Monday, December 17, 2007

Candy Cane Shortbread

It wouldn't be the holidays without candy canes and shortbread. So why not combine them? I suggest running the candy canes through a grinder. You'll get a better texture for the cookes since there won't be huge chunks of candy in them. It doesn't have to be as fine as sugar, but the more ground up, the better. I don't normally love peppermint things, but I did like these cookies. At first you think the candy cane is going to be overpowering, but the shortbread holds up nicely in the second bite.

Candy Cane Shortbread

For the Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 ground candy canes
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch

For the Frosting

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/8-1/4 cup ground candy canes (Any larger chunks should be used here instead of in the cookies. The amount you need will depend on how much you sprinkle on top of the cookies.)

1- Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2- In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the ground candy canes and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Gradually add the flour and cornstarch and mix until the dough forms.
3- Form into 1" balls and place onto prepared baking sheets. Gently press down on each cookie to flatten using fingers or a glass dipped in sugar (I prefer the glass method).
4- Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the bottoms begin to brown.
5- Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Combine the powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp. of milk and vanilla and mix until the frosting is smooth adding more milk as needed. Drizzle cookies with frosting then sprinkle with the ground candy canes.

Roasted Tomato Enchiladas

I made these for Rachel as a thank you for driving me all over Philadelphia and for taking care of Gloucester when I've been out of town. I can't eat them, of course, but I've been told they are tasty. You can adjust the spiciness of them by how much you season the filling and what kind of canned tomatoes you get. You can also add cheese to the top if you want. These are good make ahead meals since you can prepare everything up to baking and keep them in the fridge. I'd be careful about freezing them since the tortillas may get soggy when thawed out. I make these and put them in individual tins so they can be made in single portions for a meal.

Roasted Tomato Enchiladas

15 oz. firm tofu
15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper (I use a black and red pepper mix.)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 large burrito-size tortillas (I use whole wheat since they are better for you. You can also get smaller size tortillas to make more enchiladas.)
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
29 oz. canned diced, fire-roasted tomatoes with green chilies (So you'll need two 14.5 oz. cans.)
1-2 dashes of hot sauce (optional)

1- Preheat oven to 350. Coat a deep, 12" skillet with cooking spray. Coat a 9" square baking dish with cooking spray.
2- Drain tofu and dice into 1/2" cubes. Add to the skillet and brown over medium heat until firm and the outsides are dry.
3- Spoon the tofu into a mixing bowl and add the beans and spices. Mix well. Divide the tofu equally among the tortillas and fold the sides into the center. Place the tortillas, seam side down, in the baking dish.
4- Coat skillet with additional cooking spray. Add onion and garlic and saute over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add undrained tomatoes and cook over high heat until the mixture thickens slightly, about 3-5 minutes. Spoon over the tortillas.
5- Bake until thoroughly heated, about 10 minutes. If you are adding cheese, sprinkle over the tortillas about halfway through baking.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Crab Cakes

I made these for Amy's birthday party. I've never made crab cakes before and have only very rarely used crab at all, but these came out really well. Plus they were super easy.

Crab Cakes

3/4 cup breadcrumbs (I used seasoned, but you could go with plain)
1 lb. fresh crab meat, drained well, picked over
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp hot sauce
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1- Line baking sheet with waxed paper. Place 1/2 cup breadcrumbs in a shallow dish.
2- Mix crab, mayonnaise, chives, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, hot sauce and remaining 1/4 cup breadcrumbs in a medium bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix in egg.
3- Using 2 Tbsp for each, form crab mixture into twenty 1 1/2" diameter cakes. Coat cakes with breadcrumbs in dish, pressing to adhere. Transfer cakes to prepared baking sheet. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 6 hours.
4- Heat oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, add cakes to the skillet and cook till golden and heated through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer cakes to paper towel to drain.

Lemon Pepper Garden Saute

I made this for Amy's birthday party and made some grilled chicken also sauteed with lemon pepper as well to go along with it.

Lemon Pepper Garden Saute

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup red bell pepper strips
1/2 cup sliced onion, separated into rings
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 3/4 cups sliced zucchini
1 1/2 cups sliced yellow squash
1 3/4 cups chopped plum tomato
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
1 tsp lemon pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (optional)

1- Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, onion and garlic, then saute 2 minutes. Add zucchini and yellow squash then saute 5 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add tomato, basil, lemon pepper and salt then saute 1 minute or until heated through.
2- Remove from heat and sprinkle with cheese.

Beef Sirloin With Coffee And Chili Rub

I actually made this with flank steak for Amy's birthday party. It worked out pretty well for a large group instead of individual steaks. I might tinker with the rub if I ever make it again, but it was tasty nonetheless. I think I'd add onion powder and maybe ground coriander and use espresso powder instead of the instant coffee.

Beef Sirloin With Coffee And Chili Rub

1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp instant coffee
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ancho chili powder (or other chili powder if you can't find the ancho)
2 (1 1/2 lb) boneless beef sirloins, cut 1 1/2" thick

1- Combine the first six ingredients in a bowl.
2- Rub both sides of the steaks and then let them sit for 30 minutes.
3- Grill steaks (or broil if you do not have a grill) on medium high until cooked to desired temperature.

Grilled Corn Salad

I made this as a side dish for my baked flautas. I can't eat it, but have been told that it is quite tasty. Since you use the broiler to grill the corn, you don't have to wait till summer, though the corn will probably be better then. Next time I'll try the George Foreman grill to see how well the corn turns out on there.

Grilled Corn Salad

4 large ears of corn, husked
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and minced
2 stalks celery, minced
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp lime juice
1/2 tsp cumin seed (not ground cumin)
1/2 tsp salt
3 dashes hot sauce (or to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)

1- Spray broiler rack with cooking spray and preheat broiler.
2- Spray the corn with cooking spray and broil, turning once, until corn is golden in spots, about 12 minutes (it may take longer depending on your broiler). Cool for 20 minutes.
3- Cut corn kernels off the cobs and place them in a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss well.

Cauliflower Poppers

I also added brussel sprouts to this, but it makes the dish more complicated since the sprouts have to be rinsed, soaked and baked a bit before mixed with the cauliflower. Apparently this makes a lot more than I had intended. I doubled the recipe and it was way more than needed. When cooked right, these are tender, but not mushy. Not quite the same as the battered and fried version, but tasty all the same.

Cauliflower Poppers

1 small head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets (about 4 cups)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder

1- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a baking pan or jelly roll pan with cooking spray.
2- Place cauliflower in a small bowl or ziploc bag. Add remaining ingredients and toss well to coat.
3- Spread the cauliflower in prepared pan so the florets are mostly in one layer. Bake until tender but not mushy, about 10 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Mint Chip Chocolate Cookies

I made these for Rachel's party since I was out of town. I also took some into work since the recipe made a good amount of cookies. The real inspiration for them was that I had some of the Nestle Mint/Chocolate Swirled Chips in my pantry that I needed to use otherwise I was going to eat them. So I worked out this recipe. The mint flavor is pretty strong, so be sure to add the mini chocolate chips to help cut the mint and increase the chocolate. It also helps keep the cookies from drying out.

Mint Chip Chocolate Cookies

2 1/4 cups flour
2/3 cup baking cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 large eggs
1 10 oz. pkg of Nestle Mint/Chocolate Swirled Chips
2 oz. mini chocolate chips

1- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2- Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
3- Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla in a large bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time beating well. Add the flour mixture gradually then stir in both types of chips.
4- Drop by well-rounded teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased baking sheet.
5- Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until centers are set. Do not overbake. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

I'm always on the lookout for new shortbread recipes. Much like my quest for the perfect corn spoon bread recipe that recreates the old Annie's Santa Fe spoon bread, I think that I'm trying to replicate something that I've had once before. I've had fantastic shortbread, but it's never exactly right. This one is decent, but again, not the droid I'm looking for.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1 Tbsp sugar

1- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2- Mix butter, brown sugar and vanilla together until fluffy. Gradually blend in the flour and cornstarch. Add chocolate chips.
3- Form into 1" balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Pour sugar into a small dish, dip the bottom of a drinking glass in sugar and lightly press down on each ball to flatten.
4- Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the bottoms begin to brown.
5- Cool for 5 minutes, sprinkle additional sugar on warm cookies if desired and remove to a rack to cool completely.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Chessboard Cake

This is the cake I made for Books & Snacks. It looks even cooler when in individual slices. This cut-away picture shows that the center creates kind of a mirror effect on each side of the cake. That's just the way it comes out, but when sliced, you don't notice that. Yes, you do have to have special equipment for this one, namely a Chessboard (or Checkerboard) Cake Pan Set. Mine was given to me which meant I absolutely took the first excuse to make one that I could. This is the recipe that came with the set. I think you could do a lot of interesting things with this set, like perhaps a white and red velvet cake or chocolate and orange cake.

Chessboard Cake with Fudgy Chocolate Frosting

For the cake:

4 cups cake flour
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
18 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 Tbsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

1- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour the three round cake pans. Place a round of parchment paper inside each.
2- Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
3- In a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed till smooth and creamy. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time beating well after each. Continue beating until fluffy, white and increased in volume. Beat in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture in four additions, alternating with the milk (beginning and ending with the flour).
4- Pour about 1/3 of the batter (4 1/2 cups) into a medium bowl. Add the chocolate and stir until blended.
5- To form the checkerboard pattern, place the divider ring in one of the prepared pans and spoon the plain batter into the outer and center rings, filling them 1/2 to 2/3 full. Spoon about 1 cup of the chocolate batter into the middle ring. Gently lift the ring out of the pan. Wipe off any remaining batter and place the ring in the second pan and repeat the procedure with the plain and chocolate batters.
6- For the third cake pan, reverse the procedure. Place the ring in the pan and spoon the chocolate batter into the outer and center rings. Spoon about 1 cup of the plain batter into the middle ring. Gently life the ring out of the pan. It's important that each layer have approximately the same amount of batter so that they will be the same thickness when baked.
7- Set the pans on the same rack in the oven, if possible, and bake until the tops of the cakes spring back, 25-30 minutes. Transfer the pans to wire racks and cool for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and cool completely on racks.

For the frosting:

4 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 tsp salt
12 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp vanilla
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled

1- Combine the sugar, salt and butter (you can use either a food processor or a mixer) until well mixed. Note that the ingredients will be dry and crumbly.
2- Add milk and vanilla and process/mix until smooth.
3- Add the chocolate and process/mix until well blended, smooth and creamy.

Assemble the cake:

1- Take a 10" round cardboard (or whatever plate you intend to use for the cake) and stack one of the cake layers on the bottom. Be sure to use one of the repeated patterns (white/chocolate/white).
2- Spread about 2/3 cup of frosting all the way to the edges of the layer.
3- Place the second layer (chocolate/white/chocolate).
4- Spread about 2/3 cup of frosting all the way to the edges of the layer.
5- Top with remaining cake layer (white/chocolate/white).
6- Spread thin coat of frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
7- Let the cake sit in the fridge until the frosting is set. This is important as the layers have a tendency to slide.
8- Frost with remaining frosting and let sit until set.

Cornbread Crostini

Tasty munchies made for Books & Snacks. I had an idea like this a while ago and then saw a sort of recipe for them. You can either make your favorite cornbread from scratch or go with one made from a mix (8 1/2 oz. box). Just make sure you bake it in an 8x8 pan otherwise the crostini will be too small. Also be sure to store these in an airtight container otherwise they'll just soak up the moisture that you bake out of them.

Cornbread Crostini

1 8x8 cornbread, baked, removed from pan and cooled completely

1- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2- Cut cooled cornbread into 1/2" slices then cut each slice in half.
3- Place pieces in a single layer on a large baking sheet.
4- Bake for about 10 minutes or until crisp, turning over once. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Lemon Apricot Chicken

The meat dish made for Books & Snacks. I used the thin-sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast you can usually find pre-packaged in the grocery store. Sometimes subbing that out when a recipe suggests pounding out the chicken works and sometimes it doesn't. This is one where it does. If you are making a variety of other foods and want to save some time and mess, I wholeheartedly stand behind taking the short-cut here.

Lemon Apricot Chicken

For the chicken:

1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg
2 Tbsp water
1 cup Bisquick or similar baking mix
1 Tbsp grated lemon peel (I used dried, though I would be interested in how it tastes with fresh.)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp pepper
6 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, about 1 lb. (I had more chicken, probably about 2 lbs. total in the thin-sliced version as discussed above.)

For the sauce:

2/3 cup apricot preserves
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp ground ginger

1- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread 1 Tbsp of melted butter in a jelly roll pan, 15 1/2x10 1/2 (I used two pizza pans as I had already used my jelly roll pan for something else).
2- Beat egg and water slightly in a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, combine baking mix, lemon peel, garlic powder and pepper.
3- Flatten chicken to 1/2" thickness between plastic wrap or waxed paper (skip if using the thin-sliced chicken).
4- Dip chicken into egg mixture then coat with baking mix mixture. Place in the pan. Repeat with all pieces of chicken. Drizzle with remaining melted butter.
5- Bake for 20 minutes. Turn and bake about 10 minutes longer or until cooked through. Remove from oven and set aside to rest.
6- Prepare sauce by combining all ingredients in a saucepan until hot then spread small amount over the top of each piece of chicken. Serve any remaining sauce for people to add to taste.

Corn Pudding

I made this for Books & Snacks and amazingly enough, it isn't horrible for you. Be careful about overbaking this. It's going to look a little underdone when you pull it from the oven, but if you leave it in too long it'll get dried out. I used more corn than the recipe originally called for with good results. I bet it would be even better with fresh corn. I just didn't have the wherewithal to deal with fresh for today's event.

Corn Pudding

3 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper (You could use white pepper if you have it on hand to keep the colors clean, though there is so little pepper in it that you probably won't notice even if you use black pepper.)
2 cups fat-free evaporated milk
1 1/2 cups egg substitute
2 Tbsp butter, melted
6 cups corn kernels

1- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13x9 baking dish with cooking spray.
2- Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl.
3- Combine milk, egg substitute and butter in a large bowl. Whisk in the dry ingredients until smooth. Stir in the corn.
4- Pour mixture into prepared dish and bake for 40-45 minutes until deep golden brown and set.
5- Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Spinach Pie

I made this for my Books & Snacks party. It made way too much filling, so I'm probably going to make a quiche-type item with the left over. It might make for an interesting warm dip if you used the extra in a glass dish with breadcrumbs on top. Anyway, if you used a deep-dish pie pan, you'd probably use it all. I just don't have one that deep. Ah well. It gives me stuff to experiment with. You can either make your own pie crust or buy some at the store. It's totally up to you.

Spinach Pie

Pie crust for a double crust pie
2 Tbsp butter
3 cups shredded zucchini (I just cut mine up into small pieces.)
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced (I used baby bellas aka porcini.)
1 tsp seasoned salt
1 10 oz. pkg. frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
15 oz. ricotta cheese
8 oz. French cream cheese, softened (You can use Boursin or a similar "garlic and herb spreadable cheese.)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 Tbsp Tabasco
1 egg, beaten with 1 tsp. water

4- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
1- Melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat and add zucchini and mushrooms. Sprinkle with seasoned salt and saute until tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
2- Combine spinach, ricotta, cream cheese, mozzarella, eggs and Tabasco in a large bowl. Stir in zucchini and mushrooms.
3- Line a pie plate with the bottom pie crust. Spoon in filling. Top with second pie crust. Cut vents and flute edges.
4- Brush with egg/water glaze.
5- Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes until golden.
6- Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack for 30 minutes before serving.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Slow Cooker Pork Ribs

These are one of my staples that I make for parties and events. They take planning since they cook for 8 hours, but everyone loves them, so they're worth it. You could use other types of ribs if you wanted, but pork baby back always work best for me.

Slow Cooker Pork Ribs

4 lbs. pork baby back ribs (If I can't go to a butcher, I usually end up with like 5 lbs. because of the way they are packaged.)
1 cup ketchup
1 cup barbecue sauce (Use your favorite. I like a mix of different kinds for mine, and that's a secret.)
1 cup chili sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 Tbsp vinegar (I use red wine vinegar.)
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1-3 dashes hot sauce

1- Heat oven to 400 degrees. Rub the ribs with salt and pepper (or a pork rub which is what I do) on each side. Cook for 15 minutes on each side to render some of the fat.
2- Cut up the ribs into slabs that will fit in your slow cooker and place inside.
3- In a large bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients. Pour over the ribs in the slow cooker.
4- Cook on low for 8-10 hours (The longer you cook them, the more they'll fall off the bone.)

Friday, May 4, 2007

Mediterranean Stew

I was happy to get to make this as it is good for vegetarians and goes in the crock pot so you can put everything in before work and come home and have it done. I served this in day-old ciabatta rolls that I picked up at the store. You could easily use pumpernickel or some other type of bread bowl or just a regular bowl. I also topped mine with feta to add a nice tang. I think I might try to do this again and put the feta on top and set the bread bowl in the broiler to melt the cheese just a bit. This stew lends itself well to adding meat if so desired.

Mediterranean Stew

1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 cups cubed eggplant with peel, salted and drained
1 cup zucchini
1 10 oz. package frozen okra
1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 cup chopped onion
1 14 oz. can chickpeas, drained
1 carrot, sliced
1/3 cup raisins
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup vegetable stock (Try to find stock not broth.)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp paprika

1- In a slow cooker, combine the first 10 ingredients.
2- In a bowl, combine the remaining 8 ingredients.
3- Add the spice/liquid mixture to the slow cooker and stir to combine.
4- Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until vegetables are tender.

Balsamic Chicken

I like the flavor of these, but I would like to make them on the grill next time instead of baking them. Either that or perhaps a broiling pan with holes and a drip pan underneath so that the oil from the marinade doesn't pool in the bottom of the baking dish.

Balsamic Chicken

1 - 1 1/4 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used cutlets so they would be thinner and I wouldn't need to pound them out.)
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp honey

1- Pound the chicken lightly until about 1/2" thick or pierce the chicken with a fork instead of pounding.
2- Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
3- Add the chicken and marinate for at least 4 hours (I went for overnight.)
4- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and roast the chicken for about 15 minutes or until thoroughly cooked depending on thickness.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

This dip is chunkier than some others I've seen since I didn't use creamed spinach. I wanted it creamy in flavor and texture but keep the vegetables substantial enough that they could hold their own. I served this in the glass dish I baked it in, but you could reasonably put it in a small crock pot after baking to keep it warm.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (You could use marinated artichoke hearts if you wanted to add some additional flavor. They were a lot more expensive, so I decided not to.)
1 10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed but not drained
1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (You could use a blend of Parmesan and Romano if you wanted.)
1 cup shredded Mexican four cheese blend (You could substitute Monterey Jack or similar if you cannot get the blend.)
1 tsp garlic, minced
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp lemon juice

1- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
2- In a small baking dish (I used a glass 8"x8".) , mix together the cream cheese, sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice and cayenne pepper.
3- Once well blended, add the garlic, artichoke hearts, spinach, Parmesan cheese and Mexican cheese blend.
4- Bake for about 25 minutes until warm and bubbly. (The top gets a slight crust on it that can be avoided if you cover the dish with foil before baking.)

White Bean Dip

No photo on this one as of yet because, honestly, how pretty can white bean dip really look? I made this as I have been having a craving for white bean spread since I ate at Abbraccio months ago. Theirs was thicker and more of a true spread than what I ended up with. I think I might tinker with mine in the future (perhaps by draining the beans and only using half of the liquid) to try to achieve that consistency. I think I'd also cut down on the rosemary. While I like the flavor, at times it seemed a bit overpowering for me. This recipe can easily be doubled, which is what I did. Also, you can just mash the beans, but if you have a food processor or in my case a stick blender, it works much better.

White Bean Dip

2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp minced fresh rosemary (Do not used dried as the flavor will be far too strong.)
1 14 oz. can of cannellini beans (aka white kidney beans)
1 tsp lemon juice
pepper (White pepper is nice so you don't have black flecks in the dip, but black pepper will work.)

1- In a medium skillet with sides (if you are going to use a stick blender, I suggest using a wide bottomed saucepan), heat the olive oil and then add the garlic and rosemary.
2- Saute the garlic and rosemary briefly then add the beans, bean liquid and lemon juice.
3- Let the mixture cook down and mash the beans and add salt and pepper to taste. If you are going to use a stick blender, mash the beans slightly and then use the blender.
4- Once the desired consistency is reached, remove from heat and let the mixture cool. It can be served warm or cold, but not hot.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Double Chocolate Cookies With Raspberry Icing

I made these to send to friends for birthdays. The original recipe did not have the icing or the raspberry flavor, but to be honest, when I tried one without the icing, it needed something. So I started adding. In addition to the flavor, I think it makes them much prettier. You could use other flavors, of course, depending on your taste. Kirsch would make for nice cherry flavor, but no color. Bailey's would be a nice pairing. And of course there are a myriad of non-alcoholic flavorings. I just happen to have a well-stocked bar. The texture is similar to those Crinkle Cookies that are very chocolatey and covered in powdered sugar. Don't worry if you don't know what I'm talking about, I'm sure I'll make them at some point.

Double Chocolate Cookies With Raspberry Icing

For the Cookies:

1 lb. semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used a mix of a bag of semisweet chips and some chopped Ghirardelli semisweet from a bar to help cut down the time and effort.)
2 cups all-purpose flour (Do NOT use cake flour here. It would make the dough far too sticky.)
1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa powder (Ok, so if you can't find full Dutch process cocoa, Hershey's is now making something you can use in a pinch. It is their Special Dark Cocoa and it is part regular cocoa and part Dutch process. I am nearly out of my Dutch process so I used part full Dutch process and part Special Dark.)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
10 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp instant coffee granules (These can get kind of grainy in the cookies. I suggest running them through a grinder/chopper to break them up further. It's not necessary, but I would do it in the future for my cookies.)
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp raspberry liquor

For the icing:

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-2 tsp milk (I used whole milk as I had some on hand.)
1-2 tsp raspberry liquor

1- Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler or the microwave. Set aside.
2- Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside. (This step is very important as the cocoa and baking powder tend to clump.)
3- Cream together butter, white sugar and brown sugar. Beat in the eggs, instant coffee granules, vanilla and raspberry liquor. Stir in the melted chocolate. Using a spoon (as the batter will be incredibly thick and could burn out the motor in a mixer), stir in the dry ingredients. Do not overmix. Cover and let sit for 35 minutes (I put mine in the fridge and this seemed to help with the set up though it did make scooping the dough a little more difficult).
3- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto the sheet with 2" between them. Do not overcrowd your sheet.
4- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Cookies will be set but soft. Leave the cookies on the sheet for 10 minutes before transferring them to a rack or plate to finish cooling.
5- Make the icing by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl. Add more powdered sugar or liquid to reach preferred consistency (I like being able to drizzle the icing and so like it to be thinner). Spread or drizzle icing over mostly cooled cookies and let set until dry.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

I made this for Jim's Second Annual 29th Birthday. I was a little concerned at first because I had to do some on the spot tinkering as I didn't have some of the required ingredients, but overall, it worked out well... at least, that's what everyone's been saying. This cake is very rich and very chocolatey. If you prefer milk chocolate, I suggest a different cake. It is somewhat labor intensive, but the instructions make it look far worse than it really is.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

For the Raspberry Glaze:

You could use 1/2 - 1 cup of seedless raspberry preserves. I didn't have any, so I made a concoction of my own that worked quite well (and that I think I would prefer over the preserves.) This made more than I needed, but had I been plating the slices of cake, it would have been a nice garnish. You could probably use half and have enough for the cake itself depending on how much raspberry flavor you want.

2 6 oz. packages of frozen raspberries
1/4 cup raspberry liquor
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 packet of gelatin
2 Tbsp cornstarch

1- Place raspberries and liquor in a saucepan and heat gently until raspberries are thawed and begin to cook down.
2- Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
3- Continue to simmer the raspberries until most of the solid chunks are gone.
4- Strain through a tight sieve and discard the seeds and any large pieces.
5- Return the liquid to the saucepan and add the gelatin and cornstarch, whisking until completely dissolved.
6- Chill the mixture until you have a spreadable consistency.

For the Ganache:

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1 pound semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used semisweet morsels so I wouldn't have to chop the chocolate.)

1- In a saucepan, bring the cream, butter and corn syrup to a boil.
2- Add chocolate and remove from heat. Swirl slightly so that the cream mixture covers the chocolate. Let the pan sit for three minutes.
3- Whisk until smooth and chill, covered, for at least two hours.

For the Cake:

1/3 cup sifted Dutch-processed cocoa powder (although in a pinch you could use regular unsweetened)
1/3 cup flour (I would suggest all purpose here as opposed to cake flour based on the final texture of the cake.)
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 pinch baking soda
3 whole large eggs
3 large egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt

1- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour a 9" round cake pan.
2- In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, flour, cornstarch and baking soda.
3- In a metal bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar and salt. Place over a pan of simmering water and whisk until lukewarm. Remove from the heat and mix on high until cooled and doubled in volume. You will also notice that the mixture has paled in color significantly.
4- Fold in the cocoa mixture in thirds.
5- Pour the batter into the cake pan and bake for 30 minutes (the cake should be pulling away from the sides of the pan and be firm to the touch).
6- Remove from pan and allow to cool on a rack.

For the Syrup:

1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup raspberry liquor

1- In a small saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
2- Cool the syrup and then stir in the raspberry liquor.

For the Chocolate Glaze:

1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (Again, I used semisweet morsels.)

1- In a saucepan, bring the cream to a boil and remove pan from heat.
2- Add chocolate and swirl until completely covered. Let the pan sit for two minutes.
3- Whisk until smooth and pour through a sieve to remove any lumps.

Cake Assembly:

1- Cut the cake into three rounds and place the first layer on a cardboard cake round. (You can get by with a plate here if you have to, but be aware that it should not be too much bigger than the cake itself.)
2- Brush the layer with the Syrup. Spread half of the Raspberry Glaze on the cake and then 1/3 of the Ganache (be sure to bring it back to room temperature in order to ease spreading) over the Raspberry Glaze.
3- Top with the next layer of Cake and repeat with the Syrup, remaining Raspberry Glaze (reserving a bit for garnish if so desired) and 1/3 of the Ganache.
4- Place the last layer of cake on top, brush with Syrup and spread most of the remaining Ganache on top.
5- Fill any gaps on the sides of the cake with small amounts of Ganache so that the edges are smooth.
6- Chill the cake until the Ganache is set, about 30 minutes.
7- Set the cake on a rack over a pan to make clean-up easier and then pour the Chocolate Glaze over the top of the cake.
8- Spread the Chocolate Glaze over the top and sides of the cake until smooth.
9- Chill the cake (or let stand at cool room temperature) until the Chocolate Glaze is set. (I kept mine in the fridge overnight.)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Tequila Lime Chicken

I made this for Girls' Night along with my Black Bean Flautas. I made some that were without the topping for me and the rest with it for the other ladies. Fortunately that meant I didn't need to tinker with the basic chicken recipe to avoid onions. Apparently this recipe is based off of a dish at Applebees (I think), but since it is something I'd never order in a restaurant, I can't say for sure.

Tequila Lime Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup shredded cheese (I used the four cheese Mexican blend. Other options would be cheddar, monterey jack, colby jack or some blend of these.)

For the Marinade:

1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
2 Tbsp lime juice (fresh if you can)
1 Tbsp lime zest, chopped (or about one lime's worth)
3 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup tequila

For the Dressing:

1/4 cup mayonnaise (Do NOT use Miracle Whip.)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp milk
3 tsp tomato, chopped
2 tsp green chile pepper, chopped
1 1/2 tsp mined onion
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp dried dill
1/8 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1- Combine all the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl and mix together. Poke holes in the chicken breasts with a fork on both sides. Add the chicken to the marinade and turn to coat. Refridgerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
2- Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients until well combined. Cover the bowl and chill until needed.
3- Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a 9x13 baking dish with non-stick foil for easier clean-up.
4- Grill or broil the chicken for about 5 minutes on each side or until mostly cooked through (I used my George Foreman grill).
5- Arrange the chicken in the baking dish and pour about a tablespoon of marinade over the top of each breast. Discard the rest of the marinade. Spread a layer of the Dressing on each breast and then top with about 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese.
6- Bake for about 15 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked and cheese is melted.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Chocolate Butter Spritz Cookies

I made these for Valentine's Day to bring to work. Because I was using a smaller cookie size with the press, it made a ton of cookies. However, people seemed to really like them. I wouldn't advise making them too big as the taste works best when kept small. I think they'd make a great cookie to have with coffee, tea or hot chocolate on a cold day.

Chocolate Butter Spritz Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sifted confectioners sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 egg yolk
1 Tbsp milk
1/2 Tbsp Kaluha
1/2 Tbsp brandy
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour

1- Preheat oven to 375.
2- In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter then add confectioners sugar, brown sugar and cocoa powder. Beat until combined. Beat in the egg yolk, milk, Kaluha, brandy and vanilla. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with a mixer. Stir in any remaining with a spoon.
3- If making drop cookies, place rounded teaspooonfuls onto baking sheets. If making pressed cookies, pack the dough into a cookie press fitted with the desired plate. Press the cookies out onto an ungreased cookie sheet about 1" apart.
4- Bake for 8-10 minutes or until the cookies are firm but not brown.

Mocha Shortbread Attempt One

I was not really pleased with how these turned out. There were mixed feeling from my guinea pigs. No one disliked them, per se, but there was a pretty large range of whether people tasted the coffee flavor or no. I have some serious ideas on how to adjust the recipe. I will update with that when I give it a trial run.

So here they are as I made them:

Mocha Shortbread Attempt One

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
2 cups flour
1 Tbsp unsweeted cocoa powder
1 tsp espresso powder

1- Preheat oven to 325.
2- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Sift together the flour, cocoa and espresso powder. Mix into the butter mixture in batches until a soft dough forms.
3- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead lightly until smooth.
4- Pack the dough into a cookie press fitted with the desired plate. Press the cookies out onto a lightly buttered cookie sheet about 1" apart.
5- Bake 10-15 minutes until the edges are firm and cookies are very slightly browned.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

King Cake

For years I have wanted to make a King Cake for Mardi Gras, but I always seemed to remember the plan when it was too late to go through the whole process of letting it rise and whatnot. This year I managed to plan enough ahead to make one. Now, I decided to go slightly nontraditional with the recipe, but still included a small plastic baby (of course warning everyone not to choke). According to the new tradition, the person who gets the baby has to host the next Mardi Gras party or provide the next year's King Cake.

King Cake

1 plastic baby trinket
Green, purple and yellow colored sugars

For the bread:

1 envelope active dry yeast
2 Tbsp warm water
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp orange rind (I used dried, but you could use fresh if you wanted.)
1 tsp lemon peel (Again, I used dried.)
2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/4 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into very small pieces

1- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a small bowl and set aside until frothy.
2- Combine the salt, sugar, milk, orange rind and lemon peel in a mixing bowl (if you plan to use a dough hook, you can put this in the bowl for your mixer). Mix in the yeast mixture.
3- Sift together the cinnamon and flour.
4- With mixer on low speed, add the eggs to the liquid ingredient mixture. Then gradually add the flour mixture until incorporated. Knead for ten minutes or until a smooth, elastic dough is formed. Add the butter pieces in small amounts, but quickly so they do not melt.
5- Turn the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 1 hour.
6- When the dough has doubled in bulk, punch down and put in the fridge overnight.
7- Preheat the oven to 350.
8- Roll dough out to a 6x18 rectangle. Spread the filling out in the middle over the whole length leaving a 1" margin around the edges. Place the baby in the filling. Fold the length of the dough over the filling and roll up tightly with the seam side down. Put one end inside the other to seal the dough in a wreath shape. Place the cake on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
9- Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown.
10- When the cake cools, spread the glaze over evenly and decorate with colored sugars.

For the filling:

1 cup pecan halves, broken up slightly and roasted (I think I would use pecan pieces next time.)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 pinch of salt
2 Tbsp molasses
2 Tbsp light corn syrup

1- Combine all of the ingredients together.

For the glaze:

1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 Tbsp bourbon

1- Combine the sugar and bourbon.
2- Add enough milk to make the glaze fluid enough to spread thinly.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Almond Cherry Coffeecake

I had some dried cherries leftover from the Cherry Cream Cheese Braid that I wanted to use up and get out of my cupboard. So I turned to the internet and found a dried cherry cake recipe that I changed up to make my own. I took it to work and everyone liked it, but the almond rather overpowered the cherry. I have listed the recipe as I made it with my suggestions for the next time around.

Almond Cherry Coffeecake

1/2 cup chopped dried cherries (I would increase this to a cup.)
1/2 cup hot water
1/2 tsp. almond extract (I would eliminate this.)
1/2 tsp. Kirsch (I would up this to 1 tsp. You could use cherry extract if you don't want to spend the money on Kirsch.)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup white sugar
6 oz. light black cherry yogurt (I would use 8 oz. of black cherry.)
2 oz. light vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 egg white
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/8 cup flour
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

1- Combine cherries, hot water, almond extract and Kirsch in a bowl. Let stand for 20 minutes. Drain cherries and pat dry. Set aside.
2- In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, salt, baking powder and white sugar. Add yogurt, eggs and oil. Stir well. Fold in cherries. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9" round cake pan.
3- Combine brown sugar, almonds, 1/8 cup flour in a small bowl. Stir in melted butter until well mixed. Sprinkle over the top of the cake. (You will have a lot of topping. If you felt like doing the ratio math to lessen it a bit, you probably could.)
4- Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Welsh Rarebit

No picture on this one because it is rather unattractive. I don't think there is anything you could do to this recipe to make it pretty. However, when I made it for New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, everyone liked the taste. Once you get past the ugly nature and silly name, you have what Petras described as a fancy, open grilled cheese.

Welsh Rarebit

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp mustard powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp cayenne (or to taste)
3/4 cup strong dark beer (I used Guinness.)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)
1 lb. Cheddar, Double Gloucester or other English cheese, grated (I used a mixture of aged white cheddar and Dubliner.)
4 to 8 pieces lightly toasted bread (I put thin slices of Italian bread in the broiler so I could toast lots at a time.)

1- Put butter in a saucepan over medium head and, as it melts, stir in flour. Continue to cok, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and very fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in mustard and cayenne, then whisk in beer and Worcestershire sauce.
2- When mixture is uniform, turn heat to low and stir in cheese, again stirring until smooth. Remove from heat and pour into a broad container to set (you can refrigerate for up to a day at this point).
3- Spread mixture thickly on toast and put under broiler until bubbly and edges of toast are crisp. Serve immediately.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Creole Bread Pudding With Irish Whiskey Sauce

I got this recipe from a magazine that Mr. Watkins showed me at work. He said I should give it a try someday since I'm such a baker. Well, that sounded like a challenge to me. So I made it for the First Annual Turducken Day Dinner. It is eggier than most bread puddings I've had, but I think that makes for a nice change. It's dense but good. I had some and just picked around the raisins. A good reason to use dark ones instead of golden ones. One of the group at dinner said it was almost like french toast in a dessert form. I would absolutely make this again.

Creole Bread Pudding with Irish Whiskey Sauce

For the bread pudding

3/4 lb. French bread in 1/2" slices (I used a long, thin Italian bread because I couldn't find French bread. I think it worked out just fine.)
1 cup dark raisins
18 large eggs (Yes, for serious.)
4 1/2 cups heavy cream (Yes, for serious.)
2 cups sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup unsalted butter

1- Arrange the bread in overlapping rows in a 9x13 dish (the deeper the better). Sprinkle with raisins.
2- Beat eggs, cream, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl.
3- Pour half over the bread and press down. (I put a piece of foil down then put another 9x13 pan on top and weighed it down with heavy stuff.) Let it sit for 15 minutes.
4- Pour the remaining egg mixture on the bread. (The recipe calls for pressing it down again, but when I tried that it ended up spilling some of the egg mixture out so I skipped it. If you have a deep pan you may be okay.) Let it sit (pressed or no) for 15 minutes.
5- Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon. Sprinkle over the bread. Dot with butter.
6- Bake at 250 for 1 1/2 - 2 hours until just set in the center. (I baked it until when I pushed down in the center no more egg mixture came to the top.)

For the sauce

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
7 large egg yolks
1/4 cup Irish whiskey (I used Jameson's.)

1- In a medium saucepan, bring cream and milk to a boil. While waiting for the mixture to boil, whisk together sugar and egg yolks together in a medium bowl.
2- Whisk in hot milk/cream mixture. (Be careful to temper the eggs a bit before just pouring in the hot milk or else you'll scramble the eggs instead of getting a sauce.)
3- In a double boiler, cook the milk/egg mixture over just simmering water stirring constantly until it thickens slightly, about 12 minutes or so. (It doesn't get ribbon thick. You'll notice the slight thickening by added resistance on the spoon while you stir.)
4- Pour through a fine sieve. (My mixture didn't have any lumps so I skipped this step... perhaps because I tempered the eggs.)
5- Stir in whiskey.

Serve the bread pudding at any temperature you like. I wouldn't go with seriously chilled. Room temperature worked for us. The whiskey sauce should be kept cold and served on the side.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Individual Teriyaki Meatloaves

There's no picture for this one as the meat I used was frozen and so didn't caramelize and look pretty enough for a photo. But it still tasted good so that's all that really matters, right? Anyway, this is a good make ahead complete dinner that can be frozen and kept for a later date, which means less grabbing of Fairmount Pizza on my way home. So that's a good thing as well.

Individual Teriyaki Meatloaves

1/4 cup unseasoned bread crumbs (the Italian seasoning ones would taste a bit strange with the teriyaki)
1/4 cup teriyaki glaze/marinade
1/4 tsp garlic-pepper blend
1 lb of ground beef (or beef/buffalo/turkey/other meat mix of your choice)
2 cups baby carrots
1 15oz can baby corn, drained
8 small red potatoes, quartered (These were not in the original recipe, but I like them added.)

Preheat oven to 400. Make four 18"x12" foil sheets and spray with Pam (or if you are using the Reynolds Release foil you can omit this step).

In a medium bowl, beat the egg until mixed. Add bread crumbs, 2 Tbsp teriyaki glaze and garlic-pepper blend. (I also added salt as I love it, and the teriyaki glaze I have isn't too salty.) Mix until well blended. Add the meat and mix well. Form the mixture into four individual loaves (about 4"x2" and about 1" thick).

Place 1/2 cup carrots, 1/4 cup baby corn, 2 red potatoes and one meatloaf onto a sheet of foil. Drizzle with additional 2 Tbsp of teriyaki glaze. Seal the edges by bringing the ends together and folding the seam over a few times making a rectangular packet. Repeat with other foil and loaves.

Bake for 25-35 minutes on a cookie sheet or pan. The recipe suggests turning the packet over halfway. I did this and it made a bit of a mess as some of the glaze comes out. When I tried it a second time, I did not flip it and it came out just fine.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Individual Creme Brulee

Recipe to be added later.