Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Chocolate Cream Pie

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! Ours was so fun, and relaxed. As opposed to the hectic Christmas season we've just entered. For dessert, my brother in law thought it would be fun if everyone brought a pie. There were a lot of people..and even more pies! I'm not a huge pie person but they were all so good. I brought 2 (the other i'll post next time). I'm a chocolate person so to ensure there would be some chocolate I decided on this chocolate cream pie i've been waiting to make. I loved it and it must have went over pretty well since it all got eaten. Thanksgiving might be over, but Christmas is coming up and if you're in need of a pie, this one won't make you sorry.

I think I forgot to mention before, but the Index is FINALLY updated. Wow it was overdue. But every recipe is now in it and hopefully it'll never again get that far behind.


Chocolate Cream Pie

(Ok, so not the prettiest picture, but it was the only one I got that shows the inside)

For crust:

1 1/3 cups chocolate wafer crumbs

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup sugar

For filling:

2/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 large egg yolks

3 cups whole milk

5 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), melted

2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

For topping:

3/4 cup chilled heavy cream

1 tablespoon sugar

Make crust:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.Stir together crumbs, butter, and sugar and press on bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate (1-quart capacity). Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes, and cool on a rack.

Make filling: Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolks in a 3-quart heavy saucepan until combined well, then add milk in a stream, whisking. Bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking, then reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 1 minute (filling will be thick). Force filling through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, then whisk in chocolates, butter, and vanilla. Cover surface of filling with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely, about 2 hours.

Spoon filling into crust and chill pie, loosely covered, at least 6 hours.

Make topping: Just before serving, beat cream with sugar in a bowl using an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks, then spoon on top of pie.
Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Skirt Steak Salad with Blue Cheese

It's a few days before Thanksgiving and I got a cold today. I really hope this is over soon! It's bad enough to be sick, but let's not have it during a holiday, please! Last Thanksgiving I was busy recovering from getting my appendix removed. (Which was the most painful thing i've ever experienced and i'm glad I won't go through again.) On a good note, I got a Kitchen Aid stand mixer!! I scored an awesome deal and i'm very excited about it, if you can imagine. And it's red. That just adds to the awesomeness.
Having nothing to do with baking, here's a salad for ya! I first made this last year and Matt dubbed it one of the best salad's he's ever had. He's a steak guy, if you didn't know. I'm not a blue cheese person (or atleast I didn't think I was..) but I loved it here.
Skirt Steak Salad with Blue Cheese
Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4
1 pound skirt steak, trimmed of excess fat if necessary, halved crosswise, at room temperature
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
1/2 pound baby arugula (I used spinach)
Vinaigrette (below)
3 tablespoons minced chives, 2 thinly sliced scallions or 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion, for garnish

Pat steak dry and season on both sides 1/2 teaspoon salt and many grinds of black pepper.

In a cast-iron skillet: Heat skillet on medium-high to high and add olive oil. When oil begins to shimmer, place steak in skillet and do not move it for 5 minutes. Turn it once, and cook for another 3 minutes for medium-rare. You may need to cook your steak halves separately, depending on the size of your pan.

On a grill: Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over hot charcoal or high heat for gas. Oil grill rack, then grill steak, covered only if using a gas grill, turning once, 4 to 6 minutes total for medium-rare.

Transfer steak to a cutting board and let rest, loosely covered with foil, for five minutes. Arrange arugula on a large platter. Thinly slice steak on the diagonal, across the grain. Arrange over arugula then toss with tomatoes and blue cheese. Add viniagrette to taste and sprinkle on chives.

Steakhouse Mustard Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon coarse Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/3 cup olive oil

Whisk ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and adjust ingredients to taste Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Giant Cookie

Some things are just more fun really big. Or really small. When it comes to cookies though, the bigger the better, I think. I've wanted to make a really big cookie for a long time but haven't had the right occasion. So when my friend's birthday was coming up I knew immediately I wanted to make it. Now I can't vouch for how good (or not) this cookie is because I wasn't about to give someone a cookie with a slice taken out. But if there's any lack of flavor, I think the giant factor would make up for it. It's a little trickier making a large cookie as opposed to small ones. The edges definitely start to set up before the rest of the cookie, so just keep your eye on it to make sure they don't get too crispy before the rest of it even gets cooked. Now go make someone's day!

Giant Cookie
From Mel's Kitchen Cafe, seen on Tasty Kitchen

½ cups White Sugar
½ cups Brown Sugar
½ cups Butter, Melted And Cooled Slightly
1 whole Egg
½ teaspoons Soda
½ teaspoons Salt
½ teaspoons Vanilla
1-½ cup Flour
½ cups Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, cream together the sugars and butter. Add the egg and mix. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Fold in the chocolate chips.
Line a large (11X17-inch) baking pan with foil and press the cookie into a circle. Press the cookie into a 9-inch circle, about 1/4 to 3/8-inch thick. When it bakes, it spreads to about 11 inches, which fits perfectly onto a 12-inch round cardboard circle you can find at most craft stores.
If desired, top the cookie with M&M’s or any other garnishes.
Bake for 13-16 minutes until the cookie is lightly golden brown. Let the cookie cool completely on the baking pan. Once cool, gently use the foil to lift the cookie off the pan.
Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Pull Apart Bread with Vanilla Glaze

My baby boy is 5 months old today. Next month he'll be halfway to his first birthday and that's just crazy. Yes, it's still a while away, but I know it will approach far too soon and I refuse to let it happen! My husband, however, is planning all the manly things they'll get to do together when he gets a little older. Like camping and wild pig hunting.
Now for the recipe, I doubled it and made 2 loafs. It seems somewhat of a shame to go through all the work of making bread only to have it gobbled up so fast. Besides, I needed to take 1 loaf to something and I of course wanted a loaf for myself. Looking at the recipe it seems like a lot of steps. It really isn't too bad though. If you've ever made cinnamon rolls, it's a similar process and definitely similar taste. My glaze was a little clumpy, maybe I should have sifted the powdered sugar. It's funny how i'm not too lazy to make something like this, but when it comes to sifting, that's another story. I find slight joy in pulling the soft layers off, you'll understand once you try.

Pumpkin Spice Pull Apart Bread with Vanilla Glaze
Willow Bird Baking

Pumpkin Pull-Apart Bread Ingredients:

1/2 cup milk

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

1/4 cup white sugar

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon salt

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast

2 1/2 cups bread flour

Filling Ingredients:

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Butter Rum Glaze Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/8 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons milk

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract


Make the pull-apart bread dough:

Grease and flour a loaf pan and set aside. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, brown the 2 tablespoons of butter. Let it bubble and foam and when you see it start to brown, stir it so that it browns evenly. When it’s the color of dark honey, remove it from the heat and pour it into a large heat-safe mixer bowl to cool. In the same saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the milk until it bubbles. Remove it from the heat and pour it into the bowl with the butter. Let these cool until they’re about 100-110 degrees F. Set the saucepan aside for another use later. Stir the sugar and yeast into the milk/butter mixture and let it sit for about 10 minutes to proof. Stir in pumpkin, salt, and 1 cup flour. Add the rest of the flour 1/2 cup at a time, stirring between each addition. When the dough is combined, knead on low speed with a dough hook until smooth and elastic, or knead by hand. Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover it with a damp cloth. Let it rise in a warm place for about an hour until it doubles in size (After it rises, you can put it in the fridge overnight to use it in the morning, but let it sit out for half an hour before rolling if you do.)

Make the filling:

While the dough is rising, whisk the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a small bowl. Toward the end of the rising time, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter for the filling in the saucepan over medium-high heat and brown it as directed above. Put it in a small heat-safe bowl to cool for use later.

Shape and bake pull-apart bread:

Knead a sprinkling of flour into the dough, deflating it, and recover it. Let it sit to relax for 5 minutes. Flour a large work surface and turn your rested dough out onto it. Roll it out to a 20 inch long and 12 inch wide rectangle, lifting corners periodically to make sure it’s not sticking. If it seems to be snapping back, cover it with your damp towel and let it rest for 5 minutes before continuing. Spread the browned butter over the surface of the dough with a pastry brush and then sprinkle the sugar mixture over the top, patting it down to ensure it mostly sticks (I didn't use all of the cinnamon sugar mixture, it seemed like way too much to me).With the long edge of the rectangle toward you, cut it into 6 strips. Stack these strips on top of one another and cut the resulting stack into 6 even portions. Place these portions one at a time into your greased loaf pan, pressing them up against each other to fit them all in. Cover the pan with your damp cloth and place it in a warm place for 30-45 minutes to double in size. While dough rises, preheat oven to 350 degrees F or 325 if you have a glass loaf dish instead of a metal pan. When it’s risen, place the loaf in the center of the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until dark golden brown on top, if you take it out at light golden brown, it’s liable to be raw in the middle, so let it get good and dark. Cool for 20-30 minutes on a cooling rack in the loaf pan while you make the glaze.

Make the glaze:

In your saucepan, bring the butter, milk, and brown sugar to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove it from heat, add the powdered sugar and vanilla extract, and whisk it to a smooth consistency.

Assemble and serve:

Use a butter knife to loosen all sides of the bread from the loaf pan and gently turn it out onto a plate. Place another plate on top and flip it to turn it right side up. Drizzle glaze over top. Serve each piece slightly warm with a drizzle of glaze.
Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pretzel Rods

I wanted a quick snack to take to a girl's night and these were perfect. My favorite thing about them, other than they're super quick and easy to make and are a tasty little snack, is that you can customize them for any occasion. And if you don't want rods, you could just as easily use regular twisted pretzels. Next time I want to try a few other variations, especially one with a caramel drizzle. Options are endless!

Pretzel Rods

What to do: Get a bag of pretzels (rods or twisted) and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Melt some chopped chocolate, candy melts or almond bark (I used almond bark) and dip the pretzels. If using rods, leave an inch or two of space at the bottom for the handle. If you're going to roll the pretzels in anything like sprinkles, or crushed nuts/candy, do that immediately after dipping so it sticks then place on the baking sheet. When you're finished dipping them all, put in the refrigerator until set. When they're set, you can drizzle over them if you wish, then place back in the fridge until set.

Also, Family Fresh Cooking is giving away a 7 qt. stand Kitchenaid Mixer. Go on over to enter!!

Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Waffles

I mentioned that I made pumpkin spice pancakes last month, so this time I decided to try waffles. They tasted pretty much the same except one was pancakes, and these are waffles. I chose to post the waffles because I prefer them to pancakes. And if you don't have a waffle maker, I highly suggest you get one. I know..some people will tell you don't bother, it'll sit in the cupboard and you'll never use it, which may be true..but we use ours monthly. And who doesn't love waffles?? Instead of buying frozen waffles, I just make 2 big batches and freeze them, it usually lasts us about a month or two. So here you go, go make yourself some waffles.

Pumpkin Spice Waffles
Tammy's Recipes

1 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 egg
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) melted butter
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin puree, buttermilk, egg, and melted butter. Stir to combine.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir just until moistened.
3. Preheat waffle iron. Spray hot waffle iron with oil or non-stick cooking spray, spoon batter onti iron, and cook until done. One my Belgian waffle maker, these waffles take about 5 minutes to cook fully. The outsides will be browned. Serve waffles hot with maple syrup Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter