Monday, November 29, 2010

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups packed light-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; spray parchment paper.

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, cook the butter until it turns golden brown; remove from heat, and let cool. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine browned butter and both sugars; stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Attach bowl to mixer; add eggs. Using the paddle attachment, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla, and beat to combine. Add flour mixture, and chocolate chips. Mix until thoroughly combined, and spread into prepared pan.

4. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes (do not over
bake) on 350 degrees. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before turning out of pan onto a cutting board. Peel off parchment paper; cut blondies into 3-inch squares. Blondies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Also featured on Real Food Wednesday and Works for Me Wednesday.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I made a bunch of dips and appetizers for various Thanksgiving dinners we enjoyed this past weekend. It was great; I got out with all the easy cooking. No cooking turkey, or stuffing, or sides even! Just the fun stuff, appetizers and desserts, more of which I will be sharing soon! Oh yeah, and the lasagna too! The dips were accompanied by my Cornucopia made of Dough, Stuffed Mushrooms Parmigiana , some crackers and cut up veggies. The biggest hit of all the dips by far and above was the Buffalo Chicken Dip, taken from a great website, Prevention RD. It's spicy, creamy, and oh so good!

8 oz Neuftchatel Cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup fat free ranch dressing
1/3 Franks' Red Hot Buffalo Sauce
2 tbsp water
1 1/2 cup cooked chicken breast, shredded
4 oz Colby Jack cheese
4 oz Mild Cheddar Cheese
2 tbsp scallions, chopped

1. Beat cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and soft.

2. Add in ranch dressing, buffalo sauce, and water and continue to beat.

3. Stir in shredded chicken and cheeses.

4. Spread into a pie plate and loaf pan and bake at 350 for about 30 minutes.

5. Stir in chopped scallions and serve warm with celery, breadsticks, or anything else you like spicy!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Edible Cornucopia

When it comes to the holidays, I love to cook and bake as much as physically possible. And I always love to make the traditional food we eat, but I like to make something different too. When I came across, this idea to use dough to make a cornucopia, I fell in love! I knew it was the perfect recipe for the What's Baking Thanksgiving Challenge hosted by Catherine this month!

I decided to use a basic pizza dough recipe just with a little extra flavor instead of bread dough. And since things tend to get a little extra busy, I opted for using the bread machine to make my dough while I concentrated on other holiday tasks. I made two batches of dough and made two different sizes. The first was small, about 8 inches and I had enough dough left over to make about 4 breadsticks. The second was about 15 inches long.

4 cups of flour or bread flour if you have some on hand
1 1/4 cup water
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepperoncino flakes
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp active dry yeast

You will also need:
poster board
tape (heat resistant)
cooking spray

1. Place all dry ingredients(minus yeast) into bread maker and then add the wet ingredients on top. Put the yeast into the yeast dispenser and set to pizza dough and go! Follow the instructions on your specific bread machine in case they differ.

2. While the dough is mixing, time to get the supplies ready to build the cone which the dough will bake on. First, decide on the desired size for your cornucopia. Form your poster board into a cone shape and secure with heavy duty, heat resistant tape. Cut the excess poster board so that it can stand freely.

3. Next, start covering the outside of your cone with foil. Then crumple up extra foil and stuff it into the cone to help to retain its shape. Then staple a small piece of parchment paper to cover the opening of the cone so that the foil stays in place.

4. Now it's almost time to start. Lay a sheet over parchment paper on a baking sheet and stand your cone on it. Spray the cone down with baking spray to allow for easier release.

5. Time to start building your cornucopia! Roll the dough into stands which you will coil up the cone starting at the base and working your way to the top. The first piece I used two strands twisted together to make the rim of the opening more pronounced. Then, keep spiraling more dough up the length of the cone until your reach the top. Using a little extra dough, form a curved tail.

6. Lay your cone down on the baking sheet with the sealed edge of the rim facing down. Bake it in the oven at 400 for about twenty minutes. Then take it out and, using tongs, remove the cone from inside the cornucopia. Be very gentle! It helps if you pull out the foil stuffing from the cone first. Then return to the oven for another twenty minutes to fully cook the inside. If your cone becomes more golden or darker than the your desired color, cover it foil on the outside only.

7. Let cool slightly and then serve! I used marinara sauce and spinach artichoke dip to accompany mine. Recipe for those to come soon!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cinnamon Buttercream Bundt Cake

1 lb unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
6 eggs, room temperature
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp vanilla
4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup cinnamon
1/8 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk

1. In a large stand mixer, beat butter with paddle attachment until light and fluffy.

2. Slowly mix in powdered sugar and eggs, one a time, on medium speed.

3. Stir in the vanilla and lemon juice.

4. Mix flour, salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl. Gradually beat flour mixture into stand mixer.

5. Mix brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Set aside.

6. Generously grease a 10 inch tube pan with butter/Crisco and flour.

7. Fill the pan halfway with batter. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar mixture on top of batter. Spoon on more batter, sprinkle more cinnamon sugar. Continue pattern until the pan is full.

8. Bake in a 350 degree oven for one hour 20 minutes or done. Cool on rack.

9. In a small bowl beat milk and powdered sugar with a fork until welly mixed. Drizzle over cooled bundt cake and let set. Then eat and enjoy!
Adapted from Pillsbury's Best of the Bake Off 1996 edition, Buttercream Pound Cake

Bride and Groom Cookie Favors

Once again, I must apologize for the lack of updating, but it was busy past week. One of my best friends got married last weekend and I was making favors for the wedding. My kitchen still has evidence of the wreck that ensued from all the flying powdered sugar to the royal icing drips on the floor. But that's ok with me.

I had made similar cookie favors for the rehearsal dinner of another good friend of mine back in August. The cookies I made this time were very close to the same, but instead of icing the cookie solely in royal icing, I made a marshmallow fondant for the heart shape and then decorated the details with royal icing.

This was my first time using or making marshmallow fondant, but I heard lots of good reviews. Fondant has many advantages and is much more flexible in its uses than royal icing. However, fondant usually does not taste great. I've purchased Wilton brand fondant and it was not very yummy. But homemade marshmallow fondant, is actually pretty tasty. I means it's mostly marshmallow and sugar, so what could be bad about that?

I will be posting a full step by step tutorial of how to make and use marshmallow fondant for some other cookies I am making next month. (I was too busy to get good photos of the process this time.) My only word of advice for now if anyone wants to attempt to make their own marshmallow fondant is you can not have enough powdered sugar or Crisco to grease your surface. Buy two extra bags. Seriously.

Also featured on Real Food Wednesdays and Works for Me Wednesdays.

Oven Baked Italian "Fried" Chicken

Fried chicken is one of those foods that is delicious, but, of course, not the healthiest. In order to get that great "fried" taste but without the excess oil and frying, you can bake it instead. This is a great way to achieve that same wonderful flavor without the actual "frying". It is one of the best chicken recipes I've ever tasted!

For this recipe, there are three batters, two dry and one wet, and it's so simple to make. Mix the ingredients for each batter in the designated bowl, then dip in bowl 1, dip in bowl 2, dip in bowl 3, bake, eat! It's that easy!

2 lbs of chicken, cut in the cutlets or strips
1 1/2 cups of flour
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste (tsp or two)
3 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp fresh parsley
1/4 cup milk
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup whole wheat crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup grated Pecorino Cheese
1/8 cup shredded Asiago cheese ( I omitted this for mine and only put it on Robert's chicken because I'm not a fan of Asiago. It was good both ways)

1. First, get the ingredients all lined up and ready. The process is very easy, but it helps to get everything ready to go.

2. In one bowl, Mix flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Stir to combine and set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, add eggs, milk, and parsley. Stir to combine and set aside.

4. In another bowl, combine bread crumbs, whole wheat bread crumbs, Parmesan, Pecorino, and Asiago cheese. Mix together and set aside.

5. Pat your chicken cutlet to dry. Now we can start the assembly line process. Dredge the first chicken cutlet in the flour mixture. Coat well and then tap off excess. Dip into egg mixture. Dredge in the bread crumb mixture and welly coat both sides.

6. Place the breaded chicken in a baking dish and bake on 350 until 25-35 minutes, until fully cooked thorough.
Eat your non-fried fried chicken happily!

Also featured on Real Food Wednesdays and Works for Me Wednesdays

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Meeting Bakerella and Cake Balls

When I heard Bakerella was coming to New Jersey I was so excited and knew I needed to go! I love, love her website and all the incredibly cute confections she makes. She was hosting a signing for her new book, Cake Pops, in Williams Sonoma.

It started with a demonstration of different techniques and tips. Robert and I were late, as usual, and missed the first few minutes. She was very friendly and answered people's questions.

Then we hopped in line to get our book signed and, since we were late, we waited till the end of the line, which wasn't really bad. The line moved quickly and we chatted with some interesting people. I met Katie, from Tuesdays with Katie, who is a local food blogger as well. Then I got to meet to Bakerella and have her sign my book!

Bakerella was very cheerful and friendly. She chatted with everyone and took pictures. I even got Robert to take a picture with us. What a good husband! He waited in line with me and took pictures.

Cake Balls

Cake balls are super sweet, moist, and covered in chocolate! The steps are simple, but time consuming! It uses all ingredients that you have in your home. If you have never made them, it's fun, so give it a try!

9 x 13 Cake from 1 box of cake mix or homemade cake
About 10 oz of Frosting
Chocolate (for dipping)

1. Take your already baked and cooled cake and cut it into four quarters. Hold two pieces and rub them together over a large bowl to make the cake crumble. Continue crumbling all the cake. If you only need a few cake balls then wrap the two other squares of cake into plastic wrap and freeze them to make more cake balls later. (A large batch makes just about 50 cake balls, so halving the recipe to use only two quarters will make 20-25 cake balls.)

2. Mix in your favorite frosting until the icing can hold together the cake crumbles. The icing binds everything together well. Remember if you are making a half batch to also halve the icing.

3. Using hands, roll into cake balls and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Let chill in the freezer for 20 minutes or in the fridge for a few hours.

4. Melt desired chocolate till smooth and dip cake balls into chocolate. Let set on parchment covered sheets. Sprinkle any decorations on that you like, sprinkles, coconut, nuts, etc. You can also drizzle some chocolate on covered cake balls. ( More ideas for cake balls and cake pops @ Bakerella's website )

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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Halloween Bark

Halloween is over. The costumes and wigs put away, fun face makeup washed off, and everyone is exhausted from the sugar high beginning to wind down. What is left the next day but...... Lots of Candy! And everyone loves candy! At least some kind of candy. My favorite is either M&M's (Plain, Peanut Butter, Pretzel) or Milky Ways. Robert usually opts for all things Peanut Butter or super sweet ones like Sugar Babies.

Even though we all love candy, there is only so much candy you can eat. I have been trying to think of fun things to do with the candy. I saw a recipe in Bon Appetit for Peanut Butter and Toffee Halloween Bark and decided to try out my own version of Halloween Bark to put some of this candy to use.

1 bag of chocolate chip, milk
15 mini Reese's peanut butter cups, cup in quarters
3/4 cup of Peanut Butter M&Ms or Reese's Pieces
3/4 cup candy corn

1. Heat the chocolate chips in either a double boiler or in the microwave, constantly stirring until melted.

2. Line a cooking sheet with wax or parchment paper and smooth melted chocolate to cover. (about 1/4-1/2 inch thick)

3. Now go crazy! Starting sprinkling all the candies on top of the chocolate! Keep going until the whole surface area is covered.

4. Don't be afraid to get creative! I made three different batches (only photographed this one). I made another with semi sweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips swirled in, crushed pretzels, and peanuts, and a last batch (peanut free) with white chocolate, crushed Oreos, and candy corn. You can put anything you want it. If you like Butterfingers, go ahead or if you want to crush some items or leave others whole, that's great! It's all up to you!

5. Place in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes or so to fully harden. Take it out and break it in pieces.

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