Friday, July 18, 2014

Butter Brickle Cake with Brown Butter Frosting

I was struggling with what kind of birthday cake to bake for myself this year.  Usually, chocolate is the winner (or some variation).  However, I kept thinking about how when I was a kid . . .the big treat was that we got to pick out what kind of ice cream we had with our birthday cake.  And I always picked Butter Brickle.  That flavor seems to be pretty elusive these days, so I tried to tackle it in the form of a cake.  And the the flavor of the cake was right on.  The density of the cake is much like a pound cake - a little heavy.  But it baked up beautifully and the browned butter frosting is to-die-for (the frosting recipe is a Southern Living recipe).

Butter Brickle Cake with Browned Butter Frosting

Cake Ingredients:

1 and 1/4 Cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
2 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
5 Eggs, room temperature
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup White Sugar
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
2 Cups Toffee pieces (I used Heath Bits without the chocolate, which can be found by the baking chips in our grocery store)

Step 1:  Preheat the oven to 325 degree Fahrenheit.  Prepare two 8 inch round pans (grease and flour).  Set aside.
Step 2:  Cream the butter and sugar together until well blended.  
Step 3:  Continue to beat and add the eggs one at a time, making sure each is incorporated before adding the next.  Be sure to scrape down your mixer bowl every now and then.
Step 4:  Add the vanilla.
Step 4:  In a separate bowl, measure out your flour and add the baking powder.  Stir to combine.
Step 5:  Slowly combine the flour mixture to the sugar/egg mixture.  Stir until just combined.  Do not over mix.
Step 6:  Add the toffee bits to the batter and stir in.
Step 7:  Divide the batter between the baking pans.  The batter will be thick - you may need to spread it out with a spatula.
Step 8:  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, tops will be golden brown and a toothpick inserted will come out clean.
Step 9:  Let cool completely before frosting.

Browned Butter Frosting Ingredients:

1 Cup Butter
16 oz Powdered Sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/4 Cup Milk

Step 1:  Place the butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 8 to 10 minutes or until butter begins to turn golden brown. Remove pan immediately from heat, and pour butter into a small bowl. Cover and chill 1 hour or until butter is cool and begins to solidify.
Step 2:  Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy; gradually add sugar alternately with milk, beginning and ending with sugar. Beat at low speed until well blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Creamy Cucumber Salad

Cucumbers . .. however you slice them, they are perfect for summer salads and snacking!  The crisp texture and light flavor can be amazing when complimented with the right seasonings.  My favorite way to eat cukes is to have them bathed in a creamy dressing with onions and dill.  Enjoy the recipe!

Creamy Cucumber Salad
Serves 4 - 6

3-4 Cucumbers, medium to large in size
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
1/2 Cup Mayo
1/4 Cup Milk
1 Teaspoon Dill
1 Small White or Red Onion, sliced thin
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Step 1:  Peel and slice the cucumbers and place into a large bowl.
Step 2:  Peel and slice the onion and add to the cucumbers.
Step 3:  In a small bowl, combine the mayo, sugar, vinegar, dill  and milk.  Stir until well combined.  
Step 4:  Pour the dressing over the cukes/onions.  Cover the bowl and place in fridge for at least 1 hour.  
Step 5:  Before serving,  add salt and pepper to taste.


Friday, July 4, 2014

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

Let me start by saying:  I do not like cauliflower.  Here is a conversation from our house yesterday:
Me:  What do you want with the meatloaf tonight?
Hubby:  mmmmm.  I don't care.
Me:  I was thinking baked potatoes..?
Hubby gives me a discerning look. And then says:  Cauliflower?
Me:  Eww.
And then I decide to make myself a baked potato and him cauliflower.  But then I forgot to grab a potato from downstairs and I didn't feel like walking back downstairs.  So, cauliflower it was!  And boy, oh boy, it turned out fab.u.lous!  I've made mashed cauliflower before and I wasn't impressed.  However, I went with the clean-out-the-fridge route and mixed in a little Parmesan and cream cheese when I mashed it.  Swooooooon!  All that was left was one big spoonful . . .so I know it well received :)

Mashed Cauliflower
Serves 4

1 lb Frozen Cauliflower
1 TB Cream Cheese
1 TB Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Garlic
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
Salt and Pepper to taste

Step 1:  Cook the cauliflower per the instructions on the container.  I microwaved mine.  Drain well.
Step 2:  In a food processor, add the cauliflower + the remaining ingredients.  Pulse until smooth.  Taste, adjust salt and pepper as needed.  Serve immediately.  Nobody likes cold cauliflower puree.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Almond Cream Pie

Almonds. Yummy.  Enough said.  

Almond Cream Pie
Serves 8

1 Baked 8-inch Pie Shell
1/2 Cup Sugar
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
2 Cups Milk
3 Egg Yolks, Beaten
1 Tablespoon Butter (Room Temp)
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1 and 1/2 Tablespoons Almond Extract
3/4 Cup Toasted Sliced Almonds
Whip Cream (for serving)

Step 1:  in a heavy saucepan, stir together the sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Stir together until blended.
Step 2:  In a bowl, combine the egg yolks and milk.  Stir together until blended.
Step 3:  Gradually pour the egg/milk mixture into the pan with the dry ingredients.  Stirring well to combine.
Step 4:  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil and let boil for 1 minute - all the while stirring!
Step 5:  Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, vanilla and almond extract.  Stir until the butter is melted and all is combined.
Step 6:  Pour into pie shell and decorate/sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds.
Step 7:  Cover tightly with saran wrap and let chill in fridge for 2 hours before serving.  Serve with whipped cream.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Jo-Jo Potatoes

This is my all-time most favorite ways to have potatoes.  No fooling.  I absolutely love, love, love these. These delicious potatoes have many monikers:  jo-jos, oven fries, baked rounds etc etc.  Personally, I call them delicious :)  They are my favorite way to eat potatoes and despite a few steps for prep, they are pretty easy to make.  They are tender yet a little crispy and flavorful, but not overpowering.  Serve these instead of your standard french fries or tator tots.  Your loved ones will eat them right up and beg for more!

Jo-Jo Potatoes
Serves 2-3
Prep + Bake Time = 1 Hour

1 lb Potatoes
1/2 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1 TB Seasoned Salt
Oil of Choice (olive, canola or vegetable)

Step 1:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Prepare a baking sheet by greasing it with cooking oil or spray.

Step 2:  Gather your potatoes, about 3 or 4 and wash them - roughly a pound.  Be sure to remove any of those ugly eyes!

Step 3:  Then, slice them into 1/4-inch rounds.  Mmmmmmmmmm starchy.

Step 4:  Grab and empty bread bag or paper bag.  Pour the flour, seasoned salt and Parmesan cheese into the bag.  Close the top and give it a good couple shakes to combine.  You can change up the seasoning to what you like . . .if you love garlic, add garlic!  Love paprika?  Add paprika!

Step 5:  You will now begin to coat the potatoes!  Place a 3 or 4 slices of potato into the bag and then give it a few shakes.

Retrieve with tongs and place on a greased baking sheet.

Repeat until all the potatoes are coated and laying in a single layer on the baking sheet.  Discard any leftover flour mixture.

Step 6:  Drizzle some cooking oil over the potatoes.  They don't need to be coated, but just a drizzle is good.

Step 7:  Place in oven to bake.  After 25 minutes, pull them out and flip the slices.  Aren't they looking yummy??  I really love, love, love those ones that turn a little more brown than the others.  Like that one in the upper left corner.  Yeah . . .you see the one.  That one. MINE!!!

Step 8:  Return to the baking sheet to the oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until tender. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Pesto Bread

I came across this recipe and I was instantly captivated by it.  I just knew I had to make it.  So I did.  And it did not disappoint me.  The entire loaf was gone within 2 days at our house.  And let me tell you . . .I am not a bread baker.  So, please do not be scared to make this incredible bread.  I made a few tweeks to the original version to fit my family.  I used a jarred pesto instead of making my own as well I used regular white flour.  I'm telling you:  A.MAZ.ING!  My family has already asked me to make again :)

Pesto Bread

1 and 1/4 Cup Warm Water
1 Packet of Yeast
1 Teaspoon Sugar
2 and 1/2 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
3 Tablespoons Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Cup - 2/3 Cup Pesto

Step 1:  Place yeast and sugar in bowl and add the very warm water.  Stir to combine and then walk away and let the yeast/sugar dissolve into the water.  After about 15 to minutes, your yeast should be bubbly and ready to go for the next step.

Step 2:  Fit your large stand mixer with the dough hook.  Add the flour and salt to the bowl of the mixer. With mixer running on low, slowly add the yeast mixture. Increase the speed to medium high and mix until the dough comes together into a nice ball of dough. It shouldn't be too sticky or super dry either.

Step 3:  Prep a large bowl by lightly greasing it.  Take the dough from the mixer and shape it into a nice smooth ball.  Place into the greased bowl.  Cover it and allow it to rise until doubled (about an hour).  It helps if you can put the bowl in a nice warm spot without drafts.

Step 4:  Next, we are going to roll out the dough.  I like to use wax paper when I roll out anything.  You don't have to, but it makes this task a little easier and cleanup a little easier too.   Regardless, sprinkle a little flour onto a clean surface and place the dough on top.  Roll out the dough with a rolling pin into approximately a 10x20 inch rectangle.

Step 5:  Starting with a 1/2 cup of pesto, spread it out on the dough - but stay about 1/2 inch away from the edges.  If it doesn't seem like enough pesto, add a little more.

Step 6.  Time to roll-up the dough!  Starting at one of the shorter sides, tightly roll up dough and be sure to pinch the edges as you go so that pesto stays in the middle.

Step 7:  Lightly grease a bread loaf pan.  Now, if you want a pesto-swirl bread, you can skip this twisting  part of this step.  However, if you want more of a braided loaf, use a sharp knife and very carefully slice through the dough lengthwise.

You will now have two pieces.

  Twist the two pieces together and place into your bread pan.

Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Lightly cover and let rest/rise for about 30 minutes.

Step 8:  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Step 9:  Now that bread has rested for 30 minutes, bake it for about 40 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 190°F and it is slightly golden brown on the top.

Step 10:  Let cool and remove from pan.  Enjoy!

Be sure to store any leftovers in a tightly sealed container.

Troubleshooting dough tips: If dough is too sticky, add a spoonful more flour until ball forms. If dough is too dry, add a spoonful of olive oil at a time until a ball forms.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Coconut Topped Brownies

Here is an easy recipe that is reminiscent of a Mounds bar + brownie.  If you love coconut and you love brownies . .. this is for you.  Besides the flavor, I love the stark contrast of the colors.  Please excuse me while I go stuff my face with another one of these.

Coconut Topped Brownies

1 Box Brownie Mix + Ingredients to Bake
2 Cups Coconut
2 Tablespoons Corn Syrup

Step1:  Prepare brownies as directed on the box.  In order to support the coconut later, you may want to go for either the smaller pan option or the 'cakey' version of the brownie.  I baked mine in a bar pan, which is approximately 11x7 inches.  Bake according to package instructions.

Step 2:  Allow the brownies to cool completely.  Meanwhile, in a medium bowl - add your coconut.  Then, add the corn syrup.  Stir together until the syrup is incorporated with the coconut thoroughly.  Please note, this will be very sticky!

Step 3:  Once the brownies are cool, spread out the coconut on top of the brownies.  This will be very sticky . . .be gentle.  You likely won't get a 'smooth' spread on top.  Be careful not to tear the brownies!  Just gently dab the coconut to spread it out.

For storing, please be sure to cover tightly otherwise the coconut will dry out and become hard.


Please Note:  If you are making a 9x13 pan of brownies, you may want to double the coconut/corn syrup topping part of the recipe.