Friday, December 28, 2012

Beef Stew with Herbed Dumplings

It's time for another recipe swap, hosted by Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking.  It is time for another Blogger's Choice swap, and this time I received My Chicago Kitchen.  I don't remember ever looking at this blog before, and so I spent quite awhile looking over Angie's blog for a recipe. 



It has been getting colder here, and so I kept going back to her soup section.  I love stews, but usually they make so much that I really don't make them often.  Like Angie said in her post, she had never had rutebegas before this dish, and neither had my husband or I, so I thought it would be a great dish to try something new...that's what the swaps are for, right?  We found out during the course of this dish, that rutabegas are awesome. 

Beef Stew with Herbed Dumplings
barely adapted from My Chicago Kitchen
Ingredients
2.5 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons peanut oil
4 thick-sliced bacon strips, chopped
1 white onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
3 1/2 cups canned beef broth
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
3 carrots, peeled, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
1 rutabaga, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2/3 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons minced chives
2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Directions
1) Preheat to 325°F.
2) Pat beef dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Heat oil in a heavy, large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Brown the beef, stirring occasionally and scraping up browned bits, for about 8 minutes. Cook in batches if necessary. Remove to platter.
3) Add bacon to same pot. Sauté until crisp, scraping up browned bits, for about 5 minutes.
4) Add onions, garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Cover and cook until onions are tender, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes.
5) Return beef to pot. Add 5 cups beef broth and crushed tomatoes with purée. Cover and bring to simmer, stirring occassionally.
6) Transfer pot to oven. Bake until beef is just tender, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Add carrots and rutabagas. Cover; bake until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. Uncover and cook until beef is very tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove stew to range and simmer over low heat.
7) While the stew is simmering, prepare dumplings. Whisk milk and eggs in medium bowl to blend. Mix in chives and parsley. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.
8) Whisk remaining 1/2 cup canned beef broth and cornstarch in small bowl. Raise simmering stew to medium heat. Stir cornstarch mixture into stew. Return to simmer, stirring until sauce thickens.
9) Spoon dumpling batter in medium-sized dollops onto simmering stew. Cover tightly; simmer until dumplings are puffed and a toothppick inserted into center of dumplings comes out clean, about 15 minutes.


The only changes I made were the amounts of things.  Angie said this had about six servings, but we ate three bowls for one meal and there was more than half left, so even with the amounts changed, it still makes a lot of food.

This dish is absolutely amazing on a chilly, rainy evening.  I made it after work one night and let the flavors meld even more the next day.  The night we ate it, I thickened it with the cornstarch and made the dumplings, and the flavors were even more developed. 

I loved the tomato aspect of the dish.  I have only had stews with beef broth and the tomatoes added a new dimension to it.  I also love dumplings, and that is one of the things that made me click on the dish while looking through Angie's blog.  The dumpling makes the perfect accompaniment to the dish.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Peppermint Bark Surprise Cupcakes

Carrie from Carrie's Sweet Life, is the host of this month's What's Baking Challenge, and the theme was Peppermint. 



Last year, I discovered the Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Squares and they were the first thing that I bought this year when I deemed it to be Christmas time.  They are so creamy with just the right amount of peppermint flavor that they are super addictive.  So, when I heard the challenge, I immediately was wondering if I could make something using those peppermint squares.  I found a recipe that hit the jackpot.

Peppermint Bark Surprise Cupcakes
from the Collegiate Baker
Ingredients
1 package of Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark Squares
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
2) Unwrap 10 of the peppermint bark squares and cut off the corners. (They aren't exactly the right size for to fit in cupcake pans, but they're pretty close.) Put the peppermint bark squares/octagons aside.
3) In a small-medium sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients: the flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda. Whisk them together.
4) In another medium sized bowl, combine the sugar, egg, oil, milk, and vanilla. Mix well.
5) When you put the batter in the first paper liner, make sure you put enough in to completely cover the bottom. Fill the liner up about halfway, maybe a little less, and then put in a peppermint bark square. Cover it with cake batter until the liner is about 2/3 full. Repeat until all the other lines are full.
6) Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Test the top part of the cupcake for done-ness, but don't go too far down or you'll hit the peppermint bark.
 
Peppermint Buttercream Frosting
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup powdered sugar

Directions
1) In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a medium sized bowl with a hand mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy.
2) Add milk, peppermint extract, and the powdered sugar. Mix until everything is incorporated.
3) Test the frosting to see if it's the right consistency. If it's too thin, add 1/2 cup powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add another tablespoon of milk.
4) Decorate cupcakes with frosting.  You can use the corners from the squares to decorate...if you haven't eaten them by this point.





I made these twice and the first time was a failure.  I baked them for the 15 minutes The Collegiate Baker said in her instructions and when I tested them, they seemed like they were done, but as they were cooling, they totally collapsed on themselves because the centers weren't done. 

The second time, I left them in for a long time.  I left them in closer to 30 minutes because that was when my toothpick came out completely clean.  With the peppermint in the frosting, I think you lose the surprise element in these cupcakes, but I still think they are delicious.  I think it would be good to incorporate the corner leftovers into the frosting instead of putting in peppermint extract.  I made these for Christmas and couldn't keep my hands off them.  Definitely a great holiday treat. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

Beer Cheddar Risotto

It's time for another recipe swap, hosted by Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking.  This time around, the theme was Side Dishes.  Always a good theme because I think everyone is always looking for new side dishes to go with the main dishes they have in mind.



I received Beer Cheddar Risotto from Ashley at Cheese Curd in Paradise.   I have to admit that I've always heard how much work risotto is, so I just haven't made it, and so while this sounded like a delicious combination, I really thought I would mess it up just because of what I'd heard.

The night that I decided to make this, my husband came home from work exclaiming that the Packers were playing on TV...he is a huge Green Bay Packers fan, so I knew this was the perfect dish for us.  We enjoyed it as Green Bay won the game (against whoever they were playing, haha).

Beer Cheddar Risotto
barely adapted from Cheese Curd in Paradise
Ingredients
24 oz of beef stock
1/2 small onion, diced
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoons olive oil
1 cups Arborio rice 
1/2 bottle of beer
3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Black Pepper, to taste
 
Directions
1) Place beef stock in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer (do not boil). Keep warm over low-medium heat.
2)  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter to pan; swirl to coat. Add onions and cook for 3 minutes and add garlic.
3) Stir in rice, and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly.
4) Increase heat to medium and add beer. Add 1/2 cup stock and cook 3-5 minutes or until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Continue adding remaining stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of stock is absorbed before adding the next.
5) Right before you serve the risotto, stir in the cheese and season with black pepper. (Right before I plated, I stirred in another dash of beer.  I think it made the beer flavor a little stronger.)
 
 
I now think that things that take longer to cook and a little more attention usually turn out more delicious than the things that are just easy and throw together.  I couldn't get enough of this dish.  The leftovers were devoured the next day for lunch, and I think the flavors got even better the next day.  I think this is the best side dish that we've had in awhile.  I served this side dish with Grilled Honey Mustard Pork Tenderloin from Two Peas and Their Pod, it was a great combination.
 
Please check out all the other delicious side dishes that were made below.
 
 
 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Horseradish burgers with Havarti (H Squared Burgers)


After several weeks of being gone, I decided to join the recipe swaps hosted by Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking.  Two months ago, I started a new job and I just couldn't figure out the balance between the new job and making dinner every night.  I'm very lucky my husband likes breakfast foods, we ate a lot of waffles in those first few weeks.

I joined right in time for the Blogger's Choice Swap, where we can choose whatever we wanted to make.  Confession time: my husband and I are still grilling.  Even though it is winter, the temperatures here are much warmer than they were in Wyoming at this time, so every few weeks we break out a burger, so I thought this Horseradish and Havarti Burger would be a perfect burger to try.

We loved it so much, we started calling it the H Squared Burger because we thought the original name was too much to say. 

Horseradish burgers with Havarti
barely modified from I Was Born To Cook
Ingredients
2 pounds ground beef
1/4 cup prepared horseradish
salt and pepper
sliced havarti cheese
buns
toppings and condiments of your choice (we only used mayonaisse and grilled onions)

Directions
1) Put beef in a bowl. Mix in horseradish, salt and pepper. Handform into 8 patties.
2) Grill burgers for about 8 minutes (for medium), then flip. Add cheese. Cover for 1 minute so cheese melts.
3) While cheese is melting, grill the hamburger buns. Serve with condiments and toppings.




These were some of the best buergers that we've had in a long time.  I loved the spiciness from the horseradish with the creaminess of the cheese.  My husband just kept asking if we could make them again, so in the course of a week, we had these three times for dinner.  He usually loads his burgers up with condiments, but he said these don't need anything but a little mayo.  If you grill in the winter, these should be next on your list, and if you wait until warm weather, make sure these are the first burgers you make.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Blueberry Cheesecake Pie

Kim, the author of Just Baked, chose a pie theme for this month's What's Baking challenge.  Last year, I made a cheesecake for a holiday get together.  Everyone loved it and said they liked having an option that wasn't so traditional for the holidays. 



Part of what I like about the challenges is that I spend a lot of time looking through other people's blogs that I haven't ever looked at or haven't visited in awhile. I found this recipe on Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  Just reading her descriptions and seeing her pictures, had me hooked on this recipe.  Mel's Kitchen Cafe has some great recipes, so drop by her blog and check out other recipes like blue cheese and cheddar scalloped potatoes and Cuban street tacos.

Blueberry Cheesecake Pie
from Mel's Kitchen Cafe
Ingredients
For the Crumb Crust:9 large rectangular graham crackers (around 1 1/2 cups), crushed
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter

For the Cheese Custard:
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
For the Berries:
2 cups blueberries, rinsed
½ cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons cold water

Directions
1) Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
2) In a small bowl, combine the crushed graham crackers, sugar and butter. Pat the crumb mixture into a 9-inch pie pan and bake for 8 minutes, until very lightly browned and set. Let the crust cool completely before filling. Leave the oven on.
3) In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla and beat until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Add the eggs and beat well.
4) Pour into the cooled shell and bake until just set, 25-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
5) While the cheesecake is baking, combine the berries, water, and sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat and add the cornstarch mixture. Return to a boil and cook for one minute, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened. Remove from the heat and cool until lukewarm.
6) Spoon the berries over the custard. Chill for at least one hour before serving.

 

This pie was really easy to make and very delicious as well.  I have never made a berry mixture to go on top of a dessert, and I learned that it is super easy.   This pie isn't very heavy, so it'd be a great dessert for a holiday with lots of heavy fare.  I'm glad that I continued the cheesecake "tradition" and look forward to next year's cheesecake.

Check out Kim's blog at the beginning of December to see the roundup of great pies!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Messy Giuseppes

In my opinion, while guy food is really good, it is also really messy and not fun to manage while eating.  I like the flavor of sloppy joes, but they are hard to handle, so I really haven't tried to make them.

My mom sent me this recipe from a cooking class that she did, and I was intrigued on the twist, so I decided to give them a try.  It was a win-win in our household too, I got to try a new recipe and my husband got a dish that was a spin-off of one of his favorites.

Messy Giuseppe
recipe from Eckert's Farm in Illinois
Ingredients
Meat Sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound ground Italian Sausage
1/2 pound ground beef
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Coarse salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup red wine
3/4 cup of beef stock
1 14-ounce can of crushed tomatoes

Herbed butter
4 tablespoons butter, softened
5 basil leaves, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Coarse salt and black pepper, to taste

Hamburger buns
Mozzarella cheese

Directions
1) For the meat sauce, heat a deep skillet, or heavy bottomed pan over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons of oil.
2) Add the ground sausage and beef, and cook until lightly browned.
3) Add green pepper, onion, garlic, and spices to the beef mixture and cook for about five minutes to allow the pepper to soften. 
4) Add the wine, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes and bring to a boil.  When it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for ten minutes.
5) For the herbed butter: Mix the butter, basil leaves, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl.
6) Spread herbed butter on hamburger bun and top with mozzarella cheese.  Place under the broiler and toast until golden browned, top with the meat mixture and enjoy.


 I loved these.  I served them open faced and I thought they developed a great amount of flavor in a short time.  The herbed butter really shines through the meat and provides even more flavor.  These are definitely a must try for anyone that likes sloppy joes.













Monday, November 5, 2012

Mongolian Tofu

I meal plan every week and while I try to stay on budget, most weeks, I end up going about fifteen dollars over.  It isn't a great deal that we go over by that much, but I am a little disappinted every time it happens. 
 
One week I asked my husband if he'd be willing to try tofu, since meat is $5 or $6 a pound and a block of tofu is .89 cents at the commissary.  He agreed, so I set off to find a good recipe. 
 
I found out that one of the things that I've been doing wrong with tofu is that I haven't been pressing it.  I think that pressing tofu completely changes the texture, and I'm happy to say that this is one of the first tofu recipes that I've ever enjoyed.  Plus, that week I stayed on budget...two awesome things in one.
 
Mongolian Tofu
barely adapted from Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations
Ingredients
2 teaspoon olive oil
1 block firm or extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger 
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 green onion, chopped

Directions
1)  Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat.
2)  Add the tofu and cook until browned on all sides, about 6-8 minutes.
3) In the meantime, mix the soy sauce, water and brown sugar in a bowl .
4) Once the tofu has browned, add the garlic and ginger; saute 1 minute.
5) Add the soy sauce mixture and stir; bring to a steady simmer and then reduce to low. Let simmer for several minutes to thicken the sauce.
6) Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.


I didn't have cornstarch, so I just pan-fried the tofu in it's natural form.  I thought it worked well, but I wish I would've cut it into smaller cubes.  Still had a few problems with texture towards the end of the dish, and I think if I had smaller pieces, it would've been better.  The sauce was fantastic and made it taste like a classic Chinese dish.  I can't wait to try other tofu dishes from Mary Ellen's blog.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Pumpkin Scones

In Wyoming, there really wasn't a fall.  We really went from summer to winter.  New Jersey definitely has a fall though.  The leaves changing from green to a beautiful red and yellow.  It is amazing and I'm now obsessed with fall here.

The one thing that fall has made me want to do is utilize pumpkin in dishes.  I keep talking about pumpkin chili, pumpkin tortellini alfredo, pumpkin pie ice cream, and pumpkin doughnuts.  When I found out the theme for What's Baking this month was Pumpkin/Sweet Potatoes,  my mind went crazy.   Eva from Eva Bakes chose a great theme.  Head over to her blog around the first of the month to see what everyone else baked.

Towards the end of the month, I ran across these scones.  Scones have been on my cooking bucket list for awhile, so I figured I should try to conquer them.  I think this was a great month to try something new...and delicious.


Pumpkin Scones
from Iowa Girl Eats
Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
7 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 tablespoons half & half
1 egg
6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed

For the plain glaze:
1 cup + 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
2 tablespoons half & half

For the spiced drizzle:
1 cup + 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 tablespoons half & half
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch ground ground ginger
pinch ground ground cloves


Directions
1) Preheat oven to 425 degrees then line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
2) In the bowl of a large food processor combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Pulse to combine. Add cold butter and pulse until well incorporated and mixture is the texture of cornmeal.
3) In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree, half & half, and egg. Add to flour mixture and pulse until just combined.
4) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead 4 or 5 times to bring the dough together, then flatten into a circle 1″ thick. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough in half, then cut each half into thirds.
5) Place the wedges onto the prepared baking sheet and bake for 14-16 minutes, or until just starting to turn golden brown. Remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.
6) When scones are cool, whisk together the plain glaze ingredients, then spoon on top and spread slightly. Let harden for 10 minutes, then whisk together the spiced drizzle ingredients and drizzle on top. Let harden completely, about 1 hour, before serving. Store in an air-tight container for 1 day.


I thought these were absolutely fantastic.  I think they had great pumpkin flavor without it being too overwhelming.  I think that adding chocolate chips would make them even more special.  I sprinkled cinnamon on the top of ours for just a little more punch of cinnamon.  If you haven't ever made scones but have been thinking about trying them, I highly recommend trying this recipe.  It is easy, delicious, and they are addicting.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Chicken Burgers with Garlic Rosemary Mayo

I've had Dawn's blog before for a Blogger's choice swap, so I knew that I would find something delicious to try on her blog.  As I predicted, it didn't take too much time to find something delicious.



We tried the Chicago Style Deep Dish pizza, which was delicious, especially with the homemade pizza sauce.  Unfortunately, it wasn't the prettiest thing, so even though it was awesome, and you should head over to Dawn's blog to try it, it isn't the star of this post.

I saw the Chicken Burger with Garlic Rosemary Mayo on A Taste of Home Cooking (the host of the recipe swap).  I remember pinning the recipe on Pinterest, and for a long time, I pass over it thinking it sounds good, but something always sounded better. When I saw it on Dawn's blog, I decided it was time to finally make it.

Chicken Burgers with Garlic Rosemary Mayo
slightly adapted from Simple Gourmet Cooking
Ingredients
For the mayo:1 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced

For the burgers:
1 pound ground chicken
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 hamburger buns
1 cup arugula, divided

Directions
1) Preheat grill to medium-high.
2) In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, garlic and rosemary. Set aside in the refrigerator.
3) In a large bowl, combine the ground chicken, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup of the garlic rosemary mayonnaise mixture until well combined. Shape into 4 equally sized patties.
4) Grill for 6-7 minutes per side, or until burgers are cooked through. Transfer to a clean plate and let them rest for a few minutes.
5) Spread 1 teaspoon of the garlic rosemary mayo onto the cut side of each roll. Add the arugula to the bottom bun, then the patty. Top with the top half of the bun.



These were absolutely delicious.  I loved the subtle yet complex flavor.  I was surprised by how much my husband liked these.  It is definitely different than your typical mustard/ketchup combination.  Add these to your menu soon, you won't regret it.  Check out the other delicious recipes below.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Artichoke Crusted Chicken

My husband and I had a large jar of artichokes in our pantry that needed to get used, so when I saw this on Cassie Craves, I quickly put it on the meal plan.  I loved that it only has a few ingredients in it too.  Jacob loves when there aren't too many ingredients in a dish.  Plus, it is easy to get on the table fast, another plus. 
 
Artichoke Crusted Chicken
slightly adapted from Cassie Craves
Ingredients
4 6-ounce chicken breasts, pounded thin
1/2 cup Greek yogurt

1/2 cup artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste
 

Directions
1) Salt and pepper the chicken and then grill each chicken breast in a skillet over medium-high heat, for about 8 to 10 minutes, flipping once, or until the juices run clear when pierced with a fork. Set aside.
2) Mix together the mayonnaise, artichoke hearts and Swiss cheese until evenly distributed. Spread the mixture over the chicken breasts, and then broil for about 3 minutes, watching them to be sure they don’t burn. When the cheese is melted and bubbling and the tops are golden, remove and serve.

  


This picture definitely doesn't do this meal justice.  This meal was absolutely amazing.  We were talking before we sat down about how good it smelled, but we couldn't believe that it tasted even better.  This dish is a must try, and it will blow your mind.  I think the grill added some good flavor, but Cassie made her chicken in a skillet, which I'm sure would make a great meal too.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats: Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

I can't believe it is the third week of the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats already.  Please check out Meal Planning Magic for details about the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats and for awesome recipes.


When I was a little kid, I was OBSESSED with Rudolph.  I saw the movie with Rudolph and Clarice and fell in love with him.  When Christmas Eve came around, I always cared more about leaving treats for Rudolph than I did for Santa even though Santa left the presents and Rudolph didn't.

My parents were always really creative and came up with great answers to my Santa questions when I was a kid, so when I asked questions about Rudolph, they always had answers. How does Rudolph fly? - Much like Peter Pan, he thought happy thoughts and away he went.  How did Rudolph always have enough energy to fly all over the world hauling a giant red Santa and all the presents?- Kids left him carrots which improved his eye sight and were healthy, so he always had energy.

In honor of Rudolph, I decided to make this wonderful Christmas treat.

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting
slightly adapted from Quick Feet, Good Eats
Ingredients
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter – room temp
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs – room temp
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 1/2 cup grated carrots – about 3 large carrots
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts

Directions
1) Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, silpats, or simply spray with cooking spray.
2) In a mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 3 – 4 minutes in a stand mixer).
3) Add eggs and vanilla and beat on medium until well combined.
4) Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger; whisk to combine. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture; mix on low until just combined. Do not overmix.
5) Mix in carrots, raisins and walnuts. Chill dough for at least 1 hour. (Mine stayed in the fridge almost an entire day covered with plastic wrap)
6) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
7) Shape tablespoons of dough into balls and place on prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Or press into a whoopie pie pan.
8) Bake until browned and crisp around the edges, 15 to 20. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting
Ingredients
1 cup of butter, at room temp
8 oz cream cheese, at room temp
3 cups confectioners sugar
1 splash vanilla extract
Directions
1)  Combine butter and cream cheese in mixing bowl and mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.
2) While mixing at a low speed, add sugar. Once combined, add a splash of vanilla extract and mix on a medium to high speed for 3 minutes, or until smooth and fully combined. Frost whoopie pies and enjoy!



Even though these aren't healthy, and wouldn't help me fly around the world carrying Santa and presents, they were amazingly delicious.  I forgot the oats in the original recipe, but in all honesty, they were delicious without them.  They had a lot of holiday flavors with the cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, so I think these would be perfect on a holiday table.  My husband took a bite and declared "These are a keeper!" 

Check out all the other recipes below!






Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies

I used to hate baking.  It just seemed like such a hassle and a mess to pull one dessert together.  Something snapped a few months ago and I now like to bake quite a bit.  I still love the simple desserts that don't require too much effort.

One of my favorite cookies are No-Bake Cookies.  You get little mounds of cookies in about fifteen minutes, and they usually cool pretty quickly.  Plus the ingredients are just things that go really well together: chocolate, peanut butter, oatmeal, it is all good things in one bite (if you only have one cookie...which is difficult).

Chocolate Oatmeal No-Bake Cookies
from One More-Moore 
Ingredients
1/2 cup butter
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup milk
4 tablespoons cocoa
1/2 cup peanut butter
3 cups Quick-Cooking Oats
2 teaspoons vanilla

Directions
1) Add the first four ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring to a rolling boil, and boil for a minute.
2) Stir in the next three ingredients and drop onto wax/foil paper.  Let cool until set.


These cookies are also really great when it is too hot to bake, although since we're entering fall, I don't think that'll be a problem for awhile.  These are the best no-bake cookies that I've ever made.  I think the peanut butter and chocolate ratio is perfect.  I had to send these to work with my husband so that we didn't eat too many of them. 


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Dutch Apple Pie

It is time for another Crazy Cooking Challenge.  The theme this month was apple pie.  I struggled a lot with this one because I didn't really want to buy a frozen pie crust, but I know that I am horrible at making crusts from scratch.  I really didn't want a repeat of fried chicken month (massive failure!), so I spent a lot of time looking for a recipe.


Photobucket


I ran across this recipe three days before the challenge was due.  Which normally would have been fine, except I finally got a new job this week.  In the midst of getting paperwork done and all the fun stuff that comes with a new job, I thought this would be the easiest recipe.

Cinnamon Roll Dutch Apple Pie
slightly adapted from Pillsbury
Ingredients
Crumb Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
Crust
1 can (12.4 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing (canister with 8 rolls)
Filling
6 medium Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons apple pie spice
2 tablespoons lemon juice  

Directions
1) Heat oven to 375°F.  Spoon icing from can of rolls into small microwavable bowl; cover and refrigerate.
2) In medium bowl, mix Crumb Topping ingredients with fork until large clumps form. Refrigerate.  
3) Lightly flour rolling pin and work surface or cutting board. Separate dough into 8 rolls. With rolling pin, roll each cinnamon roll, cinnamon side up, into 4- to 5-inch round.  In  an un-greased 9-inch glass pie plate, place 1 dough round in center. Arrange remaining 7 dough rounds around center round and up side of plate, overlapping slightly as necessary. With fingers, press dough to seal together in bottom and up side of pie plate to form crust.  
4) In large bowl, gently mix filling ingredients. Spoon filling into cinnamon roll-lined pie plate. Sprinkle crumb topping over top to completely cover filling.  
5) Bake about 1 hour or until top is golden brown and apples are tender. Cool on cooling rack at least 1 hour.  About 20 minutes in, place foil strips around edge of pie pan so that edges don't get too browned while cooking. 
6) Before serving, microwave icing on High 10 to 15 seconds or until runny enough to drizzle. Drizzle back and forth over top of pie.

 

I love apple pie.  To me, it symbolizes the beginning of fall.  I loved the amount of cinnamon that the cinnamon rolls added to the "crust".  The only problem we had was that the cinnamon rolls got a little crispy by the end of the hour.  It may be better to pre-bake your apples in a dish and then just marry the two at the end.  It was still a delicious yet different type of apple pie.  

Enjoy checking out all the other variations of apple pie below. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Stuffed Cinnamon Buns

The theme for the Recipe Swap this round was breakfast.  I was excited when I saw that my recipe was Christine's Kitchen Chronicles since I guest posted for her not too long ago.   Her blog is full of a lot of great recipes, so I was excited to try these.



Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Stuffed Cinnamon Buns
from Christine's Kitchen Chronicles
Ingredients
For the Ready to Eat Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
1/3 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

For the Cinnamon Rolls:
2 cups milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup sugar
1 packet yeast (2-1/4 teaspoons)
4-1/2 cups flour (I used 1-1/2 cups whole wheat and 3 cups all purpose)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 stick (4 Tablespoons) butter
cinnamon
sugar
1 batch ready to eat cookie dough


For the Icing:
2 1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoon butter, melted 
2 teaspoon vanilla
4 Tablespoons heavy cream or milk
 
Directions
1)  Make the Cookie Dough:  In a small bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in milk and vanilla. Add in flour. Stir in chocolate chips.  Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.
2) Mix the milk, oil, and sugar in a large pot. Scald milk mixture (heat until not quite boiling) and then let it cool to room temperature.  If the liquid is too hot, you will kill your yeast and your rolls will not rise.
3) Sprinkle yeast over milk mixture and let it sit for a couple minutes.  Stir in 4 cups of flour to form a sticky dough. Cover pan and let the dough rise for 1 hour. 
4) After dough has risen, stir in remaining 1/2 cup of flour, baking powder, and baking soda until well combined. 
5) Divide dough in half. On a flour covered workplace, roll the dough out until it's about 1/8" thick and in a rectangular shape about 18 inches long and 12 inches wide.
6) Melt butter in a glass measuring cup or a small bowl. Pour half of the melted butter over the dough and spread using a brush. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon (the amount is up to you). Top with spoonfuls of prepared chocolate chip cookie dough. 
7) Roll dough toward you, keeping the spiral as tight as possible. Cut into 3/4 inch slices. Place in a greased pan.  
8) Repeat this process with the other half of the dough.  
9) Let the cinnamon rolls rise again for 30 minutes. Then bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes. 
10) While rolls are in the oven, mix together ingredients for icing.  You want it to be the consistency of a spreadable frosting.  Add powdered sugar if it is too runny and heavy cream if it is too thick. 
11) Let the rolls cool for about 5 minutes before icing.  





These are definitely more of a weekend recipe than a weekday recipe.  Since I don't have a lot of experience with yeast, I was scared, but everything turned out really good.  I don't know if these needed to be stuffed with cookie dough, but it made them different and they were good.  I doubled the amount of icing because we really like a lot of icing on our cinnamon rolls.  These would definitely be a great special breakfast for a holiday or a momentous occasion. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats: Salted Caramel Brownies

One of my favorite things during the holiday season is a Starbucks Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate.  When it is cold outside, it warms you up and provides the comfort of chocolate with the great taste of caramel and that hint of salt. 


I ran across a recipe for Salted Caramel Brownies and knew that I had to make these for the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats.  What is better in the cold than hot chocolate and a salted caramel brownie?  Not much. 


12 Weeks of Christmas Treats is being hosted by Brenda from Meal Planning Magic.  Head to her blog to check out the details and how to join. 

Salted Caramel Brownies
brownie recipe from Food Network
salted caramel recipe from Pip & Ebby
Ingredients
Brownies
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Salted Caramel
2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup sour cream

Directions
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2) Stir together the sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs in a medium bowl. Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking powder all at once and stir until just combined.
3) Bake until the brownies begin to pull away from the edge of the pan and set in the center, 30 to 35 minutes.
4) For caramel, combine sugar, whipping cream, and corn syrup in a large sauce pan.  Set your heat to high and cook, stirring, until the mixture reaches 250 degrees. It took me about 20 minutes to reach this point.
5) When caramel reaches 250 degrees, stir in sea salt and sour cream.
6) Spread the caramel over the brownies and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt.
7) Chill until the caramel sets.


I loved these brownies.  I loved the crunch of the salt on top of the caramel.  Even after chilling mine, the caramel was still difficult (messy to get out of the pan, drooping down the brownie), but it was worth it because these are delicious.  They'd be a great accompaniment to the salted caramel hot chocolate. 






Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Rootbeer Float Ice Cream

Not too long ago, my husband wanted to go to Bed Bath and Beyond to get a Keurig.  I don't drink coffee, so I felt a little left out in the kitchen gadget realm.  That day, we ended up walking out with a Keurig and an ice cream maker.  Ever since, I've had a lot of fun finding recipes and utilizing my ice cream  maker.

Eva, from Eva Bakes, has a lot of ice cream recipes.  The awesome thing is that they're all very different, so there is a lot to choose from.  There is everything from this Rootbeer float to fresh peach ice cream.  Head over to her blog and check all her delicious ice cream recipes out.

Rootbeer Float Ice Cream
from Eva Bakes
Ingredients
2 large eggs
3/4 cup of sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon rootbeer extract

Directions
1) Whisk eggs in a bowl until they are light and fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes.
2) Whisk in sugar, a little at a time, and then keep whisking until completely blended, about a minute.
3) Pour in the remaining ingredients, and whisk well to incorporate.
4) Transfer mixture to ice cream maker, and follow manufacturer's instructions.
5) Once ice cream mixture is done in the maker, freeze until solid.






This was an amazing ice cream.  I thought it would just taste like rootbeer, but each bite had the rootbeer and the cream flavor that gave you the feeling that you were truly experiencing a rootbeer float.  The rootbeer flavor is there, but it isn't very strong, so I think next time, I'll add more than a tablespoon of rootbeer extract to see if it makes a difference.  Our ice cream mixture once it came out of the ice cream maker had to freeze overnight before we could eat it.  The mixture was just not cold enough to eat right away.  So prepare in advance if you want to make this as a treat.  I can't wait to make this ice cream again.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What's Baking Challenge Roundup: Quickbreads

This was my month to host the What's Baking Challenge.  I chose the theme Quickbreads.  I thought it would be a great opening to fall and the slightly chillier temperatures that come with the new season.  I think the participants came up with some delicious combinations, so check out all the posts below.


I embraced my love for lemon cakes and made a Lemon Poppyseed Loaf.




Melissa from I Was Born To Cook made Easy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread, which was a huge hit with her little girl, Bella.


Yudith from Blissfully Delicious made Sweet Potato Bread using some extra sweet potatoes in her house to turn into this delicious quickbread.



Ange from The Tiny Tyrant's Kitchen made Beer Bread using a recipe she found on Pinterest, and it turned out great.



Heather from Hezzi D's Books and Cooks made Pumpkin Spice bread and Strawberry bread to give to her friend who had recently had a baby.




Eva from Eva Bakes made Cinnamon Zucchini Bread using the last of the zucchini that she had at her house.



Jaida from Sweet Beginnings made a Chocolate Orange Loaf which she said reminds her of the Chocolate Oranges you find around the holiday season.


Steph from Brownies and Blondies took advantage of her last of her CSA fruit box and made Peach Bread.


Carrie from Carrie's Sweet Life asked her Facebook followers what bread she should make and selected Chocolate Chip Apple Bread from the responses.


Cara from The Boys Made Me Do It embraced the start of fall by making Ginger Pumpkin Bread.


Kim from Just Baked made Beer Cheese bread because her husband isn't big on sweets but does love beer and cheese.


Joanna from Newlywed and Newly Cooking took her Honey Cake to a family gathering and it was a hit.


Nicole from Seven Ate Nine combined family favorites to make Jalapeno Cheddar Beer Bread.


Catherine from Pursuing Domestic Goddess-ness made a Harvest Pumpkin bread that she received from a recipe swap.






Ammie from Adventures in My Kitchen paired her Beer Bread with a vegetable soup for a perfect autumn meal.





Jen from Beantown Baker shared her Banana Coconut Bread with her coworkers who thought the bread was "exquisite".


Hopefully you've found some inspiration for your next quickbread creation.

Next month's challenge is being hosted by Eva from Eva Bakes, and the theme is Pumkin/Sweet Potatoes.  Check out her blog at the end of the month to see what everyone makes!

Friday, September 28, 2012

What's Baking: Lemon Poppyseed Loaf

It was my time to host the What's Baking Challenge this month.  The girls in this swap usually come up with some really good themes, and I am not creative at all.  The one thing that I thought of was that in cooler weather, I love quickbreads.  I have made several banana quickbreads lately.  While they turned out fantastic, especially the Nutella Banana Bread that I tried, I decided to try something else.



I love lemon cakes.  When we're in the store and I see lemon cake of any kind, I always say that I'm going to go home and make a lemon poppyseed bread, but then never do.  I usually eat the loaves alone, so I try not to tempt myself too badly.  I decided to break down and finally make my lemon poppyseed loaf, especially since no one else made anything similar.

Lemon Poppyseed Loaf
barely adapted from StoneGable
Ingredients
3 tablespoons milk
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 cup sugar, divided
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon loosely packed grated lemon zest (~5 lemons)
2 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/8 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (~2 lemons)
 
Directions
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease large loaf pan. 
2) In a small bowl mix together milk, eggs and vanilla.
3) In a large bowl of a mixer, mix together flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder, salt, lemon zest and poppy seeds on low speed for 30 seconds.
4) Add all of the softened butter and 1/2 of the egg mixture. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds increasing speed to medium and mix for another 30 seconds. Add the rest of the egg mixtures in 2 parts mixing for 20 seconds in between.
5) Pour batter into the loaf pan and bake for 50-55 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
6) Put 1/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup lemon in a saucepan and cook until sugar dissolves.
7) When pound cake is done, poke holes over the top of the cake with a skewer.  Brush glaze over cake.
 
 
 
I may be biased because I love lemon cakes, but I thought this was a good recipe.  I baked it about five minutes too long and it came out a little on the dry side, so I adjusted for the time difference in the directions.  The glaze made the cake moist and even more flavorful.  I wish there was a little more lemon flavor in the actual cake than the zest, but it is still a very good cake.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

12 Weeks of Christmas Treats: Puppy Chow Cookies

A week ago, someone on my cooking forum posted about the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, hosted by Meal Planning Magic.  For the next twelve weeks, the group will be posting all types of different treats.  Anything you might have out on a holiday table for munching on or serving at your holiday parties is game for the blog hop, so check back every week for amazing posts that will be perfect to make for the biggest holiday of the year.


Every year around Christmas, my mom breaks out the puppy chow.  The delicious mix covered in peanut butter and powdered sugar.  Our family is addicted to it, so it disappears VERY quickly.  I think she makes more and more batches every year.

Right before I found out about the 12 Weeks of Christmas Treats, someone pinned these Puppy Chow Cookies on Pinterest, and I pinned them.  I knew they were an absolutely perfect start to this blog hop, so I jumped on making them. 

Puppy Chow Cookies
Peanut Butter Cookies from Jenna's Cooking Journey,
Puppy Chow ingredients from Betty Crocker 
Ingredients  
Cookies 
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
Coating 
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (6 ounces)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar

Directions
1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
2) In a mixing bowl, combine the shortening, sugars, egg, vanilla, and peanut butter until the mixture is smooth.
3) Scrape down the bowl, and add the flour, baking soda, and salt to the wet mixture.  Beat slowly until dough is just combined.  This is a dry dough, so it could take awhile to mix.  If the dough seems too crumbly, add a little water at a time until the dough is no longer crumbly.
4) Using a scoop, drop the cookie dough onto your baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. 
5) Take a fork and flatten the cookie to a 1/2 inch thickness, making a cross-hatch type of design.
6) Bake the cookies 12-16 minutes, until they just start to brown around the edges.  The tops will not brown at this point.
7) Allow cookies to cool completely.
8) In small microwaveable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, butter and peanut butter uncovered on High for approximately 1 minute to 1 minute 30 seconds; stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla.
9) Place powdered sugar in a gallon-sized zip-lock bag.  Coat each cookie with a thin layer of chocolate and then coat each cookie with powdered sugar in the zip-lock bag.  Repeat until all cookies are coated.






I made peanut butter cookies from scratch not too long ago, so I decided to use freshly made cookies instead of package ones.  I guess it depends on how much time you have in the Christmas season to do everything from scratch or you decide to do things the "Semi-Homemade" way.  I loved these cookies.  It had the same ideas as puppy chow but in a cookie form.  The powdered sugar isn't as messy (in eating form) as I thought it would be.  The cookie making process is definitely messy, but fun times will be had by all in the kitchen.

Please take the time to read all the other recipes below.  Check back next Thursday for another tasty treat!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Artichoke Bread

I think that I've started to like football more than my husband.  He admits that he really only likes to watch the Packers play, but there is something comforting about lounging around on Sunday and watching football.

Part of football fun for me is eating something yummy.  Sometimes my husband just wants chips and dip to snack on, but sometimes I try to whip up something more.  When I saw this recipe on Closet Cooking, I instantly thought football.

Artichoke Bread
slightly adapted from Closet Cooking
Ingredients
1 (14 ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
2 green onions, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 loaf Italian bread, sliced in half lengthwise

Directions
1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
2) Mix the artichoke hearts, green onions, garlic, cream cheese, mayonnaise, greek yogurt, mozzarella and parmesan cheese reserving some of the cheese.
3) Hollow 1/2 an inch out of the center of both halves of the bread.
4) Spread the mixture into the hole in the bread slices and top with the reserved cheese.
5) Bake in foil for 20 minutes.
6) Remove the foil and continue to bake until the cheese is melted and golden brown.


This bread was awesome.  It was a little messy, which fit with watching football, but mostly delicious.  The artichokes give this bread a lot more flavor than just normal cheese bread.  I think this dish will definitely make a showing at the Superbowl, and probably a few more times before then (we'll just be honest).  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting

My husband and I were talking about Red Velvet things recently, and he asked me to make a Red Velvet dessert.  I can't eat Red Velvet things because I am allergic to red dye, so I thought I'd attempt to make whoopie pies.  Shortly after the first batch came out of the oven, I knew I messed up the size of my cookies, and I wouldn't have enough cookies to make pies for everyone in Jacob's office.  So, I just decided to turn them into frosted red velvet cookies.

This past weekend, I bought a cookie scoop, so hopefully my cookies will be more uniform in the future so that I can attempt whoopie pies again.

Red Velvet Cookies
from Annie's Eats
Ingredients
Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablepsoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 oz. red food coloring 

Frosting
8 oz. cream cheese
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions
1) Preheat the oven to 375˚ F.
2) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt.
3) In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
4) Beat in the egg until incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Blend in the vanilla.
5) With the mixer on low speed, beat in about a third of the dry ingredients, followed by half of the buttermilk, beating each addition just until incorporated.  Repeat so that all the buttermilk has been added and then mix in the final third of dry ingredients.  Do not overbeat.
6) Blend in the food coloring.
7) For the frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment beat the cream cheese and butter on medium-high speed until well combined and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the vanilla extract.
8) Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until totally incorporated, increase the speed and then beat until smooth.
9) When cookies cool, frost and enjoy.



Jacob really loved these cookies.  He said they flew off the table at his office and his office mates wished there were more.  He sat at the mixing bowl and ate the extra frosting that wasn't used on the cookies.  I think all in all, they were probably just as great as the whoopie pies would have been.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Gnocchi Mac and Cheese

It's time for another Recipe Swap! The theme for this swap was Blogger's Choice, so I received Tasty Treats by Tina, and I could choose any recipe from her blog that I wanted to make.

It's getting cooler here in New Jersey.  To me, it feels like the humidity has left the air, and it has been hitting the low to mid-70s everyday instead of the low to mid-90s.  I thought I'd try to make something a little more comforting and fall-like, and landed on this Gnocchi Mac and Cheese.

I've only had gnocchi twice, and both times were at Olive Garden.  I thought the dishes were very good, and my favorite is their Chicken and Gnocchi soup.  I'm going to try to re-create that dish from A Taste of Home Cooking sometime this fall too. Can't wait.

Check out Tina's blog for other tasty creations.



Gnocchi Mac and Cheese
barely adapted from Tasty Treats by Tina
Ingredients
6 slices bacon  
1 sweet onion, diced
2 tablespoons white cooking wine
1 pound gnocchi
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dried sage
1 tablespoon flour
1 Cup milk
1/2 Cup Gruyere Cheese, shredded
1/2 Cup Fontina Cheese, shredded
1/2 Cup Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese, shredded


Directions 
1) Preheat oven to 375.
2) Cook bacon in a large skillet over medium low heat, turning frequently until crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper towel lined plate, chop and set aside. 
3) Add onion and cooking wine to the skillet with the bacon grease and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and caramelized, anywhere from about 30 minutes.
4) Drop the gnocchi into a pot of salted boiling water and cook until they float to the top, 2-3 minutes. Drain in a colander then return gnocchi to the pot.
5) Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the garlic and sage and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. 
6) Add the flour and whisk until it bubbles, then add the milk. Cook until slightly thickened, about 3-5 minutes.
7) Add the Gruyere and Fontina and stir until melted. Mix in the bacon and caramelized onions. Pour over the gnocchi and stir until combined.
8) Transfer the gnocchi and sauce to a lightly oiled baking dish and cover with the Parmesan cheese.  
9) Bake until the cheese is golden and bubbly, about 25 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


I appologize for the picture.  It isn't the best.  However, this mac and cheese is fantastic.  The bacon and the caramelized onion add such flavor to the gnocchi, which are soft and amazing.  This was the perfect fall-type dish, and I can't wait to make more things with gnocchi.