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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Caramel Croissant Pudding


Small Plates:
A desert just for two... ahh how romantic. Rich buttery croissants submerged in sweet decadent caramely goodness with just a hint of brandy... mmmmmm!! Now I will say that that I do not like bread pudding... there is just something about wet bread that triggers my gag reflex however, this recipe is different and am I ever so glad that I found it. The croissants are a different texture and not gummy at all.

Caramel Croissant Pudding

Ingredients
2 stale croissants
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 cup whole milk
2 eggs, beaten

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Tear the croissants into pieces and put in a small oven safe dish.

Put the sugar and water into a saucepan, and swirl around to help dissolve the sugar before putting the saucepan on the stove over medium/high heat. Caramelize the sugar and water mixture by letting it bubble away until it all turns a deep amber color; this will take 3 to 5 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat and add the cream - ignoring all spluttering - followed by the bourbon and milk. ***Ok, at this point, I ended up with a big ball of gunk sitting in a cream/brandy/milk bath, but I put the pan back on the heat and stirred until it dissolved.*** Whisk to mix, then still whisking add the beaten eggs. Pour this quickly over the croissants and leave to steep for 10 minutes. Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Tom and Jerry Drink




I tried a new drink over the Christmas holiday and it was scrumptious to say the least! But I can't really explain how good it was without explaining how freaking cold it was. It was our first White Christmas ever (YEA), and this was the perfect drink to warm me up. Ya know, I'm a Texas girl... and I can only handle small spurts of cold... very small. This was blizzard like conditions!! 40 mile an hour sustained winds with gusts up to 60 and below freezing temps! Seriously, I don't know how people up north survive??? So cold it just chills you to the bone... unless, you insert yummy warm drink and then, I'm a happy girl!!
I reseached several recipes to make sure I got it right, so first I will give you the recipe I ended up making (enough for a couple of servings) then I will give you the recipe that Lorie gave me (enough to share!) Thanks Lorie!

So here ya go!

Ingredients
1 egg separated
1 tbsp sugar
rum
brandy
hot water
nutmeg

Directions
Start by heating water (I just ran about 4 cups thru my coffee pot). Then, separate egg into two bowls. Beat egg white until stiff, then beat yolk with sugar until lemon yellow in color. Carefullyfold whites into yellow for form a batter and refridgerate until ready to use. Now it's time to make a drink.

Place a heaping spoon ful of batter in a mug (filling about 1/3 full). Add half a shot of each rum and brandy then fill with hot water. Stir and top with a sprinkle of nutmeg and enjoy!!

Now here is the recipe that Lorie gave me
Ingredients
1 dozen eggs
1 lb powdered sugar
rum
brandy
hot water
nutmeg

Directions
Start by heating water (I just ran about 4 cups thru my coffee pot). Then, separate egg into two bowls. Beat egg white until stiff, then beat yolk with sugar until lemon yellow in color. Carefullyfold whites into yellow for form a batter and refridgerate until ready to use. Now it's time to make a drink.

Place a heaping spoon ful of batter in a mug (filling about 1/3 full). Add half a shot of each rum and brandy then fill with hot water. Stir and top with a sprinkle of nutmeg and enjoy!!

Note: I mixed powdered sugar in the egg, but found that it wasnt sweet enough for me, so I added about three spoons of granulated sugar to my cup and it was perfect.

***Warning: Consuming raw or undercooked eggs may cause certain illnesses***

Biscuits and Gravy

Buttermilk Biscuits and Sausage Gravy


This is a real stick to your ribs kinda breakfast, and it is gooood!! With all this weird, cold weather (come on, it Texas! what's up with that???) we need some substance. Now, I've tried this biscuit recipe a few times, the first attempt was sad... my darlin husband (who is not afraid to voice his opinion) mentioned how they could be used as skeet, as well as other negative comments that I chose to ignore... however, the good news is they keep getting better every time I make them.

Buttermilk Biscuits
Recipe on Food Network by Alton Brown


Ingredients
2 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup buttermilk, chilled

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter and shortening into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. (The faster the better, you don't want the fats to melt.) Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. The dough will be very sticky.
Turn dough onto floured surface, dust top with flour and gently fold dough over on itself 5 or 6 times. Press into a 1-inch thick round. Cut out biscuits with a 2-inch cutter, being sure to push straight down through the dough. Place biscuits on baking sheet so that they just touch. Reform scrap dough, working it as little as possible and continue cutting.
Bake until biscuits are tall and light gold on top, 15 to 20 minutes.

Arent they purdy!!
Sausage Gravy

Ingredients
1/4 cup breakfast sausage
2 to 3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
salt and pepper

Directions
Start by browning sausage in a skillet until it is completely cooked then remove to a plate. Turn heat down to medium-low and add about 2 tbsp of flour to the grease and whisk immediately. Depending on how much grease you have you may need to add another tbsp of flour (or, if by some odd chance your sausage did not make enough grease you can add some oil, shortning, butter, etc.) You want to find a good balance between the flour and the grease.


Once you find it, just keep stirring with the whisk and allow the mixture to brown for a few minutes. As you whisk, scrape in the anything from the bottom of the pan as you go. You want to cook it for at least 2 minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. After 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly, pour in about a cup of milk. If the mixture is dry, lumpy or pasty, add in more milk. Once the gravy is at a good consistancy add the sausage back to the pan and salt and pepper to taste. Break biscuits in half pour gravy on top!!




Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Alcoholic Hot Chocolate


MMMMM.... In searching through Nigella's recipes I kept coming across this one... I just had to make it, and I am so glad I did. I was worth every calorie that I consumed, and every extra minute (175 of them) that I will spend on the elliptical to reverse the damage! Alcoholic Hot Chocolate makes me a very happy mommy.

There is such a sense of peace and contentment and bliss in this little cup that I cannot fully express to you. You are going to have to try it for yourself... Seriously... try it!




Ingredients
2 cups milk
3 1/2 ounces best-quality dark chocolate, bittersweet or semisweet, as preferred
1 cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons dark rum, or to taste

Directions
Put the milk into a saucepan and break the chocolate into pieces and add to the milk along with a cinnamon stick, honey, and sugar and heat gently until the chocolate is melted.
Add the vanilla and mix with a small hand whisk and still whisking, add a spoonful of the rum first and taste to see if you want more. Add more sugar if you want this sweeter, too. Take out the cinnamon stick and pour into 2 cappuccino or caffe latte cups.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cranberry Almond Cookies


This recipe is a variation of Giada's Dried Cherry and Almond Cookies with Vanilla Icing. It was Day 2 of the Food Network's 12 days of cookies. I used cranberries instead of cherries and they were delicious!! One note: the icing recipe makes a lot, way to much for one recipe of cookies... My solution of course is to make another batch of cookies :o)

Ingredients
Cookies:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup coarsely chopped cranberries
1/2 cup slivered, blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped

Icing:
2 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons water, plus extra, as needed

Directions

For the Cookies:
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract, cinnamon, and salt until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, then beat in the egg. Add the flour and beat on the lowest speed until just blended. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the dried cranberries and almonds.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and shape it into a log, about 12-inches long and 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Wrap the dough in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (Dough can be made up to 3 days in advance).

Arrange an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 heavy baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut the log crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices. Transfer the dough slices to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1-inch apart. Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges and puffed, about 15 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before icing, about 30 minutes.

For the Icing:
Put the powdered sugar in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the vanilla extract and water, adding more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the mixture becomes a drizzling consistency. (Makes about 2/3 cups icing, enough to ice both variations.)

Put the cooled cookies on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Using a spoon or a fork, drizzle the cookies with the icing, allowing any excess icing to drip onto the baking sheet. Allow the icing to set before serving, about 1 hour.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Triple Chocolate Brownies


I love cookies. In fact I think I might be addicted... but when I was searching for the perfect cookie recipe to make this week, I came across this  Triple Chocolate Brownie recipe that I just couldn't pass up! You see... chocolate is an obsession and the simple fact that these have three (that's right, I said three!!) different kinds of chocolate, well the search was over... I had to try it. And I am glad I did! They were warm, super rich with bittersweet chocolate and butter and required nothing more that a cold glass of milk. Plus, the recipe made filled a 9x13 pan so there are plenty to share.

 The challange this week for I heart Cooking Clubs was Cookies or Dessert Exchange and here is the recipe I chose.

Ingredients
3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate
6 eggs
1 3/4 cups superfine sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white chocolate buttons, chips, or morsels
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate buttons, chips or morsels
Approximately 2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar, for garnish
Special equipment: Baking tin (approximately 11 1/4 inches by 9 inches by 2 inches), sides and base lined with baking parchment.

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Melt the butter and dark chocolate together in a large heavy based pan over a low heat.
In a bowl, beat the eggs together with the superfine sugar and vanilla extract.
Allow the chocolate mixture to cool a little, then add the egg and sugar mixture and beat well. Fold in the flour and salt. Then stir in the white chocolate buttons or chips, and the semisweet chocolate buttons or chips. Beat to combine then scrape and pour the brownie mixture into the prepared tin.
Bake for about 25 minutes (I cooked mine for about 33 minutes). You can see when the brownies are ready because the top dries to a slightly paler brown speckle, while the middle remains dark, dense and gooey. Even with such a big batch you do need to keep checking on it: the difference between gooey brownies and dry ones is only a few minutes. Remember, too, that they will continue to cook as they cool..
To serve, cut into squares while still warm and pile up on a large plate, sprinkling with confectioners' sugar pushed with a teaspoon through a small sieve.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chocohotopots



MMMMMM... My inner goddess knows exactly what she wants... she wants Chocolate.

 Chocolate that is rich and decadent and sinful.

I am so pleased that I came across and chose to make this recipe. It was absolutely divine! The top formed a perfect crust with a gooey chocolatey filling that words simply cannot discribe.


Ingredients
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, with 60 percent cocoa solids
2 eggs
3/4 cup superfine sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Special equipment: 4 (2/3 to 1-cup capacity) ramekins

Directions
Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.
Butter the ramekins with 1 tablespoon butter.

Either in a microwave or in a bowl suspended over a pan over simmering water, melt the dark chocolate and 1 stick butter, then set aside to cool a little.

In another bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar and flour with a hand whisk and beat in the cooled butter and chocolate mixture. Divide the mixture between the 4 buttered ramekins. Bake for about 20 minutes, by which time the tops will be cooked and cracked and the chocolate gooey underneath.


Place each ramekin on a small plate with a teaspoon and serve... If your inner goddess is feeling generous enough to share, make sure to warn people that these desserts will be HOT!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Italian Feast Part 2 - Cheesy Stuffed Shells

Cheesy Stuffed Shells

pièce de résistance

I was watching Food Network... like I often do when I have time... and when I go to print the recipe I was looking for (that is completely unrelated to this) low and behold there it was, gleaming on the corner of the page... I swear it was calling out to me... a picture of this recipe.


mmmm... this smells good!!

Look how snug they are in the nice warm sauce!

And a little more sauce... now they are ready for the oven.



Cheesy Stuffed Shells
Adapted from Melissa D'Arabian (food network)

Ingredients
For the Sauce:
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated carrot
1/2 cup grated zucchini
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
Freshly ground pepper

For the Shells:
1 12-ounce box jumbo pasta shells
1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 clove garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Cooking spray

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Make the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrot, zucchini, onion and celery and saute until soft but not brown, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the basil, oregano, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, prepare the shells: Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook for 8 minutes; drain. Mix the spinach, cottage cheese, parmesan, 1/2 cup mozzarella, the egg and garlic in a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper.

Mist a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread about 1 cup of the sauce in the dish. Stuff the cheese mixture into the shells and place in the baking dish, open-side up. Pour the remaining sauce over the shells. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella and bake for 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Italian Feast Part 1 - Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Ok, so I can't just make Cannoli, nope... gotta have something to go with it and since I was making Cannoli... I decided to do a whole Italian Feast! After seeing this recipe on Living in the Kitchen with Puppies, I knew I had to make it.


Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Recipe courtesy Nigella Lawson

Ingredients:
1 pound spaghetti
2 cups cubed pancetta rind removed (I used bacon)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
4 eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg

Directions
Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta.

In another large pan that will fit the pasta later, cook the pancetta cubes in the oil until crispy but not crunchy. Pour over the white wine or vermouth and let it bubble away so that, after a few minutes, you have a small amount of salty winey syrup left. Take the pan off the heat.

In a bowl, beat together the eggs, Parmesan, cream, and pepper. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions, but since you want it kept al dente start checking it 2 minutes before end of the recommended cooking time.

When the pasta is done, remove approximately 1/2 cup of the pasta water before draining. Put the pan with the bacon cubes back on the heat and add the drained pasta, tossing well to coat with the syrupy pancetta. Take the pan off the heat again and add the eggs and cheese mixture, swiftly tossing everything to mix. Thin with pasta water, if needed. Grind over some more pepper and grate over the nutmeg to serve.



Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cannoli - Daring Bakers Challange


I have a confession... I have never eaten Cannoli!! I've seen it on the menu, but never ordered it... in fact, I've never ordered any Italian desert, other that Tiramisu... I LOVE TIRAMISU!!! There are no words to describe the ulitmate pleasure you get when eating Tiramisu. I mean seriously people, rum saturated lady fingers, covered with creamy marscapone cheese, topped with decedant cocoa... is there anything better??? Whew, I feel better now. Ok, back to the subject... so, when I read my first Daring Bakers Challenge, I was rather intrigued.

The November 2009 Daring Bakers Challenge was chosen and hosted by Lisa Michele of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. She chose the Italian Pastry, Cannolo (Cannoli is plural), using the cookbooks Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich and The Sopranos Family Cookbook by Allen Rucker; recipes by Michelle Scicolone, as ingredient/direction guides. She added her own modifications/changes, so the recipe is not 100% verbatim from either book.

Cannoli are popular Italian-American pastries, althought they date back to Palermo in Sicily, where they were made during the Carnevale season. The cannoli are fried, tube-shaped pastry shells filled with a creamy sweetened ricotta cheese, chocolate, candied fruit or zest, and sometimes nuts. They can also be filled with pastry creams, mousses, whipped cream, ice cream... you could even make them savory. I'm sticking to the sweet stuff though!

DIRECTIONS FOR SHELLS:

1. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or food processor, combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the oil, vinegar, and enough of the wine to make a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and well blended, about 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge from 2 hours to overnight.

2. Cut the dough into two pieces. Keep the remaining dough covered while you work. Lightly flour a large cutting or pastry board and roll the dough until super thin, about 1/16 to 1/8” thick (An area of about 13 inches by 18 inches should give you that). Cut out 3 to 5-inch circles (3-inch – small/medium; 4-inch – medium/large; 5-inch;- large. Your choice). Roll the cut out circle into an oval, rolling it larger and thinner if it’s shrunk a little.

3. Oil the outside of the cannoli tubes (You only have to do this once, as the oil from the deep fry will keep them well, uhh, oiled..lol). Roll a dough oval from the long side (If square, position like a diamond, and place tube/form on the corner closest to you, then roll) around each tube/form and dab a little egg white on the dough where the edges overlap. (Avoid getting egg white on the tube, or the pastry will stick to it.) Press well to seal. Set aside to let the egg white seal dry a little.

4. In a deep heavy saucepan, pour enough oil to reach a depth of 3 inches, or if using an electric deep-fryer, follow the manufacturer’s directions. Heat the oil to 375°F (190 °C) on a deep fry thermometer, or until a small piece of the dough or bread cube placed in the oil sizzles and browns in 1 minute. Have ready a tray or sheet pan lined with paper towels or paper bags.

5. Carefully lower a few of the cannoli tubes into the hot oil. Do not crowd the pan. Fry the shells until golden, about 2 minutes, turning them so that they brown evenly.

6. Lift a cannoli tube with a wire skimmer or large slotted spoon, out of the oil. Using tongs, grasp the cannoli tube at one end. Very carefully remove the cannoli tube with the open sides straight up and down so that the oil flows back into the pan. Place the tube on paper towels or bags to drain. Repeat with the remaining tubes. While they are still hot, grasp the tubes with a potholder and pull the cannoli shells off the tubes with a pair of tongs, or with your hand protected by an oven mitt or towel. Let the shells cool completely on the paper towels.


DIRECTIONS FOR FILLING:

1. Line a strainer with cheesecloth. Place the ricotta in the strainer over a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Weight it down with a heavy can, and let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator for several hours to overnight.

2. In a bowl with electric mixer, beat ricotta until smooth and creamy. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and blend until smooth. Transfer to another bowl and stir in chocolate, zest and nuts. Chill until firm.(The filling can be made up to 24 hours prior to filling the shells. Just cover and keep refrigerated).

ASSEMBLE THE CANNOLI:

1. When ready to serve..fill a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain or star tip, or a ziplock bag, with the ricotta cream. If using a ziplock bag, cut about 1/2 inch off one corner. Insert the tip in the cannoli shell and squeeze gently until the shell is half filled. Turn the shell and fill the other side. You can also use a teaspoon to do this, although it’s messier and will take longer.


Now that I've completed my first challenge, I think I'm gonna go back through and make some of the previous challenges. What's that you say... over-achever??? Nah, I just like to eat!!

Comfort in a Cup - Minty Rich Cocoa




Weekend mornings are my chance to have me time; to sit with a cup of coffee and enjoy the silence; to think of things to make for my sweeties. This morning I decided to wake them up with a scrumptiously decadent cup of Minty hot chocolate.
Ahhh, the weekend.

My sweeties are asleep

and I've got a little time to spare.

(ok, not sure what's going on here... I've already picked him up off the floor once)




Minty Rich Cocoa
1 1/2 cups powdered nondairy creamer
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup nonfat dry milk powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup milk chocolate chips
peppermint sticks divided (crushed for mix and whole for stiring)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. (this makes a lot so have a container handy to store the rest)

Place 1/4 cup cocoa mix into a cup and add 3/4 cup boiling water... stir and enjoy! Now go wake those kids up.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Garlic Roast Potatoes

Side Dish Superstar!!

What a busy day! I have so many things to be thankful for, but most of all I am thankful for my wonderful family. I chose Nigella's Garlic Roast Potatoes as my Side Dish Superstar. They were absolutely delicious... I just wish I would have gotten a better picture before they disapeared.

Garlic Roast Potatoes


Ingredients
3 pounds maincrop potatoes (I used red potatoes)
1/3 cup regular olive oil
1 head garlic
Kosher salt
 
Directions
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Wash and dry the potatoes, and cut them into about 3/4-inch dice. Toss in a large oven tray and pour over the oil, smulching around with your hands to mix well. Separate the head of garlic into cloves adding them to the tray, and roast for about 1 hour, turning once or twice during that time, until crispy and golden but still soft on the inside. When they're done, remove to a large plate and sprinkle with salt.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Bread Bowl - first attempt


My first adventure... a challenge! I came across a recipe for Broccoli and Cheese soup in a bread bowl. The soup itself would be no problem but the bread bowl, on the other hand, is terrifying. I don't quite know what the problem is with me and yeast but I just cant seem to get it right very often. Here are the results... a few of them were usable. My darling husband suggesting using the rest of them for skeet but I had another idea. Even though this is not a sourdough, the texture of this bread reminded me of a Schlotzsky's sandwich and so I went with it. They were absolutely delicious!!