Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sassy Sweets: Baked Alaska

Last week was my birthday.  My twenty-ninth birthday.  29!  It's hard to believe that's really my age.  When I graduated college at 22, I made a list for myself of the things I wanted to accomplish by the time I'm 30.  Every year that I inch closer to that magical number, I can't help but think about how little I have accomplished that my bright-eyed young self thought I would.

It's not like I'm doing bad, mind you.  I was promoted at work, leading my group officially as the Vice President (veep the group likes to call me).  I'm so happy with John and our life.  I find time to cook and bake and enjoy the kitchen like I love.  And I still get to read lots and lots of books a year!

So when you stop and think about it, I'm living a pretty great life.  And it was with that in mind that I wanted to make something special for my birthday.  The reason I live a great life is because of the people in it - John and my family - and I wanted to treat them for my birthday, too!  Baked Alaska brings me back to our last night's dessert on our wonderful trip to Alaska (check it out here and here).  It was a nice way to reminisce and remember that although I might not be 100% where I thought I'd be, the place I'm at is a really great one.
Baked Alaska (crust recipe from life made simple bakes)
Serves:  12 (12 minis)
Flourless Brownie Crust:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cups sugar
8 ounces dark chocolate chips
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons corn starch

Ice Cream:
Ice Cream of your choice

Meringue:
3 egg whites, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar

Flourless Brownie Crust:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a 9x13 pan with tin foil and set aside.  Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter.  Whisk in sugar.  Lower the heat to low and melt the chocolate chips into the mixture.  Remove from heat.  Stir in the eggs and vanilla.  Sift in the unsweetened cocoa powder and corn starch.  Mix until fully combined.  Pour into the 9x13 pan leveling the mixture.  Bake for 15-17 minutes, until brownies are cooked through and a toothpick comes out clean.  When the crust cools, use a large cup and cut out 12 brownie circles.

Ice Cream:  On each brownie circle, scoop one scoop of ice cream.  Place them onto a cookie sheet and freeze at least 2 hours, or overnight.

Meringue:  In a clean bowl, beat egg whites until foamy.  Add sugar and beat 3-4 minutes until stiff peaks form.  Remove ice cream domes from the freezer and top with meringue.  Freeze additional 2 hours or overnight.

Serve:  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.  Bake for 8 minutes, watching closely and turning often so meringues do not burn.  Alternatively, use a kitchen torch to bake the meringues prior to serving.




Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sassy Sweets: Chocolate Stout Pudding Tart with Bailey's Caramel

It's another week and I have another cold!  It must be the same prolonged cold, right?  But each week it's slightly different.  This week I have a terrible sore throat which can only be cured with cold ice cream and beer pudding.  Doesn't this happen to anyone else?

Luckily St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner so I could turn these cold remedy necessities into a super yummy blog post!  These tarts are insanely delicious and the stout (or chocolate stout if you prefer) adds a richness to the pudding that makes me want to make chocolate pudding with beer ever.single.time.
Chocolate Stout Pudding Tart with Bailey's Caramel
Pretzel Crust:
3 cups pretzels
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons sugar

Chocolate Stout Pudding:
1/3 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cups milk
3/4 cups stout
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces dark chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Bailey's Caramel
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1 shot Bailey's
1/2 cup heavy cream

Pretzel Crust:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a small food processor, grind the pretzels until it is a flour-like consistency.  Add the butter and sugar and process until a dough forms.  Press the crust into each of the 6 tartlet shells.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Chocolate Stout Pudding:  In a large saucepan, whisk cocoa powder, sugar, and cornstarch until blended.  Add milk, stout, and heavy cream.  Whisk until fully combined.  Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until the pudding begins to thicken.  Add the dark chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate is fully melted and the pudding is thick.  Remove from heat and add the vanilla, stirring well.  Pour into the crusts and refrigerate, covered with plastic wrap to avoid skin from forming.

Bailey's Caramel:  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine sugar and butter.  Let the sugar caramelize until it is golden brown and add the Baileys and heavy cream.  Continue to cook on low until the caramel becomes fully incorporated again.  Store in an airtight container unrefrigerated until ready to serve.  The caramel will thicken as it cools so to drizzle, you may need to heat slightly again.
Drizzle over the pudding tarts evenly.
Sunday, March 1, 2015

Dorm Room Dinner: 3-Cheese Stovetop Mac & Cheese

My sister got married and went off to a lovely beach vacation.  Me on the other hand went off from the weekend with a really lovely cold.  It's so miserable to be sick when it's cold outside and my recent workload has been overload and I really didn't want to take any more days off.  Soup and tea were my staples for the first few days.

After a few days of that, John and I both wanted something a little bit more than just plain old soup.  When I think of warm comforting things to heat my belly and warm my cold when I'm sick, macaroni and cheese is one of those delicious and enticing options.  But, my mom's famous mac and cheese, while terribly delicious, is just too much cooking to do when you're sick.  On the stove, on the stove, in a casserole dish, baking, and finally eating.

This stovetop mac and cheese will take you 30 minutes, or less, and require very little work.  Really!  It's the perfect thing to warm you up at any time but especially when you're sick.  A few days after I made this, I got an email that just dovetailed so nicely.  It was about being #NYTough when you have the cold or flu with Vicks and Puffs tissues.  Two things that we don't live without in our house!  Therefore, it made total sense that when I was sharing this get-well recipe, I would tie this in and have a giveaway while I'm at it!  Who doesn't like to keep these types of cold products stocked up in the house this time of year?!

What can you win?  P&G is working with me to give away a $50 AMEX gift card plus Vicks coupons and boxes of Puffs!

It's extremely easy to enter!  All you have to do is tweet about #ColdandFlu #NYTough and add my twitter handle @growingfoodie.  At the end of this week (March 5th at midnight), I will choose the winner using random.org from all of the eligible tweets!
3-Cheese Stovetop Mac & Cheese
Serves:  6
1 pound medium shell pasta
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon mustard powder
2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup asiago cheese, grated
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper

Cook the pasta according to package directions and drain reserving 1/4 cup of pasta water.  In a large dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.  Add flour and mustard powder and cook 1-2 minutes until flour is lightly golden brown.  Slowly add the milk, whisking until the milk is fully incorporated.  Cook 2-3 minutes until the mixture starts to thicken.  Turn the heat to low and slowly add the cheeses, stirring constantly to incorporate.  Once the sauce is an even consistency nnd all the cheese is added, add the salt, pepper, and pasta, tossing to evenly incorporate.  Serve immediately.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Sassy Sweets: Black Forest Cheesecake

It's hard to pass up a blog post about Valentine's Day and so if you've been hanging around hoping for a new blog post...here it is!  Valentine's Day has always been a favorite holiday of mine.  Even when I was single, I was sure to show the love I had to everyone in my life that I cherished.  Love comes in many ways.  This year, John and I will be celebrating our Valentine's Day filled with sister M's love for her husband to be.  That's right, in just a few days the baby of the family will be a beautiful bride!  Valentine's Day is an amazing day to get married - I get to spend the day with EVERYONE I love.

But because that prohibits John and I from our own little lovefest, we've been taking the last few weekends to do nice things for each other (although we could give each other the gift of a clean house...why haven't we done THAT yet).  It started when I had a surprise work trip to London and John joined me.  I went shopping in the food store (as I am wont to do) and came home with 4-6 tins of preserves.  Two of them were "morello cherry preserves" with tiny little cherries all in it!

So, when we got home and started to continue the Valentine's Day theme of this month, I tried to put them to good use.  And that included making this cake.  Yes, I am on the never ending bridesmaids diet but hey, it will be over in 3 days.  The end is near!  Surely I can't put on that much weight between then and now right?!
Black Forest Cheesecake
Serves: 8-12
Crust:
24 Oreo cookies
2 tablespoons butter

Cheesecake:
10 ounces dark chocolate chips
32 ounces cream cheese
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cherry liqueur, separated
4 cups cherry preserves, separated

Crust:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Make the crust by crushing oreos in the food processor until crumbs.  Add the melted butter and mix until the mixture is well-combined.  Pour into a 9-inch springform pan and using your hands, evenly spread the mixture onto the bottom of the pan and up the sides, making sure there are no cracks or breaks in the oreo crust.  Bake for 7-8 minutes, until crust is firm.  Set aside.

Cheesecake:  Add the chocolate chips to a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave at 1 minute intervals on 50% power, stirring in between.  It should take between 2-3 minutes for the chips to be smooth.  Set aside.  Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, cream together cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add in cocoa powder and mix until well combined.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Then, add cherry liqueur and 2 cups of the cherry preserves; lightly fold into the mixture, until evenly distributed.

Pour the batter over the crust and bake 45-50 minutes until the mixture is set in the middle.  Let cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.  When ready to serve, combine 2 tablespoons cherry liqueur and remaining 2 cups cherry preserves.  Serve each slice with 1 tablespoon full of the mixture over the top.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Brilliant Brunch: Cinnamon Swirl Bread

After 5 years together, I know John's preferences practically better than I know my own (since, let's be honest, I change my mind constantly)!  One of the first things I used to notice him treat himself on was the Pepperidge Farm cinnamon swirl bread from the grocery store. Once we moved in together though, my frugal nature grabbed him by the throat and now I think he'd be hard-pressed to pick up a $4+ loaf of bread from the grocery store shelves.

That's where I come in.  Knowing that his birthday is just a week away (have to work on getting that gift together, don't I?!), I wanted to make him something that would make his breakfasts a little more bearable.  Plus, with the chilly weather we've been having some warm toasty bread with cream cheese is just the ticket to a happy early morning breakfast.

It's also the perfect holiday breakfast.  It's really special and you can make it in advance.  Plus, if you make it a few days ahead of time, french toast will be out of this world!  I love French Toast and couldn't resist my own out of this bread.  Don't worry...you make the bread and come back next week when we can make French Toast together...just in time for Santa!
Cinnamon Swirl Bread (adapted from )
Serves:  2 loaves
4 1/2 tablespoons active dry yeast (2 packages)
1/3 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
1 cup sugar, divided
3 eggs, divided
6 tablespoons butter, melted
5-6 cups flour
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup ground cinnamon

In a large bowl, combine yeast and water until yeast has dissolved.  Add milk, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 eggs, butter, salt, and 2 1/2 cups flour.  Beat until smooth.  Stir in remaining flour 1/4 cup at a time until a soft dough forms. 

Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (7-10 minutes).  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, 45-60 minutes. 

Divide dough in half.  On a floured surface roll out one half into a large rectangle 18 inches by 8 inches.  In a small bowl combine remaining egg and water.  Beat until well-combined.  In a separate small bowl combine cinnamon and remaining sugar.  Brush the egg wash all over the dough, reserving any extra.  Generously spread the cinnamon/sugar mixture over the egg wash, reserving a little extra for the tops of the loaves.  Roll up each rectangle from the short side.  Pinch seam to seal.  Place seam side down in a greased 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan.  Repeat with the other half of dough.  Cover and let rise until doubled (60-90 minutes). 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Brush the tops of the loaves with the reserved egg wash and evenly sprinkle the extra cinnamon-sugar over the tops.  Bake for 28-35 minutes until golden brown. 
Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Fancy Pants App: Baked Egg Rolls

It's been a long time since I've shared a recipe with you all!  Sometimes when you least expect it, life gets in the way of life and now it's already December.  We have our office holiday party tomorrow which just blows your mind when you think about how the New Year was just yesterday...right?  Certainly not 344 days ago.  It just doesn't seem possible.

But when you really think about everything that's been done this year, I guess even I have to admit that 2014 is over.  It's scary...next year I turn 29 and mentally that is a huge wake-up call to reach the goals and dreams I had for my 30 year old self years ago.  I'm slowly getting there. John is as good as ever before.  And lucky for me, I have him here to keep me sane.

Lately I've been obsessed with rolls, breads, appetizers, and desserts.  I can't even remember the last time I made John a really nice dinner.  It's something he really deserves as his birthday approaches and something I resolve to do before 2014 is over.  For now though, he'll devour these egg rolls without a second glance.  Even better they are baked!  But don't tell him that, his stomach can only take so much...
Baked Egg Rolls (adapted from Tide and Thyme)
Serves:  4 (12 rolls)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 pound chicken, cubed
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, thinly sliced, divided
1 cup cabbage, thinly shredded
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
4 tablespoons soy sauce
12 egg roll wrappers

In a large wok, heat vegetable oil over medium high heat.  Add chicken, garlic, salt, pepper and half of the green onions.  Cook 3-5 minutes, stirring constantly until chicken is browned.  Add cabbage, carrots, and soy sauce.  Toss the ingredients together for 2-3 minutes, until cabbage wilts.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Drain the mixture to remove as much water as possible. 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.  Then, evenly distribute filling over the egg roll wrappers.  Wrap the egg rolls and place, seam side down, on a greased baking sheet. Spray the tops of the wrappers with cooking spray.  Cook 12-15 minutes, until the rolls are crispy.  Serve immediately with additional soy sauce, Chinese mustard, or duck sauce.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sassy Sweets: Tartlettes aux Pommes

In about 12 hours, I will be on a plane to Paris (aka one of my favorite places on Earth).  I'm both slightly anxious (read:  terrified) and excited.  I'm going for work and it's the first time I'm being trusted to go all on my own.  Granted, I'll have a few guys from the London office there with me but I'm the only one coming from stateside.  Plus, John isn't coming with me so I have a whole weekend entirely by myself.  I try to wonder if I've EVER had a weekend like that before in my life and I'm hardpressed to think of one.  It should be fun, and lonely, and Parisian. 

Since I booked my tickets a few weeks ago, I've been alternatively dreading / loving watching the few weeks fly by.  John will be meeting me in London in a week's time (where I'm working next week) and when we get back it will be November.  And I'm sitting here feeling like - did this year even happen?!  What the heck have we done to show for it??

In the midst of all this anxiety, I have lost the kitchen.  Not completely but a lot.  So last weekend, when I decided to use up the last of our apples from apple picking into something dramatic and French and autumnal and lovely, this was the only thing I could think of.  Truth?  The recipe was so good that I felt like we were in Paris.  I'll be there soon enough but if you're not as lucky, these tartlettes will do the trick!
Tartlettes aux Pommes (adapted from Joy of Baking)
Serves:  6 (6 6-inch tart pans)
Crust:
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups flour

Apple Filling:
8 medium-sized apples, peeled and cored
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Calvados
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter, melted

Crust:  Beat butter until softened; add the sugar and beat until sugar is fully incorporated and mixture is light and fluffy.  Add egg beating until just incorporated.  Add flour and with your clean hands, mix until the dough forms a ball.  Flatten the dough into a large round disk and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate about 60-90 minutes, until firm. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Have six 6-inch tartlette pans with removable bottoms ready.  Cut the pastry into 6 even pieces.  Remove one piece keeping the rest refrigerated.  On a lightly floured surface, carefully roll the pastry into a 6-inch circle.  Folding the circle in half, then half again.  Pick it up and transfer it to the tart pan, unrolling it onto the top of your tart and using your fingers to press the pastry onto the bottom of the pan.  Prick the bottom of the pastry with a fork.  Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes.  Repeat so all 6 tartlette pans are used. 

Remove the unbaked shells from the fridge.  Bake crust for 12-15 minutes, until the crust is only golden brown on the edges.  Remove from oven.  Let cool

Apple Filling:  Take 5 of the apples and chop into bite-sized pieces.  In a small saucepan combine apples, sugar, water, Calvados, and cinnamon.  Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally for 8-12 minutes, until the apples have reduced and the compote is still slightly chunky (consistency is like apple sauce with small apple chunks).  Slice the remaining 3 apples in thin slices.

Fill the crusts evenly with apple compote.  Then, top the apple compote with thin slices of apples.  Brush butter over the tops of the tartlettes and bake for 15-18 minutes until the crusts are browned.  Allow to cool slightly.  Then, remove the tartlettes with the removable bottoms.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  Store the tarts for up to 3 days at room temperature in an airtight container.

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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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