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Archive for December, 2008

Roasted Asparagus

Asparagus

This was such an easy dish to make and it’s really good too! I love vegetables, especially asparagus and since I had already made green beans for Thanksgiving, I wanted something different for Christmas.

Roasted Asparagus

4 lbs fresh asparagus

5 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tablespoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash and dry asparagus. Break ends of asparagus to get the tough parts out. Put asparagus onto baking sheet. Mix oil and minced garlic and generously brush over asparagus. Put baking sheet into oven for about 15 minutes. Server and enjoy!

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Oreo Truffles

Oreo
I have seen oreo truffles on a lot of the food blogs that I’ve read.  I’ve never had it before and it looked good.  How can you go wrong with oreos and chocolate?  I decided to make it for Christmas to give away to some friends as gifts.  Brian tried these for the first time and he loved them!  But then again, he loves cookies and cream so of course he’ll love these oreo truffles.  They are very easy to make and the only trouble I had was dipping them in chocolate.  It was hard getting it all smooth, into a round ball.  Maybe with more practice, I’ll get better at it.
Oreo Truffles adpated from Kraftfoods
1 pkg. (1 lb. 2 oz.) OREO Cookies, finely crushed, divided
1 pkg.  (8 oz.) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat cream cheese)
2 pkg. (8 squares each) BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate, melted (I used a bag of Wilton’s Candy Melts in Vanilla)

MIX 3 cups of the cookie crumbs and the cream cheese until well blended. Shape into 42 (1-inch) balls.

DIP balls in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover melted chocolate can be stored in tightly covered container at room temperature and saved for another use.) Sprinkle with remaining cookie crumbs.

REFRIGERATE 1 hour or until firm. Store any leftover truffles in tightly covered container in refrigerator.

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Chocolate Crinkles

Stacked Cookies

I have made these chocolate crinkles over the years and they are always a big hit.  They are so soft, yet chewy and so chocolatey!  I even won the Best Cookie contest at a work picnic with these cookies!  Something about them always reminds me of Christmas.  Taste great with a glass of ice cold milk!

Chocolate Crinkles adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking
Ingredients:
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups mini semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
Place the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler placed over (not touching) barely simmering water.  Heat, stirring often, until the butter and chocolate melt.  Remove from over the water and set aside to cool slightly.  In a bowl, stir together the flour , cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, granulated sugar, and vanilla.  Beat on medium speed until light in color and thick, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the melted chocolate mixture on low speed until blended.  Add the dry ingredients and beat until incorporated.  Mix in the chocolate chips.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough is firm enough to roll into balls, about 2 hours.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 325 degrees.  Line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment paper.  Sift the confectioners’ sugar into a small bowl.  To form each cookie, roll a rounded tablespoon of dough between your palms into 1 1/2 inch ball and roll the ball in the confections’ sugar.  Place the cookies 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets.  Make sure to set them firmly onto the baking sheet so they stay in place.
Bake the cookies 1 sheet at a time until the tops are puffed and crinkled and feel firm when lightly touched, 13-17 minutes.  Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Split cookie

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Peanut Butter Blossoms

PB Blossoms

Mmmmm…peanut buttery goodness…who doesn’t love that?  These cookies are so yummy and they look so cute too!  These were a hit and they were fairly easy to make!  I think it’s a must have during the holidays!

Peanut Butter Blossoms from Hershey’s

Ingredients:

  • 48 HERSHEY’S KISSES Brand Milk Chocolates
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup REESE’S Creamy Peanut Butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Granulated sugar

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely. About 4 dozen cookies.

NOTE:  I couldn’t really get 48 cookies out of the batch, I got about 33 or so.

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Slice of Cake

I first saw this recipe on Dinner and Dessert’s blog and I just wanted to make it right away.  I figured it would be a great dessert for my Christmas dinner but then I was hestitant since I’ve never made it before and it looked pretty complicated.  I’m so glad I read her blog because she had a lot of good tips and I’m glad I read about them so that I can adjust it.  I also wanted a moist cake and I’ve read some reviews on Bon Appetit and some have said it was a bit dry.  I didn’t want to take my chances so I used Hershey’s Perfect Chocolate Cake for the cake instead of the original.  The only other thing I changed was that I only made half of the white chocolate cream and there was plenty to fill the layers.

I must say, this cake was a big hit!  Everyone loved it!  Even Brian, who isn’t a big chocolate cake fan loves the cake!  You really have to make this cake, you will absolutely love it!

Chocolate Cake with Peppermint Frosting as seen on Dinner and Dessert adpated from Bon Appetit

Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake from Hershey’s

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup HERSHEY’S Cocoa
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

* 1 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
* 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
* 14 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped

White Chocolate Cream

* 12 oz high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), finely chopped (I just bought Ghiradelli’s White Chocolate Chips)
* 3 cups chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
* 1 1/2 teaspoons pure peppermint extract

Peppermint Frosting

* 2 1/4 cups sugar
* 1/2 cup water
* 3 large egg whites
* 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
* 1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
* Bittersweet chocolate curls

Preparation
Dark chocolate ganache

* Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat; add chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Transfer to small bowl. Chill until firm enough to spread, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Before using, let stand at room temperature until soft enough to spread, about 30 minutes. 

NOTE: I had problems with the ganache because it hardened up on me while I was just finishing up the second layer. It made it hard to spread onto the cake and it would tear it up. So to fix that, I just put the bowl of ganache over a pot of simmering water and stirred it until it became softer. This made spreading it on the cake much easier.


White Chocolate Cream

* Place white chocolate in large heatproof bowl. Bring 1 cup cream to simmer in saucepan. Pour hot cream over white chocolate. Let stand 1 minute; whisk until smooth. Whisk in extract. Cover; chill until mixture thickens and is cold, at least 4 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill.
* Add 2 cups chilled cream to white chocolate cream and beat until smooth and peaks form. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 hours ahead. Cover and chill. Rewhisk to thicken, if necessary, before using.

* Using long serrated knife, cut each cake horizontally in half. Place 1 cake layer on platter, cut side up. Spread 1/3 of dark chocolate ganache over cake. Spoon 2 cups white chocolate cream in dollops over cake; spread evenly to edges. Top with second cake layer, cut side down; spread 1/3 of ganache over, then 2 cups white chocolate cream. Repeat with third cake layer, cut side up, remaining ganache, and remaining cream. Cover with fourth cake layer, cut side down. Chill while preparing frosting.

Layers

Peppermint Frosting

* Combine sugar, 1/2 cup water, egg whites, and corn syrup in large bowl of heavy-duty stand mixer. Whisk by hand to blend well. Set bowl with mixture over saucepan of gently simmering water; whisk constantly with hand whisk until mixture resembles marshmallow creme and ribbons form when whisk is lifted, 8 to 9 minutes. Whisk in peppermint extract. Remove bowl from over water and attach bowl to heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until mixture is barely warm to touch and very thick, 7 to 8 minutes.
* Using offset spatula and working quickly, spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle chocolate curls over top and sides. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill.
Frosted Cake

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Asiago and Sage Scalloped Potatoes

Potatoes

This dish went perfectly with the Baked Ham that we had for Christmas dinner.  It was such a hit that people were asking for more!  Brian just loves this dish and had asked me to make more of it.  I had two recipes that I wanted to try and this one definitely came out on top.  It was a perfect amount of creaminess and cheesiness!  I highly recommend this dish!

Asiago and Sage Scalloped Potatoes adapted from Food and Wine

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped garlic
2 imported bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese (about 3 ounces), preferably aged
1 cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons finely shredded fresh sage leaves
2 1/2 pounds medium Idaho potatoes, peeled and sliced lengthwise 1/8 inch thick

NOTE:  I couldn’t find Asiago cheese at the store so I just used Pecorino Romano

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan. Add the onions and cook over high heat, stirring, until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, bay leaves, nutmeg, 1 tablespoon coarse salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper and cook for 30 seconds. Add the heavy cream and milk and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. In a medium bowl, toss the cheese with the bread crumbs, olive oil, 1/2 tablespoon of the sage, 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
  3. Remove the bay leaves from the onion mixture and stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons sage. Put the sliced potatoes in a large bowl, add the onion mixture and toss gently. Spread half of the potatoes and liquid in a 2-quart nonreactive baking dish and sprinkle 2/3 cup of the cheese bread crumbs over the top. Cover with the remaining potatoes and press firmly to pack them down. Spoon the remaining liquid over the potatoes and cover with the remaining bread crumbs.
  4. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour, or until the potatoes are tender and the top is golden; if they brown too quickly, loosely cover the dish with foil.

Make Ahead

    The potatoes can be baked up to 5 hours ahead; let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in the oven before serving.
    Scalloped Potatoes

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Mac and Cheese

We usually host Christmas dinner for my side of the family and have all my aunts and uncles and cousins over for dinner.  They love, love, love mac and cheese and is always asking me to make it for them.  I have tried several recipes for them and have never been quite happy with the results.  I just never found one creamy enough, it always seemed too dry.  Well, I finally found a winner!  I came across it on Smitten Kitchen, she had a version from Martha Stewart.  Just looking at her pictures made me drool!

I typically don’t like the crunchy toppings that is usually seen on mac and cheese so I just left it out.  Also, I had some leftover cheeses from other dishes I was making so I switched out some of the cheeses, it is denoted by the * in the list.  I don’t know if that made a difference but my family couldn’t get enough of it!  This was a great recipe and I’ll be making this again and again.

Cheese goodness...

Cheesey goodness...

Creamy Mac-and-Cheese adapted from Smitten Kitchen‘s
Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics

Serves 12

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for casserole
6 slices white bread, crusts removed, torn into 1/4- to l/2-inch pieces
5 1/2 cups milk (I used 2% Milk)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for water
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I just took it out)
4 1/2 cups (about 18 ounces) grated sharp white cheddar cheese
2 cups (about 8 ounces) grated Gruyere or 1 1/4 cups (about 5 ounces) grated Pecorino Romano cheese

*14 ounces shredded Mild Cheddar Cheese
*4 ounces shredded Colby JackMonterey Jack cheese
*5 ounces shredded Gruyere
*3 ounces grated Pecorino Romano

1 pound elbow macaroni

*My own adaptations

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish; set aside. Place the bread in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Pour the melted butter into the bowl with the bread, and toss. Set the breadcrumbs aside.

2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Melt the remaining 6 tablespoons butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.

4. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, 3 cups cheddar cheese, and 1 1/2 cups Gruyère (or 1 cup Pecorino Romano); set the cheese sauce aside.

5. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse under cold running water, and drain well. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.

6. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Gruyere (or 1/4 cup Pecorino Romano), and the breadcrumbs over the top. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes (though we needed a bit more time to get it brown, but your oven may vary). Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.

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