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

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

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!

1 egg separated
1 tbsp sugar
hot water

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
1 dozen eggs
1 lb powdered sugar
hot water

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

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

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

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

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!

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

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)

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

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


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.

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.

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


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.

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

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)

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

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

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

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.