Wednesday, December 29, 2010

ancho pork and hominy stew



I really like pork.  I really like vegetables.  I really like stew in the winter.  I really like easy one pot meals.  This is my kind of meal.  I have made this recipe numerous times and it always returns good results.  It is more of a soup then a stew but, that doesn't bother me.  It is good.   Brad doesn't really love pork or vegetables but, every time I serve this he always comments on how good it is.  I cut the pieces of pork small and they are so tender and flavorful.  The hominy cooks like a bean but, adds a nice corn flavor to the stew.  I really like to follow recipes but, this one you don't have to be exact and it still delivers great results.  No ancho chile powder use regular.  Half the hominy and add corn.  You can even swap chicken for pork.  The stew can be frozen and tastes almost better out of the freezer. Perfect with cornbread.  Ahhh cornbread.  I need to find a go to cornbread recipe in 2011.

ancho pork and hominy stew
source: cooking light
  • 2  tablespoons  ancho chile powder
  • 2  teaspoons  dried oregano
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  smoked paprika
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1 1/2  pounds  pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil, divided
  • 2  cups  chopped onion
  • 1 1/2  cups  chopped green bell pepper
  • 1  tablespoon  minced garlic
  • 2 1/2  cups  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  (28-ounce) can hominy, drained
  • 1  (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; set 1 1/2 teaspoons spice mixture aside. Add pork to remaining spice mixture in bowl, tossing well to coat.
2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add pork mixture to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove pork from pan; set aside. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Return pork to pan. Add reserved 1 1/2 teaspoons spice mixture, broth, hominy, and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Partially cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes.

Friday, December 24, 2010

pomegranate champagne punch


Last year at the cookie exchange we blew through 8 bottles of champagne before the gift exchange.  The girls can drink!  This year I was not going to let that happen again.  I pulled out the punch bowl and mixed up a big batch of champagne punch that packed a little extra something something with the white rum.  We went through two big batches and I think everyone left with a little warmth in their body and a little pep in their step from the bubbly and sugar.  This punch tastes good, is inexpensive, looks beautiful and definitely does the job.  Cheers!
pomegranate champagne punch
adapted: bon appetit
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 750-ml bottles chilled brut Champagne
  • 1 750-ml bottle white rum
  • 2 1/2 cups pomegranate juice
  • 2 large lemons, thinly sliced
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • 1 ice block
Bring water and sugar to boil in small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer 5 minutes. Cool syrup completely.
Combine Champagne, rum, and pomegranate juice in punch bowl. Add enough syrup to sweeten to taste. Mix in lemon slices, pomegranate seeds, and mint leaves. Add ice block to bowl.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

savory bacon and kale bread pudding


The supper club theme this month was Victorian Christmas.  Yep think about that for a minute.  Still don't know what to make of that.  Google it and you will come up with delightful menus filled with oysters, mutton, goose, smelt and plum pudding.  Nothing coming back in my google search for a side dish was screaming make me make me.  I found a menu in a back issue of food and wine for a modern Victorian Christmas ... jackpot!  The sides were brussel sprouts (yum), tomato and goat cheese gratin and a kale bread pudding.  Kale has been intriguing me lately as I learn to cook it.  I had fresh kale from my farm fresh delivery so, kale bread pudding it was.  I needed to do a bit more research and I found a savory kale bread pudding by the beloved Tartine bakery in San Francisco.  Mention of Tartine and San Francisco and I was sold not to mention this version had bacon in it as well.  I think we all hesitantly prepared our dishes and came not expecting much from the menu.  Honestly I think secretly we were all just hoping it wasn't gross.  Boy was I shocked ... the menu was elegant, decadent, amazing and could be served for any holiday and the guests would have been impressed.  We had pomegranate martinis, fresh oysters, brie en croute, roast, yorkshire pudding, brussel sprout gratin, bread pudding and a berry and white chocolate trifle.  Seriously delicious.  We sat down to this elegant meal after a martini or two.  We devoured the meal, drank wine, recalled our top three Christmas memories and some where things went a new direction.  We sat down as proper ladies and left the table crazy girls headed to create a dance party in costumes.  I am still unclear how things moved this direction.  What I do know is this.  I wore a leather dress and a tiara.  I danced on the hostesses coffee table.  I took silly pictures.  I had a great time.  I love my supper club.  Cheers to the Victorian Christmas!


savory bacon and kale bread pudding
adapted: tartine

12 oz day old country or french bread
One leek, white portion thinly sliced
4 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups whole milk
2 1/2 cups cream
pinch nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper
pinch smoked paprika
4 strips bacon
Fresh thyme, chopped
1 bunch kale; chopped
1 1/2 cups Gruyere (divided)
Freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cut the bread into 1 1/2 inch cubes.  

In a cast iron skillet, cook bacon until lightly crispy. Set aside. Using 2 tablespoons of remaining bacon grease, saute leek until soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside when done, reserving the skillet (no need to wash).

In a mixing bowl, whisk eggs and salt until well blended. Add the milk and cream and whisk to combine. Then add the nutmeg, pepper, cayenne and paprika. When well mixed, add the bread, bacon, thyme, kale, leeks and 1 cup cheese. Mix well and pour back into the skillet (Note: if you don’t have a skillet use a greased baking dish, instead). The custard should come up to the top but not cover the highest pieces of bread.

Top the pudding evenly with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and lightly pepper. Bake about 1 hour, or until custard is set. Serve pudding hot or at room temperature.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

oreo chocolate chip cookies


I like oreos.  I like them dunked in milk.  I like them used in baked goods.  They are so versatile.  The can be molded into a crust, crushed, mixed and dipped to make a truffle, mixed into a cupcake and so on and so on.  I have a lot of oreos left from the cookies and cream cupcakes.  I bought a box at Smart and Final which apparently was big enough to get me through October birthdays, Christmas and some extra goodies mixed in between.  I have seen several posts about cookies and brownies with oreos incorporated.  I decided to wing it and give it a try.  I really like to follow a recipe. I don't really know how to wing it ... in the kitchen or any other part of my life.  I like structure.  I could not stray too far.  I used the base from my chocolate chip cookie and just played around a bit with the measurements and then tossed in some chips and quartered oreos.  The results ... yum!  They are all gone.  

oreo chocolate chip cookies
source: sweetflours
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cups + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 10 oreos quartered
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high until light and fluffy, 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Mix in flour mixture just until incorporated; fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Using a large spoon, drop dough onto a silpat-lined baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes or until edges are light golden brown.   Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

lime glazed coconut snowballs

I try one new Christmas cookie each year to supplement the holiday standards.  All of my holiday standards are quick Christmas candy and not cookies.  Does that tell you anything?  I am not having much luck finding a Christmas cookie that I would want to repeat each year.  The past years I have tried several with  a chocolate base so, this year I decided to mix it up and incorporate a few favorites of mine; butter, citrus and coconut.  I knew the others in my house would not touch these but, seriously does everything need to be about them?  Mama needs a cookie too.  I rarely see a negative comment about cooks illustrated recipes so, I decided to go that route and sure enough they were great.  Great for those citrus butter loving girls at my cookie exchange.  The soft butter cookie ball has just a hint of lime.  The lime glaze is sweet and tart and the tiny flakes of coconut add them perfect touch in both taste and appearance.  These are dainty cookies that look beautiful on the platter next to the Christmas classics.

Lime-Glazed Coconut Snowballs
source: Cook's Illustrated

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces)
zest of 1 lime (~1-2 teaspoons)
3/4 cup superfine sugar (5 1/2 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut into sixteen 1/2-inch pieces, room temperature 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons cream cheese , room temperature
Glaze
1 tablespoon cream cheese ,room temperature
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar (6 ounces)
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut , pulsed in food processor until finely chopped, about fifteen 1-second pulses


In bowl of standing mixer fitted with flat beater, mix flour, lime zest, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined, about 5 seconds. With mixer running on low, add butter 1 piece at a time; continue to mix until mixture looks crumbly and slightly wet, about 1 minute longer. Add vanilla and cream cheese and mix on low until dough just begins to form large clumps, about 30 seconds.

Use hands to roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake one batch at a time in 375-degree oven until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Glaze:
Whisk cream cheese and 2 tablespoons lime juice in medium bowl until combined and no lumps remain. Whisk in confectioners' sugar until smooth, adding remaining lime juice as needed until glaze is thin enough to spread easily.


Dip tops of cookies into glaze and scrape away excess, then dip into coconut. Set cookies on parchment-lined baking sheet; let stand until glaze dries and sets, about 20 minutes

Friday, December 17, 2010

christmas "crack" candy


The name of these breaks down like this.  Christmas because it can only be made one time a year.  Crack as in made with a cracker but, also crack as in the addictive nature of this candy.  It is that good.  It is that addictive.  There is so much buttery, sweet, chocolaty deliciousness in each piece that it can only be made one time per year.  Bad things would happen to me if I made it more often.  I would become a candy crack fiend.  These are so easy to make.  Honestly there is no reason for you not to make these this holiday season.  Please make them.  Please come to the dark side with me.  I don't want to eat alone.

christmas "crack" candy

40 saltine crackers
1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet completely with foil, and then line the base of the foil with parchment paper, cut to fit.



Line the bottom of the baking sheet with crackers, covering all parts.

In a medium heavy-duty saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar together, and stir it over medium heat until it begins to boil. Once it has begun boiling, let it bubble for three more minutes, stirring it well. It will thicken a bit as it cooks. Remove from the heat and add the vanilla, and then quickly pour it over the crackers. Pour and spread it quickly as it will start to set.
Bake the caramel-covered crackers for 15 minutes, watching carefully as it will bubble and the corners might darken too quickly and/or burn.

Remove from oven and immediately cover with chocolate chips. Let stand five minutes, and then spread them evenly across the caramel. . If you’re using them, decorate with sprinkles.


Cool and then break into pieces.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

rolo pretzel candy


I started making these when I was pregnant with Carter.  They are a festive bite that combines salty, sweet, crunchy and chewy.  They got added to the Christmas cookie plate a few years back and have  remained a staple ever since.  So easy to make even the kids can join the fun.  Eating them is even easier then making them.  I highly recommend popping one (or two) in your mouth as soon as they come out of the oven. 

rolo pretzel candy


rolo candies
pretzels snaps or small circles
m&m candies or nuts to top

Preheat your oven to 350
1. Unwrap your rolos. Place pretzels on baking sheet. Top with a rolo.
2. Bake in oven for 3-5 minutes, until the chocolate just begins to melt. The rolo should be soft but not completely melted.
3. Remove from oven, and immediately squish the chocolate with a m&m or nut.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

buckeyes


Peanut butter and chocolate.  Is there a couple that goes better together then those two ingredients?  When it comes to Christmas  peanut butter is a must on my tray of goodies.  Brad's mom is known for her holiday peanut butter balls.  They are fantastic.  I think about them all year and squeal with delight when I see them in a small glass dish on her kitchen counter.  Because she does the peanut butter ball I wanted to do something slightly different.  The buckeyes are not completely covered in chocolate which leaves a little glimpse of peanut butter goodness making them look like well ... a nut from the buckeye tree (Ohio state tree).  They also lack the crunch that you get in a peanut butter ball from the crushed graham cracker or rice krispy.  I kinda missed the crunch, I guess I could add the crunch but, if I add the crunch then I should just dip them all the way and make a peanut butter ball.  I had a bit of trouble with the dipping but, got the hang of it after about 36 odd looking buckeyes were produced.  The dozen that I did successfully dip looked great on the cookie tray and having some bite size treats is great because you can't feel guilty for just a bite.  My problem is I can't just stop at one bite!
buckeyes
adapted: allrecipes
ingredients (~3 dozen)
  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 tablespoons shortening (optional)
  1. Line a baking sheet with silpat; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and confectioners' sugar with mixer to form dough. Dough will be stiff but, crumbly.  Shape into balls using 1 inch cookie scoop. Place on prepared pan, and refrigerate/freeze until dough has firmed up.
  3. Melt shortening (if using) and chocolate together in a metal bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth, and remove from heat.
  4. Remove balls from refrigerator. Insert a wooden toothpick into a ball, and dip into melted chocolate. Return to silpat, chocolate side down, and remove toothpick. Repeat with remaining balls. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to set. 
* I had a hard time with getting a uniform dip.  I had best success when I tilted the bowl of chocolate and went in on a slight angle and rolled.  The toothpick hole was then off centered and not too visible in the finished buckeyes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

oreo truffle balls


I like to play these games with Brad where I ask him a ton of questions in hopes he is going to surprise me with some hidden unknown exciting piece of information.  He doesn't like to play and I can only assume he finds this game a modern form of torture.  He hardly gives me anything new, regardless I still like to play.  Last night I was asking him to tell me all of the cookies that he remembers on his mother's Christmas cookie plate.  He named one.  His mom is a fantastic cook and baker so, I am almost certain there was more then one.  I proceeded to ask about his grandmothers and all I got was a blank stare.  He was no help.  I was prompting this line of questioning because I can remember every cookie on our cookie plate, which family member liked them and where the recipe originated from.  I want to develop a memorable cookie plate.  The cookie plate is one of the best parts of the holiday season for me.  Years is what I figure it will take me to get to that plate that contains the family tried and trues but, I will get to that plate and when Carter's wife asks him this very question he will not respond with one type of cookie! My cookie plate is definitely a work in progress but, the oreo truffle balls are one holiday candy I come back to year over year.  As of now they are a cookie plate staple.

oreo truffle balls
source: kraft recipes

1 package oreo cookies ~30 oreos (any oreo flavor) crushed to crumbs in food processor
1 8oz block of cream cheese; softened
1 bag of chips (semi, dark, white)

Mix cream cheese and oreo crumbs until well blended.
Shape into 1 inch balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet.  Place shaped balls in refrigerator or freezer for ~20-30 minutes to firm up.
Melt chocolate of choice using either a double boiler or microwave.  Once chocolate is melted take one ball at a time and dip into chocolate.  Tap excess chocolate off and place on parchment to harden.  Sprinkle with decoration if using while chocolate is still warm.  Once cooled they can be stored in refrigerator in an air tight container.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

sweet potato and chipotle soup


This soup really surprised me.  

I use to love hot and sour soup when I was sick.  It was my go to sick food until both Brad and I got food poisoning from out favorite Chinese take out in San Francisco.  My go to sick soup all of a sudden became my smell it make me sick soup.  I have come to a point where I will order it from other places but, I have not had the same relationship with hot and sour soup since that fateful day.  This may be my new go to sick soup.  There are only a few ingredients and the preparation and cooking are beyond easy.  I was shocked at how velvety smooth and rich this soup was.  It tasted as if there was cream in it.  The sweetness of the potatoes was perfectly offset by the smoky heat of the chipotle pepper.  I like heat.  I added chipotle hot sauce to kick it up a notch.  Brad added sour cream to take it down a notch.  We both liked it a lot.  I just made a second batch to have on hand in the freezer next time I feel a tickle in my throat.

sweet potato and chipotle soup
adapted: everyday food
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes (2 pounds total), peeled and cut
  • 1/2 chipotle chile in adobo, chopped
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

Directions

  1. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium high. Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until beginning to brown around edges, about 7 minutes. Add cumin and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in sweet potatoes, chile, and broth. Bring to a boil; reduce to a rapid simmer, partially cover, and cook until sweet potatoes can be mashed easily with a spoon, 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Let soup cool slightly. Puree with stick blender until soup is smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Top soup with sour cream and serve with quesadilla/tortilla wedges, if desired.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

peanut butter chocolate chip pretzel cookies


Salty sweet is a favorite combination of mine.  Some things are just made to be together.  They have that one perfect match.  In my mind chocolate just can't settle down.  It pairs so well with creamy peanut butter and it also looks quite good blanketing a salty, crunchy pretzel.  Why should chocolate have to choose between peanut butter or pretzels?  Can't we have it all?  These cookies are a merger of two fantastic partnerships which make a creamy, crunchy, sweet and salty treat.  The base of the cookie is a bit crispier and the shape is a bit taller then I like my peanut butter cookies but, these minor issues are not stopping them from flying out of the cookie jar.

peanut butter chocolate chip pretzel cookies
adapted: everyday with rachel ray
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 cups miniature pretzels, chopped

Directions:

  1. Line 2 cookie sheets with silpat. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar and peanut butter on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, beating until just combined; stir in the chips and pretzel pieces.
  3. Using a cookie scoop to scoop and drop balls on to prepared sheets.  Bake for 12 minutes, until golden but still soft to the touch. Let cool slightly before transferring to racks to cool.

Monday, November 29, 2010

green monster


I keep hearing about juicing, smoothies and cleanses.  I have always favored food over a drink but, on my constant quest for better health and my abundance of fresh organic fruits and veggies from my box delivery I decided to give these green monsters a try .  I was so surprised at how much I liked them and how full and energized I felt after having one.  I may be kinda hooked and the combinations are endless.  This is a step in my process to better living.  I have decided to get rid myself of numbers.  I need to listen to what my body needs and not let my life be run by constant number crunching.  The days of how many calories in, how many minutes at the gym, how much body fat, target heart rate zone, and what number is staring back at me from the scale are going to be in the past.  Although many think knowledge of those numbers make a person "healthy" I am going to disagree. Living a life run by numbers is not a way to live for me.  I am going to try to listen to my body and stop living by the numbers and just enjoy life.

spinach banana pumpkin green monster

2 cups spinach
1/2 banana
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1 scoop green super food
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
ice ~1cup

Add ingredients in the following order into the blender: super food, pumpkin pie spice, spinach, pumpkin, banana, and milk.  Puree.  Add ice and pulse again until desired consistency.

swiss chard apple green monster

2 cups swiss chard
1 apple peeled and chopped
1 cup vanilla almond milk
1 scoop green super food
ice ~1 cup

Add ingredients in the following order into the blender: super food, spinach, apple, and milk.  Puree.  Add ice and pulse again until desired consistency.


spinach green apple and green grape monster

2 cups spinach
1 green apple peeled and chopped (~100 grams)
10 frozen green grapes
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk
1/2 cup water
1 scoop green super food
ice ~1 cup

Add ingredients in the following order into the blender: super food, spinach, apple, and milk.  Puree.  Add ice and pulse again until desired consistency.  Approx. 150 calories

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

gooey butter cookies


Brad came with me to the grocery store the other day which is rare these days.  When we first got married we shopped only on the days we were going to cook which wasn't often.  We only bought food for that meal.  As I put cream of mushroom soup and boxed cake mix in the cart he made the comment "I remember when almost every meal you made had cream of something soup, stove top stuffing and boxed cake mix".  I thought back and it was true.  I had no idea how to cook so I relied on processed kitchen staples to make meals like tuna noodle casserole, chicken and stuffing, spaghetti pie and cupcakes with canned premade frosting.  I felt so proud that I have come so far in the kitchen and excited for how much farther I have to go on this food journey.  The boxed cake mix required to make the gooey butter cookies also made me smile because they are comfort food to me.  I realized the comfort food is about a feeling.  The feeling that you get when you taste the food and the place it brings you to.  I will forever remember our sliver of a kitchen in our 797 square foot San Francisco condo and the begining of my marriage.  No matter how bad the food tasted Brad always ate it and that is just one of the reasons I love him.  He is my comfort so, there will always be a place in my heart for boxed cake mix and cream of mushroom soup. 

gooey butter cookies
source: paula deen

1 (8 ounce) block of cream cheese, room temperature

1/2 cup of butter, room temperature
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar


Directions
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2.In a medium bowl, cream together the cream cheese and butter. Stir in the egg and vanilla. Add cake mix, and stir until well blended. Roll into 1inch balls and roll the balls in the confectioners' sugar. Place 1 inch apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
3.Bake for 10 to 13 minutes in the preheated oven. Remove from baking sheets to cool on wire racks.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

deep dish pepperoni pizza


I am fairly indifferent to pizza ... weird I know.  I like it but, I rarely crave it.  Brad and the kids love it so, I need to learn appreciate pizza.   This gives me an opportunity to learn to make pizza.  I got a pizza stone last Christmas.  I have tried to make pizza numerous times since and for the most part they have been flops.  First off I have not found my go to dough.  There are so many pizza dough recipes out there and I have tried many but, have not found the one.  I will continue to search and practice.  The hardest part for me is rolling out the dough. When pizza is on a cooking show I watch in hopes to pick up tips.  I have gathered some tips and findings during this journey which have helped but, I am still dough rolling challenged.  This is what I know as of now.  You need to shape and roll the dough.  It helps to shape the dough with you hands to begin.  Gently pull and shape the ball of dough into the general shape you are trying to achieve.  You may be able to get to the final shape using your hands which I think would be the ultimate goal.  If you can't (like me) then once you have the general shape you can use the rolling pin to get to the finish line.  If you mess up and need to gather dough back into a ball you need to let the dough ball sit for a few minutes (~10) to relax before attempting again.  If you go at it again right away the dough snaps back and produces a tough crust (yuck!).  Once you have rolled out the dough if you are using a baking pan like the following recipe it helps to let the pressed dough sit for about 20 minutes before you add the toppings.  These are my discoveries and I actually have no idea if they are accurate but, they have helped me produce better crust ... far from perfect but, certainly better.  If anyone has tips ... help a girl out!

deep dish pepperoni pizza
adapted: cooking light
  • 1  cup  warm water (100° to 110°), divided
  • 12  ounces  bread flour (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1  package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 4  teaspoons  olive oil
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/4  cups  (5 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 1/2  cups basic pizza sauce
  • 2  ounces  pepperoni slices
  • 2  tablespoons  grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1. Pour 3/4 cup warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attached. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add flour to 3/4 cup water; mix until combined. Cover and let stand 20 minutes. Combine remaining 1/4 cup water and yeast in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes or until bubbly. Add yeast mixture, oil, and salt to flour mixture; mix 5 minutes or until a soft dough forms. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray; cover surface of dough with plastic wrap lightly coated with cooking spray. Refrigerate for 24 hours.
2. Remove dough from refrigerator. Let stand, covered, 1 hour or until dough comes to room temperature. Punch dough down. Roll and shape dough out to a 14 x 11–inch rectangle on a lightly floured surface. Press dough into bottom and partially up sides of a 13 x 9–inch metal baking pan coated with cooking spray. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap and let sit for ~20 minutes.
3. Place a baking sheet in oven on bottom rack. Preheat oven to 450°.
4. Arrange 3/4 cup mozzarella evenly over dough; top with Basic Pizza Sauce, pepperoni, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella. Place pan on baking sheet in oven; bake at 450° for 25 minutes or until crust is golden. Cut pizza into 6 rectangles.

Monday, November 15, 2010

basic pizza sauce


A recent goal is to make more at home and eat less canned and processed food.  As you can see basic has been in the title of two posts recently.  I am just putting my toe in pond and testing the waters of so many recipes. This is a journey right?  Pizza making is going to take me awhile to perfect but, I am going to keep trying.  These recipes are a starting point as I become more comfortable with the pizza making process.  I like these recipes but, I hope to try some more in the future to compare.  Recently I have been using my bread hook and pizza stone.  See family I know I ask for a lot of kitchen items but, I do use them and I do LOVE them.   (Check out my new all-clad 2 quart saucepan .... LOVE!!) Brad and the kids love pizza.  I thought I was just so so on pizza but, what I realized is there is such a thing as bad pizza and I have had a lot of bad pizza.  Homemade pizza is really good and the best part is you can control the ingredients.  You can eat a slice of pizza knowing what went into it and not feel guilty.  The garlic really shines in this simple sauce which adds a lot to the flavor of the pizza.

basic pizza sauce
adapted: cooking light

  • 2  tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  (28-ounce) can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1  teaspoon  kosher salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  dried oregano
1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Remove tomatoes from can using a slotted spoon, reserving juices. Crush tomatoes. Stir tomatoes, juices, salt, and oregano into garlic mixture; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

s'mores ice cream


With the homemade marshmallows we made oven s'mores, dipped them  in chocolate fondue and floated them  in hot chocolate.  Every variation was enjoyed.  I am excited to make them again for the holidays with a bit of peppermint and use in my snugglers!  We still had some left and I was debating between s'mores cookie bars and s'mores ice cream.  The combination of the 90 degree weather in November and my odd fascination with my ice cream maker pushed the scale toward ice cream.  I used a vanilla ice cream base from the perfect scoop.  It is a little more involved then the other ice creams I have made but, it is SO much better.  This ice cream is worth the process.  I am so glad that I have a go to vanilla bean ice cream. Everyone needs one of those in their cooking arsenal.   After the base was made I hand folded in the marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers.  This ice cream is good.  Brad said a few times I can't believe you made this.  It is that good but, I think I can make it even better by toasting the marshmallows slightly and melting the milk chocolate into a swirl.  Can't wait to try this again with the potential improvements.  YUM!

I am going to participate in my first blog event!  Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Beanilla.

s'mores ice cream
vanilla ice cream base: the perfect scoop

1 cup whole milk
pinch of salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups graham crackers chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (~ 8 full sheets)
1 cup homemade marshmallows cut into 1/4 inch squares
1 cup finely chopped hershey's milk chocolate bars (~2.5 king size bars)



Prepare Ice Cream:


Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.

To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.

Remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Transfer ice cream to a large bowl and slowly stir in the graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate. Transfer to freezer save container and freeze until hardened.

Monday, November 8, 2010

basic banana bread


Omega 3s what are they, what do they do?  I am not really sure but, I keep hearing you need to eat them.  I buy the milk with omega 3s and the brown eggs with omega 3s.  Am I the only one that thinks brown eggs are healthier then white?  I have no idea why I think that but, then toss in organic and omega 3 and I am buying them.  I continue to hear about the benefits of flaxseed which  provides both omega 3s and fiber.  I don't cook much fish which is a major source of omega 3s because my house is small and it makes our home smell like fish.  No matter how good the fish is a home that smells like fish is not good.  Carter does not like fish, eggs or vegetables so, I worry about his omega 3s and fiber.  I am always looking for new ways to sneak more into his food without him noticing.  The flaxseed in this banana bread adds a nutty undertone which is tasty.  This banana bread is moist,  flavorful and the light glaze on the top adds enough sweetness that you don't need to spread cream cheese or anything else on this bread.  I typically bake quick bread in four mini pans because I hate wasting food and we don't get through a whole loaf but, this was baked as one big loaf and every crumb is gone. 

basic banana bread
adapted: cooking light
  • 1 1/2  cups  mashed ripe banana (~2 large)
  • 1/3  cup  plain fat-free greek yogurt
  • 5  tablespoons  butter, melted
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1/2  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/2  cup  packed brown sugar
  • 6.75  ounces  all-purpose flour (~ 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4  cup  ground flaxseed (flaxseed meal)
  • 3/4  teaspoon  baking soda
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground cinnamon
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground allspice
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/3  cup  powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2  teaspoons  1% low-fat milk
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed. Add granulated and brown sugars; beat until combined.
3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through ground allspice). Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended. Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; cool completely. Combine powdered sugar and milk, stirring until smooth; drizzle over bread.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

homemade marshmallows


I have been curious about making marshmallows from scratch.  I have read several blog entries talking about the sticky mess the process leaves both you and your kitchen.  I am not the neatest person in the kitchen so I was assuming I was going to be washing marshmallow strings off the ceiling.  I wasn't sure which step caused the big mess so, I was more cautious then I normally am when baking.  I watched the candy thermometer like a hawk as the mixture bubbled and boiled to the soft ball stage.  I restrained myself from giving in to the urge to stir.  Mixture reached 240 and not a drop on the stove top.  I was then certain it was when I poured it into the mixer but, nope the hot syrup was incorporated without a mess.  I turned the mixer to high and left the kitchen to wash my face and brush my teeth.  A thumping noise started to be heard in the back ground.  I went out to the kitchen to find the kitchen aid working up a sweat.  The sticky marshmallow mixture really puts the mixer to work.  I poured the marshmallow into the pan and there was still quite a bit on the sides of the bowl so, I got out my spatula as I always do in order to scrape the mix stuck to the sides of the bowl into the pan.  As I scraped and pushed the marshmallow mix long strands of white sticky marshmallow began to form.  I made the mistake of trying to break them with my finger.  Before I knew it I had marshmallow strings on my hands, my PJ's, my face and of course eventually in my hair.  I found the messy step!  Cleaned up for the second time that night and let the pan sit over night.  In the morning I turned out with a little help from my fingers a large beautiful white marshmallow pillow on to the cutting board.  I cut, dusted with sugar and tasted.  They were good!  Springy, fluffy, soft bites of marshmallow.  We made homemade s'mores that night and I have had them in cocoa and they take those both up a notch.  Of course now I want to make homemade graham crackers and I know I will be making these again this winter for our annual Mammoth fondue dinner and my snuggler is definitely going to an elevated apres ski drink with these tossed on top. 


homemade marshmallows
adapted: sticky, chewy, messy, gooey

1 cup cold water
3 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
confectioners sugar for dusting

Pour 1/2 cup cold water into large mixing bowl.  Sprinkle gelatin evenly over the water and allow the gelatin to sit and absorb the water for 45-60 minutes.

In a saucepan, combine the remaining 1/2 cup of cold water, sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Heat the mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.  Increase the heat to high and let the mixture come to a boil.  Cook the syrup without stirring until it reaches 240 F on a candy thermometer.  Remove the syrup from the heat and slowly beat into gelatin mixture on low speed with whisk attachment.  Increase mixer to high and continue to beat until mixture is very thick, white and still warm (~15 minutes). Beat in the vanilla.

Generously oil a 9x13 baking pan and then dust with confectioners sugar.  Pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan, smooth the top with spatula, and dust the top with confectioners sugar.  Let marshmallows sit uncovered at room temperature for 8-12 hours.  Turn marshmallow out of pan onto parchment dusted with confectioners sugar.  Cut into 2 inch pieces.  Put cubes back into pan, dust with confectioners sugar and toss to coat.  Store the marshmallows in an air tight container.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

fonitina stuffed potato skins


I don't like potatoes, I have never like potatoes, I swear I am allergic to potatoes but, that is still an ongoing family debate.  Regardless of my dislike for potatoes my husband loves potatoes.  There is an ongoing joke amongst our friends about Brad's love for potatoes and his mom's killer twice baked potatoes.  The guys that Brad grew up with still talk about these twice baked potatoes ... they are a legend.  Brad's mom still makes them for him on special occasions and I still get ridiculed from the guys that Brad will never truly love me until I can replicate or surpass this famous twice baked potato.  I know I will never match these potatoes but, when my organic box was delivered this week with 4 beautiful russet potatoes I knew I had to attempt to make a stuffed potato.  This is a different spin then the aforementioned famous spud and certainly a lighter version but, all in all I think a good first entry in the world of twice baked.  I made up a full batch and then cooked them off during the week and let me tell you having a side ready to go in the refrigerator was awesome and made the dinner prep so much easier.  I think you could even freeze these before the second bake (need to cross reference with the legendary cook).  Brad liked these.  I know he did not want to hurt my feelings and say they did not compare to his moms but, he did finish every last bite and said his only complaint was they were too small.

fontina stuffed potato skins
source: cooking light
  • 3 1/4  pounds  russet potatoes (4-6 potatoes)
  • 1  cup  whole milk
  • 1/3  cup  light sour cream
  • 1/4  cup  reduced-fat buttermilk
  • 1  cup  (4 ounces) shredded fontina cheese
  • 1/4  cup  finely chopped chives
  • 2  tablespoons  butter
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/2  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 6  tablespoons  grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Pierce potatoes with a fork; bake at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Cut potatoes in half lengthwise. Scoop out flesh, leaving about a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Combine flesh, milk, sour cream, and buttermilk; mash with a potato masher to desired consistency. Stir in fontina and next 4 ingredients (through pepper). Divide mixture evenly among shells. Place potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet; sprinkle potatoes evenly with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until heated.
3. Preheat broiler.
4. Broil potatoes 2 minutes or until browned and bubbly.
Note:  You can bake and fill potatoes up to 2 days in advance.  Bring to room temperature, sprinkle with parmigiano-reggiano cheese and pop in the oven.

Monday, November 1, 2010

pumpkin icebox pie

I love pumpkin.  It is my flavor.  I pretty much deem all foods which highlight pumpkin as delicious.  I love the fall because I can start indulging in my pumpkin love without guilt.  I have a small stack of pumpkin recipes to try.  To my disappointment I made two which were flops.  They were edible but, they were not out of this world.  I made this on my third pumpkin dessert attempt.  It took longer to setup in the refrigerator for me than 3-4 hours so, I started to panic thinking I had 3 flops in a row.  Eventually it did setup and it was yummy!  It is slightly sweeter then pumpkin pie but, has the same silky texture.  The graham cracker crust is thick, buttery and delicious.  The pumpkin icebox pie is gone and no squeaker the mouse did not eat any.  He (or Carter) just wanted to be included in the picture.  Happy fall!

pumpkin icebox pie
adapted: everyday food
  • 16 cinnamon graham crackers, broken into large pieces
  • 1 tablespoon dark-brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 3 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin (from 2 packets)
  • 1 can (29 ounces) pure pumpkin puree
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
  • 1 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
  1. Make crust: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a food processor, combine graham crackers, sugar, and salt; process until fine crumbs form. With machine running, slowly pour butter through feed tube and process until mixture resembles wet sand. Press crumbs in bottom and up sides of a 9-inch square baking dish or 9" pie plate. Bake until crust is deep golden brown and fragrant, 20 minutes. Let cool completely in baking dish on a wire rack.
  2. Meanwhile, make filling: Place cup cold water in a small bowl. Sprinkle gelatin on top and let stand 5 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree and cream cheese until smooth. In a small saucepan, combine evaporated milk, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt; bring to a simmer over medium. Add gelatin mixture and stir until completely dissolved. Pour milk mixture into pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely smooth.  Pour mixed filling through a fine meshed sieve to remove any clumps.
  3. Pour filling into cooled crust and refrigerate until chilled and completely set, about 3-4 hours (or wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate, up to 2 days). To serve, whip cream with confectioners' sugar until soft peaks form. Top pie with whipped cream and sprinkle with nutmeg.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

chinese chicken salad


Any salad I can dress with galeos miso dressing usually is a winner for me.  Couple that with a base of napa cabbage and I am typically licking the bowl.  I styled this salad after a chinese chicken salad at a local restaurant.  Brad really likes the salad here.  I kinda like the salad and that is after I ask for no dressing, extra chicken and combining two half portions of separate salads.  Not sure that classifies as liking something.  This to me is much better.  Occasionally I toss on mandarin oranges when in season and it makes it taste even better.  

chinese chicken salad
source: sweetflours

1 head napa cabbage, sliced thin
1 head romaine lettuce, sliced thin
1 bunch green onions, sliced thin
3 ounce package ramen noodles (discard seasoning pack)
3 ounce slivered almonds
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 cups shredded chicken 
2 mandarin oranges, peeled and separated
* 1 bottle galeos miso dressing

Preheat oven to 400.  Crumble ramen noodles and combine ramen noodles, almonds and sesame seeds on rimmed baking dish.  Bake for 2-4 minutes until golden brown in parts.  Let cool.
Combine chopped cabbage, romaine, and green onion in large bowl.  Top with shredded chicken. *Mandarin oranges if using*
Top salad with ramen and almond mixture.  Toss with galeos dressing.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 29, 2010

buttered green beans and cremini mushrooms


Obsessed ... I am obsessed with my organic box delivery.  It is making me find so many new ways to incorporate this bi-weekly bounty.  The past two weeks there have been long, bright, crisp green beans.  Last week I was not very creative with them.  This week I elevated simplicity with this side dish and ps  it only has 120 calories ... the whole recipe.  When I saute vegetables on the stove I typically prefer them in butter over olive oil.  My go to is butter on the stove and olive oil in the oven.  Not sure why but, that is how I roll.  The butter mixed with the garlic and the salt and coating these fresh beans and mushrooms is a filling and versatile side that leaves you satisfied. I have made it twice this week and I still have more beans!

buttered green beans and cremini mushrooms
adapted: cooking light
  • 6 ounces  green beans, trimmed
  • 1  tablespoons  butter
  • 5  ounces  cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  coarsely ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

1. Steam green beans, covered, 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Plunge beans into ice water; drain. Pat dry with a towel; set aside.
2. Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; sauté 8 minutes or until mushroom liquid evaporates. Stir in garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and green beans; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated, tossing to combine.

Monday, October 25, 2010

yigandes me spanaki


Opah!  Opah in Greek is a declaration of celebration or joy.  Supper club was Greek theme this month and after my work week and knowing the ladies I would be spending the evening with I was running to dinner and screaming opah down the street as I left my house.  I love my kids but, mama needed some ouzo.  I counted on the company being good but, I had no idea how amazing the meal would be.  Everything from the ouzo heavy greek goddess martinis to the sweat and nutty baklava was down right delicious.  I had a side dish.  I wanted to stretch the bounds a bit and try a traditional greek side.  I love the combination of spinach, leeks and feta so, I was drawn to this recipe.  Many of the side included yigandes beans which are basically a large lima bean.  The fact that this incorporated the bean as well intrigued me.  My box this week happened to include spinach, leeks and tomatoes which was nice to be able to include farm fresh ingredients.  The side dish was good and definitely had the greek flavors.  Next time I will up the spinach slightly and possibly another tomato for a bit more liquid.  The recipe said 1 hour and 30 minutes cook time but, after an hour it was done and possibly a bit too dry.

yigandes me spanaki: 
spinach, bean and feta casserole
adapted: about.com

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound of fresh spinach (or16oz frozen chopped spinach)
  • 1/2 pound of yigandes beans
  • 1 leek, just the white stalk; finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of green onions; finely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch of fresh dill, thick stems removed, finely chopped
  • 6 oz of feta cheese; crumbled
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes; seeded, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of dried bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
Preparation:
* Soak the beans in a large bowl of water overnight. The next day, drain and transfer to a large soup pot. Cover with cold water (at least 3 times as much water as beans) and bring to a boil over high heat. When a full boil is reached, reduce heat and cook at a slow boil for 1 hour. Transfer to a colander to drain and set aside.

* Clean spinach well, trim roots, and discard any damaged leaves. Chop coarsely and put in a large bowl or plastic tub. (If using frozen defrost and let drain in a colander).

* Taking one handful of spinach at a time, squeeze gently but firmly over the sink to remove most excess liquid, and place spinach in a colander. When all the spinach has been squeezed, toss with salt and set aside to drain. 

* Preheat oven to 340°F.  Oil an medium roasting or baking pan (with 2 1/2 inch sides).

* In a large bowl or plastic tub, combine spinach, onions, leeks, dill, and 1/2 the feta cheese. 

* Distribute 1/2 the spinach mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Add the beans to make an even layer, and place the remaining spinach mixture on top. Sprinkle with remaining cheese, then add the chopped tomatoes. Sprinkle with pepper. Pour oil over the top, and finish with an even dusting of bread crumbs. 

* Bake for about 1 hour.

Remove from oven and let sit for 20-30 minutes before serving. This dish is generally served warm or at room temperature.

Monday, October 18, 2010

cookies and cream ice cream cake


The birthday festivities seem to continue on for Carter.  Each set of grandparents wanted to have a more intimate birthday celebration so, they could watch him open presents and enjoy the event without 25 kids jumping and screaming in a bounce house.  He is very loved.  We had Brad's family over to finish off the celebration and as I mentioned the day was 80+ degrees so, I hit up my trusty celebration cookbook sky high irresistible triple layer cakes and found a recipe for ice cream cake.  I have wanted to use my ice cream maker more, there were sleeves of oreos left and a quart of heavy cream.  All signs were pointing to a cookies and cream ice cream cake with left over sprinkles.  I was never a fan of cookies and cream ice cream growing up.  It is not that I did not like it but, I just could never pass up ice cream with peanut butter in it.  It was just one of those flavors that got quickly over looked so, I really don't have a favorite store bought to compare this to.  I was concerned about the yellow tint I saw in the base due to the yolks but, one it got moving in the machine it turned that creamy color that I suppose cookies and cream should be.  It was creamy, sweet, rich and full of chunky oreo bites.  We all really liked the ice cream and I actually think next time I could use one and a half to two batches of the homemade ice cream in between the chocolate layers to really make the ice cream shine in this cake.  The one batch of ice cream made the cake almost feel like an ice cream sandwich which wasn't bad at all but, I would have liked a little more ice cream.

cookies and cream ice cream cake
1. Bake layers.
2. Line 8" square cake pan with plastic wrap.  Allow enough plastic wrap to hang over sides.  Dump softened (right out of machine) ice cream into lined pan and pack down evenly.
3. While ice cream is still soft, set one of the cake layers on top.  Press down gently to remove gaps.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer for ~ 2 hours.  Wrap remaining layer in plastic wrap for later use. 
4. Make glaze.  1/4 cup cream and 1 tbsp corn syrup heated to a simmer in a small saucepan.  In a heat proof bowl chop 4oz semi sweet chocolate.  Pour cream mixture over and let stand for 5 minutes.  Whisk until smooth and then let stand an additional 2 minutes to cool.  
5. Remove cake from freezer and unmold by pulling excess plastic wrap and invert cake untop cake plate cake side down.  Top with remaining layer.
5. Pour glaze in center of cake and spread it around allowing it to drip over the sides.  Decorate top with sprinkles and or candies and return to freezer for 2 hours.
6. May need to allow cake to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes to get knife through it.


one bowl chocolate cake
adapted: sky high: irresistible triple layer cakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1.4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla


Preheat oven to 350.  Butter 2 8" square pans.
Sift flour - salt into large mixing bowl.  Use a wire whisk and blend ingredients.
Add oil and 1/2 cup of water to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.  Add another 1/2 cup water and vanilla and again whisk until smooth.  Divide batter between the two pans.
Bake for 18-20 minutes.  Let coll in pans for 10 minutes and then remove to wire racks to completely cool ~ 1hour.

glaze
1/4 cup cream
1 tbsp light corn syrup
4 oz. semi sweet chocolate; chopped

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream
source: annie eats
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
15-20 Oreo cookies, quartered
 
Directions:
Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan over medium heat.  Heat until bubbles form around the edges.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until smooth and well combined.  Slowly add the warm milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.
Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.   Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 5-8 minutes, until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon (about 175 degrees F on an instant read thermometer).  Pour the liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.  Stir in the vanilla extract.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until completely chilled.
Once the mixture is well chilled, pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Once the mixture is softly frozen, transfer to a storage container and add Oreo pieces then fold in gently with a rubber spatula.  Freeze until completely hardened.
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