowering the lemon. I shouldn’t have worried as the filling was not subtly lemon at all, but the frosting was nice and mellow this way)

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
  • 1 pound unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt


Whisk egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a double boiler (or the bowl of your stand mixer over a pot of simmering water) until temperature reaches 140 degrees.

Whip mixture until it is thick and glossy, and has cooled. With the paddle attachment of your mixer, continue to beat the mixture constantly while adding in the cubed, softened butter. Beat until smooth. If yours separates (as mine did, which was mildly alarming) don’t worry – just continue to beat it and have some faith. It will come back together.

Once all the butter has been added and the frosting has reached creamy perfection, mix in your vanilla and salt. Now you’re all set – pipe away!

To Assemble:
Cake. Lemon Curd. Cake. Lemon Curd. Cake. Pipe/slather with frosting. Consume happily.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mexican Casserole - 6.5 Weight Watcher Points




A full flavored Mexican casserole that will not leave you feeling hungry and the leftovers are great for freezing and eating later. Serve with chopped green onions or lettuce and plenty of sour cream,,  only 6.5 weight watcher points per LARGE serving! YUM! (on the new, Points Plus system of Weight Watchers, this recipe is 9 points),,

Mexican Casserole - 6.5 Weight Watcher Points

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef (drained or rinsed!)
  • 1/2 cup onion (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup canned jalapeno slices, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped or 1 (15 ounce) can diced canned tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kernel corn (drained)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 (1 1/4 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 3/4 cup nonfat sour cream
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat Mexican cheese blend, shredded
  • 1/3 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped, to taste


Directions:

Brown ground beef and chopped onions in large skillet; brown 10 to 12 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, stirring constantly. Drain well and rinse with warm water to remove all fat; return beef/onions to skillet.

Add corn, black beans, tomatoes, chilies/jalapenos and taco seasoning mix; mix well. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes.

Meanwhile spray 12x8-inch (2-quart) baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cut each tortilla in half; place 8 halves in bottom of sprayed baking dish, overlapping slightly.

Spoon half of beef mixture evenly over tortillas. Spoon sour cream over beef mixture; spread evenly. Top with remaining 8 tortilla halves and remaining beef mixture. (Cover tightly with foil & Freeze for later OR cook as directed below…).

(Thaw overnight if frozen) Heat oven to 350ºF. Bake at 350ºF for 25 minutes. Remove from oven; sprinkle with cheese. Cover; let stand 5 minutes or until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with fresh chopped lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, black olives, etc… /.

Makes 6 large Servings at 6.5 weight watcher pts/each.



Sunday, May 1, 2011

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Trifle





There’s nothing trifling about this dessert that has it all: peanut butter, cookies and creamy chocolate pudding. 


Peanut Butter-Chocolate Trifle

12 servings, 2/3 cup each

Ingredients:
  • 1 pkg.  (3.9 oz.) JELL-O Chocolate Instant Pudding
  • 1 pkg.  (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
  • 3 cups  cold milk, divided
  • 1/4 cup  PLANTERS Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1 tub  (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed, divided
  • 30 chocolate chip cookies (2 inch), chopped
  • 3 Tbsp.  chocolate syrup


Instructions:

EMPTY pudding mixes into separate medium bowls. Add 1-1/2 cups milk to each; beat with whisk 2 min. Add peanut butter to vanilla pudding; beat until well blended. Stir 1/2 cup COOL WHIP into pudding in each bowl.

SPOON chocolate pudding mixture into 2-qt. serving bowl; cover with layers of half each of the remaining COOL WHIP and chopped cookies. Repeat layers, using vanilla pudding mixture.

DRIZZLE with syrup. 



Tips:

Size-Wise
Sweets can be part of a balanced diet but remember to keep tabs on portions.

Special Extra
Top chocolate pudding layer with 2 sliced bananas before covering with remaining layers as directed.

Make Ahead
Prepare trifle as directed but do not top with syrup. Refrigerate up to 6 hours. Drizzle with syrup just before serving.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Strawberry & Cream Angel Cake




Juicy ripe strawberries and luscious creamy filling are layered between airy angel food cake :)

Strawberry & Cream Angel Cake 

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups  fresh strawberries, divided
  • 4 oz.   (1/2 of 8-oz. pkg.) PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, softened
  • 2 Tbsp.  sugar
  • 1-1/2 tsp.  zest and 1 Tbsp. juice from 1 orange
  • 2 cups  thawed COOL WHIP LITE Whipped Topping
  • 1 prepared angel food cake (10 inch), cut horizontally in half


Instructions:

CHOP enough strawberries to measure 2 cups. Refrigerate remaining whole berries for later use.

BEAT Neufchatel, sugar, zest and juice in large bowl with mixer until blended. Add COOL WHIP; beat on low speed just until blended. Gently stir in chopped berries. Spread about 2/3 of the COOL WHIP mixture onto bottom half of cake. Cover with top of cake and remaining COOL WHIP mixture.

REFRIGERATE 1 hour. Arrange remaining berries on top of cake before serving. 


Tips:


How to Cut 
Use a serrated knife and gentle sawing motion to easily cut the cake.

Food Facts
You should get about 3 cups strawberries from a 1-lb. package.

Note
You may use either a homemade or store-bought angel food cake to prepare this luscious dessert. And even though the cakes can vary in size and shape, they all will work equally well when used to prepare this recipe.



Friday, April 22, 2011

Creamy White Chicken & Artichoke Lasagna



You may never make regular lasagna again after trying this one—with shredded chicken, sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes in a rich, creamy white sauce.. :)

Creamy White Chicken & Artichoke Lasagna

12 servings

Ingredients:
  • 2 cups  shredded cooked chicken breasts
  • 1 can  (14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained, chopped
  • 1 pkg.  (8 oz.) KRAFT Shredded Mozzarella Cheese with a TOUCH OF PHILADELPHIA, divided
  • 1/2 cup  KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 cup   chopped drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 pkg.  (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese (12 oz.), softened
  • 1 cup  milk
  • 1/2 tsp.  garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup  tightly packed fresh basil, chopped, divided
  • 12  lasagna noodles, cooked


Directions:

HEAT oven to 350°F.

COMBINE chicken, artichokes, 1 cup mozzarella, Parmesan and tomatoes. Beat cream cheese, milk and garlic powder with mixer until blended; stir in 2 Tbsp. basil. Reserve half; mix remaining half with the chicken mixture.

SPREAD half of the remaining cream cheese mixture onto bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish; cover with 3 noodles and 1/3 of the chicken mixture. Repeat layers of noodles and chicken mixture twice. Top with remaining noodles, cream cheese mixture and mozzarella; cover.

BAKE 25 min. or until heated through. Sprinkle with remaining basil. Let stand 5 min. before cutting to serve.



Tips:

Serving Suggestion
Serve with your favorite hot steamed vegetable.

Note
Spray the foil with cooking spray before using to cover the lasagna to help prevent the foil from sticking to the cheese on top of the lasagna. 

Shortcut
Purchasing a fully-cooked rotisserie chicken at the supermarket is a quick way to obtain cooked chicken for recipes. Check to make sure the chicken is hot, not just warm, when you purchase it. If you are not using the chicken immediately, cut it into pieces and store in tightly covered containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Salted Caramel Cheesecake




The idea is that it's a salty caramel dessert. But, everyone has a different level of salt tolerance. So, here's my suggestion--make the crust with just a little salt--a teaspoon or two. Then make the filling with just a teaspoon or two of salt. Then TASTE IT. People watch Food Network and see those people just scatter in some salt, take a small taste, and go, "Mmmm GOOD!" But that's just TV--they're supposed to say that so they don't spend precious air time adjusting the seasoning. You MUST TASTE as you go. Make the filling with everything but the eggs (raw eggs can be dangerous--I can't recommend eating anything with raw eggs in it) then TASTE it. The idea is that you taste some salt, but not that you go, "Ugh, salty." You're supposed to taste the contrast between sweet and salty. If you don't like things pretty salty, just leave the majority of the salt out and make a caramel cheesecake--caramel cheesecake is delicious too! If you taste it and it's not salty, and you want it salty, add a 1/2 teaspoon salt at a time until you get it to where you think it tastes OK. But I strongly recommend you taste as you go. 

Salted Caramel Cheesecake 

For the crust:

  • About 15 graham crackers
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt (note: I reduced this from 2 teaspoons. A number of folks in the comments said they found it was too salty. I made this recipe 4 times before posting this, and checked the measurements pretty carefully, I thought. However, I made it for Thanksgiving 2011 and realized that they WAY the crust is distributed in the pan can make it seem quite salty--if there's a significant slope between the bottom and the sides, that fairly dense piece of crust can be overpowering to the rest of the recipe. So I'm recommending the reduction to the salt to account for the possible variations in the way people make the crust.)


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a food processor, grind graham crackers to crumbs. (If you’re using premade crumbs, you want about 8 oz or 2 cups, and you’ll want to do all these steps in a bowl.) Add sugar and salt and pulse to combine. With motor running, add butter through feed tube. Process for another few seconds until combined.
2. Transfer the mixture to a 9” or 10” (I have a 10” myself) springform pan sprayed with cooking spray. Pat crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan, and up the sides about 2”. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly even around the top; you just want to be sure it’s deep enough to hold all the cheesecake mixture.
3. Bake crust until slightly brown. You’ll just be able to smell it. This will take anywhere from 10-12 minutes. Remove crust from the oven and allow to cool on a rack. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F.


For the cheesecake:
  • 3 8oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 13-14 oz. can dulce de leche
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature


1. In a stand mixture fitted with the paddle attachment beat cream cheese until smooth, add dulce de leche and beat to combine.
2. Add flour and salt, beat to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides as necessary. Beat until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes. There should be no lumps.
3. Add the sugar and beat to combine.
4. Add the vanilla, and then beat in the eggs one at a time until just combined, about 30 seconds each. Don’t overbeat once the eggs are added; the cheesecake will puff up too much while baking, and the top will crack.
5. Pour the cream cheese mixture into the cooled crust and smooth the top.
6. Bake at 300 degrees F for 55 – 65 minutes. The center will seem to be only slightly set, and will be wobbly if you nudge it. The sides will puff slightly.
7. Cool completely on a rack, then cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight (I have gotten away with a 5 hour cooling, but I was on edge that it wouldn’t turn out; overnight is really best). When I put it in the refrigerator to set up, I remove the ring from my springform, and put the cheesecake on a cake stand. You can leave it in the springform if you don't have a cake stand.


For the caramel:
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Swirl to combine. All those warnings about stirring caramel and brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to avoid crystal formation? I avoid all that by just never stirring it at all. If I need to move it around the pan, I just swirl it.
2. Continue cooking until the sugar turns golden brown, swirling occasionally. You’re looking for something that’s about the color of dark honey. The problem with caramel is that it goes from perfect to burnt in the blink of an eye, so just when you find yourself thinking, “Any second now…” pull it off the heat. It should take 3-5 minutes.
3. Off the heat, carefully add the butter, then the cream. Don’t wait until the butter is melted; toss in the butter, give it a whisk, then pour in the cream. It will foam up, seize, and otherwise look like a total failure. Persevere! Add the vanilla extract and salt and continue whisking.
4. Return to medium low heat and whisk until smooth. (Added note: if your caramel is too thin, let it cook for awhile over a low heat. I've actually let it boil a bit--unintentionally--and just when I thought I'd ruined it, it turned out to be perfect.) Allow to cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
5. Remove cheesecake from the refrigerator and pour caramel over the top. I try to encourage mine to pool in the middle, but if you’re more of a drip-down-the-sides type, you can go with that. I just think the drippy makes sort of a mess on my cake stand, but maybe that doesn’t bother you.
6. Return the cheesecake to the refrigerator to let the caramel set, about 30 minutes. To serve, cut in slices (it’s pretty rich) with a sharp knife, wiping the blade clean after every slice.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chocolate Dipped, Amaretto Soaked, Pound Cake Bars



I had this recipe kind of floating around in my head for awhile.  A few weeks back, I was sipping on a glass of amaretto and pondering how I could capture the taste in a dessert.  My mind wandered to rum cakes... yes... but something a little more indulgent... and of course the solution for that is, as always, chocolate!

This recipe came together perfectly on my first run, which is pretty rare.  The cake and amaretto combo is fantastic, and when it's enrobed in the chocolate, has almost the same taste and texture of a really rich fondant. 

There are three steps to this recipe, which makes it a little time-consuming, but not at all difficult.  And, doesn't deliciousness take time???

Chocolate Dipped, Amaretto Soaked, Pound Cake Bars 

makes approx. 32 pieces

Ingredients:

Pound Cake:
  • 1/3 cup + 1 Tbs butter, soft (no substitutes!)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup cake flour
  • 1 Tbs finely grated lemon zest


Liqueur Syrup:

While your cake is baking, you can go ahead and start the syrup. 

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs corn syrup
  • 3 Tbs water
  • 1/2 cup Amaretto 



Instructions:

Pound Cake:

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.  Butter a 7x7" cake pan. 

Cream together your butter and sugar, and beat until light and fluffy.  Add your eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  When eggs are completely mixed in, gradually mix in flour.  Finally, add your grated lemon. 

Pour your batter into your cake pan, spreading evenly into the corners.  Bake until lightly golden around the edges, and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, approximately 15 minutes.  After removing your cake from the oven, gently run a butterknife around the edges to make sure it separates from the pan, but don't remove your cake from the pan. 

Take a toothpick and poke holes all over the top of the cake.  Everywhere.  Lots and lots of 'em.  


Liqueur Syrup:

In a small / medium saucepan, mix together the first three ingredients.  Stir over medium heat, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture starts simmering.  Increase heat slightly to bring to a boil, then stop stirring and cover with a lid.  Let boil, undisturbed, for 1 - 2 minutes.  Now remove your syrup from the heat, take off the lid, and let cool. 

When your syrup has cooled for about 10 minutes, stir in 1/2 cup of Amaretto.  (Don't add it when the syrup is really hot, or your alcohol will evaporate.  And I'm a big encourager of saving the alcohol, he he.)

Now go ahead and pour your syrup mixture over the top of your cake.  It will come up and flood the top of your cake, but don't worry, your cake will eventually drink all of that syrup right up. 

Let your cake sit to soak in all of that Amaretto-ey goodness.  At least 4 hours but preferably overnight.  When you are able to lift the corner of your cake and see no more syrup on the bottom of your pan, you're ready to do your dipping.  



Chocolate Dip

Turn your cake out onto a sheet of waxed paper or plastic cutting board (your cake should be about 1" thick).  Trim the edges off, and then cut your cake into small pieces.  I cut mine into 32 pieces, each about 3/4" x 1.5".



Melt some milk chocolate in the top of your double boiler, making sure it is deep enough to dip and coat your cake pieces.  You'll probably have to add more chocolate as you work your way through the batch.  As you dip each one, set them on a sheet of waxed paper to cool and set.  While your chocolate is still soft, you have the option of garnishing the tops of the bars with sprinkles, crushed/sliced almonds, or another garnish of your choice.  I didn't think of this until it was too late, oops!

Once the chocolate sets, ENJOY!  



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Cotton Soft Japanese Cheesecake




A couple of my friends brought this beautiful cake to my office. I was intrigued and asked them what type of cake it was. They told me it was a Japanese Cheesecake. It looked so delicate and mouth watering. I went home and tried a recipe I found online. I love cheesecake and wondered what made this one different. After baking it I discovered this is not your ordinary cheesecake. This is a very light, melt in your mouth cake. It is firm enough that you can treat it like an ordinary sponge cake, but far better than any sponge I have made. With a hint of cream cheese and lemon flavour I was sold. It is incredibly easy to make and it is perfect on it's own.

Cotton Soft Japanese Cheesecake

Ingredients:
  • 40g/5 oz. fine granulated sugar
  • 6 egg whites
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 50g/2 oz. butter
  • 250g/9 oz. cream cheese
  • 100 ml/3 fluid oz. fresh milk
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 60g/2 oz. cake flour /superfine flour
  • 20g/1 oz. cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt


Instructions:

1. Melt cream cheese, butter and milk over a double boiler. Cool the mixture. Fold in the flour, the cornflour, egg yolks, lemon juice and mix well.

2. Whisk egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add in the sugar and whisk until soft peaks form.

3. Add the cheese mixture to the egg white mixture and mix well. Pour into a 8-inch round cake pan (Lightly grease and line the bottom and sides of the pan with greaseproof baking paper or parchment paper).

4. Bake cheesecake in a water bath for 1 hours 10 minutes or until set and golden brown at 160 degrees C (325 degrees F).

Makes 1 (8-inch) cheesecake, 12 servings.   

Monday, April 18, 2011

Princess Pie



Try this dessert with any pudding flavor and omit the coconut and replace it with something complementary....like chopped nuts with chocolate pudding or bananas with vanilla pudding.  You might have a new potluck pleaser!

The name Princess Pie was something my mom, sister and I named this 'Cool Coconut Dessert' when we served it to our girls...all three girls are princess-bonkers right now...and they loved that!  My mom gave me this recipe

Princess Pie 

crust:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans - optional


Mix and pat in an 8x8 inch pan, bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until just beginning to turn golden.  Do not over bake.

Layer two:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup whipped topping


Beat together sugar and cream cheese.  Fold in whipped topping.  Spread on cooled crust.

Layer three:
  • 1 small package coconut cream instant pudding
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk (any milk will do, but whole milk makes pudding so much tastier)


Mix until thickened.  Spread over cream cheese mixture.

Top with remaining tub of whipped topping.

Toast 1 cup coconut.  Sprinkle evenly on dessert.  Refrigerate.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Taco Macaroni and Cheese



I must say, this mac and cheese was quite delicious, and definitely tastier than the made-from-a-box versions we ate so many years ago. It’s spicy and satisfying, and my husband was definitely a happy camper the night he had this for dinner. I’ll be making it for him whenever he requests it (which I’m sure will be often), because I loved it just as much as he did.

Taco Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound macaroni or shell pasta
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 serving of taco seasoning (or 1 packet of store-bought seasoning mix)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend


Instructions:
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
  2. Meanwhile, brown ground beef and sweat the onion together in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the beef is completely cooked through, drain off excess fat, return to skillet, and add garlic. Cook and stir 30 seconds. Add taco seasoning and salsa and stir to combine; reduce heat to low.
  3. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add cream cheese, milk, and sour cream and stir to combine. Cook until cream cheese is melted and mixture is thick and bubbling. Stir in shredded cheese.
  4. Add cheese sauce and ground beef mixture to pasta and stir to combine. Top each serving with salsa and sour cream, if desired.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Slowcooker Pork Chops




I found this recipe at Eat Cake for Dinner.  I love every recipe I have made from that blog! These were so easy and were very tasty! Can't ever have enough easy crock pot recipes!

Slowcooker Pork Chops

Ingredients:

  • 4 thick-cut pork chops, bone in or boneless
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 c. chicken broth
  • pepper


Instructions:

Combine soup, dressing mix, garlic, and broth.  Sprinkle chops with pepper (do not salt).  Place chops in slow cooker and pour soup mixture over top.  Cover and cook on high 4 hours or low 6-7 hours.  Serve over rice.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Nutty Caramel Bars





I love when desserts only have a few ingredients, take a few minutes to make and taste amazing!  These Nutty Caramel Bars fit that description perfectly!  These sweet, chocolaty bars are to die for!  I had to give them all away to stop myself from eating the whole pan.  They are that good!

Nutty Caramel Bars

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 (19 ounce) jar caramel ice cream topping
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips


Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine flour and brown sugar.  Mix in butter until combined and crumbly.  Press mixture into an ungreased 9x13 baking dish.  Sprinkle on pecans and walnuts.  Drizzle caramel topping evenly over nuts.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until caramel is bubbly.  Remove from oven and sprinkle on chocolate chips.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  Carefully spread chips over caramel layer.  Let cool at room temperature or until chocolate sets.  Cut into bars.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Peanut Butter Candy Cheesecake




Peanut Butter Candy Cheesecake

Servings: Makes 1 (10-inch) cheesecake

Ingredients:

Crust:
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate graham crackers
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted


Filling:
  • 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 10 fun-size chocolate-covered crispy-crunchy peanut-buttery candy bars, chopped*
  • Garnish: chopped fun-size chocolate-covered crispy-crunchy peanut-buttery candy bars


Instructions:

To prepare crust: Preheat oven to 300°. In a small bowl, combine crushed graham crackers and sugar. Add melted butter, stirring to combine. Press mixture into bottom and 1 inch up sides of a 10-inch springform pan. Bake for 6 minutes.

To prepare filling: In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, brown sugar, and peanut butter at medium speed with a mixer until creamy. Add eggs and yolks, one at a time, beating just until combined after each addition. Stir in cream and crushed candy. Spoon batter into prepared crust.

Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn oven off, and leave in oven with door closed for 1 hour. Remove from oven, and let cool completely. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours before serving. Garnish with chopped candy bars, if desired.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lemon Drop Cookies





These cookies have pretty much made me famous. OK, so not famous. I mean, it isn't even my recipe. But, they are by far the cookie that have gotten the most reaction from others. People simply love them. In college I discovered Lemon Drop cookies from a place called Cookies By Design, they were my obsession. My roomates served them at my bridal shower. I tried for years and years to find a recipe close but never did. Several years ago my mom bought a cookbook ("5 star recipes from well-known Latter Day Saints") and this recipe was in it. I have to make a plan to give these away before I even make them. I could honestly eat them all day and all night long. 

Lemon Drop Cookies

makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. lemon extract
  • 4 c. flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Finely chopped zest of one lemon
  • 1 (6-oz) package lemon drops (sometimes these are tricky to find, I usually keep two or three bags in my pantry)
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • juice of two lemons


Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In mixing bowl, cream sugar, shortening, and eggs; add flavorings. Stir in dry ingredients, lemon zest, and crushed lemon drops (I crush them in my blender). Roll into balls, flatten slightly, and bake on parchment lined (if you don't use parchment, cookies will stick to pan) baking sheet for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool slightly on pan for a couple of minutes. Make a glaze by mixing powdered sugar with lemon juice. Brush glaze over cookie tops. Let cookies cool completely.



Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Orange Dressing with Orange Strawberry Salad




This dressing came to me from my sister, she got it from a friend. I have been hearing about this dressing for a while and was happy to be able to try it. It is so good! I didn't have a salad recipe to accompany it so I came up with this. It turned out so good. My husband liked it so much, he had three servings of it - which is rare for him when it comes to salad.

Orange Dressing with Orange Strawberry Salad

  • 1 package spring mix greens
  • 1 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1 large orange, cut into small pieces
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 cup Sliced Almonds
  • 4 TBS butter
  • 4 TBS sugar


To make candied almonds:
Mix almonds, butter and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat until the the butter and sugar turn to a toffee color, stir constantly.

Orange Dressing

  • ½ tsp grated orange peel, or orange zest
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice ( 1 to 2 oranges )
  • 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon “Good Seasons Dry Italian” dressing mix. It is about ½ a package


Put all ingredients in a container and shake- serve.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Mexican Chicken Casserole



This is an adaptation of a cooking light recipe found on pinterest. I didn’t change a lot of ingredients, but pared down the prep. I also prepared it ahead and cooked it later. Enjoy!

Mexican Chicken Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 onion sliced
  • 1 can diced green chilis
  • 1.5 lb frozen, sliced, seasoned chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup green salsa
  • 1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey jack


Instructions:

In a large skillet, cook onions and green chilis until tender. Add the chicken and heat through. Add milk, chicken broth, green salsa, cream cheese and first helping of cheese. Stir and cook until slightly thickened and all cheese is melted, which is about 10 minutes. Turn off and let sit while you prepare the dish. In a 2 quart baking dish, sprayed with Pam, lay out 4 tortillas. After the mixture has sat for about 10 minutes, spoon half of the mixture in dish and layer with the other 4 tortillas. Pour remaining mixture on and top with the rest of the cheese. Cook at 350 until browned and bubbly. Enjoy!


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Skinny Banana Cookies





I found these little babies on Pinterest and I was a little hesitant to make them. They only require 3 ingredients and they are much healthier than other cookies. They smelled amazing while they were cooking... and to tell you the truth - they turned out delicious! For being a healthy cookie... I rate them a 10!

Skinny Banana Cookies

Makes 12-16 cookies

Ingredients:
  • 2 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup of uncooked Old Fashioned Oats
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips


Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  Mix the mashed bananas and oats in a bowl. Fold in the chocolate chips. Using a spoon, scoop up the batter and place on the cookie sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pineapple Coconut Bundt Cake





It may not be as good as a trip to Hawaii, but this cake is the next best thing!  It is so moist and flavorful you'll forget your just in your kitchen! :D

Pineapple Coconut Bundt Cake

Ingredients:

Cake:

  • 1 (15 ounce) box yellow cake mix
  • 1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes


Glaze:

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 cups powdered sugar


Instructions:

In a large mixing bowl, combine dry cake mix, pineapple and coconut flakes.  Pour batter into a bundt pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray.  Bake according to directions on cake box for a bundt cake.  Let cool completely  in pan for about 90 minutes before inverting onto a plate.  If desired, drizzle orange glaze on top and sprinkle with extra coconut.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spicy Cilantro Garlic Shrimp





I love the idea of grilling shrimp, but on most days it can be a little tricky. This recipe is no mess, no skewers, all in a convenient foil pack cooked on the grill in like 5 minutes! This is a great recipe for the upcoming tailgating and football parties. I have to admit, I am not the biggest sports fan, but I do excited about the cooking part of it all,,

Spicy Cilantro Garlic Shrimp

4 servings as an appetizer

Ingredients:
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Habanero pepper, minced
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound large shrimp, cleaned, peeled, tails on (you could leave the shells on if you prefer)


Instructions:

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, minus the shrimp. Stir well to combine, taste for salt. Add in the shrimp and marinate in refrigerator for 45 minutes, no more than 1 hour.

Preheat grill to medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes, about 325ºF. I have a charcoal grill. Remove shrimp from refrigerator 20 minutes before cooking.

Divide the shrimp, including the marinade into two foil packets, seal shut. Cook on grill  with lid closed for 5 to 7 minutes, checking after 5 minutes. Remove from grill and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Yields up to 4 servings as an appetizer.

Notes: Serve with sliced baguette for soaking up broth or warm tortillas and salsa.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cakey Lemon Bar “Brownies”





Lemon brownies? 

Yes. Thick, cakey lemon squares the density and texture of a chocolate brownie. I'm so serious. This is no lemon bar. This is a lemon brownie and it absolutely must be apart of your spring and summer/life if you're into citrus and sugary things.

Cakey Lemon Bar “Brownies”

Ingredients:

Brownies:
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


Lemon Glaze:
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest


Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. 

Zest and juice two small lemons; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with the paddle attachement, beat the flour, sugar, salt, and softened butter until combined. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice until combined. Pour into the flour mixture and beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. 

Pour into baking dish and bake for 25 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before glazing.

When brownies are cooled completely, make the glaze by whisking together all three ingredients. Spread over the brownies with a rubber spatula, cut into bars, and serve!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

This is a great, comfort dish. My sister gave me the recipe and I tweaked it to fit my family's taste. My friends also request this when we have pot-luck dinners. Garnish with freshly grated Paremesan cheese and serve with a salad and hot garlic bread. You'll be a hit with everyone.
This is a great, comfort dish. My sister gave me the recipe and I tweaked it to fit my family's taste. My friends also request this when we have pot-luck dinners. Garnish with freshly grated Paremesan cheese and serve with a salad and hot garlic bread. You'll be a hit with everyone.

Chicken Spaghetti




This is a great, comfort dish. My sister gave me the recipe and I tweaked it to fit my family's taste. My friends also request this when we have pot-luck dinners. Garnish with freshly grated Paremesan cheese and serve with a salad and hot garlic bread. You'll be a hit with everyone.

Chicken Spaghetti

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 lb velveeta cheese, regular or mexican
  • 1 can(s) rotel tomatoes, regular or hot
  • 1 lb spaghetti pasta
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 can(s) cream of chicken soup, undiluted
  • 1 can(s) cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, red or green, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste


Instructions:
  1. Boil chicken breasts in a large pot adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper to water.
  2. Remove chicken when completely done, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Boil spaghetti pasta in remaining broth according to package directions. Drain pasta after done and discard water. Set aside the pasta...Do not rinse.
  4. Melt the butter in that same (empty) pot and saute the onion and bell pepper.
  5. Add tomatoes, soup, cooked chicken (cut into bite-size pieces) and spaghetti to the sauteed onion mixture, one at a time, and gently mix together.
  6. Add cheese and stir together, mixing well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Heat until cheese is melted thoroughly, stirring occasionally to keep from scorching.



SERVING SUGGESTIONS: Garnish with freshly grated Paremesan cheese and serve with a salad and hot garlic bread. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How to Make Ciabatta Rolls and Loaves at Home




Who doesn't love a good ciabatta roll? There's the crust that is first crisp, then chewy. And then that soft spongy crumb with all its beautiful holes, perfect for mopping up the last bits of sauce from the plate. Or if you prefer, smearing with jam and eating while still warm from the oven.

Ciabatta is a funny kind of bread. Far from the golden domed boules or slender baguettes, this Italian bread is lumpy, rather flat, and most definitely rustic. Baker's lore says that the loaves are meant to resemble comfy old house slippers.
The dough is unusual too. It's extremely wet, with a near equal amount of water and flour. This makes it impossible to knead in the traditional way and difficult to shape into loaves. Traditionally, the dough was kneaded by either slapping it repeatedly against the counter (like brioche) or giving it a series of folds during its long rising time.

It is much easier to knead this wet, sticky dough in a modern standing mixer. This dough requires you to bump the speed above the recommended level for kneading dough, but don't fret. The dough is so wet that it's almost more of a batter than a bread dough. Keep an eye on the mixer during kneading as it has a tendency to bobble itself along the counter. And if your mixer's motor does start to heat up, it's fine to give it rest for a few minutes before completing the kneading.

Once the dough is kneaded and has risen, the key to shaping the loaves from this very loose and sticky dough is lots of flour and handling the dough with velvet gloves. The flour will help prevent the dough from sticking to everything and a gentle touch will keep its network of bubbles from collapsing.
All this fussy work is well worth it when those loaves come out of the oven. The crust is crackling and deeply toasted. The interior is glossy and honeycombed with holes.

No two loaves or rolls of ciabatta ever turn out quite the same. This is something I love about this bread and that keeps me making it again and again. Whether I'm baking loaves for a dinner party or a batch of rolls for my own lunches during the week, ciabatta never fails to deliver.

Homemade Ciabatta

Makes 2 loaves or 16 rolls

Note: Weighing all the ingredients in this recipe is highly recommended. The biga, or pre-ferment, needs to be made the night before baking and allowed to sit for several hours. Don't skip this little step as it's the biga that helps give ciabatta its complex flavor, chewy crumb, and extra-crispy crust

Biga:

  • 4 ounce (1/2 cup) water
  • 1/2 teaspoon active-dry yeast
  • 5 ounce (1 cup) all-purpose flour


Dissolve the yeast in the water. Add the flour and stir to form a thick, gloppy paste. Give it a good fifty or so brisk stirs to build up the gluten. Cover and let sit at room temperature eight hours or overnight.

By the next day, the biga will look soupy with many big bubbles dotting the surface.

Ciabatta:
  • 17 ounces (2 cups + 2 tablespoons) water
  • 1 teaspoon active-dry yeast
  • Biga
  • 20 ounces (4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt


Dissolve the yeast in the water in the bowl of a standing mixer. Scrape the biga into the water and break it up with your spatula or squeeze it between your hands. You don't need to completely dissolve the biga; just loosen it up and break it into stringy blobs.

Add all of the flour and the salt. Stir to form a thick, very wet dough. Let this rest for 10-20 minutes to give the flour time to absorb the water.

Fit your standing mixer with a dough hook and knead at medium speed for 15-18 minutes (Level 5 or 6 on a KitchnAid). Keep a close eye on your mixer as it has a tendency to "walk" on the counter at this speed.

The dough will start off sticking to the bottom and sides of the bowl. Around the 7-minute mark, it will start to pull away from the sides of the bowl, collect around the dough hook, and regularly slap the sides of the bowl. If it doesn't, nudge your mixer speed up a notch. Also, if the dough starts climbing the dough hook, stop the mixer and scrape it down again. By the end of kneading, the dough will look smooth and creamy with a glossy shine. It will puddle back into the bowl once you turn off the mixer, and this is fine.

Cover the bowl and let the dough rise at 70° - 75° for 2-3 hours, until tripled in bulk.

Dust your work surface heavily with flour. Set two sheets of parchment near your work surface. Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto the flour, taking care not to deflate it too much. Dust the top of the dough with more flour. Using a pastry scraper or pizza wheel, cut the dough in two pieces for loaves or into 16 pieces for rolls.

Brush your hands with flour. Working gently but swiftly, scoop the the loaves (or the rolls) one at a time from the work surface to the parchment. Press your fingertips about halfway into the dough to dimple the surface and slightly flatten the loaves (or rolls). Let the loaves (or rolls) rise, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes. When ready to bake, they should look pillowy with many big bubbles just beneath the surface.

Preheat the oven to 475°F while the loaves are rising. If you have a baking stone, put it in the oven now.

When ready to bake, slide the loaves, still on the parchment, onto a pizza peel or baking sheet. Transfer them to the oven to cook, either on the baking stone or directly on the baking sheet if you don't have a stone. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until puffed and golden brown. Slip the parchment out from under the loaves and cool completely before eating.