Tuesday, February 12, 2008

My blog has moved!

I decided to move my blog to a new domain so that I can customize it more. So please update any links to my blog that you may have and please continue to visit!


Tuesdays with Dorie Week 7: Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake

This week at Tuesdays with Dorie, Jaime of Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats chose the Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake. I am not a big cheesecake eater, but I know several people who love it, so I am happy to make one when it is requested. This cheesecake was one of the tastiest cheesecakes I've tried. I love the hidden layer of apples and the cinnamon flavor of the filling. For the graham cracker crust, I used crushed graham crackers with a sprinkling of cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. The flavors came together nicely. My cheesecake browned a bit too much on the top because I forgot to cover it with aluminum, but it didn't affect the flavor. The cheesecake set up well with no problems after an hour and a half of baking. I will definitely make this again if asked to make a cheesecake. Be sure to check out our Tuesdays with Dorie Blog to see how the other members did the the cheesecake! Stay tuned next week for Almost-Fudge Gateau, chosen by Nikki of Crazy Delicious.

Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake

For the Crust
30 gingersnaps (or a scant 2 cups graham cracker crumbs) (I used graham cracker crumbs with ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon sprinkled in)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted

For the Apples
1/2 stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3 large Golden Delicious or Fuji apples, peeled, cored and cut into eighths (I used Golden Delicious)
2 tablespoons (packed) light brown sugar

For the Filling
1 1/2 pounds (three 8-ounce packages) cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons
apple cider
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 large eggs
3/4 cup sour cream
1/3 cup heavy cream

Apple jelly, for glazing, or confectioner's sugar, for dusting (optional)

To Make the Crust: Butter the bottom and sides of a 10-inch springform pan.

Put the gingersnaps in a food processor and whir until you have crumbs; you should have a scant 2 cups. (If you are using graham cracker crumbs, just put them in the food processor.) Pulse in the sugar and cinnamon, if you're using it, then pour over the melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are moistened. Turn the crumbs into the springform pan and, using your fingertips, firmly press them evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan as far as they'll go. Put the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven. (The crust can be covered and frozen for up to 2 months).

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove the pan from the freezer and wrap the bottom tightly in aluminum foil, going up the sides. Place the pan on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, or until the crust is set and lightly browned. Transfer to a rack to cool while you make the apples and the filling. Leave the oven at 350 degrees F.

To Make the Apples: Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, toss in half of the apple slices and cook, turning once, until they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle the apples with 1 tablespoon of the sugar and cook them, turning, just until coated, another minute or so. Scrape the apples onto a plate, wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining apples. Let the apples cool while you make the filling.

Getting Ready to Bake: Have a roasting pan large enough to hold the springform pan at hand. Put a kettle of water on to boil.

To Make the Filling: Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed, scraping down the bowl often, for about 4 minutes, or until it is velvety smooth. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes. Beat in the cider, vanilla, and cinnamon. Reduce the speed to low and beat in the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Finally, beat in the sour cream and heavy cream, beating just until the batter is smooth.

Pour about one third of the batter into the baked crust. Drain the apples by lifting them off the plate with a slotted spoon or spatula, and spoon them into the pan. Cover with the remaining batter and, if needed, jiggle the pan to even the top. Place the springform pan in the roasting pan and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the springform pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 1 hour and 30 to 45 minutes, covering the cake loosely with a foil tent at the 45-minute mark. Th
e cake will rise evenly and crack around the edges, and it should be fully set except, possibly, in the very center--if the center shimmies, that's just fine. Gently transfer the cake, still in the pan, to a cooling rack and let it cool to room temperature, then refrigerate it for at least 6 hours; overnight would be better.

Run a blunt knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the crust, open the pan's latch and release and remove the sides.

Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Dorie Greenspan: Quintuple Chocolate Brownies

Since I joined the Tuesdays with Dorie group a few weeks after it started, I wanted to catch up on making the recipes I missed. I thought I'd start with the Quintuple Chocolate Brownies, which was the recipe for week two. Chelle from Sugar and Spice chose this recipe.
I love brownies. I think that a good brownie is the ultimate simple, yet decadent dessert. I have made many brownie recipes in my baking life in search of the perfect recipe. I thought I found it in Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies, and although those are wonderful, I think these are even better. With five types of chocolate, though, how can you go wrong?
The five types of chocolate in this brownie (unsweetened cocoa powder, unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate for the topping), this is a very rich treat. The coffee adds more depth to the rich mix of chocolate. This is an extremely thick batter. These brownies are perfectly soft and gooey, but still hold together well. I am in love. This is the ultimate brownie, and I think I have now found the perfect recipe. Needless to say, I will definitely make these again!

Quintuple Chocolate Brownies
SOURCE: Dorie Greenspan: Baking: From My Home to Yours

For the Brownies:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 Tablespoons strong coffee
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
6 ounces premium-quality milk chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup store-bought milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts)

For the Glaze:
6 ounces premium-quality white chocolate, finely chopped, or 1 cup store-bought white chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet.

Sift together the flour, cocoa, and salt.

To Make the Brownies:
Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add, in the following order, the butter, the two chocolates and the coffee. Keeping the pan over low heat, warm just until the butter and chocolates are melted - you don’t want the ingredients to get so hot they separate, so keep an eye on the bowl. Stir gently, and when the mixture is smooth, set it aside for 5 minutes.

Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, beat the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Don’t beat too vigorously - you don’t want to add air to the batter - and don’t be concerned about any graininess. Next, stir in the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla. You should have a smooth, glossy batter. If you’re not already using a rubber spatula, switch to one now and gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. Finally, stir in the milk chocolate chips and the nuts. Scrape the batter into the pan.

Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out streaked but not thickly coated. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the brownies rest undisturbed for at least 30 minutes. (You can wait longer, if you’d like.)

Turn the brownies out onto a rack, peel away the foil and place it under another rack - it will be the drip catcher for the glaze. Invert the brownies onto the rack and let cool completely.

To Make the Glaze:
Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Wait 30 seconds, then, using a rubber spatula, gently stir until the chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth.

Hold a long metal icing spatula in one hand and the bowl of glaze in the other. Pour the glaze onto the center of the brownies and use the spatula to nudge it evenly over the surface. Don’t worry if it dribbles over the edges, you can trim the sides later (or not). Refrigerate the brownies for about 20 minutes to dry the glaze.

Cut into 16 squares, each roughly 2-1/4 inches on a side.

Note: These brownies can be frozen (even with the glaze) for up to two months. They can be stored at room temperature, but I like to enjoy them cold from the refrigerator.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I've been tagged!

This is my first time being tagged- yay! I have been tagged by April of Abby Sweets, one of my fellow Tuesdays with Dorie bakers. She has some yummy desserts in her blog and you should definitely take a look! So here's what you do:

1. Link to your tagger and post these rules.
Abby Sweets

2. Share 5 facts about yourself (at the end of this post)

3. Tag 5 people at the end of your post and list their names (linking to them).

4. Let them know they've been tagged by leaving a comment at their blogs.

5 things about me:

1. I am getting married on May 24 to my high school sweetheart- we will have been together for 6 years then!

2. I was born in Frankfurt, Germany (dad was in the Core of Engineers), but have lived in South Carolina since I was 9 months old.

3. I love running and I run every day.

4. I am a grad student in middle grades education and will finish school in May.

5. I am OCD about cleaning and organizing.

Ok...you've been tagged!

Chelle of Sugar and Spice

Laurie of quirky cupcake

Steph of a whisk and a spoon

Ally of Culinary Infatuation

Annie of Annie's Eats

All of these ladies have great blogs and I love to read them!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie Week 6: Black and White Chocolate Cake

I had been following a group of a few ladies who were baking from the wonderful cookbook Baking: From my Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Laurie of Quirky Cupcake decided to challenge herself to make one recipe each week from this book. In her first post, she asked if anyone would like to join. Chelle of Sugar and Spice and April of Abby Sweets quickly joined in, and they decided to commit to making one recipe each week and post on Tuesdays, bringing about the name "Tuesdays with Dorie." Soon, a few more ladies joined in. After last week's post, I left a comment on Chelle's blog about how their posts inspired me to buy the cookbook and that everything they were making looked so good. Chelle made my day when she e-mailed me and welcomed me to join. I am very excited about my first week and am going to catch up on the five recipes that I missed! This week's recipe is the Black and White Chocolate Cake, chosen by April of Abby Sweets.

This is a vanilla buttermilk cake with alternating layers of dark chocolate cream and white chocolate whipped cream. I've made layer cakes before, but never where I had to split the layers myself. I was a bit nervous about it, but it went off without a hitch! The creams can be tricky to make, but I was patient with them and was fortunate to get them both right on my first try. You have to be careful when beating the white chocolate cream to firm peaks. If you beat it further, it may separate. The only trouble I had was that I did not have enough white chocolate cream to frost the entire cake, so I had to go back and make more. Other than that, making this cake was a fairly smooth process. I would definitely make it again. Unfortunately, mine is not as pretty as Dorie's, but it sure tastes good! Check out our Tuesdays with Dorie blog to see how everyone else did with the cake. And be sure to come back next Tuesday when we make our next recipe!

Next week's recipe: Jaime of Good Eats 'n Sweet Treats has chosen Brown Sugar-Apple Cheesecake

Black and White Chocolate Cake

For the cake:
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 (10 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk

For the dark chocolate cream:
2 cups whole milk
4 large egg yolks
6 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp corstarch, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
7 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
2 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces, at room temp

for the White chocolate whipped cream:
6 oz. premium quality white chocolate
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 9X2 inch round cake pans, dust the insides with flour, tap out the excess and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment or wax paper. Put the pans on a baking sheet.

To make the cake: Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and sal t.

Working with a stand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add the sugar and beat for another 3 minutes. Add the eggs one by one, and then the yolk, beating for 1 minutes after each addition. Beat in the vanilla; don't be concerned if the mixture looks curdled. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, adding the dry ingredients in 3 additions and the milk in 2 (begin and end with the dry ingredients); scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed and mix only until the ingredients disappear into the batter. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 28-30 minutes, rotating the pans at the midway point. When fully baked, the cakes will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted into the centers will come out clean. Transfer the cakes to a rack and cool for about 5 minutes, then unmmold, remove the paper and invert to cool to room temperature right side up on the rack.

To make the dark chocolate cream: Bring the milk to a boil. Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolk with the sugar, cornstarch and salt until thick and well blended. Whisking without stopping, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk-this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won't curdle-then, still whisking, add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream. Put the pan over meduim heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (make sure to get into the edges of the pan), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1-2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.

Whisk in the melted chocolate, and let stand for 5 minutes. Then whisk in the pieces of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the chocolate cream is smooth and silky. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create and airtight seal and refrigerate the cream until chilled, or for up to 3 days. Or, if you want to coool the cream quickly, put the bowl with a cream into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and stir the cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

To make the white chocolate whipped cream: Put the white chocolate in a heat proof bowl and put the bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Stir frequently to melt the chocolate evenly. Meanwhile, bring 1/2 cup of the heavy cream to a boil.

When the white chocolate is melted, remove the bowl from the pan. Pour the hot cream into the melted chocolate and let it sit for a minute. Using a small spatula, stir the chocolate gently until it is smooth. Let it sit on the counter until it reaches room temperature-it can't be the least warm when you add it to the whipped cream.

Working with the stand mixer with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream only unti l it holds the softest peaks. Turn the machine to high, add the cooled white chocolate all at once and continue to beat until the whipped cream holds firm peaks. Turn the whipped cream into a bowl, press a piece of plastic wrap gently against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 6 hours.

To assemble the cake: If the tops of the cake layers have crowned, use a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion to even them. Slice each layer horizontally in half. Place on layer cut side down on a cardboard cake round or on a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment.

Remove the dark and white chocolate creams from the refrigerator and whisk each of them vigorously to loosen and smooth them. With a long metal icing spatula, spread enough dark chocolate cream (about 1 cup) over the cake layer to cover it completely. Top the cream with another cake layer, cut side up, and cover this layer with white chocolate whipped cr eam, making the white layer about the same thickness as the dark layer. Cover with a third layer, cut side up, and cover with another cup or so of the dark chocolate cream. (You'll have some dark chocolate cream left over) Top with the final layer of cake, cut side down, and frost the sides and top with the remaining white chocolate whipped cream. Decorate with chocolate shaving or curls, if you wish.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.
Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

Chicken Fingers with Ranch Dip and Seasoned Fries

The cooking board that I frequent had a recipe exchange for January and February. We all submitted recipes to one of the members and she was in charge of assigning everyone a recipe to make. The theme of this exchange was healthy meals. The recipe I was assigned to make was Chicken Fingers with Ranch Dip and Seasoned Fries, which is a recipe from Weight Watchers. It was a pretty tasty dish, and definitely different from the usual chicken fingers. I really liked the flavor of the fries. Here's the recipe adapted from Weight Watchers:

Chicken Fingers with Ranch Dip and Seasoned Fries:
3 sprays cooking spray
1 pound uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 cup oatmeal
2 teaspoons garlic herb seasoning, preferably salt-free (I used garlic powder)
1/2 teaspoon table salt (I used kosher salt)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into strips
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning (I did not have this so I used a mixture of oregano, paprika, and
1/2 cup fat-free Ranch dressing

Preheat oven to 400ºF. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
Coat chicken strips with mustard. Combine oats, garlic herb seasoning, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Dip chicken strips in oat mixture and turn to coat; place chicken strips on prepared pan.
Arrange potatoes around chicken on pan; lightly coat both with cooking spray. Sprinkle potatoes with Creole seasoning.
Bake, flipping once, until chicken is cooked through and both chicken and potatoes are tender and golden brown, about 30 minutes. Serve chicken and potatoes with dressing on the side.

Yields about 3 ounces of chicken, 1/2 a potato and 2 tablespoons of dressing per serving (6 WW points)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Mini Italian Meatloaves

I have had an interesting relationship with meat loaf during my life. When I was younger, I hated when my mom would make it for dinner. When I was about nine or ten, she finally stopped making it and I was content to completely deny meat loaf's existence forever. I figured I would never have to be faced with having to eat it again.
I was wrong. A little over a year ago, David and I were talking about foods we hated as a child. I of course mentioned how much I hated meat loaf. He told me that he hated lima beans but actually liked meat loaf and would like to have it for dinner sometime. I ignored this for a while hoping that it would never be brought up again. But, after hearing him mention it a few more times, I agreed, but said that he would most likely be alone in eating it for dinner and that I would eat something else. I made a meat loaf for dinner that night and agreed to taste it. I was shocked when I ate a bite. I actually like meat loaf! The next time I made it, I came up with my own recipe that I now use. I am so glad that David convinced me to make it.
This past week I wanted meat loaf again, but instead of my usual recipe (hopefully that will be in a post in the near future), I decided to make a version of the Mini Italian Meatloaves that I saw in Chelley's blog and in Amber's blog. It was a nice change of pace from the typical meat loaf, and I really liked it and would make it again. I like the way the spices tasted together and the combination of the sauce and cheese on top. I like to bake meat loaf on a roasting pan to let the grease drain to the bottom. Good sides to make with this are field peas (David's favorite), salad, rice, green beans, and mashed potatoes.

Here is the recipe (Source: Sugar & Spice and Amber's Delectable Delights)
1 pound ground beef
1 egg, beaten
1 cup marinara sauce, divided (I used my own homemade version)
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste (I used kosher salt)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon parsley
3/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon oregano

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Gently mix 3/4 cup marinara sauce and remaining ingredients together. Divide into 4 or 5 equal size pieces and form into desired shape. Place on greased roasting pan. Pour remaining marinara sauce over top of each loaf and top with desired amount of extra cheese.
Bake for 40-50 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. (It took 40 minutes for me).