Monday, 27 December 2010

PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE CHIP BREAD

Pumpkin always sounds good to me.  I usually don't get sick of it during the Fall season and I like to eat it all year long.  My friend gave me a copy of a cookbook she made for her mom for Christmas.  This was one of the recipes in it.  As soon as I saw it, I knew it would be the first thing I tried out of the book.  It sounded interesting, because It has a box of vanilla pudding in it.  I had never heard of that in pumpkin bread.  So, I made it and I loved it.  I even just stirred everything together with a wooden spoon and didn't even break out the mixer.  The recipe does not have chocolate chips in it, but I love chocolate with pumpkin, so I added some.  The bread has the perfect amount of pumpkin and spice.  For once, the outside part is actually my favorite, it is slightly chewy, but the inside is super soft and moist.  So, next time you get a craving for something pumpkin, give this bread a try.   
Pumpkin Bread
adapted from: Kelly P.

1 c. canola oil
3 large eggs
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
3 c. flour
3 c. sugar
1 (3 oz.) box instant vanilla pudding
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. milk chocolate chips (I added)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease two loaf pans.  In a large bowl, beat oil, eggs and pumpkin until combined.  Add the sugar and mix well.  Add the flour and all the spices.  Stir in the pudding mix and chocolate chips.  Divide evenly between loaf pans.  Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. (Mine took about 1 hr. and 10 min.)

Sunday, 26 December 2010

CARAMELS

Carmel vs. Caramel?  Have you ever wondered which one is the correct pronunciation?  I hear it both ways all the time.  So, I "googled" carmel and it brings up a whole bunch of towns/places, if i search carmel recipe it switches my search to caramel recipe.  So, I looked them up in the dictionary and come to find out "caramel" is correct, not "carmel".  So, all of my recipes where I have written carmel are incorrect.  Oh well, who really cares right, but now you know.

The holidays just wouldn't be complete without some homemade caramel.  This is the second year I have made this caramel recipe.  I love the flavor and consistency of it.  If you cook it to the right temperature, you will have soft and creamy caramels.  They are soft, but still hold their shape and they are not so chewy that you have to worry they will pull out your fillings  (not saying you have fillings).  They are just perfect all around.  The brown sugar gives them a deep, rich flavor.  It also needs very minimal stirring, so you don't have to stand over the stove sweating and hoping your arm doesn't fall off.  I also use this recipe for homemade turtles and for caramel and chocolate pretzel rods.  Note:  I think this caramel is perfect at 236-238 degrees (for high altitude), but Sister's Cafe thinks that is too soft, so you will just have to decide how you prefer your caramels.    
Caramel
adapted from: Sister's Cafe

1/2 c. butter, no substitutes
1 1/2 c. light corn syrup
2 c. light brown sugar
1 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
toasted pecans, optional

Melt butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Add corn syrup, brown sugar and 3/4 cup of the heavy cream.  Cook over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until thermometer reaches 224 degrees.  Gradually add the remaining 3/4 cup cream.  Turn stove to medium and continue to cook.  Use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash down the sugar crystals on the sides of the pan.  Don't worry about drops of water getting in the caramel, it will boil off.  Cook until reaches desired consistency. (I personally think for high altitude, 236-238 degrees is perfect.  I use my candy thermometer for an estimate of the temperature, but I always use the ice cube test to know for sure.  When the thermometer is getting close to 236 degrees, I take a spoonful of the caramel and pour it into a glass that has a few ice cubes in it, I wait a few seconds, then take that caramel and roll it into a ball.  I hold it out on my palm and if it holds its shape and doesn't flatten out, but you can easily flatten it if you press it down, then it is ready.  If it slowly flattens out, then it is not quite done).  

When reaches desired consistency, remove from heat and add the vanilla and pecans.  Stir to combine.  Pour into a well greased 9x13 pan.  Let caramel cool completely.  Once it is set up, cut into pieces and wrap in wax paper. Note: this caramel needs very minimal stirring.          

Friday, 24 December 2010

RED VELVET CHEESECAKE CAKE

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!
I printed this recipe from Domestic Goddess Adventures probably over a year ago.  Guess what?  I finally made it. Hooray.  I love it when I get to cross recipes off my looooonnng "to make" list.
I decided that Red Velvet Cake is the perfect Christmas dessert, because of its amazing bright red color.  Oh, by the way, I have a super deal alert I thought you all should know.  I had been purchasing red food coloring at my local grocery store.  It comes in a 1 oz. bottle and it costs $2.24.  Most red velvet recipes call for at least 1 oz., so I had been going through a lot of these little bottles.  The other day, I stopped by a big food supply store and I found a 32 oz. bottle of red food coloring.  Guess how much it was?  Well, if I purchased that much individually it would cost approximately $71.68.  Well ladies and gentlemen, I paid $12.50.  Seriously, I'm not lying.  That is a savings of $59.18 and it's even the exact same brand.  So, please stop wasting your hard earned cash and just buy a giant bottle that will last for many many years.   

This cake tasted really good.  The cake is super moist and the cheesecake layer is super creamy.  It is pretty rich, so a small slice was plenty.  This is definitely one of those cakes you need to make for a family get together, because it would be pretty hard for only a few people to finish it off.            
Red Velvet Cake
Adapted from Martha Stewart as seen on Domestic Goddess Adventures
(Printable Recipe)

2 1/2 c. cake flour, sifted
2 Tbl. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 oz. red food coloring
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 c. buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. distilled white vinegar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk together cake flour, cocoa and salt.  With an electric mixer on med-high speed, whisk together sugar and oil until combined.  Add eggs, one at at time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl.  Mix in food coloring and vanilla.  Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk and whisk well after each.  Stir together the baking soda and vinegar in a small bowl (it will foam up), add mixture to the batter and mix on medium speed for 10 seconds.  Grease and flour two round 9-inch pans.  Divide batter evenly between the two pans.  Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool in pans for 20 minutes.  Then, invert onto wire rack and allow to cool completely before assembling the cake.  


White Chocolate Cheesecake
Adapted from: Williams Sonoma as seen on Domestic Goddess Adventures


2 oz. white chocolate, chopped
16 oz. cream cheese, room temp.
1/2 c. plus 2 Tbl. sugar
1 Tbl. flour
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbl. heavy cream


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt the white chocolate and set aside to cool slightly.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, mix the cream cheese on low speed until creamy.  Add the sugar and mix slowly until smooth.  On low speed, mix in the flour.  Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bowl and beater with a rubber spatula.  Add one egg at a time and mix until smooth.  Scrape down again.  Mix in the vanilla and cream until mixture is smooth.  Using a large spoon, stir in the melted white chocolate until incorporated.  Pour the batter into a parchment paper lined 9-inch spring form pan.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until the center is set when you shake the pan slightly.  Allow to cool before removing from the spring form pan.  Allow to cool completely before assembling with the red velvet cake.  
  
Cream Cheese Frosting
From: Jenn - eatcakefordinner
*Domestic Goddess did 3 sticks cream cheese, 3 sticks butter, 3 cups powdered sugar, 3 tsp. vanilla.  I prefer my cream cheese frosting not so cream-cheesy.  So, I did:


2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 stick cream cheese, softened
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract 
milk, only if needed


Cream butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Add powdered sugar, one cup at a time.  Add vanilla and beat until combined.  If frosting is too stiff, add a tiny bit of milk until reaches desired consistency.


TO ASSEMBLE THE CAKE:
Place bottom cake layer on platter.  Spread a little cream cheese frosting over cake.  Top with cheesecake layer.  Spread with a little more cream cheese frosting.  Top with second layer of cake.  Frost entire cake with cream cheese frosting and decorate as desired.  When the cake is fully assembled, refrigerate over night.  The cheesecake needs time to set - that's when you will get the best texture and flavor.  This is best when served chilled.      

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

PHAT COW FUDGE

Don't be surprised if you make a batch of this fudge and discover you have way more friends than you used to!  It's that good.  This is a perfect Holiday Gift for your neighbors, friends and co-workers.  I promise that whoever you give this to will love you forever.  

In case you couldn't tell, this is my absolute favorite fudge recipe ever.  The best part is that no candy thermometer is required!  Hooray! I have messed up several other fudge recipes where either the sugar doesn't dissolve properly and it turns out grainy or it never sets up properly or where it turns too hard, but you don't have to worry about any of that with this recipe.  There is no way you could mess it up if you follow the directions.  The end result is so smooth and creamy and just melts in your mouth and I could easily eat 10 pieces of this is a row.  Plus, if you put it in an airtight container and store it in the fridge, it will last for a really long time and still taste delicious.      
Phat Cow Fudge
adapted from: Barbara W.

20 oz. Hershey's® milk chocolate bars, broken into pieces
1 (12 oz.) pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. (2 cubes) butter, cut into pieces- No substitutes
4 c. sugar
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
2 1/2 c. mini marshmallows
4 c. frozen mini marshmallows
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Lb. walnuts, chopped, opt.

Place four cups of mini marshmallows into the freezer.  In a large bowl, prepare  broken milk chocolate bars, chocolate chips and butter pieces; set aside.  In a large pan, combine sugar, evaporated milk and 2 1/2 cups mini marshmallows.  Bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring constantly, then, continue to cook and stir at a light boil for 7 minutes.  Remove from heat and immediately pour over the chocolate/butter mixture.  With a wooden spoon, stir the mixture until the chocolate is melted and loses its shine (Don't worry if it looks separated, just keep stirring).  Stir in the vanilla.  Add the frozen marshmallows and walnuts.  Spread into a buttered cookie sheet.  Cool completely.  Cut into pieces and serve.  Store in an airtight plastic container.    

Monday, 20 December 2010

PEPPERMINT CRUNCH COOKIES

Here is a Holiday Cookie recipe for you.  My mom gave me a bag of Andes® Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips and I knew I wanted to make some type of cookie with them, but I couldn't decide on using a sugar cookie type cookie or a plain chocolate chip type cookie.  The recipe on the back of the bag looked like a chocolate chip type cookie, so I went with one of my favorite recipes.  I left some plain and topped with white chocolate and peppermint chips and the other half, I put the peppermint chips in the dough and drizzled white chocolate over the top.  They turned out good, a yummy chewy cookie with a perfect amount of peppermint flavor.  I still have almost a whole bag of the peppermint chips left, so next, I am going to try a chewy chocolate brownie with chocolate frosting and top them with the chips.  Yummy. 

Peppermint Crunch Cookies
cookie dough from: Kelly P.


1/2 c. butter flavored shortening
1/4 c. + 1/8 c. sugar
1/4 c. + 1/8 c. brown sugar    
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 Tbl. warm water
1 c. all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. oats
3 squares white Almond Bark, chopped
Andes® Peppermint Crunch Baking Chips


Cream together shortening and both sugars; add vanilla.  Add the egg, mixing until combined.  Dissolve the baking soda in the warm water and add.  Add flour, salt and oats.  Mix all together.  Drop spoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 10  minutes.  (Using a small ice cream scoop, recipe yields 20 cookies).  Cool completely.  



Add almond bark to a microwave safe glass bowl.  Microwave until melted, stirring every 30 seconds.  Drop a spoonful of melted chocolate onto each cookie; smooth out and sprinkle with peppermint chips.  Or add the peppermint chips to the cookie dough before baking.  Then, using a fork, drizzle white chocolate over the top of each cookie.  

Saturday, 18 December 2010

EGGNOG FRENCH TOAST

Here is one more recipe using this fabulous french bread that I made the other night.  I absolutely love eggnog, but I only allow myself to buy one carton of it each year.  My friend, Nicole, told me that I had to try this eggnog french toast, because it is amazing.  So, I purchased my first and only carton of eggnog and made me a batch.  It was really good, but honestly I couldn't taste any eggnog.  All I could taste was the pumpkin spice flavor, which was still delicious, but not eggnog-y.  I really liked the texture the french bread had.  I will probably make a batch of french toast every time I make that french bread.  Delicious.  I still think this fluffy french toast I made awhile ago is the best. 
Eggnog French Toast
adapted from: All Recipes

2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 c. eggnog
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 loaf French Bread
Maple syrup

Whisk together the eggs, eggnog, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon until well blended.  Pour into a shallow dish.  Preheat electric skillet to 300 degrees.  Lightly grease the skillet.  Slice french bread.  Dip one slice of bread at a time into the eggnog mixture, being sure to coat each side of bread thoroughly.  Place the prepared bread slices into the preheated skillet and cook, turning once, until golden brown on each side.  Place cooked slices on a serving plate and cover with foil to keep warm until all the french toast is cooked.  Drizzle with maple syrup and serve immediately.   

Friday, 17 December 2010

PESTO TURKEY SANDWICHES

The other day at work we had a "working lunch meeting", so they provided us with some lunch from Paradise Bakery.  We had our choice of a variety of sandwiches.  My favorite one was called "California Turkey", it had Sourdough Bread with pesto mayo, cucumbers, bacon, turkey and tomato.  I really liked it.   

This is my own homemade version of that sandwich.  I loved it.  The combination of the bacon, cucumber, turkey and pesto was so good, in my opinion.  I used this french bread, but when it was almost finished baking, I brushed one of the loaves with a little olive oil and sprinkled it with grated Parmesan and Asiago cheese, then let it finish baking.  So yummy.  
Pesto Turkey Sandwiches
From: Jenn - eatcakefordinner
(Printable Recipe)

1 loaf of this French Bread
olive oil, opt.
Parmesan Cheese, grated, opt.
Asiago Cheese, grated, opt.
1/3 c. prepared basil pesto
2/3 c. Mayonnaise
1/2 Lb. smoked, sliced deli turkey
1 cucumber, sliced thin
1/2 pkg. thick bacon, cooked
lettuce, opt.
tomato, opt.


If you would like cheese bread: about 10 minutes before the french bread is finished baking, brush the top with a little olive oil and sprinkle with Parmesan and Asiago cheese and continue baking.  Let bread cool slightly.  Combine pesto and mayonnaise; adjust to taste.  Slice bread in half horizontally and brush both sides with pesto mayonnaise.  Layer sliced turkey, sliced cucumbers, cooked bacon, lettuce and tomato.  Cut into 3 or 4 slices.  Serve.     

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

FABULOUS FRENCH BREAD

I purchased a roll of refrigerated french bread dough at the store the other day.  I was planning to make some sandwiches with it.  Last night, I pulled it out and unrolled it onto my cookie sheet.  What in the world?  It was so skinny?  I guess it should have been common sense that for the packaging to be so small, the dough inside must be small.  I guess I just thought it would magically expand or something?  Anyway, there was no way I could make sandwiches out of that and   there was no way I was going to use regular bread.  So, I decided now would be a good time to try Jamie's French Bread Recipe.  I had been wanting to try it for awhile, but never got around to it.  I threw the ingredients in the mixer and whipped up a batch.  
The instructions look really long, but it really was so easy and didn't take too much time.  It makes three small loaves and Jamie says that they freeze very well.  I was very impressed with the results.  The inside seemed a little more dense than store bought, but that could have just been because I ate it right out of the oven and didn't let it cool or because I skipped the 20 minutes rise in the middle.  The crust has the perfect amount of crisp, it's not too tuff (I hate french bread where the crust is so tuff that you pretty much have to rip it apart with your teeth). So, give this a try, you will love it.


Fabulous French Bread
adapted from: Jamie Cooks It Up
(Printable Recipe)
*Check out Jamie's Blog for a great step-by-step tutorial*


1 Tbl. shortening
1 Tbl. salt
2 Tbl. sugar
1 c. boiling water
1 c. cold water
1/3 c. warm water
1 Tbl. active dry yeast
5-6 c. all-purpose flour
1 egg


1.  Place 1 cup hot water in the microwave for 3 minutes to get it boiling.  
2.  Dissolve the yeast into the warm water.  Stir it around until it is all mixed.
3.  Combine the salt, shortening and sugar in the bottom of your mixer bowl and mash with a fork.  You need to smash up the mixture until it resembles coarse sand.  
4.  Pour the boiling water over the shortening mixture.
5.  Pour the cold water over the mixture.
6.  Pour the warm water and yeast into the mixer.
7.  Begin to add the flour, one cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the side of your mixer bowl.  
8.  Using the dough hook, let the dough mix on high for 8 minutes.  
9.  Let the dough rise in the mixer for about 20 minutes.  (This step can be skipped if you are in a hurry).  (I skipped this step, but I would like to try it next time).
10.  Separate the dough into three equal parts and place on a large jelly roll pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Let the dough sit for about 5 minutes.  Letting it sit will make it MUCH easier to shape.
11.  Spread the dough (one part) out on the jelly roll pan.
12.  Then, roll up the dough, like you would cinnamon rolls. 
13.  Then, pick up the two ends and fold them in toward each other, meeting in the middle.  
14.  Turn the loaf, so the seam side is down and the top is smooth.  Repeat these steps with the other 2 parts of dough.
15.  Spray a sharp knife with cooking spray.
16.  Whisk egg until frothy.
17.  Cut three diagonal slits in the top of each loaf.  Cover with the egg wash, being sure to get it into all of the slits.  
18.  Place the loaves in a warm 170 degree oven and let rise for about 15 minutes.
19.  Turn the oven up to 375 degrees for a convection oven and 400 degrees for a regular oven.  Leave the loaves in while the oven increases in temperature.  
20.  Bake for 10 minutes convection or 15 minutes regular oven or until the loaves are golden brown and crusty.  Turn the oven down to 325 degrees for convection and 350 degrees for regular and turn the pan around in the oven.  Bake for another 7 minutes convection or 10 minutes for regular.  Yield: 3 small loaves.  

Sunday, 12 December 2010

RED VELVET BARS

I saw these red velvet bars on a recent episode of Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee.  I gave them a try and I thought they ended up tasting really good.  The cake part has the same texture as a brownie and they tasted exactly like a  cheesecake brownie.  They were so easy to make.  I cut the recipe in half and baked them for 42 minutes.
Red Velvet Bars
adapted from: Sandra Lee

Bars:
1 stick (8 Tbl.) butter, softened
1 german chocolate cake mix
1 egg
1 oz. bottle red food coloring


Cream Cheese Layer:
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  For the bars: combine butter, cake mix, egg and red food coloring.  Batter will be stiff.  Spread into a greased 9X13 inch cake pan.  For the cream cheese layer:  Beat together the cream cheese and sugar until creamy.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Spread over batter.  Bake for 40-45 minutes or until bars barely start to pull away from sides of pan.  Cool completely before cutting.  

Friday, 10 December 2010

TACO SALAD

I love taco salad!  I had it for the first time about 3 years ago.  We were having a lunch party at my work and they were serving taco salad.  I wasn't going to have any, because that just did not sound good to me.  So, I decided to go down to the lunchroom to check out what was for dessert.  Well, I walked in and I saw the "buffet style" table and something caught my eye. . . . . Fritos!  I absolutely love Fritos and I hope some day they will come up with a "Baked" version, so I won't feel so bad about eating them.  I have been a fan of all the "Baked" chips so far.  In fact, I prefer some of them over the regular kind.  
Anyway, back to taco salad, so the idea of putting Fritos on a taco salad convinced me to sit down and try some lunch.  Well, I loved it and I have been eating it ever since.  I have tried several different versions and adjust my recipe slightly each time, but this is my favorite version so far.  Make sure to serve with Ranch Dressing  - YUMMY.
TACO SALAD
From: Jenn - eatcakefordinner

1/2 lb. ground beef
salt & pepper
taco seasoning, to taste
onion powder, opt.
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 can chili w/out beans
1/2-1 can pinto beans, drained
1/4 c. salsa
1 pkg. spanish rice, cooked
lettuce
cilantro, chopped
sour cream, opt.
ranch dressing
Cheddar cheese, grated
Fritos

Brown ground beef in a large skillet; add onions and cook a few minutes. Season with salt, pepper, taco seasoning and onion powder, to taste.  Add chili, beans and salsa.  Cook until heated through.  Layer lettuce, rice, and ground beef mixture.  Garnish with chopped cilantro, sour cream, Cheddar cheese and Fritos. Drizzle with ranch dressing.  Serves 3-4 people.