Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies


You'll definitely need a big glass of milk when eating these whoopie pies! The deep chocolate cookies are very dense which pairs perfectly with the creamy peanut butter filling!

Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
Source: Martha Stewart's Cookies

For the cookies:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temp.
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups buttermilk, room temp.
2 tsp. vanilla

for the filling:
1 1/3 cups natural, creamy peanut butter
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make cookies: Line two rimmed baking sheets with nonstick baking mats. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Beat until well combined. On low speed, slowly add dry ingredients; mix until combined.

Drop 1 1/2 Tbsp. of batter onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until set, about 8 minutes, rotating halfway through. (When the top of a cookie is gently touched, it should feel soft but not wet). Cool completely on a wire rack.

Make filling: With an electric mixer, beat peanut butter and butter on high speed until smooth. Reduce speed to low. Add confectioners' sugar; mix until combined. Raise speed to high, and mix until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Season with salt, if desired.

Assemble cookies: Spread 1 heaping Tbsp. filling on the flat side of 1 cookie. Sandwich with another cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling. Cookies can be refrigerated in single layers in airtight containers up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing

Fall is the season for pumpkins! These cookies will be a hit at your fall get together. Try some with a warm glass of cider. Sure to please! The brown butter icing on these soft cookies add a rich caramel flavor.
Pumpkin Cookies with Brown Butter Icing
Source: Martha Stewart's Cookies
for the cookies:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/4 tsp. coarse salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.
2 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (14 oz.)
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. For cookies whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in bowl. Put butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until page and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in eggs. Reduce speed to low. Add pumpkin, evaporated milk, and vanilla; mix until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add flour mixture; mix until combined.

Transfer 1 1/2 cups batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip. Pipe 1 1/2-inch rounds onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until tops spring back, about 12 minutes. Cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely.

For the icing:
4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
10 Tbsp. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. evaporated milk, plus more if needed
2 tsp. vanilla extract
Make Icing: Put confectioners' sugar in a bowl. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Immediately add butter to confectioners' sugar, scraping any browned bits from sides and bottom of pan. Add evaporated milk and vanilla; stir until smooth.
Spread about 1 tsp. icing onto each cookie. If icing stiffens, stir in more evaporated milk, a little at a time. Cookies can be stored in single layers in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tex-Mex Lasagna


This dish was definitely a crowd pleaser! This dish was very easy to put together and could be made ahead of time. The cream cheese and sour cream cooled the heat from the peppers and spices.



Tex-Mex Lasagna
Source: Cooking with Paula Deen

2 cups chopped cooked chicken

1 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


2 cloves garlic, minced


1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped


1 (15.25 oz.) can corn


1 (15 oz.) black beans, drained


1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce


1 (10 oz.) can diced tomatoes and green chilies, drained


1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce


2 tsp. ground cumin


1 tsp. chili powder


1 tsp. salt


1 (16 oz.) sour cream


1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened


6 oven-ready lasagna noodles


1 (8 oz.) pkg. Monterey Jack cheese with peppers, grated


1 (8 oz.) pkg. Cheddar cheese, grated





In a Dutch oven, combine chicken and next 12 ingredients. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine sour cream and cream cheese.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13x9x2 inch baking dish. Spoon one-third of sauce into prepared dish. Top with 3 uncooked lasagna noodles. Spread one-half of sour cream mixture over noodles, top with one-third sauce. Sprinkle with half of cheeses. Repeat layers. Bake 35 to 45 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Greek Cherry Tomato Salad


This was a great way for me to use up the bounty of tomatoes and cucumbers I had. I loved the tangy tomatoes with the feta cheese.

Greek Cherry Tomato Salad
Source: Cook's Illustrated


2 pints ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 4 cups)
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 medium shallot, minced
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
ground black pepper
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
3 Tbsp. chopped parsley

Toss tomatoes, 1/4 tsp. salt, and sugar in medium bowl; let stand for 30 minutes. Transfer tomatoes to salad spinner and spin until seeds and excess liquids have been removed, 45 to 60 seconds, stirring to redistribute tomatoes several times during spinning. Return tomatoes to bowl and set aside. Strain tomato liquid through strainer into liquid measuring cup, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible.

Bring 1/2 cup tomato liquid, garlic, oregano, shallot, and vinegar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until reduced to 3 Tbsp., 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer mixture to small bowl and cool to room temperature. Whisk in oil and pepper to taste until combined. Taste and season with up to 1/8 tsp. salt.

Add cucumber, olives, feta, dressing and parsley to bowl with tomatoes, toss gently and serve.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Baked Mostaccioli

So, I've been trying to incorporate more healthful dishes into my meals. This recipe for mostaccioli is a light version that includes lots of tomato flavor, ground turkey and fat free cottage cheese. I must admit that I am not usually a fan of cottage cheese with pasta dishes, but this definitely made the dish really creamy!
Baked Mostaccioli
Source: Healthy Cooking
8 oz. uncooked mostaccioli
1/2 lb. lean ground turkey
1 small onion, chopped
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
1/3 cup water
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 cups (16 oz.) fat-free cottage cheese
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1-1/2 cups shredded, part skim mozarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Cook mostaccioli according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, cook the turkey and onion over medium heat until the meat is no longer pink; drain if neccessary.
Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, oregano, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine cottage cheese and marjoram; set aside. Drain mostaccioli.
Spread 1/2 cup meat sauce into an 11x7x2 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer with half of the mostaccioli, meat sauce and mozzarella cheese. Top with cottage cheese mixture. Layer with remaining mostaccioli, meat sauce and mozzarella. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese (dish will be full).
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 30--40 minutes or until bubbly and heated through.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Grilled Buffalo Chicken Strips


These buffalo chicken strips came out so juicy! The chunky blue cheese sauce was delicious to tame down the heat!

Grilled Buffalo Chicken Strips
Source: Cook's Country
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
6 Tbsp. sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1/8 tsp. celery salt
1/2 cup hot sauce
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 lbs. chicken tenderloins
Salt & pepper
Combine blue cheese, soure cream, mayonnaise, vinegar, and celery salt in a bowl. Whisk hot sauce and butter in a large bowl and reserve 1/2 cup. Add chicken strips to bowl with remaining hot sauce mixture & toss to coat.
Season chicken with salt & pepper. Grill over hot fire until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter and brush with reserved hot sauce mixture. Serve with blue cheese sauce.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Tastes Like Home Delivery!


I received a special delivery from the Tastes Like Home Local Goodie Swap!

This was hosted by Megan of Meganscookin and April of Abbysweets. Megan was so nice to let me join the swap late, as my original message was never received. This left Megan with two partners!!

Megan was my swapping partner. She lives in California and sent me some fabulous goodies from her area! Here is all the goodies I received:
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Jam -- Megan made this--WOW! This is the best jam. My breakfasts will be extra good with this jam!


Osker's Spicy Garlic Marinade & BBQ Sauce -- Delicious! For dinner we marinated our chicken in this. Great flavor!


Olina Ridge California Extra Virgin Olive Oil -- I have some great things in store for this!


Raspberry Honey -- Yum! I can't wait to have some for breakfast on my oats!

Chef Ryan's Q-Rubs Tri-Tip Rub -- Smells great! This will be perfect for one of our grilled dinners this week!





Lavender Vanilla Gourmet Scone Mix -- Sounds great! Can't wait to try this!

Goats Milk & Honey Lavender Body Cream -- Smells fabulous!

Shea Lavender Healing Lip Balm -- I've already tried this-- works great!


Tuscan Heights Lavender Gardens Flyer -- This looks like a great place to visit!


Fabulous Fixin's Cream Cheese Cake -- This will be dessert today! Yum!


Spiced Pecans -- Megan made these as well! Awesome! I've been snacking on these. Can't wait to have some on my salad!


Jason's Soap Creations, Orange & Clove -- Smells wonderful! I love homemade soaps!!


Edible Shasta-Butte magazine -- Great articles & recipes. I've been enjoying reading this!

Thanks so much for all the California goodies Megan! As you can see I've already enjoyed some of the goodies & am looking forward to trying all of them!


If you would like to see what I sent Megan you can check out her site, Meganscookin.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Three Berry Galette with Cornmeal Crust

I love fresh berries! So, what is a better to way to enjoy summer's bounty than making a Berry Galette? While at the farmer's market I picked up a variety of berries; blueberries, blackberries and my favorite black raspberries. The original recipe called for blueberries & blackberries. I decided to add in the black raspberries, making it a 3 Berry dessert!

This was great warm, right out of the oven. I served it with a scoop of frozen vanilla yogurt. I also enjoyed it when it cooled! Very light and fresh!

Three Berry Galette with Cornmeal Crust
Adapted from Cooking Light

Pastry:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (about 7 3/4 oz.)
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup fat-free buttermilk

Filling:
2 cups blueberries
2 cups blackberries
2 cups black raspberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. fat-free milk
1 large egg white
1 1/2 Tbsp. turbinado sugar

To prepare pastry, lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a food processor; pulse two times. Add butter to flour mixture; pulse 4 to 5 times or until mixture resembles coarse meal. With processor on, slowly add buttermilk through food chute; process just until dough forms a ball. Gently press dough into a 4-inch circle on plastic wrap; cover. Chill 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Unwrap and place dough on a sheet of parchment paper. Roll dough into a 15-inch circle. Place dough and parchment on a baking sheet.
To prepare filling, combine berries and next 3 ingredients (through juice) in a medium bowl; toss gently to coat. Arrange berry mixture in center of dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Fold edges of dough toward center, pressing gently to seal (dough will only partially cover berry mixture).
Combine fat-free milk and egg white in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Brush dough with milk mixture; sprinkle turbinado sugar evenly over dough. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until pastry is golden brown. Let stand 30 minutes; cut into wedges. Yield: 10 servings (1 wedge).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July Daring Bakers: Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

This month's DB challenge was selected by Chris from Mele Cotte. What a great dessert! This definitely was a time consuming venture! Everything came together very nicely. I did change a few things from the recipe. I used almonds instead of filberts. I also used amaretto in the syrup and ganache. The praline buttercream was delicious!



Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream

adapted from "Great Cakes" by Carol Walter

1 Filbert Genoise
1 recipe sugar syrup, flavored with dark rum
1 recipe Praline Buttercream½ cup heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks
1 recipe Apricot Glaze
1 recipe Ganache Glaze, prepared just before using
3 tablespoons filberts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Filbert Genoise
Because of the amount of nuts in the recipe, this preparation is different from a classic genoise.
1 ½ cups hazelnuts, toasted/skinned
2/3 cup cake flour, unsifted
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
7 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar, divided ¼ & ¾ cups
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. grated lemon rind
5 lg. egg whites
¼ cup warm, clarified butter (100 – 110 degrees)
Position rack in the lower 3rd of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a 10” X 2” inch round cake pan.
Using a food processor, process nuts, cake flour, and cornstarch for about 30 seconds. Then, pulse the mixture about 10 times to get a fine, powdery mixture. You’ll know the nuts are ready when they begin to gather together around the sides of the bowl. While you want to make sure there aren’t any large pieces, don’t over-process. Set aside.

Put the yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, and beat until thick and light in color, about 3-4 minutes on med-high speed. Slowly, add ¾ cup of sugar. It is best to do so by adding a tablespoon at a time, taking about 3 minutes for this step. When finished, the mixture should be ribbony. Blend in the vanilla and grated lemon rind. Remove and set aside.

Place egg whites in a large, clean bowl of the electric mixer with the whisk attachment and beat on medium speed, until soft peaks. Increase to med-high speed and slowly add the remaining ¼ cup of sugar, over 15-20 seconds or so. Continue to beat for another ½ minute.

Add the yolk mixture to the whites and whisk for 1 minute.

Pour the warm butter in a liquid measure cup (or a spouted container). * It must be a deep bottom bowl and work must be fast.* Put the nut meal in a mesh strainer (or use your hand – working quickly) and sprinkle it in about 2 tablespoons at a time – folding it carefully for about 40 folds. Be sure to exclude any large chunks/pieces of nuts. Again, work quickly and carefully as to not deflate the mixture. When all but about 2 Tbsp. of nut meal remain, quickly and steadily pour the warm butter over the batter. Then, with the remaining nut meal, fold the batter to incorporate, about 13 or so folds.With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the surface with the spatula or back of a spoon.

**If collected butter remains at the bottom of the bowl, do not add it to the batter! It will impede the cake rising while baking.Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes. You’ll know the cake is done when it is springy to the touch and it separates itself from the side of the pan. Remove from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Invert onto a cake rack sprayed with nonstick coating, removing the pan. Cool the cake completely.

*If not using the cake right away, wrap thoroughly in plastic wrap, then in a plastic bag, then in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If freezing, wrap in foil, then the bag and use within 2-3 months.


Sugar Syrup

Makes 1 cup, good for one 10-inch cake – split into 3 layers

1 cup water

¼ cup sugar

2 Tbsp. dark rum or orange flavored liqueur

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the liqueur. Cool slightly before using on the cake. *Can be made in advance.


Praline Buttercream

1 recipe Swiss Buttercream

1/3 cup praline paste

1 ½ - 2 Tbsp. Jamaican rum (optional)

Blend ½ cup buttercream into the paste, then add to the remaining buttercream. Whip briefly on med-low speed to combine. Blend in rum.


Swiss Buttercream

4 lg. egg whites

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm

1 ½ -2 Tbsp. Grand Marnier or liqueur of your choice

1 tsp. vanilla

Place the egg whites in a lg/ bowl of a electric mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until the whites are foamy and they begin to thicken (just before the soft peak stage). Set the bowl over a saucepan filled with about 2 inches of simmering water, making sure the bowl is not touching the water. Then, whisk in the sugar by adding 1-2 tablespoon of sugar at a time over a minutes time. Continue beating 2-3 minutes or until the whites are warm (about 120 degrees) and the sugar is dissolved. The mixture should look thick and like whipped marshmallows.Remove from pan and with either the paddle or whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and sugar on med-high until its a thick, cool meringue – about 5-7 minutes. *Do not overbeat*. Set aside.

Place the butter in a separate clean mixing bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter at medium speed for 40-60 seconds, or until smooth and creamy. *Do not overbeat or the butter will become too soft.*

On med-low speed, blend the meringue into the butter, about 1-2 Tbsp. at a time, over 1 minute. Add the liqueur and vanilla and mix for 30-45 seconds longer, until thick and creamy.Refrigerate 10-15 minutes before using.Wait! My buttercream won’t come together! Reheat the buttercream briefly over simmering water for about 5 seconds, stirring with a wooden spoon. Be careful and do not overbeat. The mixture will look broken with some liquid at the bottom of the bowl. Return the bowl to the mixer and whip on medium speed just until the cream comes back together.

Wait! My buttercream is too soft! Chill the buttercream in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and rewhip. If that doesn’t work, cream an additional 2-4 Tbsp. of butter in a small bowl– making sure the butter is not as soft as the original amount, so make sure is cool and smooth. On low speed, quickly add the creamed butter to the buttercream, 1 Tbsp. at a time.Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or can be frozen for up to 6 months. If freezing, store in 2 16-oz. plastic containers and thaw in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for several hours.


Praline Paste

1 cup (4 ½ oz.) Hazelnuts, toasted/skinless

2/3 cup Sugar

Line a jelly roll pan with parchment and lightly butter.Put the sugar in a heavy 10-inch skillet. Heat on low flame for about 10-20 min until the sugar melts around the edges. Do not stir the sugar. Swirl the pan if necessary to prevent the melted sugar from burning. Brush the sides of the pan with water to remove sugar crystals. If the sugar in the center does not melt, stir briefly. When the sugar is completely melted and caramel in color, remove from heat. Stir in the nuts with a wooden spoon and separate the clusters. Return to low heat and stir to coat the nuts on all sides. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble. **Remember – extremely hot mixture.** Then onto the parchment lined sheet and spread as evenly as possible. As it cools, it will harden into brittle. Break the candied nuts into pieces and place them in the food processor. Pulse into a medium-fine crunch or process until the brittle turns into a powder. To make paste, process for several minutes. Store in an airtight container and store in a cook dry place. Do not refrigerate.


Apricot Glaze

Good for one 10-inch cake

2/3 cup thick apricot preserves

1 Tbsp. water

In a small, yet heavy saucepan, bring the water and preserves to a slow boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. If the mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the saucepan, add water as needed.Remove from heat and, using a strainer, press the mixture through the mesh and discard any remnants. With a pastry brush, apply the glaze onto the cake while the cake is still warm. If the glaze is too thick, thin to a preferred consistency with drops of water.


Ganache Glaze

Makes about 1 cup, enough to cover the top and sides of a 9 or 10 inch layer or tube cake**

Ganache can take on many forms. While warm – great fudge sauce. While cool or lukewarm – semisweet glaze. Slightly chilled – can be whipped into a filling/frosting. Cold & solid – the base of candied chocolate truffles.

6 oz. (good) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, like Lindt

6 oz. (¾ cup) heavy cream

1 tbsp. light corn syrup

1 Tbsp. Grand Marnier, Cointreau, or dark Jamaican rum (optional)

¾ tsp. vanilla

½ - 1 tsp. hot water, if needed

Blend vanilla and liqueur/rum together and set aside.Break the chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place in the basket of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer into a medium sized bowl and set aside.Heat the cream and corn syrup in a saucepan, on low, until it reached a gentle boil. Once to the gently boil, immediately and carefully pour over the chocolate. Leave it alone for one minute, then slowly stir and mix the chocolate and cream together until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the cream. Carefully blend in vanilla mixture. If the surface seems oily, add ½ - 1 tsp hot water. The glaze will thicken, but should still be pourable. If it doesn’t thicken, refrigerate for about 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn’t get too cold!


Assembling Cake

Cut a cardboard disk slightly smaller than the cake. Divide the cake into 3 layers and place the first layer top-side down on the disk. Using a pastry brush, moisten the layer with 3-4 Tbsp. of warm sugar syrup. Measure out 1 cup of praline buttercream and set aside.

Spread the bottom layer with a ¼-inch thickness of the remaining buttercream. Cover with ½ of the whipped cream, leaving ¼-inch border around the edge of the cake. Place the middle layer over the first, brush with sugar syrup, spreading with buttercream. Cover with the remaining whipped cream.Moisten the cut side of the third layer with additional sugar syrup and place cut side down on the cake. Gently, press the sides of the cake to align the layers. Refrigerate to chill for at least 30 minutes.Lift the cake by sliding your palm under the cardboard. Holding a serrated or very sharp night with an 8-inch blade held parallel to the sides of the cake, trim the sides so that they are perfectly straight. Cut a slight bevel at the top to help the glaze drip over the edge. Brush the top and sides of the cake with warm apricot glaze, sealing the cut areas completely. Chill while you prepare the ganache.Place a rack over a large shallow pan to catch the ganache drippings. Remove the gateau from the refrigerator and put it the rack. With a metal spatula in hand, and holding the saucepan about 10 inches above the cake, pour the ganache onto the cake’s center. Move the spatula over the top of the ganache about 4 times to get a smooth and mirror-like appearance. The ganache should cover the top and run down the sides of the cake. When the ganache has been poured and is coating the cake, lift one side of the rack and bang it once on the counter to help spread the ganache evenly and break any air bubbles. (Work fast before setting starts.) Patch any bare spots on the sides with a smaller spatula, but do not touch the top after the “bang”. Let the cake stand at least 15 minutes to set after glazing.To garnish the cake, fit a 12 – 14-inch pastry bag with a #114 large leaf tip. Fill the bag with the reserved praline cream. Stating ½ inch from the outer edge of the cake, position the pastry tube at a 90 degree angle with the top almost touching the top of the cake. Apply pressure to the pastry bag, moving it slightly toward the center of the cake. As the buttercream flows on the cake, reverse the movement backward toward the edge of the cake and finish by pulling the bag again to the center. Stop applying pressure and press the bag downward, then quickly pull the tip up to break the flow of frosting. Repeat, making 12 leaves evenly spaced around the surface of the cake.Make a second row of leaves on the top of the first row, moving the pastry bag about ¾ inch closer to the center. The leaves should overlap. Make a 3rd row, moving closer and closer to the center. Add a 4th row if you have the room. But, leave a 2-inch space in the center for a chopped filbert garnish. Refrigerate uncovered for 3-4 hours to allow the cake to set.

Remove the cake from the refrigerator at least 3 hours before serving.

Leftover cake can be covered with foil and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Crispy Chicken Salad Wraps

When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to try it! This was not only easy to prepare, but tasted great! I loved the fresh taste of cilantro in every bite! To give the chicken salad more flavor, I added some extra hot sauce. These will definitely be on the menu again!
Crispy Chicken Salad Wraps
Source: Cook's Country

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 scallions, sliced thin
2 celery ribs, chopped fine
2 Tbsp. sour cream
2 tsp. hot sauce
1 rotisserie chicken, skin discarded, meat shredded into bite-sized pieces (about 3 cups)
salt & pepper
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 (12-inch) flour tortillas
Whisk mayonnaise, cilantro, scallions, celery, sour cream, and hot sauce in large bowl. Add chicken and toss to combine. Season with salt & pepper.
Sprinkle cheese over tortillas, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges, then arrange chicken salad in center of tortilla. Roll stuffed tortillas, spray all over with cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt & pepper.
Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat for 1 minute. Arrange 2 wraps, seam-side down, in pan and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to plate and repeat with remaining wraps. Serve.

Pan-Seared Shrimp with Ginger-Hoisin Glaze

This recipe is great for a quick dinner. I served the shrimp over rice. Simple but tastes great!




Pan-Seared Shrimp with Ginger-Hoisin Glaze
Source: Cook's Illustrated
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds (21/25) shrimp, peeled & deveined
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
2 Tsp. grated fresh ginger
2 tsp. water
2 scallions, sliced thin

Stir together hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, water & scallions in a small bowl; set aside.
Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in 12-inch skillet over high heat until smoking. Meanwhile, toss shrimp, salt, pepper, and sugar in medium bowl. Add half of the shrimp to pan in single layer and cook until spotty brown and edges turn pink, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; using tongs, flip each shrimp and let stand until all but very center is opaque, about 30 seconds. Transfer shrimp to large plate. Repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and shrimp; after second batch has stood off heat return first batch to skillet along with the hoisin mixture and toss to combine. Cover skillet and let stand until shrimp are cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Enchiladas Verdes & Mexican Rice

Earlier this summer my husband and I vacationed in Mexico. We had some delicious food while we were there. I wanted to try to recreate the taste of Mexico at home. The enchilada recipe came together nicely. It had a great smoky flavor thanks to the charred tomatillos and pablano chiles. These two recipes were definitely a hit!

Enchiladas Verdes
Source: Cook's Illustrated

4 tsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped medium
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2 to 3 breasts), trimmed of excess fat
1 1/2 pounds tomatillos (16 to 20 medium), husks & stems removed, rinsed well and dried
3 medium poblano chiles, halved lengthwise, stemmed, and seeded
1 -- 2 1/2 tsp. sugar
table salt
ground black pepper
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
8 oz. pepper Jack or Monterey Jack cheese, grated (2 cups)
12 (6 inch) corn tortillas

Garnish
2 medium scallions, sliced think
Thickly sliced radishes
sour cream
1. Adjust oven racks to middle and highest positions and heat broiler. Heat 2 tsp. oil in medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering; add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, 6 to 8 minutes. Add 2 tsp. garlic and cumin; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Decrease heat to low and stir in broth. Add chicken, cover, and simmer until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking. Transfer chicken to large bowl; place in refrigerator to cool, about 20 minutes. Remove 1/4 cup liquid from saucepan and set aside; discard remaining liquid.
2. Meanwhile, toss tomatillos and poblanos with remaining 2 tsp. oil; arrange on rimmed baking sheet lined with foil, with poblanos skin-side up. Broil until vegetables blacken and start to soften, 5 to 10 minutes, rotating pan halfway through cooking. Cool 10 mins., then remove skin from poblanos (leave tomatillo skins intact). Transfer tomatillos and chiles to food processor. Decrease oven temp. to 350 degrees. Discard foil from baking sheet and set aside for warming tortillas.
3. Add 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. salt, remaining tsp. garlic, and reserved cooking liquid to food processor; process until sauce is somewhat chunky, about eight 1 second pulses. Taste sauce; season with salt and pepper and adjust tartness by stirring in remaining sugar, 1/2 tsp at a time. Set sauce aside (you should have about 3 cups).
4. When chicken is cool, pull into shreds using hands or 2 forks, then chop into small bite-sized pieces. Combine chicken with cilantro and 1 1/2 cups cheese; season with salt.
5. Smear bottom of 13x9 inch baking dish with 3/4 cup tomatillo sauce. Place tortillas on 2 baking sheets. Spray both sides of tortillas lightly with cooking spray. Bake until tortillas lightly with cooking spray. Bake until tortillas lightly with cooking spray. Bake until tortillas are soft and pliable, 2 to 4 minutes. Increase oven temp. to 450 degrees. Place warm tortillas on countertop and spread 1/3 cup filling down center of each tortilla. Roll each tortilla tightly and place in baking dish, seam-side down. Pour remaining tomatillo sauce over top of enchiladas. Use back of spoon to spread sauce so that it coats top of each tortilla. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese and cover baking dish with foil.
6. Bake enchiladas on middle rack until heated through and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with scallions, and serve immediately, passing radishes & sour cream separately.


Mexican Rice
Source: Allrecipes

3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth

1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat and add rice. Cook, stirring constantly, until puffed and golden. While rice is cooking, sprinkle with salt & cumin.
2. Stir in onions and cook until tender. Stir in tomato sauce & chicken broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover & simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Peanut Butter Crisscrosses

I love peanut butter! So, what could be better than these peanut buttery cookies? These were very easy to make. They came out crisp on the outside and nice and chewy on the inside, just like I like them! Craving satisfied!
Peanut Butter Crisscrosses
Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours by: Dorie Greenspan

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup peanut butter -- crunchy or smooth (not natural)
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups chopped salted peanuts
About 1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

Position racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt & nutmeg.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for a minute or two, until smooth & creamy. Add the peanut butter and beat for another minute. Add the sugars and beat for 3 minutes more. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and, on low speed, add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they just disappear. Mix in the chopped peanuts. You'll have a soft, pliable (mushable, actually) dough.
Pour the 1/2 cup sugar into a small bowl. Working with a level tablespoonful of dough for each cookie, roll the dough between your palms into balls and drop the balls, a couple at a time, into the sugar. Roll the balls around in the sugar to coat them, then place on the baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between them. Dip the tines of a fork in the sugar and press the tines against each ball first in one direction and then in a perpendicular direction -- you should have a flattened round of dough with crisscross indentations.
Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. When done, the cookies will be lightly colored and still a little soft. Let the cookies sit on the sheets for a minute before transferring them to cooling racks with a wide metal spatula. Cool to room temperature. Repeat with the remaining dough, making sure to cool the baking sheets between batches.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cardamom Butter Squares

A friend passed this recipe on to me. The cookies came together easily. I preferred the cookies plain, but everyone else enjoyed the ones that were iced. I iced some with the espresso/chocolate combination but also did some with just chocolate. They were a hit!

Cardamom Butter Squares
Source: Gourmet

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

For icings:
1 tsp. instant-espresso powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 to 2 Tbsp. milk
1 cup confectioners sugar
3 oz. fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), melted

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cardamom, cinnamon, and allspice in a bowl.
Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes in a stand mixer.
Beat in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, then mix in flour mixture until just combined.
Form dough into 2 (12-inch) logs (1 1/2 inches in diameter), each on its own sheet of plastic wrap.
Use plastic wrap and your hands to roll, press, and square off sides of logs. Chill logs on a baking sheet until slightly firm, about 1 hour, then smooth logs with plastic wrap and flat side of a ruler to achieve straight sides. Chill logs on baking sheet until firm, about 1 hour.

Put oven racks in upper & lowder thirds of over and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut 1/4-inch-thick slices from a log with a knife. Fill 2 large ungreased baking sheets, arranging slices about 1 inch apart (chill remaining dough, wrapped in plastic wrap).
Bake cookies, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until edges are golden, 10 to 12 minutes total.
Cool on sheets 3 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely. Make more cookies iwth remaining dough on cooled baking sheets.

Ice cookies:
Whisk together espresso powder, vanilla, and 1 1/2 Tbsp. milk until espresso powder is dissolved, then add confectioners sugar and enough additional milk to make a thick but pourable icing. Spoon into a sealable bag and snip off a bottom corner. Spoon melted chocolate into another sealable bag and snip off a bottom corner.
Pipe some espresso icing and chocolate over each cookie and let cookies stand on reacks until icing sets, about 2 hours.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Buffalo Chicken Burgers


My husband and I enjoy buffalo wings. I wanted an easy way to enjoy the same flavor at home for a quick meal. These burgers were definately a hit and much healthier than the deep fried wings! They had great flavor and you can add as much or little of the buffalo sauce to each burger as you want. I served this with a side of celery sticks. Perfect!


Buffalo Chicken Burgers
1 pkg. ground all white chicken
1 cup shredded mozerella cheese
1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese
1/4 cup chopped onion
Chopped fresh parsley
Salt/Pepper
1 small bottle hot sauce
3 Tbsp. butter
Prepared bleu cheese dressing
Buns

In a bowl combine the ground chicken, cheeses, onion, parsley, salt/pepper and 2 Tbsp. of hot sauce. Mix with hands until all combined. Shape into four patties. Preheat skillet with 1 Tbsp. oil. Fry patties until cooked through.
For the Buffalo Sauce:
In a small bowl pour the remaining hot sauce. Add the 3 Tbsp. butter. Microwave and stir periodically until melted and warm. Set aside.
To assemble to burgers, baste patties with buffalo sauce (as much as you like), put on bun. Top with bleu cheese dressing. You can also add tomatoes & lettuce. Enjoy!




Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Daring Bakers May Challenge --- Opera Cake



I was excited to complete my first DB challenge! After seeing the length of the recipe, I have to admit I was a little nervous! But everything came together smoothly! The cake turned out great and tasted fabulous!




The flavors I chose to incorporate into the cake were almond & raspberry. I flavored the syrup with almond extract and the buttercream with fresh raspberries. I also used Ameretto in the mousse. I can't wait to try the recipe again with different flavor combinations.



Be sure to check out all the other DB Opera Cakes! Enjoy!



Opéra Cake

This recipe is based on Opéra Cake recipes in Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets and Tish Boyle and Timothy Moriarty’s Chocolate

Passion.

For the joconde(Note: The joconde can be made up to 1 day in advance and kept wrapped at room temperate)What you’ll need:•2 12½ x 15½-inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans (Note: If you do not have jelly-roll pans this size, do not fear! You can use different-sized jelly-roll pans like 10 x 15-inches.)•a few tablespoons of melted butter (in addition to what’s called for in the ingredients’ list) and a brush (to grease the pans)•parchment paper•a whisk and a paddle attachment for a stand mixer or for a handheld mixer•two mixing bowls (you can make do with one but it’s preferable to have two)


Ingredients:

6 large egg whites, at room temperature2 tbsp. (30 grams) granulated sugar2 cups (225 grams) ground blanched almonds (Note: If you do not want to use almond meal, you can use another nut meal like hazelnut. You can buy almond meal in bulk food stores or health food stores, or you can make it at home by grinding almonds in the food processor with a tablespoon or two of the flour that you would use in the cake. The reason you need the flour is to prevent the almonds from turning oily or pasty in the processor. You will need about 2 cups of blanched almonds to create enough almond meal for this cake.)2 cups icing sugar, sifted6 large eggs½ cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour3 tbsp. (1½ ounces; 45 grams) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1.Divide the oven into thirds by positioning a rack in the upper third of the oven and the lower third of the oven.

2.Preheat the oven to 425◦F. (220◦C).

3.Line two 12½ x 15½- inch (31 x 39-cm) jelly-roll pans with parchment paper and brush with melted butter.

4.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or using a handheld mixer), beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the peaks are stiff and glossy. If you do not have another mixer bowl, gently scrape the meringue into another bowl and set aside.

5.If you only have one bowl, wash it after removing the egg whites or if you have a second bowl, use that one. Attach the paddle attachment to the stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer again) and beat the almonds, icing sugar and eggs on medium speed until light and voluminous, about 3 minutes.

6.Add the flour and beat on low speed until the flour is just combined (be very careful not to overmix here!!!). 7.Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the meringue into the almond mixture and then fold in the melted butter. Divide the batter between the pans and spread it evenly to cover the entire surface of each pan.

8.Bake the cake layers until they are lightly browned and just springy to the touch. This could take anywhere from 5 to 9 minutes depending on your oven. Place one jelly-roll pan in the middle of the oven and the second jelly-roll pan in the bottom third of the oven.

9.Put the pans on a heatproof counter and run a sharp knife along the edges of the cake to loosen it from the pan. Cover each with a sheet of parchment or wax paper, turn the pans over, and unmold

10.Carefully peel away the parchment, then turn the parchment over and use it to cover the cakes. Let the cakes cool to room temperature.


For the syrup(Note: The syrup can be made up to 1 week in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator.)What you’ll need:•a small saucepan

Ingredients:½ cup (125 grams) water⅓ cup (65 grams) granulated sugar1 to 2 tbsp. of the flavouring of your choice (i.e., vanilla extract, almond extract, cognac, limoncello, coconut cream, honey etc.)

1.Stir all the syrup ingredients together in the saucepan and bring to a boil.

2.Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.



For the buttercream


(The recipe for the buttercream that is listed here is based on the original. When testing the buttercream, we tested a slightly modified version that had 2 cups sugar, ½ cup water and 1¾ cups butter. The eggs remained the same. We ended up with a very creamy buttercream. But we don’t want anyone to be afraid of our modified version so you have the option of using the original above or the quantities we’ve listed here in this note):
1 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar (Used to say 2 cups but should be 1 cup)¼ cup (60 grams) water (Used to say ½ cup but should say ¼ cup)seeds of one vanilla bean (split a vanilla bean down the middle and scrape out the seeds) or 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract1 large egg1 large egg yolk1¾ sticks (7 ounces; 200 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature (Used to say 1¾ cups of butter but it should be 1¾ sticks).flavouring of your choice (a tablespoon of an extract, a few tablespoons of melted white chocolate, citrus zest, etc.)
Combine the sugar, water and vanilla bean seeds or extract in a small saucepan and warm over medium heat just until the sugar dissolves.
Continue to cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 225◦F (107◦C) (Note: The original recipe instructs to heat the syrup to 255◦F (124◦C). We heated it to 225◦F and it worked just fine. However, if you are concerned, then by all means heat your syrup to 255◦F.) on a candy or instant-read thermometer. Once it reaches that temperature, remove the syrup from the heat.
While the syrup is heating, begin whisking the egg and egg yolk at high speed in the bowl of your mixer using the whisk attachment. Whisk them until they are pale and foamy.
When the sugar syrup reaches the correct temperature and you remove it from the heat, reduce the mixer speed to low speed and begin slowly (very slowly) pouring the syrup down the side of the bowl being very careful not to splatter the syrup into the path of the whisk attachment. Some of the syrup will spin onto the sides of the bowl but don’t worry about this and don’t try to stir it into the mixture as it will harden!
Raise the speed to medium-high and continue beating until the eggs are thick and satiny and the mixture is cool to the touch (about 5 minutes or so).
While the egg mixture is beating, place the softened butter in a bowl and mash it with a spatula until you have a soft creamy mass.
With the mixer on medium speed, begin adding in two-tablespoon chunks. When all the butter has been incorporated, raise the mixer speed to high and beat until the buttercream is thick and shiny.
At this point add in your flavouring and beat for an additional minute or so.
Refrigerate the buttercream, stirring it often, until it’s set enough (firm enough) to spread when topped with a layer of cake (about 20 minutes).


For the white chocolate ganache/mousse (this step is optional)

(Note: The mousse can be made ahead and refrigerated until you’re ready to use it.)What you’ll need:•a small saucepan•a mixer or handheld mixerIngredients:7 ounces white chocolate1 cup plus 3 tbsp. heavy cream (35% cream)1 tbsp. liquer of your choice (Bailey’s, Amaretto, etc.)1.Melt the white chocolate and the 3 tbsp. of heavy cream in a small saucepan.2.Stir to ensure that it’s smooth and that the chocolate is melted. Add the tablespoon of liqueur to the chocolate and stir. Set aside to cool completely.3.In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream until soft peaks form.4.Gently fold the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate to form a mousse. 5.If it’s too thin, refrigerate it for a bit until it’s spreadable.6.If you’re not going to use it right away, refrigerate until you’re ready to use.



For the glaze

(Note: It’s best to make the glaze right when you’re ready to finish the cake.)What you’ll need:•a small saucepan or double boilerIngredients:14 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped ½ cup heavy cream (35% cream)1.Melt the white chocolate with the heavy cream. Whisk the mixture gently until smooth. 2.Let cool for 10 minutes and then pour over the chilled cake. Using a long metal cake spatula, smooth out into an even layer. 3.Place the cake into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to set.


Assembling the Opéra Cake


(Note: The finished cake should be served slightly chilled. It can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 1 day).Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.Working with one sheet of cake at a time, cut and trim each sheet so that you have two pieces (from each cake so you’ll have four pieces in total): one 10-inch (25-cm) square and one 10 x 5-inch (25 x 12½-cm) rectangle.



Step A (if using buttercream only and not making the ganache/mousse):Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.Spread about one-third of the buttercream over this layer.Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.Spread another third of the buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde. Spread the remaining buttercream on top of the final layer of joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.



Step B (if making the ganache/mousse):Place one square of cake on the baking sheet and moisten it gently with the flavoured syrup.Spread about three-quarters of the buttercream over this layer.Top with the two rectangular pieces of cake, placing them side by side to form a square. Moisten these pieces with the flavoured syrup.Spread the remaining buttercream on the cake and then top with the third square of joconde. Use the remaining syrup to wet the joconde and then refrigerate until very firm (at least half an hour).Prepare the ganache/mousse (if you haven’t already) and then spread it on the top of the last layer of the joconde. Refrigerate for at least two to three hours to give the ganache/mousse the opportunity to firm up.Make the glaze and after it has cooled, pour/spread it over the top of the chilled cake. Refrigerate the cake again to set the glaze.Serve the cake slightly chilled. This recipe will yield approximately 20 servings.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

TWD -- Florida Pie


This week's recipe was chosen by Dianne's Dishes.

The pie came together very easily. I had no problems. I am usually not a big fan of key lime pie. However, I thought this pie was great! Very refreshing, tart and just the right amount of sweet. I thought the coconut balanced out the tartness of the limes. I will definately make this again.

Be sure to check out how everyone's pie came together at the TWD site. Enjoy!



Florida Pie (from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)
1 9-inch graham cracker crust (page 235), fully baked and cooled, or a store-bought crust1 1/3 cups heavy cream1 1/2 cups shredded sweetened coconut4 large eggs, seperated1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk1/2 cup fresh Key (or regular) lime juice (from about 5 regular limes)1/4 cup of sugar
Getting Ready:Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment of a silicone mat.
Put the cream and 1 cup of the coconut in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring almost constantly. Continue to cook and stir until the cream is reduced by half and the mixture is slightly thickened. Scrape the coconut cream into a bowl and set it aside while you prepare the lime filling.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl beat the egg yolks at high speed until thick and pale. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the condensed milk. Still on low, add half of the lime juice. When it is incorporated, add the reaming juice, again mixing until it is blended. Spread the coconut cream in the bottom of the graham cracker crust, and pour over the lime filling.
Bake the pie for 12 minutes. Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and cool for 15 minutes, then freeze the pie for at least 1 hour.
To Finish the Pie with Meringue:Put the 4 egg whites and the sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, whisking all the while, until the whites are hot to the touch. Transfer the whites to a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer in a large bowl, and beat the whites at high speed until they reach room temperature and hold firm peaks. Using a rubber spatula, fold the remaining 1/2 cup coconut into the meringue.Spread the meringue over the top of the pie, and run the pie under the broiler until the top of the meringue is golden brown. (Or, if you've got a blowtorch, you can use it to brown the meringue.) Return the pie to the freezer for another 30 minutes or for up to 3 hours befor
e serving.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

TWD: Peanut Butter Torte






This week's recipe, Peanut Butter Torte, was chosen by Elizabeth of Ugg Smell Food. This was one of the recipes I have had my eye on since I first looked at the book!
This recipe came together nicely. The torte tastes fabulous! I love the combination of peanut butter and chocolate and the extra crunch of the nuts make it even better! I did end up using semi-sweet chocolate instead of bittersweet as the recipe called for. I'm excited to share this with friends & family! I know it will be a hit!

Be sure to check out the other Peanut Butter Tortes on the TWD site. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter Torte
1 ¼ c. finely chopped salted peanuts (for the filling, crunch and topping)
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder (or finely ground instant coffee)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
½ c. mini chocolate chips (or finely chopped semi sweet chocolate)
24 Oreo cookies, finely crumbed or ground in a food processor or blender
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Small pinch of salt
2 ½ c. heavy cream
1 ¼ c confectioners’ sugar, sifted
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 ½ c salted peanut butter - crunchy or smooth (not natural; I use Skippy)
2 tablespoons whole milk
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate finely chopped (Iused semi-sweet)
Getting ready: center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch Springform pan and place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Toss ½ cup of the chopped peanuts, the sugar, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and chocolate chops together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Put the Oreo crumbs, melted butter and salt in another small bowl and stir with a fork just until crumbs are moistened. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the spring form pan (they should go up about 2 inches on the sides). Freeze the crust for 10 minutes.
Bake the crust for 10 minutes, then transfer it to a rack and let it cool completely before filling.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it holds medium peaks. Beat in ¼ cup of the confectioners’ sugar and whip until the cream holds medium-firm peaks. Crape the cream into a bowl and refrigerate until needed.
Wipe out (do not wash) the bowl, fit the stand mixer with the paddle attachment if you have one, or continue with the hand mixer, and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar on medium speed until the cream cheese is satiny smooth. Beat in the peanut butter, ¼ cup of the chopped peanuts and the milk.
Using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in about one quarter of the whipped cream, just to lighten the mousse. Still working with the spatula, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, then gingerly fold in the remaining whipped cream.
Scrape the mouse into the crust, mounding and smoothing the top. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight; cover with plastic wrap as soon as the mousse firms.
To Finish The Torte: put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Leave the bowl over the water just until the chocolate softens and starts to melt, about 3 minutes; remove the bowl from the saucepan.
Bring the remaining ½ cup cream to a full boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and , working with a a rubber spatula, very gently stir together until the ganache is completely blended and glossy.
Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing it with a metal icing spatula. Scatter the remaining ½ cup peanuts over the top and chill to set the topping, about 20 minutes.
When the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the Springform pan; it’s easiest to warm the pan with a hairdryer, and then remove the sides, but you can also wrap a kitchen towel damped with hot water around the pan and leave it there for 10 seconds. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Stay tuned next week ... Florida Pie chosen by Dianne's Dishes!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Corn & Black Bean Salad


When I saw this recipe, I knew I had to make it. This is a fast and simple recipe that also has wonderful taste! It is great eaten alone as a salad or as a salsa with tortilla chips. The dressing has the right amount of sweet. This is defiantely a keeper! Delicious!


Corn and Black Bean Salad
Source: Healthy Cooking
1 can (15 1/4 oz) whole kernel corn, drained
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
1 large red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced

Dressing:
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
2 Tablespoons canola oil
1 1/2 tsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. pepper
In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients; pour over the corn mixture and toss to coat. Cover & refrigerate at least 1 hour. Stir before serving. Serve with a slotted spoon.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

TWD: Bill's Big Carrot Cake

This week's TWD recipe was chosen by slow like honey. I'm not usually a big fan of carrot cake, but have changed my mind since having this cake! I love the coconut and dried cranberries in it! It was moist and had wonderful flavor! This recipe came together easily. I had no problems with it. I used pecans, topped the cream cheese frosting with extra coconut and also added a few dried cranberries. Wonderful! I will definately be making this again.

Be sure to check out the TWD website to see how everyone's recipe turned out.

Bill's Big Carrot Cake
Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Yields 10 servings

Ingredients:

For the cake:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

For the frosting:
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract
½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)

Getting ready:
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

To make the cake:
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.
Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.
The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

To make the frosting:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.
If you'd like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.

To assemble the cake:
Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.
Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.

Serving:
This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it's good plain, it's even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.

Storing:
The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it's firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

TWD: Marshmallows

This weeks TWD recipe was chosen by Judy's Gross Eats. I was excited to see that Marshmallows were chosen. I love marshmallows, but was a bit nervous about this recipe since I've never made them before. I didn't have any trouble with the recipe, it came together nicely. I did use a different size pan, so my marshmallows turned out a bit thinner than I think they should have been. But, the flavor was great! I stuck to the regular recipe of vanilla flavored marshmallows. I hope to experiment with other flavors in the future.
Be sure to check out how everyone else did with their marshmallows at the TWD site!

Marshmallows

Including marshmallows as a spoon dessert may seem like cheating -- after all, they're eaten with fingers (or, by campers, from sticks picked up in the forest) -- but making them at home is too much fun to miss. And in fact this dessert is related to others in this chapter: the base is meringue -- sweetened and strengthened by a cooked sugar syrup and fortified by gelatin.There's nothing difficult about making the marshmallows, but the meringue does need a long beating. While you can use a hand mixer, a stand mixer makes the job easier.I'm giving you the recipe for a basic vanilla marshmallow. See Playing Around (below) for raspberry, chocolate, cappuccino and pumpkin marshmallows.Makes about 1 pound marshmallows
About 1 cup potato starch (found in the kosher foods section of supermarkets) or cornstarch
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 1/4-ounce packets unflavored gelatin
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
GETTING READY: Line a rimmed baking sheet -- choose one with a rim that is 1 inch high -- with parchment paper and dust the paper generously with potato starch or cornstarch. Have a candy thermometer at hand.Put 1/3 cup of the water, 1 1/4 cups of the sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, continue to cook the syrup -- without stirring -- until it reaches 265 degrees F on the candy thermometer, about 10 minutes.
While the syrup is cooking, work on the gelatin and egg whites. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the remaining cold water (a scant 7 tablespoons) and let it sit for about 5 minutes, until it is spongy, then heat the gelatin in a microwave oven for 20 to 30 seconds to liquefy it. (Alternatively, you can dissolve the gelatin in a saucepan over low heat.)Working in the clean, dry bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in another large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until firm but still glossy -- don't overbeat them and have them go dull.
As soon as the syrup reaches 265 degrees F, remove the pan from the heat and, with the mixer on medium speed, add the syrup, pouring it between the spinning beater(s) and the sides of the bowl. Add the gelatin and continue to beat for another 3 minutes, so that the syrup and the gelatin are fully incorporated. Beat in the vanilla.Using a large rubber spatula, scrape the meringue mixture onto the baking sheet, laying it down close to a short end of the sheet. Then spread it into the corners and continue to spread it out, taking care to keep the height of the batter at 1 inch; you won't fill the pan. Lift the excess parchment paper up to meet the edge of the batter, then rest something against the paper so that it stays in place (I use custard cups).Dust the top of the marshmallows with potato starch or cornstarch and let the marshmallows set in a cool, dry place. They'll need about 3 hours, but they can rest for 12 hours or more.
Once they are cool and set, cut the marshmallows with a pair of scissors or a long thin knife. Whatever you use, you'll have to rinse and dry it frequently. Have a big bowl with the remaining potato starch or cornstarch at hand and cut the marshmallows as you'd like -- into squares, rectangles or even strips (as they're cut in France). As each piece is cut, drop it into the bowl. When you've got 4 or 5 marshmallows in the bowl, reach in with your fingers and turn the marshmallows to coat them with starch, then, one by one, toss the marshmallows from one hand to the other to shake off the excess starch; transfer them to a serving bowl. Cut and coat the rest of the batch.
SERVING: Put the marshmallows out and let everyone nibble as they wish. Sometimes I fill a tall glass vase with the marshmallows and put it in the center of the table -- it never fails to make friends smile. You can also top hot chocolate or cold sundaes with the marshmallows.
STORING: Keep the marshmallows in a cool, dry place; don't cover them closely. Stored in this way, they will keep for about 1 week -- they might develop a little crust on the outside or they might get a little firmer on the inside, but they'll still be very good.
Playing AroundRASPBERRY MARSHMALLOWS: Fruit purees are excellent for flavoring these candies.For raspberry marshmallows, you'll need a generous 1/3 cup of puree; reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon. After the batter is mixed, gently fold in the puree with a rubber spatula. You can use the same measurements and technique for other purees, such as strawberry, mango and passion fruit.
CAPPUCCINO MARSHMALLOWS: Sift 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder and 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon together into a small bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup boiling water and mix until smooth. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/2 teaspoon, and add it to the espresso mix. After you add the sugar syrup and gelatin to the meringue, beat in the espresso mixture and continue.
LIGHT CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOWS: Melt 3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and stir in 2 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. Reduce the vanilla extract to 1/4 teaspoon, and after the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the chocolate mixture with a large rubber spatula.
PUMPKIN SPICE MARSHMALLOWS: Whisk together 1/2 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin puree, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg and a pinch of ground allspice. After the marshmallow batter is mixed, fold in the spiced pumpkin with a large rubber spatula.