Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cheesecake Brownies

Recently some friends invited us over for dinner, and asked us to bring dessert. With some cream cheese in the fridge, I decided it was time to try Cooking With My Food Storage's Cheesecake Brownies. Since we had had success with this other recipe for brownies in the past, I combined the two. It turned out delicious, but next time I will cook it a little longer.

Cheesecake Brownies

Ingredients for Brownie portion
1/2 c oil
1 c sugar
1 tsp (+) vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 c flour
1/3 c cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

Ingredients for Cheesecake portion
8 oz cream cheese (preferably at room temperature)
1 egg
1/3 c sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x13" baking dish.
  2. Mix together oil, 1 c sugar, and vanilla (from Brownie portion above). Beat in 2 eggs. In another bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Stir into wet ingredients until just blended.
  3. Spread brownie mixture into 9x13" baking dish.
  4. Use an electric mixer to combine cream cheese, 1 egg, and 1/3 c sugar (from Cheesecake portion above) in a separate dish.
  5. Scoop out cheesecake mixture on top of brownie batter in baking dish. Use a spatula to spread evenly across the top of brownie batter. Then, use a knife to swirl some chocolate into the cheesecake.
  6. Bake at 350°F for about 25 minutes. Use toothpick to test for doneness. I think I cooked mine for about this long, but my brownies were gooey. Your oven may bake differently than mine, though, so it is a good idea to check on your brownies at this time.
  7. Let cool; cut into bars (ca. 12) to serve.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Corn Fritters via Emma's Everyday

A friend from church posted this recipe for Corn Fritters, and it sounded good, so we are resharing it (with permission, of course). They taste a bit like pancakes with corn kernels (imagine that), and are a nice variation on that theme. So, without further ado:

Corn Fritters
1 can cream corn
1 can regular corn
2-3 C pancake mix
1/4 C sugar 2 eggs
  1. Mix ingredients together.
  2. Pour into greased griddle as 4" pancakes.
  3. Eat and enjoy. Our friend suggests applesauce as a topping, but anything will do!
Sorry, we didn't have pictures this time around, but the original post does!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

5-Star Sweet & Sour Chicken

 We made sweet & sour chicken for my birthday, and it was delicious. Time-consuming (though we were making some other stuff, too), but so, so, so good. We made a couple of tweaks, but mostly used this recipe from All Recipes. In the future, we are hoping to be able to streamline the process. If we find shortcuts, we will update this page.

5-Star Sweet & Sour Chicken

Chicken & breading
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup and 2 tablespoons self-rising flour (or all-purpose flour plus 1/2 t salt and 1 1/2 t baking powder)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 egg
~2 tsp sesame seeds
~3/4 cup water
2 cups vegetable oil for frying (or enough to cover at least half an inch of your chosen pan)

20-oz can pineapple chunks, drained (juice reserved)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup and 2 tablespoons water, divided
1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons white sugar
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
Food coloring, if desired

Added veggies
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 medium onion, diced
  1. Combine batter ingredients (from flour to sesame seeds). Slowly add water until you have a thick batter to work with. Add chicken pieces and coat thoroughly. 
  2. Heat oil in a frying pan of your choice. Oil is ready when a flick of water sizzles on contact. Add chicken pieces a little at a time, slowly. Let cook at a medium-low heat until cooked through. Drain cooked pieces on paper towel while cooking the rest.
  3. For the sauce, combine pineapple juice, 1/2 cup water, sugar, vinegar, and food coloring in a saucepan. Heat to boiling. Combine cornstarch and remaining water into a paste and add to saucepan. Stir until there are no more cornstarch chunks. Remove from heat.
  4. I sautéed the bell pepper, onion, and 1/2 can of pineapple for a few minutes until tender. You may omit this step if you prefer.
  5. Put veggie mixture and cooked chicken pieces (layer or mix) in a large bowl and pour sauce over everything! Stir to evenly coat. Serve warm.
Breading batter
Coating chicken in batter
Frying chicken pieces
Final Product! Enjoy!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Gnocchi (from scratch)

Last week, since we had some potatoes, I decided to try to make gnocchi from scratch. Our first introduction to gnocchi came last year at a visit to La Dolce Vita, the Italian restaurant down the street. Gnocchi is a potato-based pasta/dumpling. Olive Garden has a chicken gnocchi soup, and it's also yummy with marinara sauce.

The recipe I used came from this Food Network recipe I found. While the flavor, with the accompanying sauce, was pretty good, the texture could have been better. I was in a hurry so I didn't mash up the potatoes as well as I probably would in the future (and I peeled them before microwaving, which did not work so well), and I think maybe I did not add enough flour or perhaps I did not let them cook long enough. Lastly, they might have cooked better had I allowed them to sit out for a while to dry a bit before boiling.

~ 1.5 lb potatoes
a little bit of salt/pepper, to taste
1 large egg, beaten
~1/2 cup flour
  1. Pierce potatoes with a fork and microwave until tender. Original recipe suggests cutting tender potatoes in half and scooping out flesh ; alternately, you can peel/chop and boil potatoes.
  2. Mash cooked potato flesh. I used a potato masher, but the one we have tends to leave parts of the potato unmashed. I think in the future I would attempt to put the potatoes in a food processor.
  3. Mash salt, pepper and egg into potatoes.
  4. Knead flour into mixture.
  5. Roll dough into a "rope" shape and cut into ~1" pieces.
  6. Drop gnocchi pieces (individually so they do not clump together) into pot of boiling water. Cook about 5 minutes. Remove from pot with slotted spoon.
  7. Serve like a pasta with your favorite sauce and parmesan cheese, or add to a soup of your choice.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

This year I put an idea I found on Whipperberry to use as a Christmas goodie to give out. It was yummy and cute and several folks asked for a recipe, so I figured I would share it and my observations here.

The Hot Chocolate on a Stick that I made consists of three parts: (A) candy cane, (B) homemade marshmallow, (C) chocolate ganache block. The candy canes were not homemade (sorry) but the other parts were, and the recipes will be found below, along with assembly tips and instructions. I apologize for the lack of pictures, but I was home alone and making these things required both hands! If you visit Whipperberry's posts (link above) you can see her pictures.

I was so pleased with how my marshmallows turned out, even though I had several things working against me, namely:
  • I don't own a candy thermometer, so I had to guess as to when to remove my mélange from the stove
  • Totally forgot to add vanilla!!
  • I also don't own a standing mixer, and my hand mixer couldn't handle the thick, gooey marshmallow for more than about 5-6 minutes, as opposed to the 12-15 minutes recommended in the original recipe.
I was so worried, when I was pouring it into the baking dish to set, that I was going to end up with marshmallow creme. It was so sticky and gooey. But it actually worked and they were melt-in-your-mouth yummy!

Homemade Marshmallows
3 packages unflavored gelatin (I bought a box with 4 envelopes, and used 3)
1 c ice cold water, divided
1 1/2 c sugar (granulated sugar, nothing special)
1 c light corn syrup
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
~ 1/3 c each powdered sugar and cornstarch (the original recipe calls for 1 c of each, but I ended up with a lot left over....)
nonstick cooking spray (or a paper towel and some crisco)
  1. Combine 1/3 c powdered sugar and 1/3 c cornstarch in a small bowl. Coat a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and dust with mixture. Reserve any extra in bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl (or in a standing mixer, if you have one) combine gelatin and 1/2 c cold water. After a few minutes it will look oddly solid but this is ok.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and salt. Place over medium high heat and cover. Allow to cook for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Uncover and cook (I suggest stirring constantly) for 7-8 minutes, or until mixture reaches 240°F (soft ball stage)
  5. Remove from heat immediately, and pour into bowl with gelatin/water mixture. Using hand mixer or standing mixer, whip until very thick, white, and lukewarm in temperature. As mentioned above, it took about 5-6 minutes to get so thick my hand mixer could no longer mix.
  6. Add vanilla in final minute or so of whipping.
  7. Pour into prepared baking dish (see step 1). It is so sticky, you will want to use a rubber spatula. It's ok if you do not spread it to fit the entire dish, but try to get it to be an even height all the way across.
  8. Pour some of the remaining cornstarch/powdered sugar mixture on top. Whatever is left will be used to coat the sticky edges of your individual marshmallows when you cut them. You might have some bubbles show up in your marshmallow but I think it adds character :o)
  9. Let this rest, uncovered, for at least 4 hours before cutting. To cut, turn out onto cutting board and slice with a pizza cutter or cookie cutters. Coat individual marshmallows with leftover cornstarch/powdered sugar to cut down on sticky fingers. My marshmallows were approximately 2" squares.

Chocolate Ganache
1/2 c heavy cream (whipping cream)
14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
3 c semisweet chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla
  1. Line an 8x8 baking dish with foil. Set aside.
  2. Heat heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk in a double boiler on the stove (you can use 2 pots of about the same diameter for a double boiler: fill one with 2-3 inches of water and rest the other pot over it. You will want the top pot to completely cover the bottom pot in order to use all of the heat from steam.). Heat on a low setting so water does not boil over.
  3. Add chocolate chips and let melt.
  4. Once melted, add vanilla and whisk until smooth.
  5. Pour chocolate mixture into prepared baking dish.
  6. Let sit ~6 hours.
  7. Pull foil out of baking dish (with ganache inside), taking care to not disturb ganache by folding/jerking/etc.
  8. Turn out onto plate and remove foil.
  9. Let sit ~2 hours. This will let the ganache set up a little more, aiding in cutting.
  10. Once set (should no longer be overly sticky to touch), you can cut the ganache. I cut it into ~2" squares. It will still be sticky on the sides. I recommend cutting it as you assemble your hot chocolate on a stick.

Assembling your Hot Chocolate on a Stick:
  1. Remove about 2-3" of candy cane wrapper from straight part of cane.
  2. Insert unwrapped candy cane into center of one marshmallow, pushing marshmallow up about 1".
  3. Insert bottom part of unwrapped candy cane into center of one ganache square.
  4. My ganache was so sticky that in order for this to work for me, I needed to let my individual servings lay on a plate until the ganache had set up even more before I could wrap them. This takes ~1 hour.
  5. Place into a plastic bag or wrap in saran wrap and tape/tie closed.

Whipperberry has a label printout you can use, with instructions for turning your treat into hot chocolate (stir into 4-8 oz. heated milk). Unfortunately, I had already labeled most of mine before I realized the typo on the labels ("chocolate" is spelled wrong) and I didn't have success in fixing the image on my computer on a time crunch.

Overall though, I was very pleased with how these turned out!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Spinach dip in a Sourdough bread bowl

For the Bradshaw Family Christmas party this year, we were assigned to bring an appetizer. After mulling over our options, we settled on spinach dip, one of my favorite dishes.

I headed to the local Walmart figuring I would find the little soup mix box with the recipe on the side. They didn't have it. I picked up the Great Value brand Onion Soup mix and figured I could make it work. I knew I also needed spinach, mayo, sour cream, and water chestnuts, based on prior experiences with spinach dip, so I grabbed these items and headed home. Oh, and also some sourdough. A boule and a square (for dipping).

Fortunately, I found this recipe online using the onion soup mix. It's basically the same as the more well-known Knorr recipe, except with a different flavor soup.

Spinach Dip
1 10-oz package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 c mayonnaise
1 packet onion soup mix
1 1/2 c sour cream (about 16 oz.)
1 can water chestnuts, drained and diced
  1. Thaw and drain spinach. I pour the spinach into a colander and let lukewarm water run through it in the sink until it is no longer icy. Squeeze water out of spinach. I also find it helpful to chop the spinach a little extra.
  2. Mix sour cream and mayonnaise.
  3. Add onion soup mix and stir to combine.
  4. Add spinach and water chestnuts and continue to mix until well dispersed.
Spinach dip is especially yummy and pretty when presented in a sourdough boule. You will need to cut out the top and middle of the bread boule to turn it into a bread bowl. This is accomplished by taking a knife and carefully slicing into the top of the bread, being sure not to cut through the bottom. You have to use your hands to pull the inside of the bread out, and then continue to shape the inside so it can hold the max amount of dip.

For our party, I doubled the amount of dip (still using only one can of water chestnuts). I cut the sourdough boule insides, and the sourdough square loaf, into small cubes (~ 1-2"). Not all of the dip fit into my bread bowl so I kept the extra in a separate bowl. The idea is to use the small bread cubes to dip into the spinach dip, and at the end you can also eat the bread bowl (of course!).