Monthly Archives: February 2013

Raspberry-Cream Cheese Brownies

Did anyone watch the Oscars last night?  Of course Bradley Cooper looked gorgeous, the dresses were stunning and Adele’s beauty and voice were flawless.  A while ago I thought about making some appetizers and inviting some girlfriends over to watch the show but after an impromtu Atlantic City trip on Saturday that didn’t get me in bed until 3am, my Sunday was unproductive.  On the ride home, I somehow started talking to my friends about the ridiculously insanely good brownie batter donuts from Dunkin Donuts and about my obsession with brownie batter in general.  Since I spent my Sunday napping and being lazy, I didn’t cook one thing but couldn’t stop thinking about brownies, including these Raspberry-Cream Cheese Brownies I made last week.

Lightened brownie batter is jazzed up with raspberry preserves and cream cheese and baked until light and cakey.  These brownies aren’t the most gooey brownies I’ve ever had but it’s hard for me to find anything bad to say about any brownies.  If you like your brownies cake-like and a little fancy, give these a try.  Any other preserves would work here too like cherry or blackberry.  These treats are great when you just need something chocolate and have brownies on the brain like I did.

DSC04309

The ingredients:

DSC04303

To prepare the filling, beat the sugar, cream cheese, vanilla, flour and egg white at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended, and set aside.

DSC04304

Lightly spoon 3/4 cup flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Combine 1 cup sugar and the next 6 ingredients (1 cup sugar through the 2 egg whites), stirring well with a whisk. Add to the flour mixture, stirring just until moist.

DSC04305

Spread two-thirds of batter in bottom of an 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray (do not coat the sides of the pan). Pour filling over batter, spreading evenly (the batter will be thick). Carefully drop the remaining batter and preserves by spoonfuls over filling; swirl together using the tip of a knife to marble.

DSC04306

DSC04307

Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool on a wire rack.

DSC04308

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Crunchy Chickpeas

For the second weekend in a row, I’ve gotten completely sucked into the 80’s miniseries North and South staring Patrick Swayze.  Last week was North and South Book 1 and yesterday was North and South Book 2 (based off of John Jakes’ book Love and War).  I remember watching both of these miniseries when I was a kid and have managed to get sucked right back into it all over again like I’ve never seen it.  I’ve always slightly been fascinated by the Civil War but it might be because I grew up in the Land of Lincoln, 30 minutes away from Springfield, Illinois where every field trip I went on in school was somehow related to Abraham Lincoln.  As if dedicating two Sundays in a row to the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln wasn’t enough, I proceeded to watch Killing Lincoln on Nat Geo last night before bed which let me tell you – was not a good idea.  At some point, I did manage to make myself a snack of Crunchy Chickpeas, to keep me going through hours of, well, death.  I guess it’s fitting since today is President’s Day, right?

I’ve seen these chickpea snacks nearly everywhere – in magazines, on Pinterest and in food blogs so I figured, why not give them a try?  They aren’t the simplest things to make but now I get the hype.  Canned chickpeas are tossed with garlic and seasonings and baked low and slow for a long time until crunchy on the outside but slightly chewy on the inside.  Sounds simple enough but the beans first have to be drained and de-skinned.  Hah..wahh?  I never really paid attention to the fact that chickpeas have skin but they do.  Lay them out on a paper towel, top with another paper towel and gently roll.  Yes, roll.  Those little pesky skins will slide ride off.  But take my word for it, do this process in batches.  Otherwise, you’ll be rolling and plucking skins all day.  My first bite of these chickpeas, I wondered what was so great.  But then, there I was, watching 80’s TV and popping these obsessively into my mouth.  I can’t explain it what it is about these snacks but they are slightly addictive.

DSC04267

The ingredients:

DSC04262

Wrap chickpeas in a towel; lightly roll to loosen skins. Discard skins.

DSC04263

Combine chickpeas and remaining ingredients.

DSC04264

Arrange on a baking sheet.

DSC04265

Bake in a preheated 300°F oven for 1 hour and 40 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes.

DSC04266

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating:  Like It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Vanilla-Almond Steamer

I went to a friend’s for dinner last night and left around 9:40 so I could make it home in time to catch the latest episode of Chicago Fire only to find snow on my car so thick and heavy, my windshield wipers couldn’t cut through it.  So there I was without a winter coat or gloves on in a full snowstorm brushing snow off my car just to drive to my house less than a mile away.  I think the weather people talked more about Winter Storm Nemo last week than about this little weather event which clearly created more snow.  Anyway, snows like this which leave me wet and cold just make me want to curl up with something warm.  And since I don’t want to drink anything caffeinated before bed, this Vanilla-Almond Steamer is a perfectly cozy warm drink on an unexpectedly snowy night.

Milk and sugar are warmed on the stove and flavored with cinnamon sticks, vanilla and almond extracts.  If I could imagine what a warmed up vanilla milkshake might taste like, I think this would be it.  Use whatever milk you fancy (I used skim and loved it) because I really don’t think it will matter.  The cinnamon, vanilla and almond create a soothing backdrop for this hug in a cup.  If you need something one of these cold nights but have had enough tea and just can’t deal with decaf, consider this.  It’s a perfect before-bedtime drink that can even be kicked up with some bourbon or rum if you so choose.

DSC04283

The ingredients:

DSC04274

Combine the milk and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; cook until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Add cinnamon sticks to milk mixture; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally (do not boil).

DSC04276

Remove from heat; let stand 20 minutes. Stir in extracts. Place pan over medium-high heat; cook 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove and discard cinnamon sticks.

DSC04278

Garnish with ground cinnamon and cinnamon sticks, if desired.

DSC04284

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Non-fat milk

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Cooking Light Magazine

Celebration Cupcakes

Today is my friend Jodi’s birthday and last night she came over to my house for some pasta, wine and Grammys.  I surprised her with these Celebration Cupcakes (even though we are both trying to eat healthier) because I think everyone deserves a little cake for their birthday.  I’ve made these cupcakes before but haven’t blogged about them so instead of photographing the process I took these iPhone photos.

This recipe has become my go-to cupcake recipe.  They are easy to make and flavorful, especially if you like a hint of almond (you can easily leave the almond extract out).  We loved them.  Mmmm…cupcakes.

20130211-083404.jpg

20130211-083440.jpg

Additions:

  • Candy oyster pearls

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Almond milk

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Coastal Living magazine

Beer-Glazed Sausage and Apples

Sometimes I come across a recipe that has me lingering a few seconds longer than the others but yet for whatever reason, I pass it by.  This recipe for Beer-Glazed Sausage and Apples is a perfect example of that.  Each and every time I come across it, I pause and think Wow, that looks good.  Finally, I caved.  It won me over and I couldn’t go another day, another minute, without making it.

Smoked sausage (I used turkey) is mixed with apples and green beans and simmered in a flavorful broth of wheat beer, brown sugar, cider vinegar and orange peel before being topped with bits of fresh sage.  The alcohol in the beer cooks off and the remaining flavor adds a layer of depth which blends so well with the sausage.  The apples and green beans are perfectly crisp while the orange peel provides a fresh, subtle citrus flavor which pleasantly permeates the whole dish.  I had high expectations for this dish and the result was as good, no, better than I expected.  My only complaint: don’t boil the sausage with the green beans as the recipe states in step one (I think this is an error).  Only boil the green beans in step one and brown the sausage in step three.  And when you eat it, try to get a little bit of everything in one forkful.  It’s worth a full mouth.

DSC04246

The ingredients:

DSC04238

In a large saucepan combine 1/2 of the beer and the crushed red pepper; bring to boiling.  Add green beans (not the sausage). Return to a simmer, cover and cook 5 to 8 minutes or until beans are tender. Drain and set aside.

DSC04239

DSC04240

Meanwhile, in a large skillet melt 1 tablespoon butter; add apples. Cook, turning occasionally, until apples are just tender.  Transfer to a platter.

DSC04241

Add sausage to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides. Add to platter; cover. Drain fat from skillet.

DSC04242

Carefully add remaining beer to skillet (mixture may foam); stir to scrape up browned bits. Add remaining 1 tablespoon butter, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and orange peel. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and boil gently, uncovered, 5 to 6 minutes or until slightly thickened.

DSC04243

Return sausage and green beans to skillet to coat in glaze. Fold in apples. Return to serving platter.

DSC04245

Sprinkle with sage.

DSC04247

Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Turkey kielbasa

Overall Rating:  Love It

Source:  Better Homes & Gardens magazine

%d bloggers like this: