Thursday, February 24, 2011

Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup

A couple months ago we ate at Olive Garden since we had a gift card for it. I always choose to get soup and this time I noticed a new one on the menu. Well, actually I don't know how 'new' it is since it's been a long time since we've gone there. But either way, new to me. It sounded good so I tried it. I was happy with the choice because I thought it was really good. And I was even happier when I found a copykat recipe online :) This soup tasted just like how I remember, who knows, maybe my memory isn't that accurate, but it's still really good and i'll be making it again. It's really easy to make, especially since I had chopped everything up in advance and cooked the chicken so when I was ready to make the soup most of the work was already done. We ate this with the rest of the rolls from the last post. Gotta have some kind of bread with soup!

Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup
from copykat via. Pass The Sushi

1 cup chicken breasts, diced and cooked, or sub. canned chicken/turkey
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 quart half and half (can also use evap­o­rated milk-i did half of each since i didnt have enough half and half)
1 14 ounce can chicken broth
1/2 cup cel­ery, sliced
1/4 cup flour
2 gar­lic cloves, minced
1 cup car­rots, shredded
1 cup onions (1 medium) diced
1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped (kale would also work well)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt and pep­per to taste
dash ground nutmeg
16 ounce pack­age gnocchi

In a large ­pot, saute the onion, cel­ery and gar­lic in the but­ter and olive oil. When the onion is clear, add the flour and form a roux. Stir and cook a minute. Add the half and half.

Mean­while in another pan, cook the gnoc­chi.

Add the car­rots and chicken to the ­pot. Stir often and when it gets thicker, add the chicken broth, gnoc­chi, spinach and sea­son­ings. Cover and heat through. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Steakhouse Rolls

I went with rolls to fulfill my baking urge this time. They're supposed to be like the dark brown ones you would get at a steakhouse. Mine aren't dark brown if you haven't noticed, that's because I didn't have the caramel coloring. I thought I would need to freeze some of these since we don't always finish off bread before it starts to get hard, but I didn't. Between the 3 of us, we ate them all up right away. These are thicker/heavier than a regular dinner roll, like a small loaf of bread. I'm always trying new bread recipes but this is one I would definitely make again.

Steakhouse Rolls
from King Arthur Flour


1 1/3 cups warm water
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
2 3/4 cups Unbleached Bread Flour
1 3/4 cups 100% White Whole Wheat Flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon powdered caramel color OR 2 teaspoons liquid caramel color (optional, but without it the rolls will lack their distinctive color)
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

yellow cornmeal

Combine all of the dough ingredients in the bucket of a bread machine, or in an electric mixer. Mix and knead until you’ve formed a smooth, slightly sticky dough.

If you’re using a bread machine, program it for the dough or manual cycle. If you’re using a mixer, start with the flat beater, then switch to the dough hook when the dough starts to form a ball and come away from the sides of the bowl.

Note: You may also prepare this dough by hand; it’s very sticky and a bit messy at first, but just keep at it, flouring your hands and trying not to add too much additional flour to the dough; eventually it’ll smooth out.

Let the dough rise in the bowl (or bucket of the bread machine) for 1 hour. It won’t have doubled in size, but should be just a bit puffy. Divide the dough into 10 even pieces (about 4 ounces each), and shape the pieces into 6 x 2-inch oval rolls. Coat each roll, top and bottom, with some yellow cornmeal. Place them on a lightly greased baking sheet, and allow them to rise, covered, in a warm place, for 90 minutes to 2 hours. They won’t have doubled in size, but will appear puffy; when you gently press your finger into one, the indentation will rebound quite slowly.

Bake the rolls in a preheated 350°F oven for 24 minutes, until the bottoms appear slightly browned (you’ll have to carefully pick one up to look), or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a roll reads about 200°F. Remove the rolls from the oven, and cool them on a rack.
Yield: 10 rolls. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake

I've had this recipe bookmarked for a very long time. It was my first time making a cheesecake, (except it was more like half cake-or cinnamon roll, and half cheesecake). And one of the reasons why I wanted a springform pan. I was very pleased with how this turned out and im sure the little boy in my belly is too. I'll be adding this one to my recipe collection. In fact I liked it more than a regular cinnamon roll thanks to the cheesecake addition.

Cinnamon Roll Cheesecake
Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

Cinnamon Roll Batter:
2/3 cup white sugar
¼ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 egg
½ cup whole milk
1 TBSP vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
Cheesecake filling:
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 TBSP vanilla extract
2 TBSP flour
3 eggs

Cinnamon Filling:
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
3 TBSP cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 TBSP unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 TBSP lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
milk (if needed to thin frosting)

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Grease 9 in. springform pan.

Cinnamon Roll Batter:
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 min.
Add egg, milk and vanilla and beat for 1 more minute scraping bowl.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and add to creamed ingredients. Mix on low until combined.
Spread half of the batter onto the bottom of pan. Batter will be very sticky, so grease your hands and press dough down. Batter will rise during baking.

Cheesecake Filling:
Beat cream cheese and sugar on medium high speed for about 2 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, scraping bowl after each addition.
Add vanilla and flour; beat for another minute.
Pour all of the cheesecake filling on top of the cinnamon roll batter in prepared pan.

Cinnamon Filling:
Combine the melted butter, cinnamon and brown sugar in a small bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.
Drop spoonfuls of the filling over the top of the cheesecake.

Take the rest of the batter and drop spoonfuls over the top of the cheesecake. Using a knife, swirl together ingredients. It will be very hard as batter is thick.

Bake for 50-55 min. Cake will be lightly browned and puffy. Let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes then refrigerate for 4 hours. Warm cheesecake to room temp a little bit and frost with cream cheese frosting.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
Beat cream cheese and butter together for 2 min. Add remaining ingredients until desired consistency is reached, thinning with milk if needed.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Chocolate Strawberry Tart and CSN Product Review

I'm excited to tell you about the products I ordered from CSN stores. I don't have a lot of kitchen gadgets so it's fun when I get something new even if I don't neccessarily "need" it. The first thing I ordered is this Magic Dough Non-slip Pastry Mat. So far i've used it to make biscuits and it made kneading and rolling so easy! Clean up was also super easy. Much better than trying to scrub dough off my counter or cutting board that I would have used. If you make breads or pastries often, this is a "must have." I mean, obviously you can still accomplish your goal whether you have the item or not, but having this makes the experience quicker and easier. I also like the handy measurment conversions on the sides as well as the ruler along the top and bottom for easy measuring.

The next thing on my list was a tart pan! So I got this one by Frieling. I'm in love with fruit tarts. For reals. Everytime we go to the grocery store I walk by them and usually end up getting a small (single serving size) one. They're one of the few non-chocolate desserts that I crave for (and often!) So naturally I wanted a tart pan to make my own at home. The pan is very lightweight and easy to clean. I've only used it once so far but I know i'll get good use out of it.

The first thing I made in my tart pan is this chocolate strawberry tart. I made some chocolate chocolate chip waffles for breakfast Valentine's Day. They were so good and Rylee of course devoured them, it was almost like chocolate cake..for breakfast! We decided to eat out for dinner. But we were smart and went early before it was crowded. Then I made this for dessert. As you probably know I abosolutely love chocolate and strawberries. In fact, our wedding cake was a big chocolate cake with chocolate covered strawberries on it. We both thought this dessert was good. The crust tasted like that of the chocolate banana cream pie I posted recently. I gotta say, as much as I like chocolate, I prefer regular crust to the chocolate. But sometimes a chocolate crust is more fitting. When I first put the dough into the pan it looked like there was no way it would be enough. It was though. It managed to stretch to fit the pan, but it seemed a little thin. When I removed the foil from the top after baking there was a small spot that was thin and the crust peeled up. Oops. Good thing there's toppings to go over it :) I didn't make the ganache topping because I didn't realize I was out of cream. Instead I just melted some semi sweet chocolate and graciously drizzled on top.

Chocolate Strawberry Tart
From Dorie Greenspan's Baking: From My Home to Yours, via: Taste and Tell

Chocolate Shortbread Tart Dough

1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/4 t. salt
1 stick plus 1 T. (9 T) very cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk

Put the flour, cocoa powder powdered sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Scatter the pieces of butter over the dry ingredients and pulse until the butter is coarsely cut in. Stir the yolk, just to break it up, and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition. When the egg is in, process in long pulses until the dough, which will look granular soon after the egg is added, forms clumps and curds. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and very lightly knead the dough just to incorporate any dry ingredients that might have escaped mixing. Press the dough into the pan. Freeze the crust for at least 30 min. before baking. Preheat the oven to 375 F. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit the foil, buttered side down, tightly against the crust. Put the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake the crust for 25 min. Carefully remove the foil. If the crust has puffed, press it down gently with the back of a spoon.

Vanilla Pastry Cream
2 c. whole milk
6 large egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. cornstarch, sifted
1 1/2 t. pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 T. unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature

Bring the milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Meanwhile, in a medium heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the hot milk to temper. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder or the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly, bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat. Whisk in the vanilla extract. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold, or if you want to cool it quickly, put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze
4 oz chocolate, chopped finely
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 T. sugar
2 T. water

Put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the cream, sugar and water to a full boil, then pour the liquid over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds. Working with a whisk or rubber spatula, gently stir the chocolate and cream together.

Pour cooled pastry cream into cooled tart shell then top with strawberries. Drizzle glaze over top.

*Linked to Sweets For A Saturday Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Friday, February 11, 2011

Double Chocolate Mousse Torte

When I saw this double chocolate mousse torte on mel's kitchen cafe, I knew it was right up my alley, I just needed something (or someone) to make it for. So when I found out there was a Valentine's Day potluck dinner at church I knew this would be perfect for the occasion. It's a chocolate torte with a layer of chocolate mousse on top of it then topped with whipped cream and berries. Chocolate and strawberries are one of my favorite combinations ever, so I went with strawberries. This cake is so very rich and chocolaty and decadent and perfect for Valentine's Day!
*She also provided an alternate mousse since the original one uses raw egg whites. I used the alternate and it was delicious.
Double Chocolate Mousse Torte
mel's kitchen cafe

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
4 large eggs, separated at room temperature
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped finely (it is important the chocolate for this mousse layer is chopped finely or it won’t melt completely when added to the warm egg yolks)
1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 cups fresh strawberries or raspberries

For cake:
Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter 9 or 10in. springform pan and dust with sugar. Melt chocolate and butter in heavy large saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm. Whisk in sugar. Whisk in eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Mix in vanilla and salt, then flour. Pour batter into the springform pan. Bake until cake just rises in center (tester inserted into center will not come out clean), 30-35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack, the center of the cake may fall slightly. Cover and chill while making mousse.

For mousse:
Melt butter in medium metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Whisk yolks, 1/4 cup cream and vanilla in small bowl to blend. Gradually whisk yolk mixture into bowl with melted butter. Whisk constantly over simmering water until thermometer registers 150°F, about 6 minutes. Remove from over water; add chocolate and stir to melt. Set aside. Beat egg whites and 1/2 cup sugar and a pinch of cornstarch in large bowl to medium-stiff peaks. Whisk 1/4 of beaten egg white mixture into warm chocolate mixture to lighten. Fold in remaining egg white mixture. Pour mousse over the cooled cake in pan; smooth top. Chill torte until mousse is set, at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.

Run sharp knife around edge of pan to loosen torte. Release pan sides. Transfer torte to platter. Using electric mixer, beat 3/4 cup cream and powdered sugar in medium bowl until peaks form. Spread whipped cream over torte. Top whipped cream with berries.

Alternate Chocolate Mousse
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
5 tablespoons hot water
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate , chopped fine
1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon table salt

Combine cocoa powder and hot water in small bowl; set aside. Melt chocolate in the microwave on 50% power, stirring often, until smooth. Remove from heat and cool slightly, 2 to 5 minutes.

In a clean bowl with an electric mixer, whip cream, granulated sugar, and salt at medium speed until mixture begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form when beaters are lifted, 15 to 60 seconds.

Whisk cocoa powder mixture into melted chocolate until smooth. Using whisk, fold one-third of whipped cream into chocolate mixture to lighten. Using rubber spatula, fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Spoon mousse into springform pan over cooled cake and proceed with the rest of the recipe above.
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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Bars

Another PB recipe. I really do need to make more recipes with PB since I have 6 jars sitting on my shelf and Rylee's usually the only one that eats it. They look like brownies, but they're not. They're like a big, soft peanut butter cookie (bar) that tastes like a reese's peanut butter cup. It probably helps too that I used reese's pb chips. Careful, these guys are very tender until they've cooled completely. I line my pans with foil and I pulled these out of the pan before they had cooled completely and they started to cave in on me. They also fall apart easily until they've cooled. I ended up scooping some out on a plate as soon as they came out of the oven and eating it with a spoon because I can't wait for things to cool.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Bars
two peas and their pod

Makes 12-16 bars
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon course sea salt
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 325.
Cream butter, peanut butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and mix until just combined.
Fold in peanut butter chips. Spread dough in a 9 x 13 baking dish sprayed with non-stick spray. Other sizes will work as well – they will just determine the thickness and cooking length of the bars.
Bake at 325 for 25-30 minutes. If bars are not done, bake for 5-6 minute increments. Let cool completely before slicing.
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peanut butter cookies have never been something that i've loved. They're soft and taste like pb and that's about it. Not that those are bad things, they just seem lacking. This recipe though, sounded interesting. And i'm so glad I didn't pass it by! This cookie had a lot going on. It had a strong pb flavor with a soft texture and slight crispyness. The oatmeal also had a nice prescence, but not overpowering. Then the chocolate chips really pulled it together (gotta have chocolate!) This one is for sure making it's way into my recipe collection because I know i'll be making it often! I just made them last night and i'm wishing there were more left. I made a half batch and ended up with 7 large cookies. I've tried many cookies and recipes and this is now one of my favorites!
*It was nighttime when these were made, so I tried my best to get a decent picture for ya

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 16 cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup creamy peanut butter
½ cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
½ cup rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
On medium speed, cream together the butter, peanut butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat to combine. On low speed, gradually add the flour until just combined. Stir in the oats, and then the chocolate chips.
Drop dough by large mounds (about 3 TBLS.) onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden. (The cookies will still look undone when you take them out. The edges should look set and the middle puffy). Cool completely on the baking sheet and then store in an airtight container at room temperature.
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Friday, February 4, 2011

Fauxtess Cupcakes

These cupcakes are a home made version of the Hostess cupcakes. And I gotta say they are pretty spot on, but even better! It's more work than regular cupcakes, but it's not that bad, and definitely worth it! The cupcakes are chocolatey and moist, the marshmallow filling inside creamy and delicious and the ganache was perfect. The icing design could easily be left off, but it makes them that much cuter :)

Fauxtess Cupcakes
Loves To Eat

For the Cupcakes
11/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
11/4 cups granulated sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

For the Filling
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1 cup marshmallow cream

For the Ganache and Icing (I would half the icing recipe, I had enough left over I think it would be ok)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
21/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Place paper liners in two 12-cup muffin pans.

Prepare the cupcakes: Sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Bring the sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Pour into a large bowl; add the chocolate and butter and let sit, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture has cooled slightly. Stir in the vanilla. Using a mixer, beat in the eggs, then mix in the dry ingredients.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans (about 1/4 cup batter per cupcake) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool in the pans for about 25 minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling: Using a mixer, cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar. Add the vanilla and 1 tablespoon heavy cream; beat until smooth. Beat in the remaining 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and 2 tablespoons heavy cream in batches, alternating after each addition. Beat in the marshmallow creme; set aside.

Prepare the ganache: Place the chocolate in a stainless-steel bowl. Heat the cream and 1 tablespoon butter until just boiling, then pour over the chocolate; let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla; let stand until cool but still glossy and liquid.

Spoon the filling into a pastry bag with a medium tip. Insert the tip into the center of each cupcake top; fill until the cupcake is heavier (do not overfill). Dip the cupcake tops in the ganache or spoon and frost tops. Chill for at least 15 minutes.

Prepare the icing: Using a mixer, beat the remaining 1 stick butter, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, the milk and confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Spoon into a pastry bag with a small tip; pipe onto the cupcakes to decorate.

*Linked to Sweets for A Saturday Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Crockpot Tex Mex Shredded Chicken and Upcoming CSN Review

First of all, I love CSN Stores. If you don't already know, they have over 200 online stores with pretty much everything you can image. Including luggage stores, baby stores, furniture stores, home decor stores, and the list goes on. Just last month I bought a pot rack from CSN Stores and I love it! I have so much more space in my cupboards now and I don't have to dig around in it to find what I need. Plus, it looks great. Anyway, CSN has offered me the opportunity to do a product review for them so be looking forward to that coming up soon!
Another thing I love is easy chicken recipes. We eat chicken a lot around here. Much more than any other meat. So i'm always excited to find new recipes to try. This one makes a great filling for tacos or burritos. Just wrap it up in a tortilla with whatever condiments you want (lettuce, salsa, sour cream, cheese, etc.) and you have a good meal! I for one could eat mexican food just about everyday, it's my absolute favorite.
Crockpot Tex Mex Shredded Chicken
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup (packed) cilantro leaves, chopped
2 limes
1 large onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat the oil in a medium sized sauté pan. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add cumin, chili powder, coriander, paprika and garlic and sauté two more minutes. Deglaze the pan with the chicken broth making sure to scrape up any browned bits. Turn off and set aside.
Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Add to crock pot. Pour lime juice on top, then add cilantro, jalapeno, and pour the onion and garlic mixture over top.
Cook on low for 3-5 hours, or until cooked through and tender. Remove chicken breasts from the crock pot, shred and place in a bowl. Scoop out the onions and add to the chicken. Depending on the amount of juices produced, you may want to add some or all of the juice back to the shredded chicken. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter