Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bake Your Day: Toffee Biscoff Gooey Butter Cake

I think the older I get, the more evil my sugary concoctions become.  I mean, first, Crack Pie.  Now this.  It's a Paula Deen-esque dessert taken to the next level.  And then the level after that.  Make sure to share with your friends, because I can totally see this being something you hoard for snacking in the light from the fridge long after bedtime.

Toffee Biscoff Gooey Butter Cake
Adapted from Bake Your Day blog

For the cake layer:
2 cups cake flour
½ cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 large egg
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons whole milk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

For the Biscoff layer:
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ cup Biscoff spread
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar (about 3¾ cups)
1 (8-ounce) package Heath milk chocolate toffee bits (about 1½ cups)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x13-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, and mix with a whisk until well combined. Add the egg, melted butter, milk, and vanilla, and mix well. Press the mixture into the prepared pan.

In the bowl of stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the beaten eggs, vanilla, and Biscoff spread, and beat on medium-high until smooth and creamy. Slowly add the powdered sugar, in batches, and mix until thoroughly combined. Fold in the toffee bits. Pour the Biscoff toffee mixture onto the cake layer, and use an offset spatula to spread evenly.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes; the edges will be set, the top will be shiny and the center will still be a slightly underdone; it will continue to cook while the cake cools. Cool the cake completely in the pan before cutting.

Makes 20 squares

Friday, January 09, 2015 Frangelico Mudslide

It's a little late in the evening for happy hour, but this is my own personal definition of happy hour.  I'm happy that this week of twelve hour days is over.  Very happy.  And to celebrate, I'm having a fabulous cocktail.  Because I deserve it.  Especially since it tastes like a chocolate milkshake.

Frangelico Mudslide

1 ounce Irish cream (such as Bailey's)
¾ ounce Frangelico
¾ ounce vodka
½ ounce coffee liqueur (such as Kahlua)

Shake and serve over ice.

Makes 1 delicious cocktail

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Hoppin' John with Collard Greens

I'm not a superstitious person.  I don't think I'm cursed if a black cat walks in front of me.  I'm not afraid to step on cracks in the sidewalk.  But I also like to cover my bases.  And if eating a bowl of blackeyed peas and collards will get my new year started off right, it certainly won't hurt to have a bowl.  It also helps that it's delicious.  Good luck with the new year, my friends!

Hoppin' John with Collard Greens

3 strips bacon, cut into batons
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ pound collard greens, stem removed, sliced into ribbons
11 ounces fresh blackeyed peas (1 container)
1½ teaspoons Creole seasoning
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
4 cups chicken broth

In a skillet, cook bacon until fat is rendered and the bacon is starting to get crispy.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, and place it into the crock of a slow cooker.

Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, jalapeño, and garlic to the hot bacon fat, and cook until the onion is translucent and the other vegetables have softened slightly.  Pour the vegetables into the crock over the bacon.

Add the remaining 7 ingredients to the slow cooker, and stir to make sure everything is distributed evenly.  Cook on high for 5 hours, or low for 8. Serve with rice and Tabasco sauce.

Makes 8 servings

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Green Bean Bundles

New Year's Eve dinner is some steak and potatoes.  Because it's better to go out with a bang.  Especially if dieting is looming on the horizon.  But like a good girl, I was raised to eat my greens, even if I'm being completely unhealthy otherwise.  So we also had green beans, wrapped in bacon, and smothered in brown sugar.  Because bacon.  Hey, why not take these green beans out with a bang, too?

Green Bean Bundles

1½ pounds fresh green beans, tops trimmed
5 slices bacon, each cut into 3 pieces
3 tablespoons soy sauce, divided use
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon water
½ cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon real maple syrup (optional)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Place green beans in a large pot, fill with water to just above the level of the green beans, and bring to a boil.  Cook at medium-high heat for about 12 minutes, or until soft.  Drain and set green beans aside.

Once green beans have cooled enough to touch, make bundles of 6-8 beans and wrap each with a piece of bacon.  Secure the bacon with a toothpick, if desired.  Place bundles on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Combine 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce with the Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl and drizzle over the green bean bundles.  Sprinkle with the water.  Bake for 20 minutes, turning once.  

While the green beans are baking, combine the brown sugar, the remaining 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, the maple syrup (if using), and the garlic powder.  The mixture should form a wet sand.  When the 20 minutes is up, remove the green beans from the oven, and spread with the brown sugar mixture.  Cook the green beans for another 10 to 12 minutes, or until the bacon is cooked through and the brown sugar has caramelized.

Makes 15 bundles

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Koláče (Kolaches - Czech Sweet Yeast Rolls)

If you've lived in Texas long enough, you eventually come across the Czech Stop in West, Texas.  This is a required pit stop for anyone traveling down I-35.  Required.  I'm actually not sure how you could roll past this little kolache nirvana.  And lord help you if anyone knows you're going through that area, and you DON'T BRING ANY KOLACHES HOME.  Well, just in case, here's a pretty fabulous little recipe to make some at home.  Hey, I'm just thinking about your well-being.  Promise.

Koláče (Kolaches - Czech Sweet Yeast Rolls)

1¼ cups whole milk
1 (7-gram) packet active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons) or 1½ teaspoons instant/bread machine yeast
3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1½ teaspoons sea salt
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg yolk

Cheese filling:
6 ounces farmer’s cheese
1 large egg yolk
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
½ egg white, whipped until foamy

Blueberry filling:
1 cup fresh blueberries
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1½ tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Crumb topping:
2½ tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 tablespoons powdered sugar

Forming kolaches:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Dough: Take half of the milk and warm it to 110°F. Add a teaspoon of sugar and the yeast to the warm milk; stir well and set aside until the yeast starts to bubble, about five minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the flours, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and lemon peel. Take the rest of the milk, mix in the egg yolks, and then add to the dough along with the melted butter; mix well. Add the yeast mixture and mix everything together. Knead the dough until smooth, then dust with flour, cover with a dishtowel, and let rise until it has doubled (45 minutes to 1 hour).  If making the dough in a bread machine, add the milk, egg yolk, lemon peel, vanilla extract, and melted butter first, then the flours, sugar, salt, and lastly, the yeast.  Allow the dough cycle to run through.  While the dough is rising, prepare the cheese filling, blueberry filling, and crumb topping.

Cheese filling: Mix together the farmer’s cheese, egg yolk, vanilla extract, and sugar. Whip the egg white until it holds soft peaks and gradually fold the egg white into the farmer's cheese mixture.

Blueberry filling: Add all ingredients to a small pan and cook over medium heat until the blueberries pop and the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool slightly.

Crumb topping: Melt the butter, then add the flour and sugar. Stir with a fork until crumbly and there are only a few large pieces.

Forming kolaches: Use a spoon to remove small portions of dough from the bowl. Roll into balls, and place the balls on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit on a counter for about 45 minutes to rise again. When the kolaches have risen about double, remove the plastic wrap.  Using a spoon or your fingers, press an indention in the middle of each ball, being carefull not to press all the way through to the cookie sheet.  Brush the kolaches with melted butter. Spoon about a teaspoon of the cheese filling into each kolache, and then a small amount of the blueberry filling on top of the cheese. Sprinkle each kolache with crumb topping.

Place the baking sheets in a preheated oven at 375°F for about 20 minutes. When they have just turned golden brown, they are ready.

Makes about 30 rolls

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Chorizo and Spinach Breakfast Casserole

The best Christmas breakfast is the kind you make the night before.  Or at least mostly make the night before.  Right before you have too much to drink the night before.  Trust me, this works.  Then, on Christmas morning, you pull the pan out of the fridge and push it into the oven.  An hour or so later you have warm cheesy goodness.  Right about the time your first cup of coffee is wearing off.  Slap some extra salsa on for lingering hangovers.

Chorizo and Spinach Breakfast Casserole

10 cups Italian bread cubes (1-inch cubes)
1 (16-ounce) chub Jimmy Dean chorizo
5 ounces fresh baby spinach
2 roasted Hatch peppers or 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies
1 (8-ounce) package finely shredded Cheddar cheese
10 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups whole milk
1½ teaspoons Spike seasoning
Sour cream and salsa, to serve

In a greased 9x13-inch baking dish, evenly distribute the bread cubes.

In a skillet, cook the chorizo, breaking it up with a wooden spoon into crumbles.  Pour off any grease and discard.  Add the fresh spinach to the cooked chorizo and stir until the spinach is wilted.  Evenly spread the chorizo mixture over the bread cubes.  Scatter the green chilies over the chorizo and then sprinkle with the Cheddar cheese.

Mix together the eggs, milk, and seasoning.  Pour over the bread/chorizo mixture.  Push down on the bread lightly to make sure all of the mixture is immersed in the egg.  Cover with foil and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.

The next morning, preheat the oven to 350°F.  Bake the casserole for 1 hour, covered.  Remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes to let brown slightly.  The casserole should have puffed up.  Check the center of the casserole with a knife to ensure that the egg is completely cooked before removing from the oven.  Serve warm with sour cream and salsa on the side.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Dorian Cuisine: Ricotta and Chorizo Pinwheels

I've never been one of those people who color-codes their food to match the holiday.  You know what I'm talking about.  That friend who serves you green cake on St. Patrick's day and flag cake on July 4th.  So it was completely inadvertent that these pinwheels just happened to have red and green filling.  I swear.  But they are kinda getting me in the spirit.

Ricotta and Chorizo Pinwheels
Adapted from Dorian Cuisine blog

1 (17.3-ounce) package puff pastry (2 sheets)
8 ounces ricotta
10 large leaves fresh basil, minced
9 ounces chorizo, cooked and drained of grease
1 ounce fresh baby spinach or arugula, chopped
1 large egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Lay out both sheets of puff pastry.  Spread each sheet evenly with ricotta.  Sprinkle with basil.  Sprinkle evenly with chorizo and spinach.  Roll up both sheets from the shorter end and cut into slices, approximately ½-inch thick.  Lay the slices on baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  Brush with egg.  Bake for 15 minutes or until pinwheels are golden brown and puffed.

Makes about 26 pinwheels

The Beeroness: Buffalo Chicken Beer Dip

What is better than some buffalo wings and a beer?  Buffalo wings without bones and cooked with beer.  I mean, it's all the goodness in one dish.  And you can slather this stuff on your dipper of choice.  Even if you aren't normally an IPA drinker, I suggest you just go with it.  It adds a certain something special.  And don't we all deserve something special?

Buffalo Chicken Beer Dip
Adapted from The Beeroness blog

2 cups shredded skinless chicken breast (from a rotisserie chicken)
1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
2 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese, plus additional for top
⅓ cup Frank's RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper sauce
½ cup IPA beer (I used Mosaic)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons cornstarch
½ cup blue cheese sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a stand mixer, combine all ingredients but blue cheese.  Mix until well combined.  Pour into a 2-quart oven-safe baking dish.  Sprinkle with extra mozzarella.  Bake until the dip is warm and bubbly, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with blue cheese.  Serve warm with chips or celery.

Makes about 10 servings

Oh Sweet Basil: Ham and Provolone Sliders

I've seen these little sandwiches all over creation.  They're like the second coming.  Everyone gets excited about these, and they're just ham and cheese.  Which is why I never made them.  My bad.  These things are just as awesome as they sound.  Warm, buttery, sweet, savory, melty, cheesy.  Good golly, these are just about perfect.

Ham and Provolone Sliders
Loosely adapted from Oh Sweet Basil blog

1 package King's Hawaiian Honey Wheat dinner rolls (12 rolls)
Honey Mustard
½ pound shaved applewood smoked ham
6 slices provolone cheese
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, melted
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Separate each of the rolls and cut each in half to form a top and bottom.  Spread the top and bottom of each roll with honey mustard.  Divide the ham among the rolls.  Cut each slice of cheese into quarters and put 2 quarters on each roll on top of the ham.  Close up each sandwich and place the sandwiches in a 9x13-inch baking dish.  Combine the butter, Worcestershire sauce, onion powder, and garlic powder.  Brush each sandwich generously with the butter mixture.  Sprinkle each sandwich with a pinch of poppy seeds.  Bake, covered, for about 10 minutes, then remove the cover and bake an additional 2-3 minutes, or until sandwiches are hot and the cheese is fully melted.  Serve warm.

Makes 12 sandwiches

Honey Mustard
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Combine mayonnaise, honey, and mustard; mix well.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Eagle Brand Milk: Foolproof Fudge

Christmas is the only time I really eat fudge.  And most of the stuff I get out at stores is way, WAY too sweet.  It's more sugar than chocolate.  I like a nice, deep chocolate flavor.  And you get that with expensive chocolate.  You can certainly use good 'ole Nestle Tollhouse chocolate here, but I promise the Ghirardelli is worth the purchase.

Foolproof Fudge
Adapted from Eagle Brand Milk

3 cups (18 ounces) Ghirardelli bittersweet (70%) chocolate chips (or other high-quality chocolate)
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
Dash salt
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Line an 8- or 9-inch square pan with foil, extending foil over edges of pan.  Melt the chocolate chips with the sweetened condensed milk and salt in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat. Stir in nuts and vanilla. Spread evenly into prepared pan.  Chill for 2 hours or until firm. Remove from pan by lifting edges of foil. Cut into squares.

Makes about 2 pounds of fudge