Sunday, September 27, 2009

Individual Serving Freezer Cheesecake

So lately I am finding myself more and more interested in putting simple things in my freezer. After the mini pies, I saw that Lloyd and Lauren had also done mini cheesecakes! Oh, cheesecake, mmmmmm. I knew I had to try this. I got the recipe for the cheesecake from Martha's Kentucky Cookin'.

4 ounces cream cheese (1/2 a block)
½ cup sugar
1 egg, separated
½ cup whipping cream
½ cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tbsp butter

caramel sauce, bailey’s, or other flavors you might like to try

6 - 4 ounce (1/2 cup) canning jars

1. Mix together the graham cracker crumbs and the softened butter to form a crumb mixture, set aside.
2. With a mixer beat the cream cheese until it is fluffly, then add the sugar and egg yolk beating until it is creamy.
3. In a separate bowl beat the egg whites until they form peaks, do the same in a third bowl with the whipping cream.
4. Fold the egg whites into the cream cheese, followed by the whipped cream.
5. Put 1 tbsp of the graham cracker crumb mixture into the bottom of each jar and pat into place. Spoon the cream cheese mixture over the crumbs until it is about ½ from the top of the jar.
6. At this point I add the flavor, so I can have a few of each. I used about ¼ to ½ tsp caramel Sunday topping or 1 to 1 ½ tsp of Bailey’s. Add the flavor to the jar and use a knife to fold in the flavor, I like mine so I can still see streaks of the flavor.

From left to right: Plain, Bailey's, Caramel
7. Put the lid on the jar and place in the freezer.

When ready to eat, just remove from the freezer and let it warm for 3-5 minutes, then enjoy.

I tried the caramel one the day after putting these in the freezer, and now I am not sure how long these will last in my freezer. It is a light and airy cheesecake, that is not only delicious but addicting. Writing this post is already got me heading for the freezer …..

Bacon Venison Tenderloin

I grew up with venison and I like it, but I am always looking for new ways to cook it. Upon browsing Allrecipes I came across a delicious looking recipe for venison backstrap. I knew I had a tenderloin in the freezer and decided to try it (well something similar).

1 venison tenderloin (I am sure that this would also be great with any red meat)
~2 cups apple juice
~1 cup BBQ sauce
½ lb of bacon slices

How to:
1. Place the tenderloin in a Ziploc bag and add the apple juice. You need enough juice the cover the tenderloin.
2. Place in the fridge overnight to marinade.
3. Pour out the apple juice and replace with the BBQ sauce, again you need enough sauce to cover the tenderloin.
4. Place in the fridge to marinade during the day.
5. When ready to make supper heat the BBQ or grill.
6. As the grill is heating take out the tenderloin and slice into about 1 to 1 ½ inch slices. Do not scrape the any BBQ sauce that is clinging to the meat off.
7. Wrap a slice of bacon around the slice of tenderloin and secure with a toothpick.
8. Cook the slices on the grill.

O loved this – as he says, wrap anything in bacon and it will be good.
I enjoyed this as well, the apple juice and the bbq sauce resulted in a tender piece of meat with a reduction in the “wild” taste of the meat. I will be making this again the next time I can get my hands on a venison tenderloin!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Vegetable Soup

It got cold out and I wanted a nice bowl of something hearty and warm. I got the vegetables chopped and put in the pan, then I lost all desire to continue cooking, and decided to forgo making a stew and switch to a soup. The end result was a delicious soup that cost us less than $2 for supper and my lunch the following day.
If you have a garden, most of the ingredients for this soup can come directly from there. Thanks to my mother’s large garden, most of this soup was homegrown.
4 to 5 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped.
2 to 3 carrots (I used about 6 smaller carrots from the garden), peeled and chopped
½ medium onion chopped
2-3 stalks of celery chopped
2 cups fresh baby spinach (chopped)
3 cups water (enough to cover the vegetables) or vegetable broth
3 tsp vegetable bullion
2-3 tbsp Italian seasoning

1. Add the potatoes, carrots, celery and onion to a pot and cover with water and add the bullion (if you are using vegetable broth, do not add the bullion). Season with any wanted salt and pepper and the Italian seasoning. Allow the soup to simmer, covered, until the vegetables are cooked.
2. When ready to serve, put spinach in the bottom of a bowl and ladel the hot soup into the bowl. The hot liquid will quickly soften the spinach.
3. Enjoy!

This was a great light soup and quick to make. I really enjoyed it, and look forward to making it again.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Tortellini and Spinach in a Rose sauce

I had tortellini with a rose sauce last winter in a small café, and since then I have been looking for a good recipe. I have finally found one. This came to me as an email recipe from Allrecipes, and I couldn’t wait to try it. I have made a few (okay well maybe more than a few) changes to the original to make it suit my tastes a little more, so here is my recipe:

2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
1 can tomato sauce
2 tbsp Italiano seasoning (I use a clubhouse mix)
1 tsp garlic salt
Pepper to taste
¾ cup 1% milk
¾ cup cream
2 tbsp flour

Cooked tortellini of your choice

1. Combine the tomato sauce, seasoning , pepper, spinach and garlic salt in a saucepan and heat.
2. In a separate bowl combine the milk, cream and flour.
3. When the sauce is heated, add the milk and cream mixture to the tomato sauce. Heat for about 2 minutes until the sauce thickens.
4. Top the cooked tortellini with the sauce
5. Sprinkle the a little parmesan cheese and enjoy.

I loved this, and it as close as I have gotten to the dish I had at the cafe. I love this and can't wait to make it again (which will be soon!). O liked it as well and said it was a keeper.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Devil's Food White-Out Cake

Note: I apologize for the bad pictures, this cake had survived a trip to and from work (with my husband) before I got to take the picture, and this point the lighting was aweful but I couldn't wait to eat it any longer.

When I took the cookbook Baking:From my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan out of the library, it was initially because of this cake. The chocolate and fluffy white layers called to me, they entered my dreams and made me wake up in the morning with my face in a pool of drool. I HAD to make this cake, I NEEDED to take out the book.

Well, i took out the book, I drooled over the cover, but never seemed to have a good enough reason (or enough time) to make this beauty of cake. Then came my husband's birthday - here was the perfect time to try my beloved cake. Little did I know that this cake would become my husband's boss's birthday cake, good thing it turned out all right.

I followed the directions as printed on Confessions of a City Eater. I would type out the recipe, but it is long, I am lazy, the cookbook had to go back to the library, and well, someone has already done it. So click the link, I promise the instructions are good and her cupcakes are adorable! (she make it into cupcakes as well - I will have to try that some time soon!)

The only difference from my cake to the original is that I ended up with four layers. The cakes had large domes on them, so after they came off I didn't need anymore cake to make crumbs and decided to make four layers. Even with that I have leftover crumbs sitting in my freezer to be used to make cakeballs soon.

Anyways the cake was a huge hit. O's boss loved it, O loved it, I managed to get myself a small slice before it was all gone and it lived up to my every dream. I am still in love with this cake.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Herb Cream Cheese Chicken Rolls

I must have seen this somewhere, I am sure of it, it is just to good to have come out of my brain alone! This actually came about as I was going through the fridge and came across some herb and garlic cream cheese. O likes it on bagels for breakfast, but as he was all out of bagels, I was free to experiment with it.

Chicken breasts (1 per person)
Herb and Garlic cream cheese ( I also did one with old chedder instead of the cream cheese)
Bacon (1 strip of bacon per chicken breast)

1.Put the chicken breast inside some plastic wrap (allowing room around the edges), and flatten the breasts by hitting them with a heavy skillet.
2.Once the breast has been flattened, spread about 2 tsp of the cream cheese on one side of the chicken breast.
3.Roll the chicken breast so that the cream cheese is on the inside of the roll in a swirl pattern with the chicken (just pick and edge and start to roll towards the other edge).
4.Take the slice of bacon and wrap around the chicken breast. The bacon will keep the chicken rolled up.
5.Cook on the grill for 20-25 minutes, rolling every 5 minutes or so.

This was tasty and really easy to put together. Our friends loved this and so did O. The variation with the chedder also great if you don’t want all the garlic. I will be making these again.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sweet and Sour Chicken

After the success of the Magic in the Middle cookies and the fantastic Cookie Dough Topped Brownies, I started looking around My Kitchen Café a little more. I was in need of a super recipe and feeling completely uninspired to make anything. I clicked on her Sweet and sour chicken recipe. I instantly knew I had to make this – and the best thing was that it called for ingredients I keep stocked at all times!

3 medium to large chicken breasts
1 cup corn starch
2 eggs (mixed in a bowl)
salt and pepper
¼ cup canola oil ( I plan on switching this to sunflower or safflower oil next time)

1. Cube the chicken, I did about ½ to 1” cubes – but as long as they are even it doesn’t really matter. While you are doing this, put the oil in a frying pan and heat it.
2. Sprinkle the salt and pepper (to your own tastes) over the chicken cubes and mix.
3. Drop chunks of chicken into the corn starch and coat. Transfer to the eggs and coat.
4. Fry the chunks of coated chicken in the oil until they are browned on the outside, but not cooked through.
5. Place in a casserole dish.

¾ cup sugar
¼ cup ketchup
½ cup vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp garlic salt

1. Mix the sauce ingredients together until well blended and pour over browned chicken.
2. Bake at 325F for one hour, turning the chicken every 15 minutes.
Note: I didn’t think the sauce was thickening enough, so I added a little extra cornstarch (about 1 tsp) to it for the last 15 minutes and it worked beautifully.
3. Serve over white rice

Oh wow was this every yummy. It gave us a good supper and we had enough leftovers for the both of us for lunch, which is fantastic! I was worried about the texture of the coating on the chicken after reheating – but there was no need for such things. The leftovers were just as good as the fresh dish. I am adding this to my regular recipe file!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Magic in the Middle"

Alright, I have seen these cookies on a couple of blogs now and they looked so cute I had to try them (well that and I am a bit of sucker for anything with chocolate and peanut butter), so I hunted down the original King Arthur Flour recipe and got to work.

Below is the recipe with my notes:
Recipe from King Arthur Flour, Pictures from my kitchen

Chocolate Dough:
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar (plus extra for dredging)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg

Peanut Butter Filling (I had leftover filling, and plenty in the cookies, so next time I may cut this down to 2/3 cup each).
¾ cup peanut butter
¾ cup icing sugar

1. In a mixer, combine the sugars, peanut butter and butter, mixing until creamy. Add the vanilla and egg, mix until well combined.
2. In another bowl mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly add to the butter and sugar mixture, mixing until well combined and set aside.
3. In a separate bowl mix the peanut butter and icing sugar together until smooth.
4. Using a teaspoon, or a teaspoon cookie scoop, make teaspoon sized balls of the filling (should make about 26 balls – I had leftovers).
5. Using a tablespoon (or tablespoon sized cookie scoop) scoop out about a tablespoon of the chocolate dough. Using your fingers make an indent in the dough into which you place a ball of the filling. Then fold the sides of the chocolate dough up and around the filling. Roll into a round ball and roll the ball in sugar. (For good step by step pictures go here )
Note: I did several of the chocolate balls at a time, added the peanut butter balls to each of them and then folded them and rolled into a ball.

6. Place the cookies on a sheet and flatten with the bottom of a glass. Bake at 375 for 7 to 9 minutes and let cook on a rack.

Note: The dough got dry on me and was hard to work with so I added a couple tablespoons of milk and it worked great!

These cookies were delicious, and while it looks like it is a lot of work, it really didn’t seem to bad. I couldn’t stop eating these cookies and had to get them out of the house. My boss told me that they were “like magic”, and everyone at my meeting said they were great. My husband’s hockey team also really enjoyed these and he game out with no leftovers (thankfully).

I will definitely be making these cookies again!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cookie Dough Topped Brownies

Cookie Dough Topped Brownies

I saw these on My Kitchen Café (how on earth I didn’t find this fantastic sight sooner is beyond me) and thought it looked like a great idea. We were heading out to a friends cabin, and they had requested that I bring “anything chocolate” so naturally I decided it was a good time to try these with some fresh guinea pigs.

I used my own brownie recipe, but My Kitchen Café’s cookie dough recipe.

½ cup margerine
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
½ cup flour

1. In a saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Once the butter is melted stir in the brown sugar, stir until smooth.
2. Add in the egg, vanilla and cocoa powder, stirring until smooth.
3. Add the flour and mix until combined (no lumps). Pour into a lined/buttered 8x8 pan.
4. Bake at 350F for 20 to 23 minutes (they will be very soft coming out of the oven but will firm up as they cool).
5. Let the brownies cool while you mix the cookie dough.

Cookie Dough
1/2 cup (1 cube) butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown Sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1. Cream the butter and sugars together until they are light and fluffy. Add the milk and vanilla.
2. Gradually add the flour into the dough until it is combined.
3. Mix in the chocolate chips (I used chocolate chunks)
4. Spread on the top of the cooled brownies. (I know that this amount of cookie dough was originally used on a 9X13 pan of brownies, but I wanted a nice thick layer of cookie dough and used the full amount on the smaller pan of brownies.)

These took my back to my youth when I would sit in the kitchen waiting for my cookies to bake while eating the dough by the spoonful (alight so maybe that was just last month).

Anyways, when told what I was making I got the comment “you can do that?” and lots of “That is fantastic”. The brownies lived up the expectations and I heard raves all weekend. These will be made again, and I have a feeling that friends will be requesting them as word gets around – lets just hope that the hockey team never hears of these marvelous creations!

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Classic "Key" Lime Pie

Creamy “Key” Lime Pie

Alright, so I am not big on pies that have chunks in them, but I love creamy pies. And I love lime, I will eat almost anything lime flavored. So naturally I am in love with lime pies. I have previously tried a “cheater” key lime pie, and it was great (people at work still demand it whenever there is a potluck), but I wanted to try the real thing. I stumbled upon this recipe for “Classic Key Lime pie” and decided I HAD to try it. To my luck key limes and key lime juice are pretty hard to find here (go figure that a citrus fruit is hard to find in the frozen north – I exaggerate, we do get a month or two of nice weather a year). Sadly I had to use regular lime juice – it was still yummy.

“Key” Lime Pie
1 ½ cup graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup melted margerine
¼ cup shredded coconut

3 large egg yolks
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces or 300ml can)
2/3 cup Lime juice (I used Realime)

1. Mix the ingredients for the crust together and press into the bottom of 9 inch pie dish. Bake at 325F for 15min. Let sit as you mix the filling.
2. Put the egg yolks into a bowl and beat with a mixer on high speed for 4 minutes.
3. Stir in the condensed milk until smooth and then beat at high speed for 4 minutes. It should thicken and increase a little in volume.
4. Add the lime juice and stir until the mixture is just combined.
5. Pour the pie into the crust and bake at 325F for about 25 minutes. (The recipe said that the middle of the pie should be around 145F, but mine was higher than that and was still fine).
6. Remove the pie from the oven and cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for several hours.
7. Enjoy

I LOVED this pie, I sat down and ate ¼ of the pie and still wanted more. It was so light, creamy and not too much sweetness allowing the lime to shine. O thought it was alright, but he isn’t a fan of anything to tart or sour, so limes are not a big favorite of his. We had friends over and before they knew it they were done their second slices of pie and having to stop themselves from going for another – apparently I am not the only one addicted to this pie.

The coconut in the crust is great as well – a nice little surprise that adds something to the pie, but doesn’t distract from the fantastic lime filling.