Thursday, April 28, 2011

strawberry cheesecake with graham cracker crust swirl ice cream

I had a HUGE flop in the kitchen this week.  The big disaster ate my beautiful basket of organic strawberries.  There were so many signs that this cake was going to be a disaster but, I refused to listen.  The online reviews were horrid, the new buttermilk had clumps when I poured it, my lemon was gone.  The signs were there but, I pressed on and produced the grossest, pastiest, dense cake. The strawberry flavor was nonexistent or possibly overwhelmed by a gummy flour taste.  It was so bad even the frosting which was very good could not save it.  It went into the trash can.  I could not be defeated.  I got back in the kitchen that night to make something with the rest of my berries.  I was not feeling overly ambitious or excited about doing a ton of dishes.  This ice cream is a lazy version with no egg yolks and no heating involved.  I did add and mix in the graham cracker crust chunks but, only because that is my favorite part of a cheesecake.  This ice cream is easy and best of all it put me back on the board.  I did not let the strawberry layer cake take me down. 

strawberry cheesecake with graham cracker crust swirl ice cream
adapted: gourmet

3/4 pound (1 quart) strawberries
8 ounces softened cream cheese
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup heavy cream 
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
¼ cup butter, melted

In a bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Stir in butter. Pat into an small 8x8 ungreased baking pan. Bake at 350° F for 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack. Remove from pan and break into 1 inch pieces.  Save all the crumbs and small bits.
To make the ice cream, purée the strawberries with the cream cheese, sugar, milk, and salt. Stir in the heavy cream, chill completely, then freeze in an ice-cream maker. 

In a large freezer proof container, layer the ice cream and graham cracker crust; swirl. Freeze. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

cheesy meatloaf minis

Poor meatloaf.  Many don't like you.  They don't even know you but, they judge you and they assume they don't like you.  Not my hubby.  He has a hard time meeting a meat loaf that he does not like.  He likes a lot of meatloaves but, rarely does he really love one.  If meatloaf is on the menu I know he will order you, make friends with you and continue to think about you the next day.  As a good wife I am always on the hunt for the great meatloaf.  I want to be the one who makes the meatloaf of his dreams.  This may not be the meatloaf that he wants to marry but, this one is easy to make and solid on taste.  The hidden pockets of melted cheese are a nice addition to the traditional meatloaf.  Extra bonus is Carter did not want to try it (hating on the loaf at a young age) but, once he did he exclaimed "this is yummy meat mom"!  That is really all I needed to hear to know that I was going to make this again.  I make the mix and split in half.  I bake one and freeze the other which is another plus to this recipe.

cheesy meatloaf minis
adapted: cooking light

1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs (about 1 ounce) - if fresh then lightly toasted
Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 cup ketchup, divided
3 ounces white cheddar cheese, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 425°.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Combine onion mixture, breadcrumbs, 1/4 cup ketchup, and remaining ingredients. Shape into 6 (4 x 2-inch) loaves on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; spread 2 teaspoons ketchup over each. Bake at 425° for 25 minutes or until done.  Alternately you can divide the meatloaf mix into two loaves.  You can bake one large loaf for 30 minutes and freeze one for later use.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

rice krispy peep treats

I am a sucker for a rice krispy treat.  Seriously what is there not to love.  The are sticky, sweet, crunchy and down right yummy.  When I was pregnant I often had one stashed in my purse.  I use to love peeps.  Make that stale peeps.  Something about stale peeps and red vines for me.  Although peeps are not on the top of my list anymore they are still super cute and scream Easter.  Carter and I made these yesterday afternoon and the plan was to deliver them to all his "peeps" but, Campbell got sick and we couldn't leave the house.  We had a great time making them and he felt very involved in the process. If you need a cute no bake Easter treat these are perfect.  Adorable. Delicious. Done!

So there you go my peeps ... Happy Easter!

rice krispy peep treats

3 tablespoons butter
10 oz marshmallows (40 large or 4 cups mini)
6 cups rice krispies
1/2 bag of candy melts
16 peeps (cut in half vertically)

In large saucepan melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.   Add rice krispy cereal.  Stir until well coated.

Using buttered spatula or wax paper evenly press mixture into 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan coated with cooking spray. Cool. 

Melt the candy melts and spread across pan of rice krispy treats.  Place the 16 peeps in 4 rows of 4.  Shake sprinkles all over.  Let the toppings set and cut into 16 treats.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

dulce de leche cupcakes

Dulce de leche is heaven.  A thick milk based caramel sauce or spread that is beyond delicious.   I love caramel, caramel candies, caramel apples, caramel sauce, caramel corn.  You get the point.  Brad likes chocolate.  Chocolate chip cookies, brownies, chocolate bars.  For Brad's surprise party it was so obvious what I had to make.  Dulce de leche cupcakes.  I was the one organizing, inviting, planning, and setting up so, I should at least get rewarded for all of this hard work ... right?!?  When I spooned a huge scoop of the frosting into my mouth I was completely convinced that I had made the right decision.  The frosting is insane and paired with the dense cupcake base it is so good that you have to eat not just one two.  Even though these were not chocolate Brad truly loved them.  My only issue was the recipe makes 24 but, only 22 went into the oven and only 20 showed up for the party.  Oops!

dulce de leche cupcakes
source: joy the baker adapted from the Gourmet cookbook

For the Cupcakes:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup buttermilk

For the Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup dulce de leche, plus more for drizzling
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 cups powdered sugar

Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper or foil liners.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add butter and sugars. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and pale brown, about 3 minutes.   Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add one egg.  Beat on medium for one minute.  Add the remaining eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute between each addition.  Stop the bowl and scrape down the sides as necessary. Beat in vanilla extract.

Add half of the flour mixture to the egg and butter mixture.  Beat on low speed and slowly drizzle in the buttermilk.  Beat until just incorporated.  Stop the mixer, scrape down the bowl and add the rest of the dry ingredients.  Beat on low speed until just incorporated.  Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and finish incorporating with a spatula.  Try not to over mix the mixture.

Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake pans, filling each liner about two thirds full. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of one of the cakes comes out clean.  Let rest in the cupcake pans before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.  Cupcakes should be completely cooled before frosting.

To make the frosting:
Place cream cheese in the bowl of an electric stand mixer.  Beat on medium speed for about 30 seconds, until very soft and pliable.  Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the butter and dulce de leche.  Beat on medium speed until well incorporated.  Stop the mixer and add the salt and powdered sugar.  Beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until fluffy and lighter in color.  Generously spoon frosting on top of cupcakes, or use a large frosting tip to pipe on frosting.

Monday, April 18, 2011

peanut butter truffles

Bathing suit season is coming.  I do not need to be eating over the top desserts every night.  What I need and what I want don't seem to be reconciling.  In order to feel as if I am indulging me and the kids made these very simple truffles.  A truffle sounds fancy but, if you can melt, mix and roll these can be yours tonight.  The kids helped with the mix and roll.  If you use really good quality chocolate and nice salty peanuts these become a decadent little treat.  All it takes is one truffle to satisfy my sweet tooth. Truffles are so easy to prepare kids can make them and homemade candy just screams "I LOVE YOU".   Your family will love you if you make them truffles and your bathing suit will love that you did not eat another cupcake with obscene amounts of frosting.

peanut butter truffles
adapted: southern living

1 (12-oz.) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3/4 cup finely chopped, lightly salted roasted peanuts

1. Microwave first 3 ingredients in a medium-size microwave-safe bowl at HIGH 1 to 1 1/2 minutes or until melted and smooth, stirring at 30-second intervals. Let cool 10 minutes. 
2. Beat chocolate mixture at medium speed with an electric mixer 1 to 2 minutes or until whipped and smooth. Cover and chill 2 hours or until firm. 
3. Shape chocolate mixture into 1-inch balls, using a small ice-cream scoop. Roll in chopped peanuts. (If chocolate mixture becomes too soft to shape, refrigerate until firm.) Place on wax paper-lined baking sheets. Chill 1 hour before serving. Store truffles in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 5 days.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

israeli carrots

I don't know what makes these carrots Israeli.  I am not going to claim to know Israeli food.  I do know that this was in the passover menu section of the April Cooking Light and my experience with Jewish food is I really like it.  Typically I enhance the sweetness of a carrot.  This recipe was a different twist for me.  The fresh herb vinaigrette is a nice contrast to the sweet carrot.  It is a quick side that can be served warm or room temperature.  This would be a welcome addition to any spring celebration menu.

israeli carrots
source: cooking light

2 quarts water
1 pound baby carrots, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add carrots; cook 3-4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain. 

Place garlic in a food processor; pulse 3 times or until finely chopped. Add cilantro; pulse 3 times or until combined. Add dill and remaining ingredients; pulse 3 times or until well combined. Spoon dill mixture over carrots; toss gently to coat. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

fava bean and goat cheese dip

Is a fava bean worth the double peel and shuck?  I wasn't sure when I decided to make a fava bean based appetizer for supper club this month.  Fava beans require a lot of work.  The labor intensive peel, shuck, parboil and pop out of pod is the kind of work that seems like a mindless Sunday afternoon activity that includes sitting on the porch watching you kids play in the sunshine while sipping sweet tea. Unfortunately I don't have a porch and we don't have sunshine so, I did this in my kitchen watching my kids peering out the glass doors leading into the backyard frowning at the gray sky and rain clouds.  The bright green color of the fava bean pushes you into spring even if the sky is gray.  The bean has a buttery and nutty taste and pairs nice with other spring flavors such as garlic and lemon.  Not only do they taste good but, they are packed with nutritious things like fiber, iron and protein.  This creamy dip tastes great spread on a crostini or on crunchy fresh vegetables.  I also spread some on sprouted bread with a poached egg for dinner the next day and it was delicious.  This was a great start to our Easter feast supper club meal.  It was another fun and tasty night with amazing friends and I can't think of a better way to jump into spring.

fava bean and goat cheese dip
  • 2 pounds fresh fava beans, shelled (~2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice (~1 lemon)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
Remove the outer shell from the fava beans.

Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon of salt. Add the shelled beans, simmer for 5 minutes. Remove beans from the hot water and place in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and to shock the beans into maintaining their bright green color. When the beans have sunk to the bottom of the bowl of ice water, take them out and remove the outer pod.

Place garlic, beans, lemon zest, lemon juice and water in a food processor. Pulse until smooth. Stream in a tablespoon of olive oil while puréeing.

Transfer mixture from food processor into a bowl. Mix in the goat cheese until well combined. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper.

Monday, April 11, 2011

chocolate chip oatmeal pecan cookies

Sometimes the classics are just what the cookie jar calls for.  These are the perfect cookie if you can't decide between and oatmeal cookie or a chocolate chip cookie.  They are soft and filled with chocolate chips but, have great body from the oatmeal and a slightly crisp edge.  The cookie jar was full and happy.  It was full for only a day or so because we gobbled these up.  I know we are suppose to be filling our kids up with healthy nutritious food and even though it may not appear to be true I actually do feed them quite well but, there is just something about a cookie jar with fresh homemade cookies that makes me feel more momish.  Is momish a word?    I kept trying to convince myself that with the oats and the nuts they were just a granola bar in a cookie form.  The cookie jar is now empty and sad?

chocolate chip oatmeal pecan cookies
adapted: everyday food
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 cups rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup light-brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
  • 1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, oats, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar on high until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Add vanilla and egg and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat just until combined. Fold in pecans and chocolate chips.
  2. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake cookies until puffed and golden around edges, about 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

ganache-filled chocolate cupcakes with seven minute meringue frosting

Surprise! Another "surprise" birthday celebration last week while I was under the weather.  A shoe themed  surprise party was thrown for my youngest sister and I was tasked with bringing the cupcakes.  Luckily I made (and tasted) all of the cupcakes prior to my sickness taking me down.  I made some of the standard go to cupcakes but, I wanted to try out something new for the party. If you like decadent dark chocolate goodness then these cupcakes are for you.  The cake is moist and rich and so does not need the added chips but, the chips just make these insanely decadent and sinful.  The pocket of ganache is a welcome surprise that takes these cupcakes over the top and down right naughty.  The frosting is not overly sweet and balances nicely with the rich base.  The frosting was so fun to pipe on the cupcakes and held shape really well.  The cupcakes were a hit and my sister was surprised and had a blast. 

ganache-filled chocolate cupcakes with seven minute meringue frosting 
source: bon appetite

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup hot water
1 1/4 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (about 7 1/2 ounces; do not exceed 61% cacao)

Filling and frosting:

1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (do not exceed 61% cacao)
1 cup sugar
2 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two 12-cup standard muffin pans with paper liners. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating until well incorporated after each addition. Beat in vanilla, half of flour mixture, then 1 cup hot water. Add remaining flour mixture; beat just until blended. Let batter stand until cooled and slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter among muffin papers (about 1/4 cup batter each).
Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out with some crumbs attached, 22 to 25 minutes. Cool cupcakes completely in pans.
For filling and frosting:
Bring cream just to boil in heavy small saucepan. Place chocolate chips in medium bowl; pour hot cream over. Let stand 1 minute, then whisk until melted and smooth. Let stand at room temperature until cool and firm, about 2 hours. (Alternatively, chill ganache until cool and firm, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour.) 
Whisk 1/3 cup water, sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar, and coarse salt to blend in large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Remove bowl from over water and continue beating until frosting is cool to touch, stiff, and billowy, about 2 minutes. Beat vanilla into frosting.
Using cupcake corer form deep pockets. Spoon or pipe ganache into pocket of each cupcake. Pipe on frosting.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

skillet baked chocolate chip cookie

Last week was not a good week for me.  I was hit with a major sinus infection and felt like I had been punched in the face and drained of all energy.  This is not good when you have two family birthdays to celebrate, plans every night of the week and a husband traveling.  Brad was in New Orleans for his birthday but, we could not let his birthday pass without a family dinner.  In my state I needed something that showed LOVE and appeared more time intensive then it actually was. Carter saw a picture of this giant skillet chocolate chip cookie and decided this is what daddy had to have.  It was our big secret all week.  Carter would give hints but, never actually gave it away.  I have to say Carter ... nailed it.  This giant cookie is slightly crisp on the top and sides and the soft center is filled with pockets of warm chocolate.  This must be served warm from the oven with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream. 

skillet baked chocolate chip cookie
adapted: martha stewart

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (~ 9 ounces) semisweet chocolate chunks
vanilla ice cream (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; mix until they are fully incorporated. Add flour mixture, and beat until just combined.
Stir in chocolate chips.

Transfer dough to a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, and press to flatten, covering bottom of pan. Bake until edges are brown and top is golden, 40 to 45 minutes. Don't over bake; it will continue to cook a few minutes out of the oven. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, 15 to 20 minutes. Cut into 8 wedges. Serve warm; top each wedge with a scoop of ice cream and some caramel sauce.

vanilla bean ice cream 
source: 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

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.

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