Monday, July 30, 2012

Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake

Happy National Cheesecake day! Atleast my newsletter from the Cheesecake Factory told me today is. honor, I give you this. I've had this recipe book marked for a very long time, and i'm so glad I finally got around to making it! Who needs Cheesecake Factory anyway? Seriously, make your own. It isn't hard, it's so so good, and it's way cheaper! Make the brownies the day before and it'll make things go a lot smoother. I had just made this not long before I took the pictures, so it wasn't quite set yet, which is why the middle looks a little like pudding. I find that the cheesecake tastes a lot better the next day.
Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake
Smitten Kitchen

Part One: One Bowl Brownies

Adapted from Baker’s One Bowl Brownies
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Baker’s chocolate, optional of course)
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 3/4cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13×9-inch baking pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan. Grease foil.

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high for 2 minutes, or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar. Blend in eggs and vanilla. Add flour and salt; mix well. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake 30 to 35 minute or until toothpick inserted in center comes out with fudgy crumbs. (Do not overbake.) Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan, using foil handles.

Cool brownies, then cut them into 3/4- to 1-inch squares for use in the cheesecake. You will have more than the two cups of cubes loosely measured than you will need. Add cubes to cake batter as directed below.

Part Two: Crumb Crust (You can double recipe if you like a thicker crust, or just leave it as is. I doubled it and ended up throwing some of it away because it looked like too much, but im sure it would have been just fine.)
Adapted from Gourmet, 1999
1 1/2 cups or 5 ounces (3 cups or 10 ounces to double) finely ground cookies such as chocolate wafers. Or Chocolate Teddy Grahams.
5 tablespoons (10 tablespoons to double) unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup (2/3 cup to double) sugar
1/8 (1/4 teaspoon to double) teaspoon salt

Stir together crust ingredients and press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of a buttered 9 inch springform pan. Fill right away or chill up to 2 hours.

Part Three: Cheesecake
Adapted from the Three Cities of Spain Coffeehouse
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
2 cups brownie cubes (from recipe above)

Make crumb crust as directed above for 24-centimeter cheesecake. Preheat oven to 350°F.
Make filling and bake cake: Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy and add eggs, 1 at a time, then vanilla and sugar, beating on low speed until each ingredient is incorporated and scraping down bowl between additions.
Fold brownie cubes in very gently and pour mixture into prepared pan. Put springform pan with crust in a shallow baking pan. Pour filling into crust and bake in baking pan (to catch drips) in middle of oven 45 minutes, or until cake is set 3 inches from edge but center is still slightly wobbly when pan is gently shaken.
When completely cool, top with following glaze.

Part Four: Ganache Glaze
Adapted from Purdy’s original recipe
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken up, or 1/2 cup chocolate morsels
2 ounces butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon confectioners sugar

Heat cream and butter in microwave or on stove until hot. Pour over chocolate and let sit for 1 minute. Stir. Add vanilla and confectioners sugar and stir until smooth. Pour over cheesecake or chill until ready to use.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Creamy Garlic Pasta

It's amazing how something with just a few simple ingredients can be so good. Like this pasta, for example. It only took about 15 minutes start to finish and both Matt and I were big fans. You could add some chicken or whatever else if you'd like to round it out, but it's also good as-is. Put it on your menu sometime because really, unless you're anti-garlic/pasta, what do you have to lose?

Creamy Garlic Pasta
2 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
3 cups chicken stock
½ lb spaghetti or angel hair pasta
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
¾ cup heavy cream
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

In a pot, bring the olive oil to medium-low heat. Add the garlic and stir, allowing it to cook for 1-2 minutes. Mix in the butter until melted. Add the salt, pepper and chicken stock. Raise the heat to high and let it come to a boil.
Once it is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook for as long as the box’s directions indicate. Reduce the stove to medium heat and mix in the parmesan until completely melted. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream and parsley. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Friday, July 20, 2012

Chicken Gyros with Tzatki Sauce

 I first made this recipe a couple years ago and put it in my recipe book as a keeper. But as usual, things go in there and aren't often made. But only because I typically try to make new recipes if I can. Anyway, as I was flipping through my book trying to figure out what we're going to eat this week I spotted this one and realized it's been way too long. After dinner Matt told me it was really good and it should go in "the book." Like I said, we try a lot of different recipes and he never even opens the book so little did he know it was already in there. It's super easy to make and doesn't take long at all! My favorite kind of recipe :)  
Chicken Gyros with Tzatki Sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
2 t. red wine vinegar
2 TBLS. extra virgin olive oil
2 heaping TBLS plain yogurt (I used greek yogurt)
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 TBLS dried oregano
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
diced tomatoes
sliced red onions
pita bread
tzatziki sauce (recipe below)

For the chicken:
Whisk together lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, yogurt, garlic and oregano in a bowl. Add chicken to the marinade, cover and refrigerate for atleast 1 hour.
Preheat grill to medium. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper then grill until cooked through. Allow to rest 5 min. then cut into strips.
Heat pita bread in frying pan or toaster then top with chicken, tomatoes, onion and tzatziki

For the Tzatziki Sauce:
8 oz. plain greek yogurt
1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and shredded
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
squeeze fresh lemon juice
drizzle of olive oil

Wrap cucumber in paper towl and squeeze out excess liquid, as much as possible.
Mix together the rest of the ingredients with cucumber in a bowl and refrigerate for 30 min. Drizzle a little olive oil on top.
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Soft Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last week I made these soft chocolate chip cookies. They were so good I wanted to try a chocolate version. They're super chocolatey so be sure you have plenty of milk around when you make these or else you'll be sorry!
Soft Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups flour
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 3.9 oz. box chocolate pudding
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together the flour, salt, baking soda and cocoa powder; set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. Beat in the instant pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. Blend in the flour mixture.

Finally, stir in the chocolate chips. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes in the preheated oven, cookies will look undone (it's always a little trickier with chocolate cookies). Cool slightly and remove to cooling rack. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Double Chocolate Double Peanut Butter Ice Cream

July is national ice cream month, in case you didn't know. Lately i've really been in the mood to make things from scratch, which I would love to do on a regular basis but sometimes I struggle just getting dinner made. I feel guilty spending a ton of time in the kitchen on something I could easily just buy when I could be spending that time doing something fun with my kids. But on occassion  i'll make something I would typically just buy, like ice cream. Chocolate and PB ice cream has always been one of my fave selections. The container we just finished off was Triple Cookie Sundae and I kept finding myself adding pb in when I ate it. I didn't let my mixture cool enough before churning so I had some issues and didn't get a good pb ribbon, but I also had the pb patties in there for an extra kick. I always regret when I don't make a double batch of ice cream because it goes way too fast!

Double Chocolate Double Peanut Butter Ice Cream
ice cream seen on Joy the Baker and pb patties seen on Dinner and Dessert
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup smooth salted peanut butter

In a sauce pan over medium heat, stir together 2 cups whole milk, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Heat until the milk start to steam, but before it starts to boil.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup of whole milk and the cornstarch. Stir until no lumps remain.
Add the cornstarch mixture to the heated milk and chocolate mixture and bring to a low boil. Boil until thickened. The mixture will look the consistency of chocolate pudding. Remove from flame.

In a small sauce pan, heat 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Once boiling, remove from heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Let sit for 1 minute, then stir the cream and chocolate mixture until incorporated.

Stir the cream and chocolate mixture into the cooling chocolate ice cream base. Place in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap or a lid, and put in the fridge until cool.

Once cool follow the manufacturers instructions on the ice cream maker to churn ice cream. Once the mixture has chilled and thickened in the ice cream maker, slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Don’t over mix, you want a nice ribbon of peanut butter running through the ice cream.

Transfer the ice cream into a freezer safe container and fold in the remaining 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Cover and freeze until solid.

Peanut Butter Patties

6 tablespoons peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Mix together the peanut butter and sugar in a small bowl. Line a dinner plate with plastic wrap. Pinch off small pieces of the peanut butter mixture, about ½ teaspoon each, and drop them onto the dinner plate. Once you’ve used all of the mixture, freeze the patties.

Mixing them in: Fold the Peanut Butter Patties into 1 quart of ice cream as you remove it from the machine.

Storage: Peanut Butter Patties can be stored in the freezer, well wrapped, for up to 1 month. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mixed Berry Clafouti

Landon's diet consists of mostly berries and fruit. And by mostly I mean like 75%. It's ridiculous. I've tried trying to get him to eat other stuff instead but a lot of times he refuses and isn't happy until he gets fruit (other than the other select things he'll eat.) I guess it could be worse. Currently we have bananas, peaches, apples, an orange, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries and lots of strawberries, and even with all that i'll be back at the store in a couple days restocking. So now i'm trying to look for new ways to give him the fruit. During my search I found this mixed berry clafouti and figured I would give it a try. He mostly picked the berries out but it was a good attempt. I've never made a clafouti before and it was a little mushy in the middle, not sure if it's supposed to be like that or if I should have baked it longer, but either way it was still good. I was out of strawberries when I made it so instead used blackberries, raspberries and blueberries.
Mixed Berry Clafouti
1 package (6 ounces) Driscoll's Strawberries (1 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 package (6 ounces) Driscoll's Blackberries
1 cup 1% milk
3 large eggs
1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier or orange juice
2 tablespoons butter, melted (plus more for pie dish)
Confectioners' sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Butter a 9 or 10-inch glass or ceramic pie dish.
Hull and halve strawberries.
Toss strawberries with cornstarch.
Place cut side down in prepared dish.
Sprinkle blackberries around strawberries.
Blend milk, eggs, flour, sugar, Grand Marnier and butter in a blender until smooth. Pour over berries.
Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown, puffed, and set in center.
Remove from oven and dust with confectioners' sugar.
Let stand 10 minutes (clafouti will sink).
Serve warm. Follow TawnyAlexander on Twitter